Moderators can add post notices for posts that are unsourced, refer to current events, or are insufficiently explained. (This last links to "good subjective, bad subjective".) On a healthy site, about how often should we see posts with these notices (as a fraction of the overall post pool)? Anecdotally, some mods use them "a lot" and others have never used them, so I'd like to understand what the SE norms are (if any exist). This blog post from 2011, from when the feature was introduced, suggests (penultimate paragraph) that it should be rare. Is that how it worked out?

I'm not talking about locks, but about the other kinds of notices (the ones that people could correct via editing).

  • Currently 724 posts are annotated on SO. Since that number includes both bounties and locked questions, the number of other annotations is minuscule, if not zero. On the other hand, SO seems to not be the primary target for this feature. Also note that the blog post specifies "arbitrary post notices". As far as I know, we must pick one of three possible notices. Mar 19, 2013 at 22:25

2 Answers 2


Fairly rare. This isn't Wikipedia - if an answer sucks, down-vote it and post a better one. If a question sucks, close it.

Post notices (outside of those associated with locks and bounties) were created in response to the needs of Skeptics, which is a bit unusual among SE sites in that their expertise is grounded less in subject matter and more in process. And even there, only 324 posts currently have them.

For sites where a core group of experts exists to validate the answers, where the information presented for a given question isn't changing on a daily or hourly basis, and where overt subjectivity isn't commonplace... They're simply not needed: votes, comments and competing answers can suffice.

It's probably also worth mentioning that besides the obvious "alert - here be dragons" nature of these notices there's also some amount of public shaming associated with them; if they're over-used, then this becomes less effective.

  • Thank you for this information (especially the Skeptics data!). What do you think should happen where the expert base is small (e.g. some beta sites) and/or overt subjectivity is commonplace? Or should I ask that separately? Mar 20, 2013 at 12:53
  • On those sites, it's one more tool for moderators (and other concerned members by proxy) to use. They should still be rare - increasingly so as the community grows and learns to use the other tools available to them.
    – Shog9
    Mar 20, 2013 at 15:32

I always understood those post notices to be site-specific features that are still enabled on all sites because they might be occasionally useful. The Citation Needed and Current Event notice are both based on a feature request from Skeptics as far as I know. Most sites should not need those post notices.

I would expect that most sites never use them at all, they are meant for rather specific circumstances. No site except Skeptics strictly requires citations, those sites don't really need the banner. There are a few more sites where the "good subjective, bad subjective" notice might be useful, though.

We make heavy use of the Citation Needed banner on Skeptics, but we are the site that requested this feature after all. In the current implementation the post notices have one significant disadvantage, and that is that they are a moderator-only feature, regular user can neither add nor remove them. If they are meant to be used more freely, this would have to change.

  • It would seem like sites that aim for answerable questions (all of them, I hope?) where you can't validate an answer just by compiling would tend to involve citing sources, no? For example, Mi Yodeya doesn't have a "rule" (in the sense that violators will be deleted), but unsourced answers lead to requests for support (which is usually forthcoming; we have very few annotations). Mar 19, 2013 at 22:15
  • 1
    @Monica A perspective from Physics: we explicitly don't have a rule about sourcing answers - it has been suggested and kind of shot down - because (1) explicitly sourcing an answer often involves considerably more work than coming up with it in the first place, and (2) most answers are based on a standard body of knowledge that any physics expert will have, but which doesn't really have a canonical source. It's easy for experts to verify such answers, with or without references. So even among academic sites, sourcing isn't always necessarily essential.
    – David Z
    Mar 20, 2013 at 2:24
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    We also use the Citation Needed post notice a lot over on Christianity.
    – Caleb
    Mar 20, 2013 at 10:53
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    I just noticed I had these in my mod toolbox on History about a month ago, and have been using the heck out of Citation Needed. We need it for pretty much exactly the same reason Skeptics does.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 17, 2017 at 2:17

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