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Well, this site's off to a roaring start!

Kudos to everyone who has participated thus far; lotta great information here, and some promising signs of life from folks who are interested in helping each other learn more about human health.

But, there are some rough areas...

  • Answers that don't have sources or which do not note their sources
  • Answers that consist of nothing but copy-paste text from external sources
  • Questions asking for personal medical advice
  • Bane-of-Skeptics "does X really Y?" questions

As Robert noted when the private beta kicked off, this is an excellent opportunity for folks from many backgrounds to share information regarding health, but that cannot be an excuse to accept or encourage a careless attitude toward answering. Whether your background is in medicine or you're an avid student of the topic, you should approach asking and answering here with the same rigor and seriousness.

Right now, there are too many questions, too many answers, that scream "Yahoo! Answers!" - speculative, no references, composed entirely of references or quotations from outside sources without any attempt at interpretation... Questions that are impossible to answer effectively in this format and answers that are not necessarily wrong but completely useless.

It's not fair to let a few bad apples spoil the bunch here. So let's not take the site public looking like this...

Spring cleaning

So... It's time for some cleanup. We'll appoint moderators to help with this shortly, but first let's start by sifting the wheat from the chaff, using flags to identify the latter:

  • Flag answers that do not attempt to answer the question. Interesting tangents may be interesting, but an answer needs to make its point, back it up, and wrap it up.

  • Flag answers that speculate but don't back it up. Any good answer here should be able to draw on a wealth of available sources; failure to do so casts doubt on its validity and creates more work for anyone reading.

  • Flag answers that consist entirely of links / quotes / or references without bringing any knowledge or expertise to relate them to the question. It's awesome to draw heavily from (trusted) sources, but be sure to pull out the key relevant parts and tie them back to the specific question at hand.

  • Flag plagiarism. 'Nuff said.

  • When you see questions that are attracting poor answers, partial answers, speculation, or guessing because they're extremely broad, then flag or vote to close them as such.

  • When you see questions that are attracting dangerous answers because they're asking for personal medical advice for serious health issues, close them as off-topic and leave a comment urging the author to see a doctor. (Note: it's not necessary to worry every time a question starts with, "I have..."; look for dangerous answers as the red flag.)

Of course, don't forget to downvote incorrect or poorly-written posts, and especially upvote well-researched and helpful posts.

Finally, if you're unsure or encounter problems, discuss them here on meta. We have plenty of fodder for productive discussions that will be invaluable as the site grows - so let's make the most of it!

  • For the link/quote specification - Can you provide an example? I have seen some that have links, but explain them (even if it is short). – JohnP Apr 17 '15 at 20:40
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    Here's one particularly egregious example, @JohnP - everything but the first+last lines are copypasta. This one is a bit more insidious - a massive pile of links and quotes which might in fact be useful to someone writing an answer, but no interpretation or evidence the author even knows how to interpret what he's quoting. – Shog9 Apr 17 '15 at 20:49
  • Am I understanding this right, you're appointing mods while the site is still in private beta? – Mad Scientist Apr 17 '15 at 20:51
  • The idea is to get some folks in position when it goes public, @Mad. We've had to do this a few times before - this isn't the sort of topic that's gonna do well with our usual laissez faire moderation style, IMHO. – Shog9 Apr 17 '15 at 20:53
  • @Shog9 Should this answer be flagged? Also, nearly all of this user's answers are almost entirely quotes. – michaelpri Apr 17 '15 at 21:02
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    Also, for those that are interested in helping, you can visit the review queue to help with the flag reviews. – JohnP Apr 17 '15 at 21:25
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    You mention "Bane-of-Skeptics "does X really Y?" questions " Does this mean these shouldn't be on-topic? I think that good questions can form from "does X really Y", such as Do vaccines cause autism? – michaelpri Apr 18 '15 at 3:03
  • I haven't paid much attention to authors here, @michaelpri; for now, flag any answer that appears to be leaning entirely on quotations rather than experience/knowledge of the topic. If you think there's something worth saving, leave a comment encouraging the author to edit. – Shog9 Apr 18 '15 at 17:20
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    These questions aren't necessarily bad, @michaelpri... But keep in mind, Skeptics has fairly strict rules for ensuring the reliability of answers. If this site is going to host them, answers have to be treated similarly - with well-sourced facts or specific expertise used to construct clear, rigorously-vetted answers. Skeptics also requires a specific claim to be cited, which may or may not be necessary here but can help in eliminating some of the more broad questions. – Shog9 Apr 18 '15 at 17:24
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    I’ve been in the review queue getting confused. Are we deleting answers that attempt to answer the question but don’t provide references? "Flag answers that speculate but don't back it up.” I think that means yes? I’m fine with it but note that this is a slippery slope: it’s very easy to provide a reference that doesn’t actually back up the content, and it’s very difficult for mods/high-rep users to sort that out for every single post. My impression previously was that these were DV but not delete material. I’m happy to work with a different standard but want to make sure I’m getting it right. – Susan Apr 18 '15 at 19:35
  • (Note on prior comment: I’ve never been involved with Skeptics, so if this procedure for deletion is meant to be more like their model than other sites, I’m just not familiar with it.) – Susan Apr 18 '15 at 19:40
  • @Shog9 Thanks for deleting all my answers but one! On my remaining answer, don't forget to delete the question as it is way too broad. A good reminder that I should focus on asking questions. – Franck Dernoncourt Apr 21 '15 at 1:31
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    As I said above, I haven't been paying attention to authors @Franck. I've tried to leave explanatory comments whenever I've deleted something though. – Shog9 Apr 21 '15 at 2:15
  • @Shog9 I've re-written my answer which contains more interpretation and flagged for moderation. How do I know if I should still wait for approval or there is something wrong with it? The comments are blocked. – kenorb Apr 21 '15 at 15:01
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    @Shog9 You say "Flag answers that speculate but don't back it up.". Does that mean that we should flag answers that contain no reference? – Franck Dernoncourt May 14 '15 at 17:02

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