I was a bit unconvinced of the correctness of this answer: https://law.stackexchange.com/a/8949/1340

To me it seems like there is no justification provided whatsoever1. I am aware that justification isn't necessary for answers: Do answers need to reference written laws or court cases? However, in this case it is quite easy to find the applicable laws online so it seems to me like it would be necessary to use these to make a convincing argument.

After asking for clarification in the comments a user suggested that if I had a question to create a new question rather than asking in the comments. (Comments provided below in case they are deleted) I don't believe I was trying to ask a new question, just asking for clarification/justification of the answer.

In this case it sounds like the answer is There was not an immediate need for the use of force therefore it was illegal. But am I expecting too much from these answers? Do they not need any justification at all? Or should I have been asking for this justification in another question? If it is the latter, what should the question look like? To me it seems like I would just be asking exactly the same question again with an extra "with justification please" at the end.

1 The OP quoted a news article's summary of the law but to me this isn't very convincing either. I have seen news articles get laws wrong, or at least over simplify them, before. Additionally, in this case, a news article explicitly disagrees with the answer: http://nypost.com/2016/05/01/11-year-old-boy-makes-home-invader-cry-like-a-baby/ The eleven-year old faces no charges, as Alabama law allows for one to use deadly force in the event of unlawful entry or burglary. Which makes me less likely to trust either the news source or an unjustified answer on Stack Exchange.


  • 1
    If an answer doesn't seem reliable to you, that is the perfect time to down-vote it. Having an answer that you're not sure of is a lot like having no answer at all. In some ways, it makes it more difficult to obtain an answer that you are sure of. If you are confidant in an answer, downvote it, even if it could possibly be correct, and don't undownvote it until you are confident. May 2, 2016 at 20:43
  • I think the issue is that the question really seeks opinion and speculation. And to further complicate matters, you then end up in a legal battle where no side can technically be deemed the winner - did the case end up going to court? From the comments, I actually do get the impression you're trying to start an argument, ignoring requests to discuss in chat. It seems like you're trying to fight for your opinion (the supposedly right one) by pointing weaknesses in the other. If you don't like it, down vote and move on. Sounds like you know the answer anyway, so you're better off to post it.
    – Zizouz212
    May 2, 2016 at 21:57
  • @zizouz212 I dont know the answer, but I can see how it might look like I was trying to debate the answer. My goal was to show possible problems with the answer as written, but I see how it might have been taken differently.
    – Matt
    May 2, 2016 at 22:23

2 Answers 2


You've identified a question that has an answer you feel doesn't provide an answer that satisfies you. Presuming that flagging the answer isn't applicable and ignoring your voting options I believe at that point you have several options; an incomplete list of which I'll provide:

  • You can leave a comment seeking clarification as you did. The comment may be ignored, misinterpreted, or the author of the answer may address it with either another comment, or by editing their answer and hopefully improving it. This can be tricky if your comment is interpreted as argumentative rather than as pointing out an area where the answer can be improved. Some possible forms for this to take might include:

    • Have you considered the ___ aspect of this case?

    • Could you address your statement about ___?

    • Would you clarify the point you make about ___? I don't see how X implies Y.

    • Is ___ covered in the law of that jurisdiction?

    • I liked how you talked about X, but I missed how your answer addressed Y from the question. Could you address Y as well in your answer?

  • If you feel you can formulate a better answer to the original question this would be an opportunity to do so. If the question is recently asked you are posing an alternative that the community and the person who posed the question can vote up. If the question and the answer are older, you can address the other answer in your answer where relevant to highlight where you feel your answer addresses points that you found lacking in the other answer(s). This is your chance to go look up those laws and cite them in your answer.

  • Another option is, as you've identified, to ask a separate question. If choosing this course of action it may be useful to link to the original question. That link may cause someone else who views your question to provide an alternative answer to the original question that satisfies you more.


I think this is an issue that users here need to internalize and let be guidance in formulating answers. I recognize that this is somewhat contrary to the SE stipulative-answer model where you just say what you think and people up- and down-vote based on how they feel, but we can do better than that. I'm not specifically addressing the referenced question and answer, rather I'm addressing answers in general. A good answer is not simply a statement of what is true, it also integrates the facts that support the conclusion. The hard part is that many questions are quite elementary and "everybody" with a modicum of legal knowledge knows this stuff – but very many questions come from people without that modicum.

A simple example is a question about contracts, where one of the essential elements of a contract is missing, such as consideration. It turns out that not everybody knows that there are these essential elements to a contract, and this stuff is actually written down somewhere. While it is "common" knowledge that a "contract" without consideration isn't a contract, this isn't actually universal knowledge. Unfortunately, the interwebs is full of people who just make stuff up, so from the POV of a naive question-asker, it's hard to tell if you've found a person with authoritative knowledge, who has simply forgotten to give some factual grounding to a claim, versus a person with an opinion.

It is a pain in the a** that you can't just Google something from American Restatement of Torts, Second, but if and when someone has a copy and can actually cite from that book, then that makes an answer much more valuable that simply saying "That's the way it is". We are accumulating exemplary answers that can serve as basic reference materials, which provides another source of authority for claims. It is often difficult to remember to provide the evidence (or to even be able to reduce it to a concrete thing like a quotation and page number, rather than something that you just know). Still, it is worth making the effort.

And so, in answer to the question, I suggest something simple in the comments -- "Is there an authoritative basis for saying that 'valuable consideration' is required for a valid contract"?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .