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I often will link other people's profiles in my posts where they are appropriate but I've never checked whether this is OK. I've read through the rules and couldn't find anything that spoke to this. Also tried to find a similar question on this site and Stack Exchange in general and came up short.

For the seasoned members - is this practice (a) Allowable and (b) Accepted?

Just don't want to be upsetting people.

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migrated from math.stackexchange.com Dec 29 '18 at 9:01

This question came from our site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields.

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    $\begingroup$ Linking to the userpages is useless and (imho) should be avoided. Linking to the exact place of their contribution could be (mildly) useful. $\endgroup$ – Did Dec 29 '18 at 11:07
  • $\begingroup$ Why is it useless? and why should it be avoided? Does it serve something sinister/negative to the page? $\endgroup$ – DavidG Dec 29 '18 at 11:09
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    $\begingroup$ Why is it useful to link to the user page of a user commenting on something that interests you? A priori, you might wish to draw attention to their comment itself, for your readers to be able to read said comment verbatim, not to their profile. To sum up: if the content is interesting, focus on the content. $\endgroup$ – Did Dec 29 '18 at 11:14
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    $\begingroup$ (1) I linked a person I had collaborated with (not on stackexchange). I feel it's proper to link all of those who have worked on whatever it is that is presented. At the same time, I'm not going to DOX them. Consequently, linking their Math Exchange seems appropriate (2) I linked to profiles that provided multiple comments/corrections and clarifications. All of which are preserved chronologically in the comments. As such, it's much easier to give an overall thanks to them by linking their profiles. Anyone who looks to the comments will see what has been contributed. $\endgroup$ – DavidG Dec 29 '18 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Did - How did it detract from the post? As in, how did those links make the post worse? $\endgroup$ – DavidG Dec 29 '18 at 11:20
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    $\begingroup$ It's not a matter of detracting or making it worse. It's more like, "what's the point?" You serve everyone much better by linking directly to the material of importance (which includes the comments/posts themselves, yes even if it's multiple, because that takes effort away from anyone trying to parse what you're writing years down the road). $\endgroup$ – Eevee Trainer Dec 29 '18 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ For clarity, I don't think anyone is saying that it makes the post and worse (unless you just link to their profiles as a means of circumventing links to multiple posts, which is lazy). They're just saying - it doesn't really make the post any better either. $\endgroup$ – Eevee Trainer Dec 29 '18 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @EeveeTrainer. $\endgroup$ – Did Dec 29 '18 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough. In $\endgroup$ – DavidG Dec 30 '18 at 5:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Did, EeveeTrainer - Thanks to both of you for your responses. I do appreciate the detail and your reasoning, but nothing I've seen from either of you presents a reason why it shouldn't be done. Nor have I used tags in any of the situations put forward as being inappropriate for tagging. I personally like to acknowledge those who have contributed. If our tags were unique identifiers then I would only tag those. Given they have the ability to change (as I've changed mine) I think it's better to link the individual(s) profile. So, I will continue to do so. Again, thanks for your comments. $\endgroup$ – DavidG Dec 30 '18 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ If though, there is a unique identifier that can be found for each user, I will use those instead. $\endgroup$ – DavidG Dec 31 '18 at 5:11
  • $\begingroup$ "nothing I've seen from either of you presents a reason why it shouldn't be done. " -- Did I ever say it shouldn't be done? Don't shove words in my mouth just because I'm not mindlessly agreeing with you. >_> All I said is that it doesn't add anything or detract anything from a post, unless you're using it as a means to avoid linking to individual posts out of sheer laziness. If it's not the latter, then the effect is neither positive nor negative and in turn I couldn't care less which you do. But don't misrepresent my views on the matter. $\endgroup$ – Eevee Trainer Jan 2 at 4:58
  • $\begingroup$ And yes, you say you do it in interest of wanting to give credit where credit is due. That's fine. But it doesn't inherently add anything to a post by itself, saying "thanks for your help" does not inherently make a question better on MSE, which is more concerned with the facts themselves and their validity, as opposed to where they come from, most of the time. The average person reading through your posts 10 years from now probably doesn't care a bit about who you give credit to. Acknowledge those who contribute at your leisure, provided it's not out of laziness. Don't pretend it adds though. $\endgroup$ – Eevee Trainer Jan 2 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ @EeveeTrainer - LOL. Calm down. I was just saying that what you said didn't contribute anything. It didn't make this thread worst, it just didn't make it better. You would profit from reading my actual comment... like you should have done with the original post itself. In any case, thanks for your response. $\endgroup$ – DavidG Jan 2 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ "Don't pretend it adds though" - Where did I say it did? LOL. You really need to learn to respond to what is actually said not your manifestation of it. $\endgroup$ – DavidG Jan 2 at 5:03
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If, as you claim, you do this when it is appropriate, then there is no problem with it. I find it both allowable and acceptable.

