While reading this question and the only current answer, I was reminded of a standard set up on Cooking.SE that might be apropos here. What standards should we apply around gardening answers?

Obviously we will very often have many applicable options from the different answers, and no particular need to pick the "most authoritative"; however it would be informative in answering/researching questions to know where to begin with respect to 'who' we should look to for background data.

2 Answers 2


I agree in principle, but I don't want this to be like skeptics.SE.

I don't mind having my advice not accepted because it's something my grandpa told me, but I don't think it should be shunned or downvoted because it's not peer reviewed. As Chesterton wrote, 'tradition is the democracy of the dead'. If it worked for my ancestors that's peer review enough for me!

  • I actually like including the wisdom of my father or an ex-girlfriend's grandmother; nonetheless, I am directing this question more toward how to meet the first requirement of posting questions and avoid overtly "general reference" questions while guiding people away from trivial sources (i.e. the internets)
    – mfg
    Jun 10, 2011 at 15:32
  • 1
    @mfg So are we going to be able to close as "General reference" when the site goes live? I think people so far have been doing a good job of answering based on their own personal research/experience/tradition. I'll do a quick google search just to make sure I'm not giving overtly bad advice or lying (like I almost did on that compost tea question), but cutting and pasting is abhorrent to my sensibilities (as a programmer at least). Jun 10, 2011 at 15:38
  • that's a hard question to answer, you might pose that on its own here on meta (rather than have you and I carry on in comments)
    – mfg
    Jun 10, 2011 at 20:05

Per the Wikipedia guidelines as Aaronut laid them out, subbing [agricultural] for cooking;

For questions related to [gardening and landscaping], I've always used the following "hierarchy" of sources, from best to worst, as a rule of thumb:

  • Peer-reviewed journals
  • Academic texts (usually informally peer-reviewed, aimed at researchers)
  • Government [agricultural] agencies
  • Industry/[agricultural]-service texts (aimed at professionals)
  • Mass market books from well-known and/or credentialed [agricultural] researchers
  • Published personal statements from researchers
  • Any of the above sources quoted in the mass media
  • Any of the above sources used in another internet source
  • Published works (books, shows) of well-known gardeners/farmers
  • Blogs and other internet sources with good track records
  • Personal experiments, with data/evidence presented
  • Personal experience (i.e. anecdotal)
  • Untrusted sources (random blog or web page)
  • No sources or anonymous sources ("friend of a friend")
  • This is really useful and I think we should adopt it here too. So, you are allowed to quote your grandfather (personal anecdotal), but it will be looked on more highly if you use or confirm the anecdote by a source higher up. This is more forgiving than Skeptics.se which would require on of the top 2 as a precondition to add an answer.
    – Lisa
    Dec 11, 2011 at 23:22

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