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In the age of information and, subsequently, misinformation, I was wondering if sites such as Stack Exchange (and all its companion websites) have considered allowing for users to verify educational status (such as Master's/PhD degrees, number of years experience with a company/system, software training certs, etc.)

Pros:

  • users can recognize who has completed extensive work on subjects
  • users with certifications can use them to help others come up to speed, spreading the knowledge
  • users can know which answers have more weight to them other than the weight that the Stack Exchange ranking system gives to experienced & active users

Cons:

  • how to verify that a user has attained a level of education
  • how to prevent users from faking education levels
  • how to represent education levels in a fair and helpful way

Unsure if a Pro or Con (maybe both?)

  • if implemented successfully, could turn into a system where forums are dominated by the few with higher education (think Quora?) - good because the answers become higher quality, bad because others have good ideas too

Perhaps the answer to this question is that this is not the mission of Stack Exchange, that Stack Exchange should be truly democratized in the sense that anyone with an internet connection and some degree of literacy can ask and/or answer a question - not someone with a rare education.

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    "Perhaps the answer to this question is that this is not the mission of Stack Exchange ..." You are right about that, but for the wrong reasons. And Stack Exchange sites aren't forums BTW. Would a graduation help to write good answers at the DIY site, or at Pets? Aug 13, 2020 at 20:02
  • my mistake in labeling Stack Exchange as a forum - I agree with you that it is more like a FAQ than a forum
    – sorenKaram
    Aug 13, 2020 at 22:06
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    When I hear "forums dominated by the few with higher education", I don't think of Quora. This place is a copyright-infringing dumpster. Aside from that, unsure why this is getting so much downvoted, it does make sense to reflect about this aspect. Quora-style, answer-oriented credentials for authors is interesting to consider and could complement the rep points. Aug 14, 2020 at 3:25
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    What does my education have to do with my knowledge on a subject. I have not taken any of the Microsoft Windows exams but I can promise you I know more about Windows than most who have. I don’t feel like paying $500 for a piece of paper that indicates I know what I am talking about
    – Ramhound
    Aug 14, 2020 at 7:10
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    Additionally, I wasn't trying to offend members of the SE universe, rather I had what I thought was a good question and wanted to better understand SE and SE's purposes. I am thankful for the responses I received to this question. If there is anything I should do differently in regards to wording questions in the future, please let me know.
    – sorenKaram
    Aug 14, 2020 at 14:11
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    @sorenKaram I think most people missed the fact that education was just one of many potential signals to give author credentials. Aug 14, 2020 at 16:32
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    Could SE verifying someone's degree also be construed as the company vouching for that user? If so, that seems like it could be risky legally.
    – BSMP
    Aug 19, 2020 at 19:58

2 Answers 2

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Someone's education history is pretty much irrelevant to any answer outside of Academia.SE.

Who wrote an answer shouldn't matter. No matter if it's a professor with a PhD or a 13-year-old in school, any answer posted on the network should support itself by its own merit - not by who posted it. This is why it's encouraged to include sources when necessary or to explain the logic behind your answer - answers should, generally speaking, be able to stand on their own.

As a way of displaying that someone is an expert in a particular topic, we currently have tag badges, which are awarded after a certain number of answers on a particular topic reach a certain number of votes (showing that this user knows what they're talking about for this particular topic), which rely exclusively on someone proving on-site that they actually have a level of expertise in the subject.

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    What about a 13 year old with a PhD?
    – rene
    Aug 13, 2020 at 20:34
  • @rene reddit.com/r/inclusiveOr Aug 14, 2020 at 18:35
  • Aren’t thirteen year olds not allowed to have accounts?
    – Alex
    Aug 14, 2020 at 22:38
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    @Alex - 13 is the minimum age; 16 is the minimum in the EU.
    – Mithical
    Aug 15, 2020 at 17:26
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... I was wondering if sites such as Stack Exchange (and all its companion websites) have considered allowing for users to verify educational status (such as Master's/PhD degrees, number of years experience with a company/system, software training certs, etc.)

NO.

I don't think that this is a good idea. We're judging quality of content, not the authors "educational status".

In the age of information and, subsequently, misinformation, ...

Poorly written posts, be it questions or answers, will quickly disappear from the search rankings anyway, because no one else visiting here will find them useful.

Also you may have e.g. have Ph. D. vet. but give just poor advice when it comes to questions about keeping pets at home.
On the other hand a 16 year old without any diploma, may write great answers about e.g. Python programming.

Such educational status would mean absolutely nothing for justifying the quality of posts.

Perhaps the answer to this question is that this is not the mission of Stack Exchange ...

No it isn't, but not for reasons of democracy or such. The mission is (I still hope so at least), to build a FAQ like repository of questions and answers (note that this is different from forums), which are helpful for future research.

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