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  • $\begingroup$ Cheers @Jose! Here is an example - math.stackexchange.com/questions/3042291/… $\endgroup$ – DavidG Dec 29 '18 at 9:22
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidG I don't think that adding that limk added value to your answer, but it doesn't make it worst or harder to read. $\endgroup$ – José Carlos Santos Dec 29 '18 at 9:41
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    $\begingroup$ I agree, the links are for the recognition of their help. Yes, it doesn't need to be linked directly, but I as you said, it doesn't make it worst. Honestly, it was only done out of respect and gratitude. $\endgroup$ – DavidG Dec 29 '18 at 9:43
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    $\begingroup$ It is not always acceptable to post profile links, particularly when doing so is intended to shame a user, or other such nefarious reasons. You can credit users for contributions by naming, or writing "As @John_Doe wrote, 'foo, fee, and fum.' " Alternatively, one can write: "Credit also to username_1, username_2, and username_3." If anyone, given that information, wants to check any of their profiles, it's easy enough for them to do it themselves. $\endgroup$ – amWhy Dec 29 '18 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ -1, this just says "if it is ok, it is ok" $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Dec 29 '18 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ What @Lord_Farin wrote. $\endgroup$ – Did Dec 30 '18 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ Are the tags unique identifiers? and if not, how does one uniquely identifier a contributor for a post? $\endgroup$ – DavidG Dec 31 '18 at 5:08
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    $\begingroup$ To my mind "If it's appropriate, it's appropriate" is a substantive point: namely that a blanket rule won't substitute for weighing up the individual case—and that it would be contradictory to say "Even if it's appropriate, don't do it". $\endgroup$ – timtfj Dec 31 '18 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ The first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club. $\endgroup$ – Matt Samuel Jan 1 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ I've only done this once that I know of, and it was in a very recent comment about one month ago. I don't think I've ever noticed this done by anyone else before, and the only reason I did it was that I was curious as to whether he would notice (I didn't cite a name). [Note: Original comment I posted a minute ago has been changed because, after following the link, I remembered that I had abandoned my original trepidation a month ago in doing this.] $\endgroup$ – Dave L. Renfro Jan 2 at 18:20
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I'm not a seasoned member, but I've some thoughts on this. I'll focus on practicalities rather than on accepted site policy.

Let's assume the aim is to give a permanent acknowledgement and provide a link—which would seem to be good practice with online material in general. A matter of courtesy and acknowledgement of sources.

As to where to link, I can see some potentially conflicting considerations.

  • If the link is to a comment, the comment might be subsequently deleted once it's done its job of helping you. So the link won't be valid any more. A profile link is likely to be more permanent.
  • If the help was spread across a number of comments or posts, it might not be practical / sensible to link to them all. A profile link has the benefit of being a single link.
  • But linking to a comment enables readers to see what the help was, which is more informative—if they want, they can then click the commenter's name to see the profile.
  • There might be people who prefer not to be linked to for one reason or another, especially if (for example) they're having trouble with trolls etc. Or maybe if the post is unexpectedly controversial and they don't want to be dragged in by getting heated replies to old comments.

When I'm reading, is the presence of a link problematic? Only if it's unnecessarily obtrusive, or leads me to think it will go somewhere more interesting than it does. But it's obvious that if someone's name is highlighted as a link, I'll most likely be taken to their profile page or possibly their website.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I agree with everything you've said. Do you agree those concerns apply to any form of direct recognition on the page?... For those that don't want to be linked, they need only ask and I will remove. As before, this is only done to recognise the contributions of the given person/people. $\endgroup$ – DavidG Jan 2 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidG I think the only differences with an actual link are that its convenience makes it more likely that someone interested will get as far as following it up, and the minor typographical effect of some highlighted text which in a printed version might not have been emphasised. But all online material has that. I'm more concerned by the widespread belief online that issues like copyright and acknowledgement of sources "don't matter because it's the Internet" or whatever. $\endgroup$ – timtfj Jan 2 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ Your concerns re copyright/acknowledgement of sources are valid, but on a forum such as this I'm not sure how we can moderate this. I believe this is attempted through moderators/flagging/etc but is there a code of ethics on this? To my understanding in what I read through the rules there isn't anything. $\endgroup$ – DavidG Jan 2 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidG To my mind, you're just trying to apply good academic practice to your posts. As I understand it, MSE aims to be a high quality site—attention to details like properly acknowledging someone who deserves it is surely part of that. I find the responses about "not adding value" very odd. It's basically adding prefessionalism. $\endgroup$ – timtfj Jan 2 at 11:15
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidG I'm not sure it can be moderated, but I think that every time you include an acknowledgement you're encouraging others to do the same. Encouragement is probably about as far as it can mostly go. $\endgroup$ – timtfj Jan 2 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed. In future, to be 100% I will send each person a message to get their permission. If I get their permission, I will link. $\endgroup$ – DavidG Jan 2 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidG It might be objected that an MSE post isn't a piece of academic work so academic practices shouldn't apply. But that treats those practices as if they're just (arbitrary) rules rather than having the purpose of making information traceable and recognising people's individual contributions. $\endgroup$ – timtfj Jan 2 at 11:34

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