As I've been reading, sad to say, I have come across some answers that don't leave me feeling particularly enlightened. I feel like some, honestly, too many, of these top-ranked answers are relying more on emotional appeals and fuzzy feelings rather than backed-up, reasoned evidence. That is, they are relying on "folk wisdom"; stuff that sounds right to the ear, that may or may not be correct, but is full of vapid reasoning and not backed up any cites whats0ever.
Here is one such answer, from the question, When is physical punishment appropriate?
I'm trying to think of a case, and I can't. So: Never?
Why does this answer have 14 upvotes, as of this writing? Would a response of "spare the rod, and spoil the child", have garnered the same number? After all, both responses are equally pithy; both are equally "common sense." But only one is fashionable in 2011; its counterpart would have been just as vapid, and fashionable, in 1811. In my view, the perfect answer to this question would have had cites to scientific studies, or case studies of the life-trajectories of spanked children; an at least above-average answer would have tried to examine, through a perhaps a thought experiment, how the child would logically respond to spanking. ("You aren't teaching a child how to think through the implications of bad behavior if you beat him, only teaching him to avoid the punishment." Or something like that. I don't personally know the answer to the question.) This kind of answer certainly doesn't deserve so many upvotes.
Here is another answer I don't like, to the question, Which breeds of dog are safe to have around a toddler?:
Any breed of dog can be perfectly safe or extremely dangerous. You have to test out the dog for aggressive behavior and educate your toddler on appropriate dog handling.
For example, I stress to my kids that they should not bother the dog while she's eating. At the same time, our dog doesn't have any food issues -- they can stick their hands in her dish and not get bit or mauled.
The second paragraph of this answer is possibly useful; I can't evaluate it. But the first part is again, fashionable fluff -- easily refuted by cursory looks at the data. Sure, lots of people believe it; it may even be correct. But it's not the kind of thing one should claim without evidence or extensive anecdotes, and it certainly shouldn't be the kind of top-ranked answer we have here.
To contrast, here is a very useful answer to the question, Is there any science in favor of co-sleeping with children:
A quick search will yield many articles and studies that show infants benefit from touch. With co-sleeping, infants are touched while falling asleep and often all through the night. Among other things, touch helps to increase the parent-child bond.
Parents get much better sleep because they don't usually have to get up and fully wake if the baby wakes during the night. Babies get better sleep because they don't have to wait for a parent to come get them for feeding. Note that this isn't just being lazy; well-rested parents can better care for their child during the day.
According to pediatrician Dr. William Sears, a leading proponent of attachment parenting (of which co-sleeping is a fundamental part), falling asleep in the arms of a parent helps infants learn that going to sleep is pleasant. It also helps to establish trust and reduce separation anxiety.
This is the best kind of answer. It ties in both personal experience, and established scientific constructs outside of that experience ("attachment parenting"; "separation anxiety"). I can reason through a logical chain in my head that shows me why sleeping with a baby would solve certain needs of his, and mine, and read through paradigms of parenting theory later on; it isn't just a "duh!" or "works for me!"
Other answers I enjoyed were the couple to this one, What is a good strategy for a 5 year old to finish dinner before dessert?
Whenever we have "dessert" it's something well after dinner, so it's not associated with the meal. If we ever have something after the meal, it's orange slices or some other fruit.
Cancel dessert altogether. When the children learn that food is just a test to pass on the way to dessert, they'll cheat, lie and steal to pass the test.
What makes them good answers is that they draw on a well-established principle outside of personal experience, operant conditioning -- I understand why their techniques might work, even if I don't actually agree, or wouldn't use them for my children. This is much better than a "works for me!" answer.
I'm tiring quickly, so I'll just end with this: I think it's crucially important for this site to vote up answers that reasoned and well-supported, in favor of those that are "folksy" and "common sense" in tone, even if you disagree with the answer. Only that will allow this site to have a comparative advantage and become a valued resource compared to other parenting sites on the web. On pretty much all the StackExchange sites, you can be sure that you are getting a considered response to the most subjective of questions, if they were allowed to be asked -- that needs to be doubly so in so emotional as subject as parenting. Please downvote fluff answers.