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Given that this website is not intended for issuing halachic decisions, are answers that offer no source other than "I asked my Rabbi and he said..." valid answers? What your personal rabbi tells you, without any reasoning behind it, seems to be either a useless piece of information or an attempt to tell me what I should do, neither of which seem to be productive.

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    It means one Rabbi allegedly said so. I wouldn't say it's a strong answer – Double AA Apr 11 '14 at 0:42
  • @DoubleAA If someone posted an answer that said "I overheard a guy in the Shwarma shop say it's assur" be an answer? And if not, is this different? – Y     e     z Apr 11 '14 at 0:44
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    Often, when I've seen such an answer, I've commented asking the answerer if he could share his rabbi's name. – msh210 Apr 11 '14 at 4:39
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    @YEZ In my case there is a claim of authority. – Double AA Apr 11 '14 at 5:10
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  • better, if a rabbi gives an answer, get his source, look it up. And if somebody just says their rabbi says x. then tell them to(it'd help if they) get a source from him. – barlop Apr 23 '14 at 23:20
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Unless the question specifies a particular type of source that it's looking for, even answers that do no cite any source at all are "valid", information that comes from informal or mimetic sources is better than information with no cited source. Regardless of the type of source, the more information that the answerer can include about the source, to help readers gauge its applicability, compare it to other sources, and follow up, the better.

So, unless precluded by the question, "my rabbi" is a valid source. It's also somewhat useful because it indicates something, albeit anecdotal and difficult to verify, about the state of tradition and practice with respect to the question at hand, somewhere. The answer can be made much more useful without betraying the identity of the answerer or rabbi by including information like where the rabbi went to yeshiva, what general line of tradition the rabbi follows (e.g. Teimani, Chabad, German, etc.), and as much as possible of the rabbi's reasoning.

  • I am fine with unsourced answers. My question was when the entire answer is just reporting what an anonymous person said. Unsourced lines of reasoning are much more useful than letting us know that you asked your Rabbi. – Y     e     z Apr 11 '14 at 15:55
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    @YEZ, whether reasoning is included is orthogonal to what type of source, if any, is included. The least useful answer that is still an answer is an assertion with neither source nor reasoning, and we go up from there, preferably by adding both. – Isaac Moses Apr 11 '14 at 16:04

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