I find myself frequently going through "First Post" questions where the Author has made a number of assertions that are often either baseless or heavily opinionated.

I looked through our guidelines on How to Ask but the closest I could find to, If you're going to assert something in your question, prove it's real is

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

But this does not explicitly state if you are going to assert something is happening you should prove it. Obviously in some terms they are subjective e.g. Why does X group of People support Y may not require proof. But why did X do this? Should require proof that X did Y in the first place.

Would it be helpful to add "Must Cite Assertions" to our "How to Ask"guidelines?

  • 3
    It should not just be for ask. But I think mandatory citations for any assertion of fact (question or answer) that is not obvious (don't need to cite that the UK is in Europe for example) would greatly improve the quality of the site. Jun 19, 2017 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


The passage you cited from the FAQs does a good job encouraging people to cite their assertions. Generally when people don't do this, the community asks them to in the comments. I've even gone as far as to add some quotes and links to improve a question, and I think we should encourage more of that.

If we explicitly add that you must cite your assertions, then good users will be obligated to vote to close questions that do not. Many un-cited questions could be improved by citing assertions, but they're plenty clear and provoke good answers as they are. Putting on hold not great but still alright questions asked by new users could easily turn them off to the site. Skeptics, where everything must be exhaustively cited is very unfriendly to new users. We have enough trouble getting new users to ask questions in an objective way. I think the benefit of requiring citations is real, but the cost in closed or unasked decent questions isn't worth it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .