It would be very useful and possibly necessary on our site to have support for banners to apply on questions and answers. This would help the questions and answer to get proper attention and editing love they deserve. It is in no way different from how Wikipedia handles the same problems.

They could be implemented similarly. Insert this markup inside a post to make the banner appear:

{{Unreferenced}}, post has no sources/references/citations given at all
{{RefImprove}}, post has weak or incomplete sources/references/citations
{{CiteCheck}}, post may have inappropriate or misinterpreted citations
{{Current}}, post is related to a rapidly changing event


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. (Mon YYYY)

> ![Citation Needed](http://i.imgur.com/0W0Im.png)
This post **does not [cite](https://skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/5) any 
[references or sources](https://skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1023)**.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to [reliable
sources](https://skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/132). Unsourced material 
may be [challenged and removed](https://skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1019).
*<sup>(Mon YYYY)</sup>*



This post needs references that appear in reliable third-party publications. Primary sources or sources affiliated with the subject are generally not sufficient for a Skeptics post. Please add more appropriate citations from reliable sources. (month year)


This post may contain inappropriate or misinterpreted citations that do not verify the text. Please help improve this post by checking for inaccuracies. (month year)


This post documents a current event. Information may change rapidly as the event progresses. (month year)

Finally, the "tools" page should have corresponding category pages to quickly get to a list of the posts bearing these tags so they can be fixed by high reputation users and/or moderators.

  • 4
    I suggest {{NeedsReference}} instead of {{Unreferenced}}, and more importantly that it be used zero, one, or more times within the post to mark the specific, 'significant claims' for which you're asing for a reference. It should not be used to flag the whole post.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 20, 2011 at 3:21
  • 2
    I like this idea, especially for sites with a more subjective bent.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 21:35
  • 2
    I asked for nearly the same thing in July 2009 :) I'd rather see my question closed as a duplicate of this one, however, because this suggests a more concrete implementation that could be tailored for different sites.
    – user50049
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 0:03
  • 1
    This might not be a major issue, but I note that double curly brackets {{}} conflict with Mathematica syntax for matrices and higher-dimension tensors and nested lists. It's unlikely that anyone would use these specific elements as names for variables in a question or answer, but I'd suggest something like {*{Current}*} instead, since that is unlikely to conflict with any other language's syntax (at least none that I know of).
    – Verbeia
    Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 23:47
  • @waffles So how do I use this? Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 0:54

5 Answers 5


Moderators now have the ability to add "notices" on posts, like the current post

You can see a list of posts that have notices at the annotated posts route

If you want a notice added flag it for mod attention.

If we need any new notice types please raise it here - we can decide if we need a site specific one or a global one.

NOTE: This is a moderator only feature that we do not think will be used on many sites, the main consumer of this feature is skeptics.se

  • 1
    Just out of curiosity, are there a list of notices or are they all custom? FWIW, it looks like most of the "annotated posts" are just bounties. Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 0:22
  • 1
    @Chris It's a fixed list; at the moment there's just current event and citation needed Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 0:55
  • @Chris it is fixed for now ... but the community team can create new site specific ones if we need ... and I can create new global ones
    – waffles
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 1:19
  • 3
    The [citation needed] post should be generalized so that it applies both to totally unreferenced posts, to posts which need more references and to posts with inaccurate references. E.g. "This post does not contain enough pertaining references from reputable sources, or the references are not adequate to the claims."
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 8:44
  • We have a proposed use of this functionality at Mi Yodeya, related to meta.stackexchange.com/questions/104821/… Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 17:44

I like this idea. And I like the way you've implemented it for current events.

I wanted to see this tried as an ad-hoc project, the way we used to mark Duplicate questions before that was built into the system: identify the target and edit in the banner based on a template. This worked so well for Duplicates that it was eventually folded into the system itself...

But Jeff's not a big fan of this it seems. Oh well...

That said, I don't think comments are effective. They're not visible enough - by design! Comments work best for communicating with the author of the post. Also, there's no good way to search for comments.

If editing won't suffice for this, then I think the next best idea is a per-post moderator annotation, similar to those available for questions on Area 51. This would also be preferable to the current "historical significance" blocks used for classic Stack Overflow questions.


While I don't think we'd get much mileage out of a current event or citation needed annotation, there are a few annotations we could use on Programmers for honeypot questions.

Every once in a while, we get a question that could be good, but attracts some really junky answers: one-liners, joke answers, etc.

Background on a few of these instances:

In these types of cases, what we wind up doing is posting a moderator note in the question body (not ideal, I know). Something like:

Moderator Note

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer: please explain why you're recommending it as a solution. Answers that don't explain anything will be deleted. See Good Subjective, Bad Subjective for more information.

And on the pre-existing junky answers, we add a comment prompting the answerer to revisit before we delete:

Hi {user}, can you elaborate more on why you're recommending this? It's not enough to provide a one-line answer. We want to know what your thought process is.

This is all very cumbersome, but it tends to be effective when we catch it early enough. It'd be nice to have an annotation to put on questions and answers like this that accomplishes the same thing. On answers, for example, it'd be nice to annotate with:

This post requires explanation and context to meet the guidelines for good subjective questions. More info: [Good Subjective, Bad Subjective]

For questions, it's a little tricky. I recognize the moderator note above essentially repeats what's said in the FAQ, and technically could be applied to all questions. It's useful insofar as it serves as a warning before we take more drastic action on the question. To that end, and I'm pretty lukewarm on this, maybe an annotation:

This post is in danger of being closed due to the quality of answers received. Please be sure to include explanations and context when answering. More info: [FAQ]

Although if a question is in danger of being closed, it seems like we should just close it, delete the junk answers, and reopen it. However, it's likely people won't make the connection between the guidelines in the FAQ and to what just happened without something pointing out "Hey look, there were a ton of junky answers which brought the whole question down."

  • I just added honeypot question ... the others I am a bit worried about. In particular we do not notify answeres that their post is noticed, so adding it may just add clutter.
    – waffles
    Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 23:35

"Stack Exchange Moderator Newsletter - October 2011 Edition" reads:

Moderators can now <snip> choose from the list of available notices:

  • 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.
  • <snip>

Currently, only the annotations shown above can be added. If you have recommendations for additional notices, please suggest them at: Support for banners?

Well, this is not a recommendation for a new notice, but I suppose this is the right place for it anyway:

"Please help improve this article"? What is this, Wikipedia? It's a post (or a question or answer), not an article.

  • 1
    That notice is pretty much designed for Skeptics, which does have such a policy because of the inherent nature of that site. Skeptics specifically want citations for claims, and their community allows their mods to delete uncited answers.
    – waiwai933
    Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 20:00
  • 2
    @waiwai933, Mi Yodeya also likes citations, but I was commenting on the word article, not the existence of the notice altogether.
    – msh210
    Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 20:08

I agree, but this is a fundamental change to the underlying software and probably better asked on http://meta.stackoverflow.com

In the medium term, we should use tags:

  • 4
    The tags apply to questions only, where the banners apply to answers too. Also, the developers do check here on meta, where tagged appropriately. Commented May 25, 2011 at 4:14
  • @Oddthinking - True, but posting this question on meta would also get input from people on other SE sites. Commented May 28, 2011 at 14:50
  • 1
    That's a good point. I am not sure how useful they would find these particular banners (After hanging around here, I can barely read the other S.E. sites without wanting to shout WHERE ARE YOUR REFERENCES!?) However, they may like the idea of site-specific banners in general. Commented May 28, 2011 at 22:57
  • 1
    Personally, I'd love the ability to add citations. People on the Bicycles site do use them from time to time, and having a tool like these banners available would be helpful. The mods here must have "your answer lacks citations" notes canned, and I can imagine that leaving those notes must be a tiresome (and somewhat thankless) task. Commented May 30, 2011 at 2:27
  • 1
    The problem with these tags are that they are meta tags and therefore not useful.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 21:18
  • 3
    we definitely don't want to use tags for this; first, these would be meta-tags, and second, they can't be applied to answers Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 21:23
  • I agree with @JeffAtwood - my answer is out of date and somewhat misses the point now the question has been migrated to meta-propper. Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 8:56

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