Sourcing discussions based on evidence


(rands) #1

Continuing the discussion from Merit/Demerit system for posts, as opposed to “liking”:

I believe one of the important functions of good discourse is being able to source a fact back to an authoritative source. I’m full of opinions, but there is a time and place where I state a fact where it’s important that I source it back to it’s origin. I see this being less militant than journalistic sourcing, but I think Discourse providing an incentive system to a) allow me to flag facts as sourced (which I think we already do), but also to allow the community to request that I source a fact that that is essential to part of an argument.

I am willing to concede that the latter part might be just someone asking within the thread, “Hey dorkface, please source your math on determining airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow”, but I wonder if providing a low friction way of making these types of clarifying requests would improve the quality of an argument and provide future readers with more confidence and context.


(Jeff Atwood) #2

So you want the [[citation needed]] brigade out in full force on day 30?

Are you sure?

I could see certain forums having strict rules around citations but the conversational method of saying

That’s an interesting claim you make, that the moon is made of cheese. Do you have any sources for that? Also what kind is it, cheddar or havarti or casu marzu?

But it seems natural to have that back and forth progress of hashing out the ideas here.

Eventually you could, we hope, collapse the topic down to best of, and see just the greatest hits rather than reading it all. Or if someone is adventurous, maybe they could write a summary of the discussion, and that’d get escalated.


(savagelight) #3

I agree with this as well. This should be built in. Why can’t we have an ability to enter in our URL’s or whatever our sources are and have our post get marked as a cited or referenced post? Each URL would also have to be verified of course. As far as I’m concern peer review would be a nice feature as well.


(rands) #4

I really don’t want the citation brigade out and I could see a strict version of this being a function of more academic functions, but my thought (and it could be a poor thought based on not having lots of recent experience in online discourse), is that there’s a new lighter weight version of requesting evidence.

Again, perhaps this is best served by having good conversation toolkit at our disposal.


(rands) #5

Again, maybe more of a function of academic forums, but I like this idea, as well.


(finid) #6

Perhaps for each topic there should be a tab for “Best answer,” “Most Like,” or something similar.Give the original poster, admin, and/or moderators to choose the best response(s).


(Jeff Atwood) #7

This already exists in the topic map, which is under the first post. Look at that on a topic with lots of replies (50+).


(Philip James) #8

Doesn’t this just recreate StackExchange, where the answer with the most whuffie (upvotes) is highlighted as the best answer?

Is the point of Discourse the discussion or the answer to a question?

That being said, the ability to add footnote links (a bibliography of sorts) to a post would be awesome, because it doesn’t clutter the main post but would back up the argument being made. I’m not sure if that should be a core feature or a plugin, but given the goals of Discourse, I can see an argument for it being a core feature.


(savagelight) #9

Some communities are more evidence based than others. As long as discourse is extensible enough to suit those communities I can support discourse. The sort of discussions that suit me isn’t necessary the sort that suits everyone. I don’t even want to restrict it to academic because not everyone who wants a logical or rational debate is doing it for academic purposes. It could be a political forum but in those forums we need to deal in facts, reason, logic, in order to actually progress the debate at all.


(Jeff Atwood) #10

Yeah, but you need very strict moderation and rules on a system like that – and moderation tools are already provided in Discourse, as well as tools for the community to flag to enforce them. So you’d, say, define a rule like

On our discussion forum, any uncited opinions are grounds for immediate and permanent account termination

Then when someone posts an uncited opinion, you’d add a flag option for that

Flag this post because… “uncited opinion: all opinions presented here must, without fail, be cited with evidence and proof”

So uncited opinions would get flagged and automatically hidden when they reach the threshold, automatic PM would be sent, user could edit to have it unhidden (adding the citation, ostensibly), or they could contest the flag to a mod.

Enough of these flags happen that get resolved not in that user’s favor, and that user will gently be shown the door.

This is all very very much built in, so you’d just need to set the norms, the FAQ, the flag reasons, the auto-help pop up that comes up for new users when they press a key in the composer for their first 2 posts, etcetera.


(Eli the Bearded) #11

I see this sort of thing (need for citations) in political forums where “best” and up/down votes etc are totally inappropriate. If you can do even basic formatting on a link you can do inline citations easy enough. [http://example.com/some/long/url example cite] showing up as [example cite] would be plenty, and some javascript or plugin could be used to help automate that sort of thing.