Wikipedia has a citation template for citing references. I've been using something like:

<ref name="StackOverflow">{{cite web|url=http://stackoverflow.com/q/31387778
    |title=Near constant time rotate that does not violate the standards?|accessdate=12 August 2015
    |publisher=Stack Exchange Network}}</ref>

You can see an example at Bitwise Operations | Circular rotates in C and C++. I try to avoid Wikipedia editing, but sometimes it's required when Stack Overflow answers cite Wikipedia, and the Wikipedia information has opportunity for improvement.

What should we use when citing the Stack Exchange network?

(Should this be a support request even though it's external to the Stack Exchange network?)

  • 2
    I don't know that you should be citing Stack Overflow as it would probably be considered a primary source. This is probably something that should be asked of Wikipedia.
    – ale
    Aug 12, 2015 at 11:54
  • 2
    @AlE. - I agree, but that's not the topic of this question. When the citation bot asks for citations, I simply provide them. This question is about how the Stack Exchange network would like to uniformly identify itself, and that falls squarely within purview of the Stack Exchange network.
    – user173448
    Aug 12, 2015 at 12:21

2 Answers 2


This reply might be more Wikipedia policy-based, instead of Stack Exchange policy-based, but I'd like to provide some perspective from our (and by "our" I mean Wikipedia's) point of view:

According to Wikipedia policy, Stack Exchange sites should never be cited in the text of a Wikipedia article as a reference. Wikipedia does not consider Stack Exchange a reliable source pursuant to Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources§Self-published sources (online and paper) ("self-published media [...] are largely not acceptable. This includes any website whose content is largely user-generated[...].") and Wikipedia:Verifiability§Self-published sources.

To cite Stack Exchange where we use Stack Exchange content (that is, where we are required to provide attribution to use the text in accordance with the CC BY-SA 3.0, which both Wikipedia and Stack Exchange use for all content), please see Wikipedia:Plagiarism§Copying material from free sources. Specifically, place the template Template:CCBYSASource directly in the references section of the Wikipedia article, for example:

|sourcepath = http://stackoverflow.com/q/31387778
|sourcearticle = Near constant time rotate that does not violate the standards?
|revision = 675766097
|author(s) = [http://stackoverflow.com/users/608639/jww jww] at Stack Exchange }}

Which would produce:

What the above template would produce

Again, this is only used when text from the original question or answer is copied directly or closely paraphrased into the Wikipedia article. This should not be used when the Stack Exchange question or answer was used only for research.

I'd like to emphasize that I do not formally represent Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation in any way. I am simply a regular, policy-familiar editor of the English Wikipedia who goes by User:L235.

  • A comment from much later: Wikipedia:Verifiability§Self-published sources (now) says Self-published expert sources may be considered reliable when produced by an established subject-matter expert, whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable, independent publications. The policy isn't a blanket ban as described here (it may have been 8 years ago, idk), but definitely a "be careful."
    – Danica
    Jul 19 at 5:29

This is covered in the blog post Attribution Required, which is linked at the bottom of every page:

... If you republish this content, we require that you:

  • Visually indicate that the content is from Stack Overflow or the Stack Exchange network in some way. It doesn't have to be obnoxious; a discreet text blurb is fine.

  • Hyperlink directly to the original question on the source site (e.g., https://stackoverflow.com/questions/12345)

  • Show the author names for every question and answer

  • Hyperlink each author name directly back to their user profile page on the source site (e.g., https://stackoverflow.com/users/12345/username)

All you're missing is the author's name and a link to their user page:

<ref name="StackOverflow">{{cite web|
  |title=Near constant time rotate that does not violate the standards?
  |accessdate=12 August 2015
  |publisher=Stack Exchange Network
  |author=[https://stackoverflow.com/users/608639/jww jww]}}</ref>

Whether you're meant to be citing yourself on Wikipedia isn't anything to do with Stack Exchange.

  • 1
    I may be splitting hairs, but I'm not republishing. I'm simply citing (hence the reason I had to ask). Also, is Stack Exchange network how the site would like to be uniformly identified? I wish one of the downvoters (who apparently already knows the answer) would simply share the answer rather than wasting my time with un-commented downvotes.
    – user173448
    Aug 12, 2015 at 12:45
  • 6
    @jww, nitpick, but un-commented downvotes don't waste your time :)
    – Benjol
    Aug 12, 2015 at 13:27

You must log in to answer this question.