New users with less than 10 reputation can only add one link per post. As we want to encourage users to cite their claims, this restriction can be counterproductive sometimes.

It would be nice if that part of the new user restrictions could be removed on Skeptics.

As an example for the irritation this feature causes see this answer, the author posted most of the answer on her blog, as she had too many links in her answer.

I don't really see the point of this restriction, spam is spam, no matter if there is one link to the spammer's site, or 10 links. It doesn't prevent the spammers from spamming, and even as a damage-control mechanism it really doesn't do anything useful.

We expect users to cite their answers here, the kind of answer we really like to see here just can't be done with two links. We tell the users at many points that they should add cites for their claims, and when they do it they are rewarded by the notice that they have inserted too many links.

This restriction is very hostile on Skeptics as a good answer here almost always needs more than 1 or 2 links. This leads to us commenting on first answers with a request for more references, which the users cannot easily comply until they get upvotes, giving them a bad first impression of our site. But if people vote correctly, they won't get upvotes because they are missing important references.

Of course they could insert the references unlinked, but that leads to more work as another user has to edit the post, and it is also unreasonable to expect a new user to know how to work around those restrictions.

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Or at least increase the number of links allowed. One is far too few for Skeptics. –  Borror0 Mar 27 '11 at 19:39
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Absolutely agree! –  Sklivvz Mar 27 '11 at 19:41
    
To me that has always been too little. But this will be a hard fight to pick. –  Cawas Mar 28 '11 at 18:55
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Yes, and again, yes. –  Russell Steen Mar 30 '11 at 0:02
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Yes, this made my first few responses quite annoying to format. Even increasing the limit to 4 or 5 would help. –  tak Apr 17 '11 at 23:50
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FWIW this is a usability bug, not a feature request. –  Konrad Rudolph Apr 20 '12 at 11:50
    
Should we move this to main meta.SO? –  Sklivvz May 4 '12 at 9:59
    
I have a related feature-request on Meta.SO already, and got an answer from Jeff there indicating a possible solution (it's in the comments on his answer). I'd follow up on that in a while, I don't think we should migrate this question, it's meant to be specific to Skeptics. –  Fabian May 4 '12 at 10:06
    
This is still happening and it's toxic to the growth of the site. Who do we need to convince to get this changed? –  jozzas May 11 '12 at 0:06
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5 Answers

This needs to go away. Now.

The rule is actively harmful to this site. Its theoretical benefit is offset thousandfold by the harm it does.

See Larian’s lament. Fortunately, the answer in question has since been merged but the harm has been done:

You didn't want to hear the names my wife called Stack Exchange after she put so much into her answer. I had to rescue it as she just walked away. Not sure if she will come back...

(Emphasis mine.) I can’t blame her. Talk about a bad UX. I have zero tolerance for that on other badly designed sites, we shouldn’t have that on “our” site.

And to make it worse, we don’t even know how many answers we’ve already lost due to this. But we do know that the quality of some answers has suffered due to the rule.

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There was an answer I read a few months back that said (it has now been edited out) "What is this? I can only include one link? [expletive]." How likely is that person to come back and answer again? –  Sam I Am Apr 20 '12 at 14:06
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up vote 12 down vote accepted

This has been changed, the limit for the number of links for new users is 50 on Skeptics right now instead of 2.

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50 seems excessive, but its a great change –  Ryathal Jan 4 '13 at 14:18
    
I missed this! Oh frabjous day! –  Oddthinking Apr 7 '13 at 22:23
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I agree, I almost stopped using SO because of new user restrictions. But then I relaxed.

I still feel that if the restrictions aren't irritating enough, not mentioning them until a user tries to submit there post is over the top. New user restrictions should be explicitly outlined in the FAQ along with the rep required to remove them.

Here is an example on skeptics of a question where the formating suffered (slightly) from restricting the number of hyper-links. Are there reptilian creatures hosting the news?

Fortunately the restrictions don't last long (at least in my experience) and the questions or answers usually get cleaned up pretty quickly.

This answer (the one your reading right now) is also an example of a case where I just wanted to leave a comment in agreement but thanks to restrictions, I am forced to create a new answer just to provide my two cents.


Perhaps a reasonable compromise between spam prevention and the suggestion made by the OP would be to automatically flag posts for review when a new user posts several links.

Honestly though, just increasing the limit a bit is probably the easiest solution for this particular issue and would solve some new user irritation. Stating explicitly in FAQ would also help. Skeptics indeed will generally need more than one source of information. (Note: The restriction is currently two for questions at the time of this post)

Edit: It seems new user restrictions are in fact explicitly stated here. I just never found that page when it was still an issue for me.

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The recursive link (the second link in the post) is meant as a joke. I hope it does not offend anyones sense of pedanticism. –  logicbird Apr 20 '11 at 21:45
    
To read my comment on your recursive link, please back up to the beginning of this comment. –  neilfein Jul 12 '11 at 2:30
    
Or you can do as exemplified in this comment. –  Sklivvz May 4 '12 at 10:00
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One up-vote on an answer, two up-votes on a question. That's it. A trivial amount of participation, and you're in and done.

Is it an irritation for that first post? Sure - it is everywhere. But one up-vote on an answer, two on a question, and you're golden.

As rites of passage go, it's not that bad. As always, blame the spammers for ruining it for everyone else.


