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This answer sounds very authoritative and knowledgeable, and contains several numerical values. And yet there are no sources for these numbers.

How can future readers know if this is spot-on accurate, or pure speculation?

I'm concerned about going after max-rep by any means necessary versus posting quality SE answers. Can SE gamification have a downside?

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  • $\begingroup$ Here are some excellent answers I've received for comparison; 1, 2, 3 $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 12 '18 at 4:53
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    $\begingroup$ I'd note, as a high rep user elsewhere, active on chat, I've often mentioned rep milestones on chat. Its fun. This seems a somewhat unfair accusation. $\endgroup$ – Journeyman Geek Jan 12 '18 at 11:05
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    $\begingroup$ I do as well, for the big milestones. It's like celebrating a birthday/cakeday $\endgroup$ – Rory Alsop Jan 12 '18 at 12:35
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You're making mountains out of molehills here.

On the subject of PearsonArtPhoto mentioning their rep milestones in chat: it's entirely normal and reasonable to be proud of one's achievements. I don't see them asking for preferential treatment (nor would I expect them to). Your response is, frankly, a snarky overreaction.

As for unsourced answers: Space.SE does not have a rule that answers must be sourced. You are of course free to ask (politely) that an author include sources for information you're uncertain of; the author, however, is equally free to not do so. This is what the voting mechanism is intended for - judging the quality of answers. If you think an answer is bad or not useful, then downvote it, as you have done. The culmination of lots of users doing this results in an answer score that represents the overall community's opinion of the answer.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that one person's mountain can be another's molehill. I haven't asked about rules. Instead I've asked this meta discussion-tagged question looking for the opinions of people who post question and post answers within Space Exploration SE to see how they feel about sourced answers. I can tell you that when low rep users post unsourced assertions in answers here they are frequently requested to do so. This varies from site to site, but in this sci/tech/eng topic, sourcing is fairly important and answers considered high quality generally contain many sources backing statements of fact. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 12 '18 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ The pressure to max out one's reputation increase day after day can lead to lower quality answers, those hoping to help the individual attain their announced goals might inflate the voting system which should reflect the quality of the answer, rather than the aspirations of the poster. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 12 '18 at 13:04
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    $\begingroup$ I really don't know of anyone on this site who is under any pressure to max out reputation. That's actually an incredibly rude assumption to make. I know I very rarely go to my rep pages on any site, and only really notice when a fun milestone appears. $\endgroup$ – Rory Alsop Jan 12 '18 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ @RoryAlsop no I disagree. It is not meant to be rude, nor do I think it's rude. I see a recent trend of more discussion of reputation score, and lower quality answers, and it concerns me because answer quality is the primary goal here. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 12 '18 at 13:10
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    $\begingroup$ There's a problem you have then - as it is rude to me. Please look at the effect your comments have on others. $\endgroup$ – Rory Alsop Jan 12 '18 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ I'm going to keep my focus on answer quality. I've noticed that you send out the term "rude"and take things to a personal lever fairly easily/frequently. I'm happy to hear how others feel though. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 12 '18 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh - interestingly enough, across various SE sites I am generally considered very slow to take offence, fair, and even-handed. It's one of the reasons I moderate some more subjective sites. Excluding trolls etc, there are only a handful of people whose actions I consider rude enough for me to comment. $\endgroup$ – Rory Alsop Jan 12 '18 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh "I'm going to keep my focus on answer quality." -- the fact that you're not doing this is pretty much the thing folks see as rude. You're accusing someone of going for rep by "any means necessary", rather than just looking at the quality of their answers. If you really wanted an honest discussion about how much sourcing is necessary and/or preferable in high-quality answers, then you'd probably have been better off asking just about that. $\endgroup$ – Cascabel Jan 12 '18 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Jefromi I think I am keeping my focus on answer quality. Can you add anything to that discussion? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 12 '18 at 23:08
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh The last full paragraph, the list, and the screenshots in your question are not about answer quality. Some of your comments here aren't either. I'm trying to aid the discussion about answer quality by pointing out the things that are currently detracting from it. $\endgroup$ – Cascabel Jan 12 '18 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Jefromi I see what you mean. Do you think it would be OK if I deleted that part? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 13 '18 at 1:08
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There is a bit of an undefinable line here so I'll talk around what I see as the challenges:

It would be great if we could have 100% documentation for answers, but in reality we have some people here who work directly for the space industry and may be prevented from giving any details by NDA - so their posts may be correct, but unsubstantiatable. Demanding detail from them is just going to be annoying and could easily drive them away.

