There's no accountability. Who are the people answering questions? Are they experts? Can they outperform me?

Only person I saw has stats in their profile to give any sort of indication about their skill level, Berin. Dave Liepmann is the top user in Powerlifting tag yet has no indication he's ever competed or trained as a powerlifter. Why on earth would I take advice on powerlifting from someone that may or may not even do powerlifting?

On other exchanges the lack of accountability is made up for because answers are supposed to be... well specific in terms of answers. Here its not as cut and dry the majority of the time. On Graphic Design for example if someone asks how to perform a task in X program I can answer them. If it works they know I was correct. Here that time to find out if it works takes years if ever, and that assumes the person was correct and the person asking performed consistently.

Until either a requirement is put in place to state your credential and/or source your answer from research there's just no reason IMO to post here. All it does is frustrate me when I come to look at it and feels like the blind leading the blind. I'd go to Bodybuilding.com if I wanted that, at least there some of the profiles have pictures that may or may not be the person haha.

But seriously, consider some way to hold your users accountable. I don't post answers because I don't even consider myself elite in my various physical fitness activities.

  • 2
    Having to have competed at a high level to be able to coach others is a fallacy. – JohnP Jun 29 '15 at 21:25
  • @JohnP I never said that so I'm not sure where this fallacy exists in your mind. – Ryan Jun 30 '15 at 19:19
  • Your entire first two paragraphs "Can they outperform me?", and then the claim that because there no evidence he's trained or competed as a powerlifter that his information is suspect imply that only people who compete at a high level have reputable information. – JohnP Jun 30 '15 at 20:03
  • @JohnP an implication is essentially an assumption but beyond that I said "Are they experts?" as well which you're skipping over. A coach while may or may not be a high level competitor (though most are / were) would be classified as an expert. As would many other things like if you have a high level certification, accreditation, ranking, etc... – Ryan Jun 30 '15 at 20:37
  • Take Martial Arts. Do you want to take advice from the White Belt or the Black Belt? Could the White Belt have great advice, absolutely. Could the Black Belt have crappy advice, absolutely. But 9/10 I'm going to trust the Black Belt's advice, that is if I know they're a Black Belt. And I'm going to trust the Black Belt Olympian before the Black Belt from Victory Martial Arts. Which again is the problem - nobody here says what experience they are/have. – Ryan Jun 30 '15 at 20:37
  • "And I'm going to trust the Black Belt Olympian before the Black Belt from Victory Martial Arts". That is my point. You place more faith in competitive performance. I know several (well, two) Olympians, and neither of them can coach their way out of a paper bag. I also know several incredible coaches that have never competed in their sport. Athletic achievement != coaching suitability. Say Dave Leipmann has three different CSCS certifications but has never competed. Is his opinion still crap? – JohnP Jun 30 '15 at 21:17
  • @JohnP To the point of the Martial Artist - a Black Belt is a certification of the highest level and requires you to have spent time training others. So again Black Belt with Olympic Medal vs Blackbelt from questionable school and no nationally/globally recognized medals is absolutely going to carry less weight as it should. It's foolish to believe anything else. – Ryan Jun 30 '15 at 21:31
  • To the point of Dave --- If I have someone with 3 CSCS Certifications that has excelled competitively then I'm going to value their opinion above that of Dave. Does that mean his opinion is crap? No, it means I'm going to value the others more. Just like I'd value that certification over someone without any. But here's the fun thing ---- Dave's profile makes no mention of these 3 certs. So instead I'm valuing him as a nobody. Which is precisely my point. – Ryan Jun 30 '15 at 21:31
  • All a black belt with an Olympic medal means is that he's good at sparring. Doesn't mean he can teach it. Doesn't mean he's good at forms, weapons, etc. Somewhere there is a SE meta post on why posting certifications is not a good idea, I'm trying to find it. We can talk about it in chat, if you prefer. – JohnP Jun 30 '15 at 21:34
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Ryan Jun 30 '15 at 21:35
  • Reasoning and references are the things that should be used for providing good answers. Not credentials. I never listen to someone unless there is reasoning behind it. Even references tend to be off the mark much of the time. Additionally there are not enough people on this site to be picky about the people who are answering questions. – Jason Aug 9 '15 at 1:11

There is a certain amount of responsibility put on you, as the asker, to critique your information regardless of what source it comes from. An educated person can easily make mistakes where someone with more experience might give better answers. And vice versa.

This is the internet. There is very little accountability on anyone. The community upvotes answers they agree with, or found useful. They downvote answers that make little sense, or is factually incorrect. Someone with as much reputation as Dave Liepmann has, is obviously not talking out of his ass very often, or the community would punish him by downvoting him, which instantly removes credibility.

But other than that, you have to be able to judge, at least a little bit, the merit of an answer. If someone tells you to get a six-pack by doing a lot of bicep curls, chances are, they won't be elaborating on it, and the answer looks very poor.

