In this question, the OP has asked if it was possible/reasonable to use an answer of Stack Overflow as a reference for an academic paper or journal article, etc.

From my perspective, for the mathematics community, it is often straightforward to validate the correctness of an answer. From this point of view, and because I do not want to take anyone's credits, would it be reasonable to cite an answer of a question?

And, as it sometimes happens, users leave hints of the answer in the comments. In that case, if the OP then answers its own question, should credits be given to the hints?


Whenever you use any of the user-contributed content of sites within the network, whether internally or externally, the license requires you to attribute the content. That is, you need to make sure people are able to find the original source of the work you cite.

Both questions and answers have a "share" link to directly link to them, and you can find a comment link (as suggested by Bart in the comments) by clicking on the timestamp behind them.

So yes, both in the case of academic or otherwise professional material, but also for answers based on comments, you will need to provide attribution to the original source.

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  • Make sure you add that comments such as this one also have a direct link. – Bart Aug 26 '16 at 14:00
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    Math.SE (and a few other SE sites, I think) also have a "cite" button right next to the "share" button which generates a BibTeX or amsrefs citation. – Null Aug 26 '16 at 15:03
  • Never noticed that. Very cool. – Bart Aug 26 '16 at 15:14

MathOverflow and several other sites have "cite" buttons at the bottom of each post. Clearly, you should feel welcome to cite things:

When an answer gets its information from a comment, it should properly cite the comment. Direct quotes should be in block quotes.

I don't think that there is anything special you need to do in this case if you cite the answer. After all, academic papers cite other sources and you don't need to cite them too if you cite the academic paper.

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