Encouraging new members to deliver full answers is always going to be a good idea, but again, pushing them too hard for detail, or implying that their answer is wrong because they don't have evidence is going to make them leave as well (it is incredibly unwelcoming)

From my perspective - an avid amateur with over 40 years studying space, and various studies in astrophysics and associated disciplines - I am okay with people politely asking for clarity or a bit of detail, but I have to admit, my participation here has been reduced dramatically as when I think about posting I'm now second guessing whether or not you will post a slew of demanding comments under any post I make, and on balance it's just not worth the hassle to me. Many of the comments you leave demanding detail are irrelevant to the answer (in my opinion)

While there are some answers which are very low quality drive-bys, just leave a down vote - they'll go if enough people do that. For those who leave a correct answer, upvote. If you think there is more detail available, edit it in. If you think there is something the OP can add, ask politely, but don't push and push. It just breaks the pleasant nature of the site, and demotivates others.

And based on your comment under @Art's answer - please don't ever assume the motivation for others for why they interact with the site. We may all have entirely different reasons. I know I don't do it for the rep*

Have a quick read of @Tildal's answer to this question on partial answers as well. This bit is key:

a partial and still helpful answer is surely better than none. And sometimes, different answers can complement each other,

*It's all about the swag

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for taking the time to write out this answer. I asked the question here because I'm really trying to understand how others view the subject of answer quality. If you are so inclined and when you have the time, it would be great if you could track down some examples of slews of demanding comments under any post (you) make as long as they are answers posted to questions on this site - the topic and raison d'être of this meta question. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 12 '18 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ The irony of asking you for supporting sources for the assertions in your answer to a question about supporting sources for assertions in answers is purely coincidental. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 12 '18 at 14:16
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I just noticed this question, and would like to add a few points that apply to Space.SE more than many other SE sites.

People from the space industry often know things simply because they work with them every day. They can answer a question quickly and well for that reason. Ask them to provide citations, and it takes them several times as long to do that as to answer the question. The answer you are complaining about is an excellent example of this. It actually isn't easy at all to find authoritative, clear, concise references on this matter online.

For this reason, the voting system here is validation of an answer, and that generally works pretty well. (It fails now and then, as everything about SE will occasionally fail because it is all a complex attempt to create a self-regulating system.) People who do not know about this sort of topic don't often vote on these answers. It is the people who do know who vote - and those people know a lot. I genuinely judge the accuracy of many answers to questions here based on the number of votes alone, and that mostly works very well.

If you want to attract experts, you have to give them the freedom to do things this way.

Sometimes, if I have some time and it is a subject I'm interested in, I'll go find references for an answer without any that I'm confident is good. It is true that there are certain members, including many of our most active and valuable members, who tend to post answers without references. (You know who you are.) We'd be much, much worse off without them here, and they are quite rightfully only willing to exert a certain quantity of effort on their answers. This is why it is so good that others are able to edit answers, to do things like fix spelling (you know who you are, too) and add references.

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The most difficult part of answering questions on this site for me is finding references in the open literature! I hate to post "because I say so" answers - why should you believe anything I say? - but often I have to resort to my personal logbooks and notes. Which is fairly worthless because nonverifiable. I far prefer providing - and receiving - sourced answers, but sometimes it's very difficult.

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    $\begingroup$ I fall into this boat too. I try my best to find open literature references to support answers where I can. The totality of my work, however, includes elements of proprietary and/or export-controlled information, and it often occurs that claims I make in an answer are based on sanitized information that is in fact documented, albeit in non-public sources. Many industry insiders fall under the same issue -- they are telling what they can. Providing sources could put them at risk of being fired or prosecuted. $\endgroup$ – Tristan Feb 8 '18 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ This in fact is why I don't always give sources. That and the fact that sometimes I just know something, I can't explain even with sources that I know that thing, but I know it... $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Feb 8 '18 at 17:46

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