# If I recognize the source of someone's question, should I edit to add it?

(c.f. How to ask a good question's Include source / motivation for your question and the preceeding discussion in Is it a good idea to include source from where a question is taken?)

Occasionally, I find an exercise without the source disclosed, and I know where it is from (with certainty). In the past, I would just edit this into the question: posting it as a comment is no harder, and it adds context. I have enough rep to avoid the suggested edits queue, but if I saw such a suggested edit I would vote to approve it. Often the OP is appreciative.

But a couple months back* I found an OP who reverted my edit, saying something to the effect that the question was 'too basic' or 'too simple' (I don't recall exactly) and did not need the source. So I didn't push it too hard and left the source in the comments.

Should I edit posts or leave comments in the future? Is there any good reason why an OP would not want the source in the post? The only non-negative reason I can think of is clutter, but to me that's a rather weak reason. Should I bother with a flag if my edits are reverted?

* I waited to see if an obvious answer escaped me, and also to help disassociate this meta post from it. Of course, its probably findable via SEDE (question iirc is about basic properties of $$\overline \partial_z$$ from one of Terry Tao's notes, if you must look)

• Better mention the source in a comment and request the asker to update the question. By doing this you will avoid the rare backlash (mentioned in your current question).
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Apr 3, 2021 at 3:32
• @ParamanandSingh Indeed, but if the edits are appreciated at large then I (personally, anyway) can handle the backlash Apr 3, 2021 at 3:48
• In that case just to clarify, I am in favor of any improvement in the question (including a mention of source). The only thing should be that edits (by other people) should not change the intent of asker.
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Apr 3, 2021 at 4:57
• @AlbusDumbledore agreed. In the cases where I make the edit, I am 1000% sure, because it is a picture of a textbook I own, or I myself have read the question over and over trying to solve it, and have thus memorised each word, or I notice the writing style, check the source and its accurate letter for letter...and I haven't been wrong yet :) But, agreed Apr 3, 2021 at 6:41
• I'd suggest providing the citation in a comment below the question, for the sake of viewers, suggesting the OP include it in their post. That's the OP's job, as it is considered a form of context, and users should not edit a post to provide context for an OP. If the OP edits to included the citation in the post, that's the best outcome, and you could delete your citation from a comment, in such cases. Edits should focus on correcting formatting errors, or lack of mathjax, grammar, typos, a change in order of wording, or improving the title. Just do not add context. Apr 3, 2021 at 14:57
• Point raised by @amWhy is worth noting. In past there have been edits (by others) to prevent closure or to reopen. While adding source may not necessarily change a PSQ to non-PSQ one should avoid edits which change the nature of question. There is now a policy for context edits and rewrites.
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Apr 4, 2021 at 0:47
• @amWhy thank you for the input, this is definitely something to consider. I think how I justified it was, I wasn't inventing background or attempts, and I suppose I view having a source as just how the question "should be", like how it "should be" written with MathJax. Further, even though I do agree it should be the OP's job, it really feels like I'm creating this job by adding a comment instead of editing it. Saying that, they should have had it in the first place.........hmm I need to think Apr 4, 2021 at 2:48
• Things are more complicated when it's a borderline question in danger of being closed or deleted. But suppose it's a great question written by a problem you recognize. Should you edit to add the source? I think this is not a clear-cut no, but I personally would stick to a comment for two reasons... Apr 8, 2021 at 15:10
• ...First, I personally prefer to edit my own posts rather than other people editing them for me, and I think it's likely that someone who's written a great question feels the same way. Second, you might be wrong about where the OP got the question. I've had this happen when I recognized a past Putnam problem that ended up on someone's problem set. In this case, the source is less "context" and more "useful trivia", and this can change how the question is answered. Apr 8, 2021 at 15:10
• @MishaLavrov Thank you for joining the discussion. I don't think I agree with the first reason, because I feel I am not in any way affecting 'personality', 'soul', 'style' or other unique qualtiies of an OP's bespoke post by adding the fact that it came from somewhere. For the second, fair enough, though perhaps it is the problem set that should have properly sourced :) (half-joking) I have given it some more thought and may write a self-answer soonish (tl;dr I'll leave comments) Apr 10, 2021 at 3:27
• One reason that an OP may not want to add source info is that they're cheating on their homework, so they don't want to add info that could make it easier for their teacher to find their question (using a date range search for the textbook's title &/or author). Apr 10, 2021 at 20:18
• @PM2Ring indeed! hence why I asked for good reasons :) Apr 11, 2021 at 0:25
• What if your source is not the same as the OP's? What if, without realizing it, the OP got it from a secondary source? That's another good reason to clarify in a comment. Apr 12, 2021 at 5:13
• I asked a question about a translation of a passage on German.SE once. I deliberately didn't include the source because it contained a massive spoiler for a popular novel. But someone edited it to add the source anyway. In this case, I had a reason not to include the source, so I don't think they should have edited without asking. Apr 13, 2021 at 1:33
• @Flounderer that is the first good reason I’ve ever heard! Perhaps one could argue that disclosing the source and a spoiler warning might be better, but that’s not at all clear to me. Thank you for the comment! Apr 13, 2021 at 2:59