This, I know:

  • I know that if a question (or answer) has been edited you can click on the revisions link to see the source, and
  • I know that if you have enough reputation points you can pretend to edit and see the source, and
  • I know that you can do some silly hack-job taking the postid and putting it manually in some other link to see the source.

I know all this already.

However, for users:

  • who don't read meta and find out these hacks,
  • or don't feel comfortable hacking away at links (on cooking.SE, I mean SeasonedAdvice for example), or
  • who have few reputation points, or
  • would like to see the original markup (down?) of a question so that they can learn or so that they can better understand the intention of the author,

For those people, (and other lazy bums that don't feel like hacking a URL and would much rather click on a link), would it be possible to add a little link "source" at the bottom of every question and every answer?

Edit: I'm bringing this up again now since in the past few days I've wanted this two times (over at tex.SE):

  1. In this question the original post had an unescaped _ which threw me off and it took me a while to understand that there is something missing from the original post. After looking at the source, I understood the question better.
  2. in this question The author had again, unescaped code, this time the code included a <presentation> which was mistaken to be an html tag, and thus did not appear in the text. As you can see from the comments, I got confused and asked some silly questions because of that.

I think that I would use it more than the "link" link, which I never use (that, I can just copy from the addressbar). remember that it already appears (as edit) for high rep users, and for them we should probably not have an additional "source" link, but for the rest of us, it would help.

My main point is that the current hack, for me, is a high enough energy "barrier" that I only try to look at the source if I am fairly confident that something is awry. This should not be the case. I should be able to view the source easily if I want.

I've looked to see if other stackexchange-2.0 site have had a similar discussion: so far I've found:

  • tex I think that in some sense, this issue is mostly important for this site, because it is exactly about typesetting and so one needs to be very precise about how the result ends up visually.
  • cstheory
  • money this is interesting as it shows that you can never have too many ways to see things...apparently the poster found clicking on the "time" of the last edit a confusing way to see the edits...I agree!

Maybe there are more?

  • Hmm... how often do you want to see the source directly from a question or answer? I feel like this could be more confusing than helpful ("hey, this isn't the source code in this post!"). But I'm open to having my mind changed by a use case or two.
    – Pops
    Oct 27, 2010 at 15:09
  • @Popular: I added two recent cases where I would have used it. Oct 27, 2010 at 15:38
  • 5
    +1. Sometimes I really wonder how that person made his/her post look so pretty and quite keen to see the source, but can only do it on SO where I have enough rep to click Edit.
    – GSerg
    Oct 27, 2010 at 15:53
  • @GSerg: take a look at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/24400/… for the hack I was talking about for seeing the source of any question. Oct 27, 2010 at 16:06
  • @GSerg, there's a "Markdown help" button on every question and the Ask Question page; it's the big colored question mark icon. (Wasn't obvious to me either, but now you know.) Convenience link: stackoverflow.com/editing-help
    – Pops
    Oct 27, 2010 at 16:10
  • @Popular Demand: That page I find myself reading more often than I would probably like... It won't give me a clue on some cleverer tricks though, such as posting a short comment. And I always keep forgetting how to do the keyboard thing. And when I click through to "What HTML tags are allowed," I've no idea what <dd>, <dl> and <dt> do, and also some others (yes, I can try and find out, but I know that in a month time I will have to try and find out again, because, not being an HTML person, I will have forgotten it, which is why I'd rather just have a glance at the clever source code).
    – GSerg
    Oct 27, 2010 at 19:01
  • @Yossi Farjoun: Ah. Nice! Still, a handy link would beat it ;)
    – GSerg
    Oct 27, 2010 at 19:03
  • @GSerg, based on that comment alone, there's no reason to implement this feature request. You still have to find an existing question or answer that uses the exact kind of formatting you want before the proposed link is any good. Might as well just use the markdown help button that's already on every page.
    – Pops
    Oct 27, 2010 at 19:44
  • 1
    @Popular Demand: Yes, you are right. It's rather subjective, the longing for the view source button always comes down to me when the nicely formatted answer is already in front of me. At other times I would just go and stumble myself with the help page.
    – GSerg
    Oct 27, 2010 at 19:50
  • @Popular : I don't know about you, but all my coding I learned first and foremost by example. Of course, the "manual" is useful once you have a general idea of what is going on. but usually the problem is that beginners do not know what is going on. This is especially true on the sister sites that are starting up now. I think that we should strive to make these sites as useful as possible to everyone, which includes people that learn by example and don't like looking at pages upon pages of user-manual. I want people posting nicely formulated questions from day 1. Oct 27, 2010 at 20:21
  • 1
    If you're using a browser with userscript support, a potential workaround is to use this script which will add history links to each question and answer edits or otherwise (and then you can click the view source link on the revision).
    – Tim Stone
    Oct 29, 2010 at 0:03
  • @Tim: the whole point of this proposal is to make the site more accessible to newcomers. while my rep here is admitedly low, I am a regular user at TeX.SE. I might install the script you mention, but really I think that it should just be implemented so that new users can view the source directly. I still haven't seen a good argument why not, and I think that there are several arguments for the suggestion.... Oct 29, 2010 at 7:26
  • @Yossi Farjoun: I don't disagree with that, which is why I mentioned the script as a comment and not an answer. :)
    – Tim Stone
    Oct 29, 2010 at 7:28
  • @tim: That script is nice, which of the mainstream browsers support userscripts? it installed no problems on Chrome, what about FF, IE, Safari? do you know? Oct 29, 2010 at 7:30
  • 1
    @Yossi Farjoun: Firefox will support them with the Greasmonkey extension, and I believe that Opera supports them in some fashion. Unfortunately for IE and Safari users there isn't any support for userscripts in those browsers, so they currently have to wait until the site properly implements new functionality.
    – Tim Stone
    Oct 29, 2010 at 7:41

2 Answers 2


You don't need rep to edit any more; even 1 rep and anonymous users can suggest edits.

So, click "edit" to see source, along with the other existing options.

  • 5
    What about when there is already a pending edit? Feb 3, 2012 at 20:35
  • 4
    @BradGilbert Wikipedia replaces the "edit" link with "view source" when editing is unavailable; that solution also seems appropriate here.
    – Jeremy
    Feb 3, 2012 at 22:54

Under this proposal, where the UI might show a 3333 rep. the links link | edit | close | flag on a question, a 700 rep. user could be allows to see link | source | retag | flag instead of link | retag | flag, where source shows ... yes, you guessed it. This looks to me completely consistent with the SOFUX UI approach.

Since I see no reason why this information should be made difficult to find for low rep. users, and since it might improve overall question quality (and let's not forget that giving people the opportunity to do things is usually a Good Thing), I support the proposal.

Postscript — As Konrad Rudolph points out on meta.tex.sx, any user can see the source of any post by putting, e.g., http://tex.stackexchange.com/posts/${QUESTION_NUMBER}/revisions into their web browser. But such a link is only placed on the page if a post has been edited already. So I guess that few <2k rep. users will think of it.

  • what is "the SOFUX UI approach"? Oct 28, 2010 at 13:54
  • 3
    @Yossi, SOFU is an acronym for the original three Stack Exchange sites, Stack Overflow, Server Fault and Super User. Charles added X to stand in for the rest of the Stack Exchange family.
    – Pops
    Oct 28, 2010 at 22:03
  • @Popular: thanks! I figured out SO but was confused by the rest of the letters...even google didn't help... Oct 28, 2010 at 22:35
  • I fully agree with this proposal. Sounds like the right thing to do, and would really be helpful for newcomers.
    – mpg
    Nov 1, 2010 at 17:16

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