If someone tells you to get a six-pack by controlling your diet, and doing low-torso heavy compound lifts, chances are, they'll be able to elaborate on why and how. You might find this answer to make more sense. And fact is, you'd have success with it too.

Don't always assume that the one with the most experience or education is going to have the better answer. It might be one or the other, or it might be a curveball answer from a baker who pops out and writes the best answer.

Gauge the answers yourself, give it a try, and see if it works. Discard answers that make no sense, and downvote them.

  • 1
    Take your own question: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/18144/… --- why are you listening to meandering moose? What leads you to believe in any way that its a correct answer? Not to mention you don't state your goal so nobody can provide you an accurate answer. – Ryan Jun 12 '15 at 15:46
  • And exactly "don't assume" which is why it should be stated what a person's experience is and what perspective they're offering you. How do you know if Meandering Moose is giving you advice that align with your goals? You don't. – Ryan Jun 12 '15 at 15:48
  • 1
    @Ryan - I accepted his answer because it made perfect sense, and also because it provided me with a good place to start experimenting with double compounds. Fact is, what worked for him may not have worked for me. Physical exercise is a subjective thing. There is never just one right answer, but a good one enables you to find out what works well for you. – Alec Jun 12 '15 at 17:06

I think it's a fair question (I upvoted it, for whatever that's worth), but as Alec said it's a pretty standard issue across the Internet.

With answers I provide, I usually try to back them up with empirical evidence or at least a massive pile of anecdotal evidence and describe it as such.

Just as an example, one of the more controversial answers I provided got into the fact that insulin sensitivity goes up with fat loss, which in turns makes you store more fat. I had a guy who (at least claims to be) a medical student who disagreed with me, so I trotted out as much data and science as I could.

In the end, I'm not the one telling that person what the truth is, I'm just summarizing and linking to authoritative sources on the matter. For something less iron clad, like "how wide should a squat stance be?", I try to answer quite clearly that I'm offering an opinion based on my own experience.

If you want to argue with human biology as expressed by endocrinologists, that's nothing I can control. If you want to disregard my theories on squat stance because I can only 5RM 2x my body weight, that's fine too. I just try to be transparent with what I'm presenting and how I have that position.

  • That last sentence is really the key I'm trying to get at. As far as the upvote, I appreciate it. I think its pretty telling and unfortunate that an honest opinion from a potential contributor has gotten downvotes in meta. – Ryan Jun 30 '15 at 19:19
  • And glancing at chat seeing you say, "I wish I could personally chime in on those but I don't really consider myself an expert in physical fitness (or physical therapy) certifications." --- exactly! But it appears to me very clearly that others don't share the cautious approach that I and it seems you take on answering questions. – Ryan Jun 30 '15 at 19:42
  • @Ryan for whatever it's worth I don't agree 100% with all of the mods and consistent contributors. Some in fact I down right disagree with frequently, others I've come to respect more because I see where they're coming from even if I don't agree with it myself. There's a lot of room in this community and we, certainly I, would love more active contributors. This place is pretty malleable: if you stick around and get over 2k points (or whatever it is) you can vote a lot and start making a dent on par with others. – Eric Jun 30 '15 at 20:25
  • @Ryan I really dig SE because of the open information aspect, where everything is public domain and fairly democratic. If you have the time, I'd encourage you to spend a couple of weeks trying to answer a couple of questions a day that you feel you're qualified to answer, or at least as qualified as anyone else. And like I said in my answer, just be honest. Sometimes a less academic but more personal answer really does connect with someone. – Eric Jun 30 '15 at 20:27
  • I don't answer many questions because I only feel comfortable talking about a few areas of fitness and many don't come up. I also feel the quality of questions are severely lacking and have consistently left a comment asking the OP "What is your goal?" but have gotten no responses while others answer without knowing the goal --- which further makes no sense to me. – Ryan Jun 30 '15 at 20:41
  • Oh but as far as SE/Rep. I love the model and know it well. I'm a moderator on the Graphic Design Stack Exchange. – Ryan Jun 30 '15 at 20:42

Here is the response we got on Health as a new beta site, from one of the community moderators (Employed by SE):

No, we don't sanction one user over another based on their credentials. That is simply not how the Stack Exchange model works.

We — as a community — vet answers. This type of certification of users had been requested as recently as our Engineering site (Are expertise verified user flairs possible?), but we simply do not pre-qualify one user's participation over another based on who they are.

A user's answers — or anything written on the internet for that matter — should never be taken verbatim. You should remain skeptical and vet the information you see. Ask questions and clarify posts wherever you are able. It is that strong culture of peer review and wiki-style editing that makes this all work. And that is the strength of Stack Exchange.

You can read the entire posting here.

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