Add the ability to supply citations to pros/cons

The long term plan for Slant is to be a “layer above” traditional review websites and forums. In the same way Wikipedia articles are a summary of their references, a Slant option should be a summary of all the positive and negative reviews of that option on the internet so you don’t have to search lots of different websites to get the information you require.

I think Slant should have a citation system designed to show the external links that have influenced the writing of a Pro or Con with the following goals:

  • Make it known we are about trustworthy information
  • Encourage more citations and a community culture of backing up your opinions.
  • Clearly show where the information comes from

Use Cases:

I think a clear use-case for a system like this is the JavaScript MV* question:

One of the Pros for Angular states:

Easily to implement testing systems

Angular was build with testing in mind with behaviors and views separated, making it easier to write unit tests.

It’s a reasonably well written Pro, but without a lot of votes it’s pretty hard to tell if the statement can be trusted.

However, if it was backed up with links such as:

There would be a lot more credible evidence that the pro is indeed legit and you should seriously consider it when making your decision.

I think the citation system should include the ability to vote on citations in a simple “did you find this helpful” style call to action.

Some concerns I have:

  • What’s the difference between using a “add citation” button and linking exisitng text in markdown? And how do we make this distinction clear to users.
  • Is this asking too much from the community?
  • Would people actually find this useful?

At the end of the day I think the following structure for a Pro/Con is incredibly powerful and useful:

  • Title: The Claim
  • Description: More details on the claim to provide context
  • External sources that corroborate the claim

One idea of what it might look like:

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An "advanced"version could have a more feature packed pop-up with a quote included so you don’t actually have to find the relevant text on the citation page. Would look a little like this when you selected/hovered-over a reference/citation:

Great idea.


Is it worth calling it evidence / reference / something less academic; just to avoid scaring certain users with overly official sounding terms.

Citation vs. link

Not much.
The value I can see in separating citations is they don’t need to wrap around a word; so it’s a type of link, but done differently. Perhaps this would be an example of how references[¹][1] could be cited? i.e. using a superscript number to hold the link rather than the whole word / sentence?
Dates[¹][1] - including a date with citations is sometimes useful for online / transient content. The value of these is questionable outside of academia and scientific arenas; but within those areas can be quite important; so useful feature for a subset of use cases.
Offline - citations may not be links to content on the internet; e.g. what about books? Again, these days this may be an edge case. Perhaps a work around would be to point to that book on GoodReads / Amazon / user’s preferred book store via an ISBN link (were you to create such functionality).

Do you think it’s asking too much of users?

No (ish).

If it’s not mandatory it’s not asking too much.
To avoid over complexity perhaps have the ability to add citations turned off for new users (though they can enable in their settings), then after a certain amount of activity/points/time the site informs them of the feature and they can start using it. This is similar to the way StackExchange karma affects rights, only you don’t have to have the karma to get the functionality; karma (or something) just says “you’re probably comfortable with what you’ve had so far, so now you’re ready to learn about a new feature” - but if they want that feature before they can amend their settings and get it early.

Would people find this useful?


Knowing you can trust information’s useful. Say I was proposing a new JS MV framework for my company; if I just said “The users on Slant say it’s the best” I wouldn’t get very far / would have to do additional research. If I had the citations / reference links I could say “This one’s recommended by Slant and here’s some info to back up that statement” it would carry far more weight.

Advanced version

Looks great / saves navigating off site which is always a bonus.


[1]: [2014-01-24 13:40 UTC]

My primary concern is about creating confusion between links and citations.

Currently, links are simple links, with the following properties:

  • Have a destination web url
  • Inline
  • Can have title/text associated with it

Citations are being considered because there are other properties that can make them more useful than links (these are possible features, but maybe some are unnecessary and would be cut):

  • Have a destination web url or source
  • Can reference the pro/con as a whole
  • Can have an excerpt
  • Can have title associated with it
  • Could also have a way to be inline
  • Would be able to extract certain meta information from the URL

The two overlap by a lot, but by keeping them separate we can simplify them, but it also has the problem of being compounded with each other.

Would having 2 similar, and subtly different systems interfere with each other, and would people understand the difference? If they are both exposed, you risk the chance of both being used inconsistently throughout the site.

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Some mockups of what the text editor would look like: (“add url” being the “get it here” link)

This would be what you would see when you hit “Add reference”

Clicking one of the existing references would cause the popup to come back up pre-filled for editing with a "delete’ button bottom left for removing it.

Out of all the options I can think of, I think “reference” is the best. Pretty friendly term that is widely understood.

I think references belong to the pro/con title/claim, not a particular word in the description. This is a potential way to make them conceptually different to the existing link system.

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Just putting some info in here from a convo I had with a SO mod.

That sounds like a good idea, but how would it be different from simply adding links inside of the pro/con? I don’t see why you couldn’t just include a link instead of having a feature that functions basically the same way. What exactly would the benefit of this new feature be?

I see two possible ways of doing citations within the existing markdown system:

1. Link text within the pro/con description.

Example: I think Javascript is really good and stuff [and so do other people.][1]

Problems I see with this are:

  • You’re very limited with how many citations you can add. If you want to add 3+ citations backing up your point, it’s pretty hard & confusing to figure out what part of the text to link. Also the citations need to belong to a specific part of the text, not the overall pro or con.
  • Hard for another user to come in and add/remove citations.
  • No explicit call to action to ask people to add citations.
  • Not explicitly marked as citations and doesn’t show the name of the source or other relevant information.
  • Very inconsistent.

2. Have a list of links underneath the pro/con.


Problems I see with this are:

  • Takes up A LOT of space.
  • No explicit call to action to ask people to add citations
  • Very tedious to add. Especially on mobile.

Advantages of the system described in meta.slant:

  • Cleaner UI. If you scroll down a little and see the screenshots, I think the citations added are nice and simple without cluttering the UI.
  • Call to action - With a “add citation” button we are more likely to encourage that action from the users.
  • Easier to add: The User just needs to supply the link and we take care of pulling in the title and formatting it all properly.
  • This system would enable voting on the citations so we can order them by usefulness.
  • Various other advantages of having them as structured data such as automatic flagging of broken links, learning what sources users find useful, pulling in meta data from the link etc
    How does that sound? Please be honest if you feel like we’re missing the mark with this one.