Other things being equal I tend to link to Wikipedia pages for definitions and stock proofs, in part because I've been inspired by researching past questions here to fix things there, and it seems to me as likely such cross-linking increases probability of articles to be maintained or improved.

However I have had a couple of qualms in the past week about such favoritism. Sometimes a Wikipedia page is really only a stub. Even when it defines a required term adequately, I'm not sure how much allegiance is really called for.

I'd like some discussion of this strategy of favoring Wikipedia or some other sites. I wonder if the community ads, say, for PlanetMath should be considered (although they went through a rough patch not long ago). I would think we'd favor sites like Wikipedia and PlanetMath that agree with community sourcing of material, and by the same token I'd be reluctant to give extra weight to linking Wolfram's MathWorld (acknowledging that we have community ads for Mathematica and that sometimes the MathWorld articles win by dent of having the best exposition).

What do you think?

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    $\begingroup$ Other common link targets include Springer's Encyclopedia of Mathematics and, to lesser extent, Scholarpedia. Personally, I try to link to whatever is the best fit to the question at hand, as long as it's not behind a paywall. (Sometimes paywalled resources should be pointed out too.) In general, I am not concerned with the policies of the target site. If it has good content, people should be able to find it. $\endgroup$
    – user53153
    Feb 13, 2013 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know much about "Springer's Encyclopedia of Mathematics", but the first name of that title sounds like a near-synonym of "paywalled" to me. Even if it's accessible today, can we be sure that it will remain so tomorrow? $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2013 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm "The original articles from the Encyclopaedia of Mathematics remain copyrighted to Springer but any new articles added and any changes made to existing articles within encyclopediaofmath.org will come under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License. An editorial board, under the management of the European Mathematical Society, monitors any changes to articles and has full scientific authority over alterations and deletions." Source $\endgroup$
    – user53153
    Feb 15, 2013 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


Citing other sites is fine, but because remote links can go stale (invalid), it is best to show as much of the proof or definition on MSE as possible in an attempt to make the article self-contained.


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