I'm currently writing my master's thesis and I've gotten some good answers that have helped me along in my process.
My question is, do I cite Mathematics Stack Exchange in my thesis or do I put a note of thanks?
There was a discussion on meta.mathoverflow about this, How do I cite Math Overflow?
I agree with what Mike Shulman suggested, which is putting a sentence in your acknowledgements:
If the answers came out of a large discussion, then I think acknowledging MO as a whole might make sense (though I might still mention explicitly the main contributors, if possible), but if the answer came from a specific person, I would acknowledge that person (and perhaps say that the answer was given on MO).
Also, as pointed out by Noah Snyder on that meta post, this paper does a reasonable job citing math overflow, and the main answerer, in footnote 8.
I too have this issue coming up. One part of my thesis began on this site and another on MathOverflow.
My intention is to put a footnote link to the threads, give credit when I use someone else's proof which appeared on these sites and of course give thanks both to the communities and the users (by real name if possible, by user name otherwise) - both those who asked the question; gave helpful comments and so on.
It might be noteworthy, that the site now has a handy "cite" feature below each post on main wich creates copyable BibTeX and amsrefs citations for the respective post. It can be reached by clicking the "cite" button (between "share" and "edit").
According to the terms of service, paragraph 3, subscriber content:
In the event that You post or otherwise use Subscriber Content outside of the Network or Services, with the exception of content entirely created by You, You agree that You will follow the attribution rules of the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license as follows:
- You will ensure that any such use of Subscriber Content visually displays or otherwise indicates the source of the Subscriber Content as coming from the Stack Exchange Network. This requirement is satisfied with a discreet text blurb, or some other unobtrusive but clear visual indication.
- You will ensure that any such Internet use of Subscriber Content includes a hyperlink directly to the original question on the source site on the Network (e.g., https://stackoverflow.com/questions/12345)
- You will ensure that any such use of Subscriber Content visually display or otherwise clearly indicate the author names for every question and answer so used.
To summarize, unless you created the content, you must clearly link to the post, link to author, and identify it comes from XX.SE site. This may seem like a pain but it can be a benefit if SE every has a math careers or academic careers associated with the sites that are academic in nature such as chemistry, biology, math, etc. The linked research content could then be added to userX's careers profile which in turn could help them land a first career or a new career.
Additionally, in the other answers, it mentions real names and only usernames if that is all they have; however, this practice would not follow SE subscriber content. You can put their real name if you know it but you must link to their profile with their user name.
Here is the screenshot from the accepted answer of the paper that does a "reasonable" job.
This would not be the correct way to cite subscriber content obtained from SE.
Here is how I cited the use of a LaTeX diagram: