The question arose out of this Meta answer and comments on it.

Should we, as a rule, consider the question's answer to be higher quality if it's based on an opinion of a literature critic?

(assume that either the critic's opinion, or a competing answer's non-critic-based one, have the same amount of actual backing by text citations etc...)

  • 2
    I think having backing references in general makes an answer of higher quality
    – DForck42
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 19:32
  • 1
    But then again, what's a "literature critic"? Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 19:32
  • 1
    @ChristianRau - someone who writes literature criticism professionally or semi-professionally? But yeah, good point, and a good reason to answer "no", perhaps.
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 19:33
  • 1
    In times of hobbyist blogs and their abundance, the lines become quite blurry of who an actual critic is. A quote/link does not necessarily an authority make. Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 19:34
  • 1
    Yes. But everybody is a critic, so we should treat everybody's opinions higher. Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 20:57

2 Answers 2


Judge on ideas, not status

I don't think the opinion of a critic makes all that much difference as to whether an answer is valid or not; the only real factor that differentiates them from others is their experience, which doesn't necessarily mean their view is more 'correct' than any other.

If you can prove what you're saying with some evidence from the text (or at least offer a potentially valid interpretation), then why shouldn't that answer be just as valid as the view of a critic? In the end, both critics and normal readers only have the actual piece of literature and the context surrounding it to go on, so all opinions are equally valid here; it's not as if a critic has some hidden knowledge that other readers don't.

By all means, support your ideas with commentary from critics, but be prepared to defend the ideas with real, concrete evidence too, and don't blindly trust a critic!


The optimal answer, on many Stack Exchange sites, is written by an expert - or, to avoid having to define that word, a person who is very well acquainted with the subject and specific material at hand. They're likely trained in the discipline, and so, all other things equal, they're more likely to be right in their answer. I'd argue that we should actually try to get such literary experts to write such answers, so they aren't simply quoted.

At the same time, just because someone is an expert doesn't mean they're always right, especially if the question deals with something outside their primary area of study. I join Aurora0001 in emphasizing that you should do more than just read the name appended to the quote - or the answer.

All that said, I'd be more inclined to trust the word of a literary critic - whatever that means - over a simple layperson like myself. (Ideally, citations would arise in an answer, no matter who it's written by.) However, just because someone is such an expert won't necessarily make-or-break my voting on a post.

You must log in to answer this question.

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