Some things are experienced first-hand but does it imply that the person is factually correct all the time? There might just be people asking serious health-related issues and we might tell them about our opinion (which is wrong) but it can either be correct and not work because of natural causes or it might be blatant lies. So, should we source every answer we put, or atleast suggest verification sources? For more info on what is original research, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:No_original_research .

EDIT: I would appreciate more community input.

3 Answers 3


I maintain that original research should be permitted; coffee is a mix of science and art:

  • substantiating references should be provided (and expected) for factually verifiable data: e.g., scientific facts; and
  • "original research" or experiential recounting should be permissible for the "artful" aspects of coffee; e.g., techniques.

Hopefully expanding on @hardmath's answer, I believe that community input and verification is the mechanism to ensure a high quality of information, no matter what its source. I think there are three issues here: fact, art, and opinion.

If something is a verifiable fact: e.g.,

These facts can be (and indeed should be) backed up by a reference. If they're not there, they can be (and should be) added. If they're false, a countering reference can be provided, and/or the statement gets downvoted, deleted, edited, etc.

Art-, experience-, or technique-based questions and answers are legitimate; for example:

These happen to also be high-rating (10+ as of this writing), popular questions; but that doesn't itself make them legitimate. In some cases, these can (and should) be backed up with citations or references. Are those examples of non-fact, and are they legitimate?

Purely opinion-based questions and answers are generally not welcome, and I don't think this site should be any different. Except, of course, in meta sites, where (paradoxically?) opinion is largely the only topic being discussed.


Wikipedia's policy is tilted toward the use of secondary sources, almost to the exclusion of primary sources, with the intention of providing conclusions that have a consensus status.

I don't think that should be our approach. I may be coming from a mix of StackExchange sites where it is often possible for somewhat naive questions to get responses from bona fide experts. In any case I see value in the experience of community members informing answers, and generally the community voting can be relied upon to catch out speculation and self-promotion.

  • I am a Wikipedia user and what you said is quite true, not always though. Because some niches are so rarely tread upon that only a few fanboys here and there know about it. Here the real question is, isn't it human nature to "jump in the bandwagon"? However, expert one might be or not, isn't it necessary that OR be validated if mentioned at all.
    – qedk
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 7:10
  • I agree about the reality of Wikipedia vs. the policy, and also that "original research" needs to be substantiated just as much as any other response here. However I think Coffee.SE can (and probably should) be more experimental, more open to original research than Wikipedia because it has a different approach to collecting excellent content.
    – hardmath
    Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 0:33
  • I think we should wait for more community input.
    – qedk
    Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 16:39

Unless the question calls for opinion (which, in general, they shouldn't), everything should be backed with published, verifiable evidence, IMO. Anecdotes are not evidence and so should be avoided. Even though coffee is a highly subjective experience, there is quite a bit of research on the topic and we should utilize that when answering.

I think the term "Original Research" is a tiny bit misleading to someone who doesn't read that link because all answers require research. I know it means no "unattributable" text, and I think we should include something to that effect, I just don't know if "Original Research" is the best way to convey that, someone might get scared away from answering because they think they're unable to write an answer in their own words (which is fine, as long the answer contains attributable facts).

I go to SE for high-quality answers to high-quality questions and compromising on that doesn't seem like a good direction to go for this site. We don't want to go the way of yahoo answers...

  • Tim Post's answer is quite commendable. His personal experience, however fake (I'm just saying), is quite believed as legitimate because he's a verified expert on SE sites. What's more important, he does mention "they" (and more third-parties) here and there, but the answer has no credible sources. It goes up to the lower level of OR but this policy's not really framed yet, so....
    – qedk
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 7:14
  • 1
    I don't get it. Meta is for opinions. Why the downvotes?
    – qedk
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 14:49
  • 1
    @therewillbecoffee Exactly: since there are lots of opinions, on meta sites, voting basically means "I agree" or "I disagree". That way you can see by the votes what the community thinks about various ideas, and ideally, see a strong enough consensus to adopt something as policy.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 23:57
  • Yes, but without substantiation, I have no idea why someone would disagree with my idea which is relatively similar to the answer that got numerous upvotes! All I know is that at least two people disagree with me, not what aspects of my point they disagree with. Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 15:19
  • @therewillbecoffee , speedfranklin: I happen not to be a down-voter, but... please don't take down-votes personally on metas (or on main for that matter :). As Jefromi elegantly said, this is just a mechanism for silent voting. Also note that you don't receive (or lose) rep for votes on metas. Votes (up or down) can't be considered as commentary on content quality, if that's part of your concern. I could see disagreement with your absolute statement: "everything should be backed with published, verifiable evidence" -- could be a tall order for, e.g., coffee preparation techniques.
    – hoc_age
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 21:03
  • @speedfranklin Explaining your voting is often helpful, but it's definitely not required. It's definitely better for people to vote without explanation than to not vote at all. A single downvote shouldn't ever be too much to worry about. (For what it's worth, saying things should be backed up with published evidence is basically directly contradictory to the top-voted answer, so I'm not surprised you got a downvote.)
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 2:55
  • @hoc_age you're absolutely right. Tall order or not, my standard for a good answer requires verifiable sources which is probably a higher bar than the consensus is setting here, hence the downvotes. Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:21
  • I appreciate your thoughtful approach. At the risk of becoming a conversation, do you agree that there is a place for "good subjective" questions? If so, should that type of "good subjective" questions be allowed here? Does there exist a "good subjective" question, that should be allowed here, for which there do not exist any references? How about, e.g., if I invented a wholly new coffee coffee preparation technique: would you discourage it from being proposed here (discounting any other reason not to do so)?
    – hoc_age
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:30
  • It certainly can be asked/answered here, I'm just not sure how productive and educational that line of thinking is. Reading about one person's brewing method might be interesting, but I would have trouble taking that kind of information and acting upon it. It certainly is hard to criticize original research because in general it's never really "wrong". Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:36

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