I think that too many people are voting on answers not because the answer is well reasoned or backs up its claims with references etc. but for stuff like

  1. this poster is clever
  2. I like this poster
  3. I agree with other answers this poster has made

etc. This has ended up like a circle jerk for tenured philosophers except without any legitimate authority.


Not saying anything should be done about it, as whatever can be done won't catch on; just complaining.

  • i could be wrong.
    – user67675
    Sep 20, 2023 at 14:05
  • 1
    I agree, except I wish some actual academic credit was part of it. Professors tend to judge on the basis of content much more than personal sympathy
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Sep 20, 2023 at 14:36
  • @PhilipKlöcking i have a_lot of respect for academia, and i don't know what to make of my contributions to the site, let alone the site in general. when i answer a question, i try to provide references for it just to illustrate that it is not just my own opinion but shared in by others. maybe i shouldn't bother answering (or asking) questions at all, but yeah
    – user67675
    Sep 20, 2023 at 16:06
  • i guess i try to work with the question more, find the right angle for answering it insightfully, rather than relying on my authority to answer. at least, that's what i'd like to think. so making something of my trivial knowledge that way
    – user67675
    Sep 20, 2023 at 16:24
  • 4
    What makes a big difference is when a question appears in the Hot Network Questions section on the right of the page. This results in lots of people who usually don't visit the Philosophy SE reading the question and voting on it, and sometimes responses get lots of votes that usually wouldn't. I've had this happen to me several times. Sometimes I'll put quite a bit of effort into an answer only for it to get one vote, and sometimes I'll write an almost throwaway answer on a question that gets into the Hot section and it ends up with 20 votes.
    – Bumble
    Sep 20, 2023 at 17:10
  • What does title "Death of the poster" have to do with the post? Sep 24, 2023 at 9:28
  • 1
    it was kinda jokey cos i don't understand barthes enough to say it @IñakiViggers but i was referring to the idea that you vote on the text not its author
    – user67675
    Sep 24, 2023 at 19:25

2 Answers 2


I'd like to offer this question as an example of what I have seen:

Are we at the end of scientific paradigm shifts?

This very popular (rewarded with 13 upvotes and 4k views) and intriguing question has many "answers" including mine.

But in the end this question reduces to a request for a prediction of future events which can only be answered with opinions.

IMHO, this question should be closed. But I'm not a philosopher so my answer here may just be unsubstantiated BS

  • yeah it's all "opinion" isn't it. what makes an opinion good or bad? we like the person, agree with other opinions of theirs, etc.. i think we should rename this stack exchange "opinions.stackexchange" haha
    – user67675
    Sep 20, 2023 at 16:59
  • 1
    @prof_post On the other hand, it is a discussion by experts on a variety of topics. It's collection of thoughtful (many which cite either philosophy or philosophers) opinions on an intriguing topic. This is not to be trivialized. The problem is that there is also a desire to eliminate questions that generate discussion and opinion. So it's very confusing. Sep 20, 2023 at 19:10
  • yeah, who cares.
    – user67675
    Sep 20, 2023 at 19:38
  • IME, and icba going through that thread, people do provide references, but they never quite support their claims. answers on here should quote someone, and deduce a relevant answer to the question from that. that's what i try to do anyway
    – user67675
    Sep 20, 2023 at 19:58
  • @IdiosyncraticSoul I will add, in response to "it is a discussion by experts on a variety of topics": the SE web sites are not for discussion, but a strict Q&A, so actually your original point stands. Ultimately, it comes down to that Philosophy.SE has too few moderators and too many high-rep users are encouraging discussion-based questions.
    – Hokon
    Sep 20, 2023 at 22:23
  • 1
    @Hokon Another very important consideration is psychology. The reason that question has 4k views and so many answers is because the question is "fun" Sep 20, 2023 at 23:13
  • 1
    @IdiosyncraticSoul Yeah, which is an important point. I gather that SE web sites are meant to be useful for professionals (I see teachers ask physics questions on the Physics.SE site to make sure they aren't misinforming students), but . . . we are all volunteers here. So, naturally, we tend to what is "fun." There needs to be a balance, and while Physics.SE seems to strike that nicely, Philosophy.SE is missing the mark.
    – Hokon
    Sep 20, 2023 at 23:16
  • 1
    @Hokon I agree. Another site that works well is Earth Science but that site doesn't have near the volume of Philosophy SE Sep 20, 2023 at 23:22

Answers should

  1. quote something that implicitly answers the question
  2. deduce an answer from it

That's what I (usually) try anyway. People do quote, but it's bumpf usually, just a means to swell out the answer with someone else's authority, like setting the scene of them being right.

To reiterate: if you cannot find a direct quote, then deduce one from a quote. Don't use philosophical authority just to elaborate on the question. This isn't an exam you're under prepared for.

Cite philosophy you know not to elaborate on the question but in order to elaborate on the quote so that it answers the question.

That's my advice anyways.

  • 1
    I've been "shooting from the hip" in a lot of my answers (that is, relying on my memory), but this seems like a good standard. Going to give it a try, +1.
    – Hokon
    Sep 20, 2023 at 22:56
  • 1
    ha yeah do @Hokon same for a while, so frustrated
    – user67675
    Sep 20, 2023 at 23:00
  • Yeah, because answers should be trustworthy to future users looking back at the questions. Even if we know person X is reliable (say, Anna V over on Physics.SE, an ex-physicist from CERN), in the future people may not know that.
    – Hokon
    Sep 20, 2023 at 23:02
  • 1
    that's not really my point @Hokon but sure
    – user67675
    Sep 21, 2023 at 1:02
  • I know, just trying to motivate myself to behave well, sorry: inner monologue became outer 😀
    – Hokon
    Sep 21, 2023 at 1:03
  • 1
    ok well if you have anything to add then be my guest
    – user67675
    Sep 21, 2023 at 1:04
  • Quotes can be useful if someone said something well, but they should only be necessary if the question is "what did this person / these people think about this". Beyond that, you shouldn't take something as true just because e.g. Plato said it. In fact, people don't question the words of "authority" figures nearly enough (or they do so inconsistently, only in as far as it's convenient for them, e.g. reject the authority of all scientists, but trust this one random media personality to tell you about science instead). I prefer answers backed up by reasoning above references, where possible.
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 28, 2023 at 13:57
  • hm well i can't say i feel the same @NotThatGuy but thanks.
    – user67675
    Sep 28, 2023 at 13:58
  • @prof_post Should we take something as true just because Plato said it? And is "an authority figure said it" the only means by which we should judge whether something is true?
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 28, 2023 at 14:12
  • not take as true, i agree @NotThatGuy but take seriously as a potential answer imvho
    – user67675
    Sep 28, 2023 at 15:02

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