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I am dividing the answers for the questions asked by me into two types.

One type is the answers that can be validated by me easily. It can be either due to my knowledge or exposure or the authentic quotes provided by them from textbooks or research papers. I can accept the answer and I can conclude the answer is correct.

Another type is the answers that cannot be validated by me. In such cases, I generally treat it as correct based on two factors: up-votes gained by the answer, reputation of the user.

But, some questions are answered by new users of small reputation. In such cases, how should I proceed? Is it okay to go by up-votes or is there any need to enforce the restriction of quoting from authentic material or providing references for the answers?

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Is it okay treat the number of upvotes as correctness?

Sometimes, there isn't a single correct answer to a question, so upvotes may simply indicate the number of people that liked or agreed with with the contents of the answer.

We also have the case of a user with a lot of reputation (I cannot directly say who, but some people will know who I am talking about), but their answers are unconventional (e.g. provocative, long, contain unnecessary details, etc.) and sometimes are wrong. I'm not fully sure why this user gained so much reputation, but I believe that many inexperienced users upvoted their answers (and this user was also involved in some voting irregularities with multiple sock puppet accounts).

So, upvotes do not necessarily mean that the answer is generally correct because

  1. there may be not a single correct answer to the question
  2. upvotes may have been given by inexperienced users (who blindly upvoted the answer by thinking it's useful, but without knowing whether the information is really correct or not)

So, when reading an answer, you should take into account the upvotes, given that they represent the consensus, but maybe you should also consult another source of information that confirms the contents of the answer.

I've been encouraging people not only to upvote but also to downvote content that is not good enough. The higher the number of upvotes, the higher the consensus, but, especially in our community, the number of upvotes can sometimes be misleading, given that we do not have a big number of experts, so many votes are cast by inexperienced users. You can see the voters here. You should also not blindly trust a user only because he has a high reputation. Of course, users with high reputation are more likely to be "correct", but, especially when you're not familiar with the topic, as I said, you should consult another source of information, ask for more details, ask for references, etc.

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I see the main purpose of Stack as vetting information. Q&A, which is the main purpose, is subordinate to the purpose of vetting information, in that Q&A has little value when information is not sufficiently challenged.

(This likely explains why Stack is so robust, where reddit and Quora continue to be problematic.)

Ultimately, users need to read and digest the answers, and vet the citations where relevant, to determine the reliability of a given answer.

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