There's an argument to be made that Skeptics is exceptional, because it demands that answers back up their assertions with references. While this is a fair point, references don't have to be hyperlinks, and throwing in a bunch of hyperlinks doesn't necessarily make your answer well-referenced.

If you're going to argue for a platform change to support Skeptics' exceptional requirements, I think you'd be better off pushing for one that makes references easier for everyone (for instance...), not just very, very new users.

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-1: solution "blame the spammers" is not as good as solution "increase the number of links allowed" or solution "remove the restriction alltogether". –  user288 Apr 16 '11 at 17:11
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Getting one up-vote on an answer might be easy on other stackexchange sites, but not here on skeptics. If you don't include not enough links to your sources -- which you can't until you get the up-vote -- you will only earn down-votes. I'm glad I started here with the +100rep bonus from my other stackexchange accounts. –  Martin Scharrer Apr 16 '11 at 21:31
    
@ shog +1 actually astonishing you get downvotes for this statement as according to your profile you have a high experience how the SE system works together with the typical users. The quality of questions here is low imho, a problem on all SE sites the more average user they gain. But here additionally they try to make the rating system/rules even worse with regard to this fundamental problem esp. of the skeptics topic, sensationalism and prejudices. The bottom line should be higher as on other SE sites, not lower. I dont get it... –  Werner Schmitt Jul 10 '11 at 17:53
    
+1; I don't understand why getting 10 points would be hard. The restriction is there for a reason and it is pretty easy to get the reputation. (Especially coming in from another SE site.) –  MrHen Jul 11 '11 at 13:34
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Shog, there are exactly zero reasons to limit the number of links. Zero. Spam is spam and only needs one link. 2 links is a weird compromise that is just pointless. It does not prevent spam and it sucks for new users. Especially on sites which are not-programming-related and thus potentially more sexy for people not familiar with our format. –  Sklivvz Apr 20 '12 at 14:10
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You can't even ask a question here without references, so you're unnecessarily creating a chicken-and-egg problem. People aren't going to upvote your questions and answers if they aren't referenced, but you need those upvotes in order to be able link to references. I think this is pretty ridiculous, and on Skeptics it's a massive barrier to entry. I wonder how many good answers we've missed out on due to this? –  jozzas May 7 '12 at 23:45
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And finally, is spam really a problem? I would think that the tools available (flag, downvote, vote to close, or delete if a moderator) are enough. I've never seen a spammy question, and answers are downvoted/removed very quickly. I guess my issue is that I don't understand what the problem is that the "two links" rule supposedly solves. –  jozzas May 7 '12 at 23:47
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Another frustrated user –  jozzas May 10 '12 at 23:59
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Here seems to be a misconception:

the more links someone uses in his answer, the more valid it has to be. Additionally i doubt, most actually look/click the links given if the answer sounds right.

Best example: Does torture work well as an interrogation technique? lots of redundant information and links (mostly subjective statements from political correct officials) and massively overvoted. If is so easy to gain reputation - waiting for sensational questions and bombarding the audience with 100 links no one can check (i doubt the answerer checked them all ;) )

Limitation of references is also discussed in scientific papers, as publish & perish leads to too much redundant quoting.

Newcomers should start learning here choosing the right single links and dont adapt to above rep hunting quoting style.

Most like this example http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/users/3849/mark come anyway here and ask sensational pointless questions to gather first rep.

The more i read here, the less, compared too other SE sites, people seem aware of how the SE rating system works and why it was build this way. You have to attract diligent & patient & accurate people, how else you want to establish quality here and gain more of those people??? Thats the concept on any other SE site or Math Overflow. Not making it easier to hunt for rep and gaining more even more people voting up sensational questions.

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Dude, linking to another user's profile like that is uncool. The guy has asked only three questions. –  MrHen Jul 11 '11 at 13:33
    
@MrHen exactly, and all three are pointless, rhetorical & the answer have no information value. He just asked, to get his rep limitations done. Well, thats how you pump this site full with nonsense questions and people likely giving same type of answers. Many of the questions are so bad here, that they would be judged as spam on most off-topic sections on internet boards. But here every fallacy is a question as long some one can get rep for it. Explains why no one from physics.SE high rep guys is frequenting skeptics.SE. Im out here, this can get only worse and high rep guys here think the –  Werner Schmitt Jul 11 '11 at 14:27
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best answer quoting alot of redundant links. Dead end here. If you say something critical without getting abusive, your comments get deleted...All high reps and mods here on meta have pretty much the same misconcepted view concerning the SE system here. Its almost more pointless to post here Q&A then on the main site. shogs9 answer is the best example. –  Werner Schmitt Jul 11 '11 at 14:30
    
That isn't my point. My point is that it is rude to link to someone's profile in a rant. Downvoted until you remove the link. –  MrHen Jul 11 '11 at 14:53
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Werner, if you see a problem with site, feel free to bring it up on meta. Similarly, if you see a problem with a question, bring it up politely in the comments. Complaining, like you're doing here, is not actionable feedback. Posts like these are a waste of time, for the author and the readers. –  Borror0 Jul 12 '11 at 1:07
    
After thinking about it for a minute, I agree with MrHen; picking on one user is just mean-spirited. I would suggest linking to individual questions instead to illustrate your point. However, saying "I'm downvoting you unless you do what I say" is simply ridiculous. On the main board, you're holding someone's rep points hostage. Here on meta, downvotes have no effect on rep at all, and saying this simply makes you look silly. –  neilfein Jul 12 '11 at 2:35
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