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It has been quite some time that I visited Bio SE. But I have noticed that the number of answers lacking any references to their content have considerably increased.

Well ofcourse there are so many new users joining this SE and considering that most of them are beginners or just interested in Biology but not experts like a few users, it's very disappointing to see unreferenced answers upvoted or not given enough attention to.

Does it not hamper the quality? Simply put, is there any solution to this?

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    $\begingroup$ I will say that I've left a few unreferenced answers lately in places where I felt like the OP just needed some different explanation rather than new information; I'm in most cases happy to edit with some references but I think there is little point to reference textbook-level knowledge, most people have access to completely different sets of textbooks that all contain roughly the same info. But for my own answers, I find it helpful if someone points out in a comment when something should be referenced but isn't. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Oct 8 '18 at 20:57
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Good point and referencing is not only appreciated, it's necessary on a scientific stack and vital to maintain this site's quality.

  • Commenting and downvoting are the primary means to go about this. Downvoting seems to be done sparsely at Bio, but I always highly encourage it; it gives a slight nudge that something is wrong. A comment helps a lot, especially for newbie users. The voting system is the SE approach of expressing answer merit.
  • Mods can place banners that state that [additional] references are needed. Hence, flagging may be an option in exceptional[ly bad] cases (note that the community should moderate this site; mods cannot keep a track of every question or answer - hence, flags are necessary to put a post to the attention of the mod team). However, flags should only be used where mod intervention is necessary. Even plain incorrect answers are not flag-worthy; downvoting and commenting and voting for deletion is the way to go. But again, a banner may also do the trick to nudge a user to improve their answer, but only flag after comments and downvotes don't help. Flags are a last resort.
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    $\begingroup$ I'd add that I feel like flags are most appropriate when the lack of references means someone could actually take the answer in a harmful direction, particularly in Q&A related to health, nutrition, etc. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Oct 8 '18 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD thanks for the reply...but just a follow-up question- after leaving a comment how much time should we give to the user who wrote the answer to provide references before we flag it? In This Q&A for example, an unreferenced answer got accepted but from the upvotes it is understandable that other users are actually accepting the content of the answer. $\endgroup$ – user 33690 Oct 14 '18 at 16:17

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