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Would it be possible to introduce a feature where we can reference other websites in our answers?

For example, if we answered a question on how to use a method in a library, we could link to the specific part of documentation explaining it on the official website.

Then all the references in that question, or all of the questions, could be found at the bottom of the page like Wikipedia does. You could extend the link code, although links and references should be different, to look something like this...

[Somelink in answer][1]
[ref {
    1: http://www.example.com
    title: A link to the documentation explaining the method
    date: 22/06/2010
}]

This would promote good, well researched answers with evidence to back things up. So users can visit these references perhaps helping them with other questions in the future.

This is poorly explained, but you see my point. Making Stack Overflow more like a wiki will make it a better resource for programmers.

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1  
I'm almost positive this was proposed before, but I can't find it. Anyway, I thought it was a cool idea then, and I think its a cool idea now .. so +1. –  Tim Post Jul 22 '10 at 15:30
    
+1 to that: hear hear! –  eruciform Jul 22 '10 at 15:34
    
I thought to myself only a few days ago that this would be a cool feature. +1. –  Pëkka Jul 22 '10 at 15:48
1  
I'm confused. Isn't this exactly how the system works already? OK, we don't have "title" and "date" fields but what do those add exactly? –  Aarobot Jul 22 '10 at 16:41
    
@Aarobot: There would be a list at the bottom of the page linking to where people got the information from for their answer. So if you want some more information on something you use those links. –  Ben Shelock Jul 22 '10 at 16:53
    
Actually, Markdown supports titles as well - the only thing new here appears to be the date (which you could certainly put in the title, unless you have something specific in mind for it). –  Shogging through the snow Jul 22 '10 at 16:57
1  
Meh. SO is about solving problems, not generating research papers. Links to further resources are appropriate and supported, but this is overkill. –  Brian Jul 22 '10 at 17:04
    
I'm looking forward to the [citation needed] edits! –  Jared Harley Jul 22 '10 at 18:16
1  
That's not a bad thing, Jared. SO should be a solid resource for programmers. Not just for answering questions but also for research. –  Ben Shelock Jul 22 '10 at 18:43

4 Answers 4

Unless I'm missing something, most of this is already there:

Unless I'm missing something, [most of this][1] is already there:

  [1]: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/editing-help
      (link to the documentation explaining the method, retrieved 22/7/2010)

When you say, "like Wikipedia does", are you asking for an auto-generated "list of references" displayed at the bottom of the document (vs. hidden in the source)? That wouldn't necessarily require any changes to syntax, but it might be seen as just additional clutter... And getting people to fill in the additional information would be difficult either way - heck, some folks have enough trouble just understanding how to create links as-is!

See also: jjnguy's answer

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Thanks for fixing my answer. –  jjnguy Jul 22 '10 at 17:18
1  
Who does not understand Links? –  Ladybug Killer Jul 22 '10 at 17:33
    
@Ladybug Killer - the browser? Oh wait, you said links. –  Tim Post Jul 22 '10 at 17:35
    
I never understood Links386, but I was all about Links2000! –  Shogging through the snow Jul 22 '10 at 17:35
    
Not necessarily, not all answers have links. This would promote the idea of adding references to facts like wikipedia does. –  Ben Shelock Jul 22 '10 at 17:55

Unless I'm missing something, most of this[1] is already there:

Unless I'm missing something, most of this[<sup>\[1\]</sup>][1] is already there:

  [1]: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/editing-help
      (link to the documentation explaining the method, retrieved 22/7/2010)

You can do this already with the given syntax.

Inspiration for this post came from @Shog9's answer.

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1  
You learn something new every day :) –  Tim Post Jul 22 '10 at 17:19
    
@Tim Hopefully! –  jjnguy Jul 22 '10 at 17:30

Seconded. A good answer usually comes with references, and this would be a better way of organizing them than in-text links.

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Additionally, a nice way of actually dating the links. –  Tim Post Jul 22 '10 at 16:05

Thirded? This would further differentiate SE from other Q&A type forums.
Having forms following a bibliographical standard that an answerer could fill out for both online and offline references would increase the value of the body of sites. As pointed out, references and notes can be done in a hodge podge way by the experts that answer questions, but having a formalized way would encourage the use of references and thus increase the perceived value of the property--and the answers themselves.

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