Last night I provided this answer and had a conversation (of sorts) with Pat about my lack of attribution (feel free to check out the original answer, which isn't substantially different other than the lack of link and that I'd gotten some inconsequential details incorrect). I'd originally gotten downvoted for that, with the suggestion that I find the link again.

I don't think this is a big deal, but it did make me wonder...is it worth potentially reducing the number of answers by discouraging items that aren't cited on this particular site? In my case, my information came from an article written by Eric Martin. I don't know him personally, but I do know that we used to attend the same smallish convention a few years back. If I'd gotten the info from a face-to-face conversation, I wouldn't be able to cite it, but my answer wouldn't have changed significantly. Would that still be an inappropriate answer (even if it's true)?

I certainly understand the point of view of requiring attribution for things; we certainly don't want this to become Yahoo Answers. I especially think it's necessary on the more hard science areas of SE, or for things like rules questions where there needs to be a single, unambiguous answer. However, for questions like this one, I'm wondering if we'd be better off with unsourced answers than things that could be left unposted due to them being unattributable. Thoughts?

2 Answers 2


First, I need to put on my moderator hat to answer

There is no attribution requirement for answers here at B&CG

Ok, moderator hat off, user hat on (this is the hat I used when I downvoted/commented on the answer in question.

Your answer originally began,

I don't have a link now, but I read something at one point discussing "suggested age" on games.

As a user, I couldn't get past that. I am a strong believer in the "Back It Up! Principle" in that answers should be based on:

  • Something that happened to you personally
  • Something you can back up with a reference

Our faq leads off with:

Board and Card Games - Stack Exchange is for expert Q&A from people who like playing, discussing the strategy of, and getting rules clarifications of board games, designing board games or modifying the rules of existing board games.

To me, expert Q&A and the Back it Up! Principle go hand in hand. If you haven't gone through the process of setting age restrictions on a published game, and can't cite a specific reference to someone who has then your answer is weak, an opinion, and I would go so far as to say, "Not Useful". The tooltip for the down vote arrow is, "This answer is not useful."

Whenever I see a question so clearly crying out for an expert answer I will likely downvote any answer that doesn't say "expert" to me. This isn't a forum, everyone doesn't need to have an opinion on every question. There are plenty of places you can go where such answers are welcome.

Everyone else is free to decide what "useful" means to them and vote accordingly.

  • 1
    Thanks; this makes a lot of sense. Pat Ludwig, user, is naturally welcome to downvote any answer that he doesn't find useful; my question was because I thought Pat Ludwig, moderator, was making a broader statement (a faulty assumption on my part). I agree that my answer is much better now than it was with the attribution, but your diamond just made me wonder if this was a more philosophical issue. Thanks for clarifying! Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 14:34
  • 1
    @VolcanoLotus - Cool, the confusion with the two hats is something I think every moderator worries about to some extent. I'm not sure what the solution is.
    – Pat Ludwig Mod
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 15:41

I think you can still reference an in-person conversation: just write "Game designer Eric Martin told me ..." It doesn't meet the requirements for formal attribution, but it does explain where the information came from and why it's authoritative.

  • But why is me saying I had a conversation with Eric Martin any more authoritative than me saying I read something Eric Martin wrote without providing a link? Either way, you have to trust me that I'm not willfully misrepresenting and trust my memory that I'm accurately recalling the situation. I tend to agree that it should be OK, but it seems like then links wouldn't be needed either. Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 1:43
  • @VolcanoLotus: I believe the links are simply requested since they are 'possible' to provide - unlike an irl conversation that makes this pretty much impossible. Naturally, you're right in that it doesn't certify the credibility, but it does add some trust value at least as it explains why there is no "better" attribution.
    – mafu
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 9:59

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