I could not find a question on this topic. I was hoping although audience may range from professionals, students to laymen, should we push for readers to cite formally following MLA, Chicago or any other academically accepted citation (after all majority of contributors will go forth in academic pursuits and it will rub off good habits...)

Should there be an accepted norm or protocol for formal citation instead of hyper-linking "as-one-feels-like"? :smiley:

Or would it perhaps deter further audience from participating?

  • $\begingroup$ Why is a related question "How to deal with cranks"? I hope I am not missing something. :( $\endgroup$ Commented May 16, 2012 at 0:53

1 Answer 1


I don't see a point to doing this. The barriers to entry should be as low as possible. As long as people cite relevant sources in any way, I'm pretty happy.

after all majority of contributors will go forth in academic pursuits

I highly doubt this, depending on what you mean by "contributors."

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    $\begingroup$ By contributors, I meant the general users. $\endgroup$ Commented May 16, 2012 at 0:56
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    $\begingroup$ The majority of general users will go forth to washing dishes. I'm with Qiaochu. Anyway, I have gone forth in academic pursuits, and I have no idea what MLA or Chicago are (in this context); I cite stuff the way I see it cited in journals, and different journals have different conventions, so which one are you going to choose? $\endgroup$ Commented May 16, 2012 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ It was just a thought. Also another of my concern was - and I am not an expert on this- when programs filter the answers, sluices the answers to wikipedia or other sites, perhaps an ordered template, will enable the task efficiently. Again not an expert. $\endgroup$ Commented May 16, 2012 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ Needless to mention the pejorative connotation with "washing dishes". $\endgroup$ Commented May 16, 2012 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Mahmud: In my case, it would be "cleaning up after my nephew", but Gerry's point still stands. $\endgroup$ Commented May 16, 2012 at 1:33
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    $\begingroup$ Could one of the dish washers come to my house and clean the dishes? We are running out of glasses and plates. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented May 16, 2012 at 7:26
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    $\begingroup$ Huh, nearly a year later and we still can't figure out how to solve the dishes problem. They keep getting dirty. We tried buying more dishes, but that only resulted in more dirty dishes... $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ This answer says that a particular citation format shouldn't be required. Okay. What about people who're willing to spend some time on formatting literature references? Is there a recommendation on a common format? Then it will be easier to search for textbooks or categorize questions by textbooks. I saw a list of questions for a particular textbook compiled manually: math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/33414/… . $\endgroup$
    – beroal
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 15:33

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