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Is Stack Overflow trustworthy as a bibliography source in the scientific world of values?

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closed as not constructive by Bart, Toon Krijthe, kiamlaluno, jonsca, Servy Oct 29 '12 at 15:26

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Do you haven an question or answer that you would like to cite? – user177964 Oct 29 '12 at 10:29
No, it is the general question and my intention is to start discussion about credibility of web-communities in this case stackoverflow. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 10:40
Academia might provide more useful information as to what academics count as trustworthy. – AakashM Oct 29 '12 at 10:52
I depends on the sites. There are some sites which are more academic in their approach and which are targeted specifically at academics. But even there the SE should not be regarded as a citable source. The underlying referenced work is fare more usable in that case. Stack Overflow to me is absolutely useless as an academic reference. – Bart Oct 29 '12 at 10:56
@AakashM Of course you're right, scientists have a huge credit of trust and the question is whether deserved. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 12:00
@Bart I do respect your opinion about absolute uselessness SO as an academic reference. This your opinion and I suppose you can motivate it. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 12:07
Accepted science requires peer reviewing by those who have successfully completed post graduate studies in the field. We require 15 unicorn points to up vote. Short answer : Ummm .. no. – Tim Post Oct 29 '12 at 15:17
@TimPost Thank you for your opinion. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 16:09
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I guess, you can trust the tag wiki pages that are created by the users, as they are populated and maintained with information form reliable sources, official pages to a item/tag and links to the official documentation.

Also, they have undergone modifications for a reasonable amount of time and have reached to the content that is available now. Atleast this is true for the legacy tags like , , , or any other high profile programming tag.

Hope this helps in your understanding.

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Thank you for your answer. I really do trust in goodwill and knowledge those who are anonymous here or on Wikipedia. According to me the traditional so-called good academic resource is like religious dogma. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 12:14
@Avyakt Sources not being "academic" does not mean that by definition they are wrong or useless to the public in general. Call it dogma if you will, but it is done for very good reasons. – Bart Oct 29 '12 at 12:31
@Bart "it is done for very good reasons" I know this argument too, but it like God created the World because He has very good reasons. My will has nothing to do with this dogma, because it is the simple fact. If I understand correctly, the science also has to be for public consumption. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 12:39
@Avyakt Sorry, but I still don't understand the point you are trying to make. What do you want to achieve with this question? If, as you say, your "intention is to start discussion about credibility of web-communities", then this is not the place for that. – Mr Lister Oct 29 '12 at 13:21
@MrLister It is simple, I want to know weather it is possible to acknowledge SO as the academic source, if not why? But in the way, which respects the input into knowledge made by web-communities. SO is only the symbol, because we are talking about Wikipedia or for instance conferences or lectures on You Tube. I really want to see the list why SO, Wikipedia and You Tube cannot have the academic source status. "99% or good reasons" are not scientific simply. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 13:36
@MrLister This is meta question, so this is very good place. Let ask you this question: are you trustworthy here, are your answers worthy to put them as the reference? – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 14:02
@Avyakt I'm but a single person, and I'm only human, so if I ask or answer a question, I can make mistakes, factual errors, and if my peers don't correct me, those errors will be stuck in my messages for the rest of eternity. Even if my answer is correct and flawless and it answers the question 100%, that still doesn't mean it's the only correct answer, or the best or most efficient or widest applicable. If you are searching this site with a question you have, and you find an answer, treat it like "this is something I can try" rather than "this must the whole truth and nothing but the truth". – Mr Lister Oct 29 '12 at 14:13
@MrLister Of course, you're right, but that does not change anything, because I did not ask if you are infallible, right? Scientific theories live to overthrow, and no one says that scientists are unreliable. But I understand, that you are against SO as the reference source too. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 14:23

No. Much like Wikipedia, StackOverflow "articles" (i.e. questions and answers) can be edited by anyone, without academic degree or any sort of certificate.

Hence, it should not be relied upon as a trustworthy citable bibliography source for academic work.

Also, I can hardly (aside from a very few, very special exceptions) call anything on Stack Overflow "academic level". Stack Overflow generally deals with practical, technical solutions, for specific problems. It's rare to see a very large, general, well explained and exampled answer, with very high level information and thoroughness. That's usually an ideal dream.

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If one cannot trust to wikipedia or stackoverflow, so why they are so popular? Why people are making such a huge effort to maintain them? And why scientists are using these sources in "private" purposes, such as lectures? – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 10:46
@Avyakt: Because they are good sources of information. An information found on StackOverflow (and Wikipedia for that matter) goes under constant quality control. However, it is that quality control which renders it unusable for academic city. What you see today, isn't what you may see 2 years from now. – Madara Uchiha Oct 29 '12 at 10:47
I do know that scientific world is using these sources permanently and at the same time erodes the value of them. It might happen that stackoverflow will disappear but it does not make this place untrustworthy. Theoretically, all books can disappear too. And more, you can copy web page as the prove, that it existed, even in pdf format. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 11:02
@Avyakt: From what I know, at least here on Israel, all sources of bibliography in a serious academic level research, must be of books, permanent websites, and especially, academic articles. – Madara Uchiha Oct 29 '12 at 11:06
"I do know that scientific world is using these sources permanently"... then you might want to clarify what you mean by "scientific world" and at which places you've seen them use it. I know that I would not get away with Wikipedia links in most cases. Nor would I let any other authors get away with it when I review their submissions. – Bart Oct 29 '12 at 11:08
Intention of this question is to get to know what you think but not how I define expressions in my answer. I do trust in your associations skills and I will not start the definition-discussion, because it is never ending story. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 11:15
@Avyakt: Depending on the use-case. I assumed "science world" to be "academic research", in which case, Stack Overflow is not the best bibliography source. – Madara Uchiha Oct 29 '12 at 11:16
@MadaraUchiha I am not saying that every question is suitable to be an academic reference, but if we have goodwill and understand the quality of discussed matter, so why not give the credit to them who made an effort to answer? – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 11:25
@Avyakt If you want to draw this out into what makes a good academic resource and why SO doesn't fit that bill, your question might be much better suited for – Bart Oct 29 '12 at 11:33
@Bart Thank you for the tips, but I think that I have got the answer here. I know what is so-called good academic resource for today. – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 11:45
@MadaraUchiha You can make all assumptions in the world if you can prove usefulness of them. You are saying that SO is not the best bibliography source, right? So, according to you all the topics here on SO are far away from academic level of discussion? Do you agree with that? – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 12:27
@Avyakt: Yes, that is correct. Aside from very special exceptions, discussions here on Stack Overflow are not of academic level. – Madara Uchiha Oct 29 '12 at 12:28
@MadaraUchiha So, you are saying that the academic level of discussion is more intellectually advanced and has significantly larger practical use? Do I understand you correctly? – Avyakt Oct 29 '12 at 12:46
@Avyakt: No. That's wrong. Read the edit on my answer please. 99.999% of the discussion on StackOverflow is related to very specific problems. These aren't articles that explain and discuss the finer point of whatever the topic is. They are mostly incomplete, and localized. There are nearly 0 theoretical post Stack Overflow, and 100% of the posts are done by community members, most of which have no academic degree of certification. It does not make any of the posts or discussion any less intelligent than academic level material. – Madara Uchiha Oct 29 '12 at 12:48
@Avyakt Listen, you are getting to close to the definition of "academic" now and the motivations behind why we consider these things citable or not. If you're interested in that, take it to the Academia SE. I have voted to close this question since IMHO it's getting not constructive. The dedicated SE is a far better place to discuss this. – Bart Oct 29 '12 at 12:49

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