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I noticed recently on Computer Science Stack Exchange that there is a cite option that will spit out a citation if you wish to reference a question or answer in a paper or whatever that may need citation.

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This seems pretty useful and I can see why more academic related Stack Exchange sites may need this feature, but I was wondering why doesn't every Stack Exchange site have it? Wouldn't it be valuable to be able to cite from any Stack Exchange site? It seems appropriate for any of our sites.

I found a related question I linked below, but there were no answers on it. But I'm trying to distinguish this question apart from that asking it more as a question of why it isn't available and then a follow up as potentially a feature request.

Related: Tooltip for 'cite' option missing

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Because like all other things, adding this option is extra JavaScript that has to be loaded by the site for every single user. For sites where their users actually do regularly need to provide citations in their line of work, it makes sense to enable it. But most of our sites are not that kind of environment, and don't have a large mass of users who need that feature or would use it regularly. So enabling it for all users just slows down the page for a lot of users for no added benefit to them.

Also keep in mind that many of our sites have very different levels of expertise that is required in answers. It's unlikely that some of our sites would even be considered viable sources in many academic research settings where citing information from them would be beneficial to anything you're writing. Stack Exchange is more like a Wikipedia-level information service. Our users are able to answer questions through a combination of actual expertise and just finding external sources that provide the information as well. Users don't always publish their credentials to make the information more trustworthy, or it might even be better for you to just follow the links/references in the answers to the actual source of the information, which is what you really should be citing.

If a particular site thinks a feature would be useful to a majority of their audience, they're always welcome to create a site-specific feature request to have it enabled just for them. But this is one of those things that will never get enabled network-wide.

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  • Thanks a lot for the answer. That makes total sense :) – aug Apr 5 '17 at 20:18
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    In my opinion, it could be possible to load and start the additional javascript conditionally, i.e. if the rendered page contains the code requiring it. It would make possible to enable also latex everywhere (incl. chat). I don't really understand, why the SE won't do this. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Apr 13 '17 at 2:08
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    @peterh Doing that then requires the server to parse everything that will be on the page before displaying it to determine whether or not the file is needed. That would require even more resources than just always including the script. – animuson Apr 13 '17 at 2:13
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    @animuson 1) The server has already the parsed page, this is what the html code is produced from 2) the little bit increased page generation time would exist only on the server side, and not by the clients. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Apr 13 '17 at 2:20
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    @peterh I simply have no interest in continuing this conversation with you whatsoever. You had an idea. It's a pretty terrible one. Let it go and move on. – animuson Apr 13 '17 at 2:21

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