What is some good boilerplate for a comment on a post that lacks citations or references? When you see a post that appears to be pure conjecture, not backed up by or referencing the source material, you should make a comment. I'm looking for a good example of a standard comment to use in this instance.

  • Thanks! However, this arose out of a more specific case of an answer stating "no in-universe answer" without references, very specifically pertaining to this meta. Do you mind editing your meta question to reflect that, or opening a second one for that specific case? We don't have a community consensus on rejecting generic "citation needed" speculative answers. We DO have meta consensus on "it's a plot hole" ones. Feb 22, 2013 at 16:25
  • @DVK It didn't arise out of that specific post. I've been meaning to make some requests for templated comments, but haven't had the free time to get to it.
    – user1027
    Feb 22, 2013 at 16:27
  • Even if it didn't, I strongly feel that those should be two very different templates, since as Gilles noted, we don't have a general SFF citation policy. I can post a forked question myself if you don't mind. Feb 22, 2013 at 16:29
  • @DVK I'm looking for a simple template to encourage people to improve low quality posts. This has nothing to do with your specific case, or with any extant policy.
    – user1027
    Feb 22, 2013 at 16:31
  • you linked to this post when I asked for constructive example of how to rephrase my comment :) If this isn't related, I still would like to hear your constructive rephrasing on that one. Feb 22, 2013 at 16:34

2 Answers 2


There are a couple of challenges with this that should be considered.

One is that it is often disconcerting to new users to get what they consider a reprimand on their first attempts to participate.

Another is that some people will respond by saying "nothing in your rules says I have to provide a citation/reference!"

I'd suggest something along the lines of:

This answer appears to be pure conjecture. While answers based off of conjecture aren't prohibited, this particular question would be best answered using specific citations or references. Please consider updating your answer to include any factual information you can find to back up your conjecture. This will likely improve your answer, and make it more likely to be of use to other visitors.

If the user in question is new to StackExchange (< 101 reputation), I'd suggest a simple "Hello, and welcome to the site!" be prefixed to the above.


Moderators can add a notice underneath a post:

citation needed
This post does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

The notice feature isn't very useful because it doesn't even notify the poster and it is limited to three canned texts (citation needed, current event and insufficient explanation). We aren't in the habit of using it in SF&F because we don't consider the lack of citations to be damning (unlike, say, Skeptics). But you can take inspiration from the message.

Also, maybe we can get into the habit of using the post notice sometimes. It's in the mod menu under “add post notice”, and there's a mod tool to list posts with notices. Non-mods need to flag if they think a post notice is warranted. Note that I'm only mentioning the technical possibility here: if we start using post notices, we should have a separate meta discussion about when to use them.


You must log in to answer this question.