This is a small question.

If I post a question and discover later that the question was addressed, considered, or asked on MO or in some other forum, should I update my question with a cross-reference?

My instinct is that once I discover the antecedent I have a responsibility to include that in my question, but perhaps that's too strong?

A similar question could be asked about answers. If I answer a question and it turns out my answer is some variant of a previously published idea, do I have a responsibility to note this if I later find out?

Again my instinct is that the answer is 'yes' but I don't recall having seen this discussed here and it's not quite the same as knowing at the time of posting that the answer exists (and then I think it's clear-cut).

  • $\begingroup$ With regards to the answers, the mathematics on MSE is so uninnovative and standard (because the questions themselves are standard), that almost all the answers are a copy or a variant of something that has already been done. $\endgroup$ – Git Gud Jan 29 '15 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ @GitGud: Almost all, and it's usually clear at least from context. I'm asking about cases in which a reader might think otherwise (and justifiably since the question/answer appeared at MO). $\endgroup$ – daniel Jan 29 '15 at 10:09
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    $\begingroup$ Most questions on MO are also standard. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 29 '15 at 10:24

This depends a bit if your question here is answered or not.

  • If the question is answered completely and the other resources does not provide any information in addition, then there is no real need to do anything. You still can but I do not consider it as an obligation. As Git Gud comments a huge number of questions on the site were addressed elsewhere before (perhaps even on this very site, in this special case you should vote to close as a duplicate).

  • If the question is not answered (completely) and you learn the answer to one the question, the best thing to do is to post an answer (mentioning were you learned the information), at least if you consider the content as potentially relevant to others (if not perhaps just delete the question).

  • If you only learn the question came up elsewhere it can make sense to record this information either via an edit or just a comment (if it seems not that crucial and you want to avoid the bump).

I consider none of the above as an obligation in the sense that not doing it would be consider non-ethical behavior or academic dishonesty or anything. However, it is certainly good form to maintain ones content (or content generally) and thus I would encourage you to do so.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, this seems reasonable. It's more a question of maintenance than ethics and a bump might not be worth it. $\endgroup$ – daniel Jan 29 '15 at 10:51
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    $\begingroup$ When you happen to notice, you might still leave at least a comment for the interested reader. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 29 '15 at 10:55

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