There is a "needs additional references" notice on this answer that I gave. But the only factual claims in the answer are based on the link which has been in the answer since the 1st or 2nd edit of the answer. In other words, the facts were taken directly out of claims made by ACLU and they were supported by the information in the link to ACLU website. The conclusions made from the these facts are mine (and mine alone). But deductions are not facts.

How is this notice generated? Why doesn't it require a comment with a list of specific facts which are not supported by references? I honestly have no idea which facts are not supported. Please, let me know.

  • To answer the lesser question: The notice is added manually by a moderator. In this instance, the notice was specifically asked for by a community member in a flag.
    – yannis
    Jan 17, 2019 at 14:42
  • @yannis, thanks for that info. But it still leaves me completely puzzled about the answer to the question in the title here.
    – grovkin
    Jan 17, 2019 at 14:55
  • Is this as general as the title seems to suggest or is this more about the example given? Please specify. Jan 18, 2019 at 11:10
  • @LangLangC the question is tagged "specific-answer". I tagged it as such when I wrote the question. Since the flag itself is too broad and does require an explanation to be attached, I asked both about how the flag is applied and how that's relevant to this specific question. Yannis already answered how this flag is applied. Now, I would like an explanation of how this is relevant to this specific answer. Since applying of this notice requires one to be a moderator, I would like a moderator to explain it. The statements made by other users (so far) have not made it clear to me.
    – grovkin
    Jan 18, 2019 at 11:20

2 Answers 2


Based on the feedback I've received on my own answers, I've started thinking of it like this:

  • If something is cited, then the poster is merely passing on information. They are responsible only for the decision to pass it on or not. Downvote people for passing on poor-quality information; upvote people for passing on good-quality information.
  • If something is not cited, then the poster is either providing their own facts or analysis. They are responsible for the rigor of the conclusions and the truthfulness of the facts. Downvote people who do not adequately support their arguments to your desired level of quality. Upvote people who do.

In my experience it's always preferable to avoid providing an original analysis or your own conclusions whenever possible. The best answers point readers to the work of experts on a particular question.

If that isn't feasible or desirable, then you can find individual facts and try to develop your own answer. That's always a risk to you. Even conclusions which seem very clear to may seem clearly wrong to other people. Deduction rarely works in the sciences as well as it does in math or logic. There are frequently intervening factors, spurious relationships, and other things which can blow apart seemingly solid arguments.

  • I can understand your guidelines when applied to upvotes/downvotes. But there is a moderator flag on the answer. A moderator decided to put a note on the answer stating that it contains facts which need references. I am still puzzled as to which statements, asserted as facts in that answer, have not been supported by references.
    – grovkin
    Jan 17, 2019 at 22:09
  • @grovkin The note says there are "assertions" that should be backed up. That may mean something besides one of the facts you used. I often times ask people in comments to back up the argument or thesis statement itself. Jan 18, 2019 at 6:37
  • "Appeal to authority" is a known logical fallacy. A chain of reasoning from facts either stands on its own or it doesn't. Asking for references for an argument is asking for an appeal to authority. You should not do that. Frankly, it's infuriating. But it's also insulting. Its implication is that the person whom you are addressing is too inept to generate a sound argument on their own and that you would only trust what they say if someone else generated the argument.
    – grovkin
    Jan 18, 2019 at 11:59

Nowhere do you quote anyone from CBP or the administration claiming that what you say would happen. As far as I can see, most of the content of your answer is your own personal thoughts and supposition.

From your answer:

I haven't even seen or heard anyone make this argument.

Then why would you believe this would happen? Why would you expect anyone else to believe it?

The last sentence of your answer:

I don't expect that an estimate of these savings has been calculated since no public discussion of thinning of the border has yet occurred.

What does "thinning" the border actually mean? If no public discussion about such "thinning" has occurred, how can you say your answer is based on facts? Isn't it entirely possible, based on your own statement that no estimate has been prepared, that the costs to CBP could actually increase? If your answer to that question is that you "can't see how that could happen," it's okay, because an answer making that argument would suffer from the same issues that your answer has, since there are no facts yet available to support it.

I was not the person who flagged your answer, nor have I voted on it.

  • I am not sure how to answer other than refer you to the answer itself. I am saying that if a public discussion of a specific aspect hasn't occurred, then it's not possible to estimate its costs (or benefits for that matter). The fact that thickening of the border has increased costs is clearly suggested (although not stated outright) by the ACLU link. You say that I am saying that I leave some facts as unreferenced, but my point is that they have not been discussed. Should be providing a reference showing that no such public discussion has occurred?
    – grovkin
    Jan 17, 2019 at 15:13
  • This basically increases my confusion. If I say that certain facts are not yet known, how can I be asked to provide references for these facts?
    – grovkin
    Jan 17, 2019 at 15:14
  • @grovkin Now my confusion is increasing. Why would you assert something as a fact (the premise of your answer) when there's nothing there to support it?
    – user5155
    Jan 17, 2019 at 15:15
  • There is something to support the general direction of this (the fact that the general direction of employment trends increased when the border was thickened). But since no discussion has occurred, there are no facts as to the specifics of how this trend may be reversed. And it is these specific facts that you say are lacking. But I say that they are lacking in the answer itself.
    – grovkin
    Jan 17, 2019 at 15:17
  • But you're making a leap that I and others feel is unwarranted by not having any reason to believe that the border area CBP will need to patrol will be "thinned" due to there being a wall since it's "thickness" is governed by Federal regulations and not by the presence of a wall. Since no one else (from your answer) is making the argument, why do you believe this? Why should I believe it?
    – user5155
    Jan 17, 2019 at 15:21
  • I address that in the last paragraph. If there is a wall and it is effective, it is reasonable to expect public (and therefore political) pressure to reduce the geographic area of CBP's authority.
    – grovkin
    Jan 17, 2019 at 15:22
  • Re: "why should I believe it?" Because the argument stands on its own merit. And I make it pretty clear that this is how I present it. I haven't said (for example) that there are some facts which I read/heard somewhere, but whose source I can't recall, which support the argument. This flag asks for references. I made it clear that I presented deductions. So they stand or fall on their own merits. But even if they fall, deductions don't need references... facts need references.
    – grovkin
    Jan 17, 2019 at 15:27
  • @grovkin Unless someone else is making the argument, you shouldn't be making it yourself. Moderators here have stated many times that this is not a discussion forum. If someone else is making the argument and that argument is applicable to the question, then feel free. Your opinions are not facts just because you state they are.
    – user5155
    Jan 17, 2019 at 20:39
  • I didn't claim that my opinions are facts. But maybe I am reading your last sentence wrong. I presented a view on facts. This is fairly common and it is generally accepted as long as the facts themselves have solid references.
    – grovkin
    Jan 17, 2019 at 20:44

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