Since I have received the beta invitation, I have tried my best at answering 2 questions, but I am far from being an expert. I rely on my recent experiences with my puppy and try to help out the others by answering their questions if they are not too specific.

So here I wonder now: are we welcoming these kinds of answers? The "I've done this and it worked" kind of answers might be helpful for the OP but are not complete answers by themselves. So what do you think is to be preferred?

See an example here of the sort of answer I am referring to:

What is the optimal age to neuter a male dog?

EDIT: While thinking a bit more about it, and to add to the discussion, answers from personal experience could also be harmful to the living creature if wrote/read by unadvised persons. For instance, chocolate is bad for dogs (could be fatal) but big dogs tend to be able to take some. If someone with a very small breed reads that chocolate could be given to dogs, imagine what could happen...

I'm taking the chocolate example simply because who would think that such a sweet thing as chocolate could kill our favorite living creatures?

The problem by expressly forbidding "personal experience" answers is that it would greatly lower the amount of answers received. Therefore lowering the number of helpful answers, but not so much for best answers.

  • A side note about chocolate; some variations are worse to dogs than others. The light brown milk chocolate is not that bad after all. Our dog ate almost 150 gr of that and we hurried to a vet with the dog. The vet asked to see the empty chocolate box, and quickly determined our dog is not in danger. He said that dark chocolate is much worse. Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


Favoring experience augmented with references is generally a good thing to do. References are great, but we shouldn't go too overboard when providing or asking for them.

Something to avoid is encouraging people to basically answer questions with not much more than citations:

According to Wikipedia, cats are physically incapable of cohabiting with fish inside of their aquariums:

Cats do not have gills, and can not breathe underwater. Also, they eat fish.

Indeed, we hope that no one actually has real-world experience on this topic, but should this come up, we'd hope for at least a few paragraphs teaching us why this is not a good idea.

References are essential to back up claims that aren't considered common knowledge, but the best answers do a fantastic job of teaching what the reference reinforces. We want to encourage and reward answers that teach people how to better care for and have more rewarding experiences with their pets.

Before getting too stiff-lipped on requirements, remember that this is a vastly popular and well covered topic on the Internet. In order to attract a larger community, our best feature is probably going to be how nice and helpful we are. If you see something that needs a reference, please consider just adding it by editing or suggesting a link and where it could be placed in comments to the author.

tl;dr; - We want both.

  • References are essential to back up claims that aren't considered common knowledge, I think that is key. Everything does not need to be referenced. If you are stating your opinion(even if it is your expert opinion) it should be clear that it is just that. Sometimes that will be a great answer and sometimes it wont be.
    – user9
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 3:28
  • @Chad We don't necessarily need to wrap anecdotal answers with a giant buyer beware ribbon, but it is preferable if these answers make it clear that they come from personal experience. Most of them do, just by nature.
    – user105
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 5:17

Personal experience is very useful in answering this kind of question. For example if I want to ask how to stop my dog's hair from falling out, then in this case other user's experience could be very helpful. So I think answer with personal experience should be welcomed.

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