Your response to my prior answer prompted me to consider this problem from a different angle. I've posted this as a new answer as this is distinct from what I addressed before.
I've started to consider that question that ask for references fall into one of a few categories, and I'm struggling to come up with any category where, at the same time:
- Explicitly asking for references is meaningfully adding something to the question/answers, more so than an (IMO default) implicit expectation that references would always generally improve an answer's quality.
- The need for the references is considered on-topic and within the
If you (or anyone else) can give me an example of a counterpoint where both bullet points are adhered to, I'm more than willing to reconsider the conclusion of this answer.
The conclusion I make here is made based on the absence of a valid use case.
That doesn't mean that references are bad form. They definitely increase the quality of an answer. However, I am considering that expecting references is bad form.
To put it differently, what is the purpose of asking for references? What does it do, that wouldn't already be the case if you hadn't asked for references?
- Requiring publically available references?
- SE should not be used as a human flesh search engine.
- Requiring privately available references?
- SE is not suited to "word of God" style questions.
- Optionally asking for good answer quality?
- That is already an implicit expectation anyway.
- Indicating that non-reference answers shouldn't even be posted?
- Answers without references are still answers. For disagreements on the quality of the answer, that is what the voting system exists for. Question writers do not wield authority on what is or isn't allowed to be posted (provided it actually attempts to answer the question at hand).
- Suggesting to others that non-reference answers should be downvoted?
- That is not a soapbox that question writers (or anyone) should have. Users should vote for their own reasons, not because someone tells them to.
- Because question writers should be able to be the sole authority on what can('t) be considered an answer to their question?
- If that were the case, then question writers would be given the right to freely delete answers to questions they wrote. Clearly, this is not the case, and the only way to address your dislike of an answer is either through voting or moderator flagging.
I'm interested in hearing a concrete example of why explicitly asking for references adds something that is both considered good form and doesn't already exist without having to ask for it.
In absence of such a concrete reason, the downvotes that such questions receive are arguably not wrong. Not because of predetermined community standards enshrined in the site scope, but because the explicit request for references at best is superfluous, or at worst shifts the purpose of the question to an off-topic nature or infringes on the definition of what an acceptable answer is (which question writers do not have the discretion to override - if they did, they'd be given rights to outright delete answers to their own questions).