I've been thinking about this for a while - this is me without my moderator hat on, and no claim is made as to whether the other mods agree with or support these views.
There are a large number of answers without references. Like, a lot of them. And where the question hasn't already cited a case or statute that it's asking about, it may certainly be a problem.
Because, there's no way for the person asking the question to validate or verify the response you give. And when we're providing information on the law, this is pretty important.
In most legal systems, only judges and legislators get to make up new law. This means that what we're saying, most of the time, is going to be an interpretation or quotation of something someone else has said in the past.
This issue has been discussed before: Do answers need to reference written laws or court cases?
The highest voted answer (at the moment):
An answer will always be improved by a citation, but I don't think they should be mandatory. In many jurisdictions access to judgments is not free, so it would be a high bar to entry if we demanded that every answer cite correctly.
People can always come along later and add missing citations to answers if that would improve them.
While this is true, it's probably best not to get in the habit of writing answers based on common sense. To quote myself:
The main problem is that people tend to agree with commonsensical answers, even if they're not legally sound :/
So in summary, my opinion:
- Unless you're answering a question about a case or statute, your answer is almost1 always better with some kind of reference - and it's better for the person asking the question, too.
- Please, please don't answer with something that just seems right (I hope we don't have anyone doing this anyway, but included it for the avoidance of doubt)
Thoughts? Additions? Disagreements?
1. I mean, the reference obviously needs to be suitable for the answer - and the more specific the better