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While this community for the most part is pretty good about supporting their claims with evidence, occasionally we receive an answer that makes a broad, unsupported claim. Sometimes, those posts are downvoted and ignored, but particularly when they are close to the popular view, and when on HNQs, they sometimes get sufficient upvotes to avoid that fate.

On other sites I frequent, a post with a broad, unsupported claim that is challenged would receive a post notice from a moderator indicating that the user should support the claim with evidence or else the post will be deleted. I haven't noticed that on this site, even when flagging a post which seems to qualify.

Is that something we would ask our moderators to do on this site? If so, should they be fairly aggressive about it (and use notices whenever significant unsupported claims arise, even if they might be technically accurate), or should they primarily only do so when there is a dispute about the content (or when they themselves would dispute that content, of course)?

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  • I'm not including the example that led me to post this, as I don't want to call that user out, and this isn't really about a particular post; but if it's necessary I can provide examples.
    – Joe
    Dec 10 '20 at 21:02
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    This old discussion is quite relevant: money.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2331/… Dec 10 '20 at 22:02
  • @GS-ApologisetoMonica Thanks for linking that, I didn't find that in my search. I do think that is quite different - though I'd understand if others don't; to point out clearly what I think is different, in that question the discussion is what should be done when an answer is factually incorrect but supported with evidence, even if misreading that evidence, and requires the moderators to make a judgement call; in the case here, I'm only asking that an answer with a factual statement under dispute be required to supply evidence, not that the (diamond) moderators judge the validity thereof.
    – Joe
    Dec 10 '20 at 22:20
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Yes, we should ask our ◇ moderators to apply post notices to answers when they make claims of fact that are not supported by evidence. Personal Finance questions should generally be answerable with evidence-backed answers, and given the possible impact of some answers here we should expect those answering questions to provide evidence for their statements of fact.

They should do so only when they themselves disagree with the answer, or when a poster flags the question or otherwise clearly disputes the answer in comments; our site is busy enough and has enough subject matter experts that we do not need every single answer to be policed by the diamond moderators in this manner.

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I have doubts this would be workable. A lot of answers are in practice based on a mix of objective/official evidence and personal experience. It would become another nasty judgement call landed on moderators (along with "is this poster spamming or posting a helpful URL?").

I'd prefer to stick with the practice of challenging answers in comments - personally when moderating comments I try to leave in a flavour of any significant disagreement or challenge to the answer, at least if it sounds plausible.

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  • Many sites, much less explicitly factual than this, do make this work. The problem with challenging in comments is that comments aren't necessarily always displayed - and are ephemeral - and so they don't necessarily have any effect. You're not wrong that it puts onus on the moderators, but I don't think it's quite as clear of a problem as you say; this doesn't say all advice ("You should invest in AAPL, it's really good") should be backed by evidence, but only when an answer states a fact ("AAPL has gone up 100% the last five years").
    – Joe
    Dec 10 '20 at 21:27
  • And the reason for my second part - how strict should we ask you to be - focuses really on making it easier; basically, as I say in my answer, if someone flags something, then you should post notice it (and it should be effectively automatic, no judgement call unless they post a sketchy bit of evidence I guess) but if you don't get a flag, then leave it be unless you personally would have flagged it.
    – Joe
    Dec 10 '20 at 21:29

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