A recent question about alternative rules in A&A lists references several other posts in the body. The referenced posts are apropos and the links clearly belong, but credit--by name--is given to the original authors.

Citing previous works by author name is clearly the standard in technical writing, and it is practice in forums and discussion boards as well, but it seems much less common in SE sites where references to individuals by name is typically restricted to the comments area and then usually only when directly responding to a comment or when asking a specific person a question.

In the body of questions and answers, should references to other material on the site be discouraged in favor of linked titles? Would this change help the site seem less like a discussion board and more like a permanent internet artifact intended to outlast it's "creators"?

Similarly, are references to seminal works or famous people appropriate? (I think so.) For example, references to Don Rae in A&A posts, or Chess Grand Masters, or World Poker Tour champions, creators of games, etc.

2 Answers 2


I think there is a risk in referring to the "author" of a specific answer: on a number of answers, multiple people have contributed in various ways to the current state of the answer, and in some cases, that answer may be edited after the question or answer that references it is posted. In most cases, it's likely only a risk of misattribution.

For example, someone might ask a question like "Are there other games for which a matrix like the one in Dave's answer here can be created?" (Ignore the potential off-topic-ness of the question for the purpose of the example, if you could ...) While it's nice to have a personal reference to the answer, in fact it wasn't I who put the matrix there, and thus the credit is misplaced. (It was a very helpful addition, however, so thanks!)

I would think that references to game experts are certainly appropriate, although perhaps more valuable if there is an appropriate citation ... if someone asks a question about how to play K-10 offsuit in Texas Hold 'Em, an answer that says "Chris Ferguson prefers to ..." is more valuable if it includes a link to a page or a video or something that actually shows his opinion, as well as some explanation of it.

  • I'm confused about what you're advocating. I don't think there's any question that it's appropriate to link to other SE answers (and that's definitely not my question). I'm also not asking about mentioning game experts by name (as in your Chris Ferguson example). My question is about the convention for referring to other SE answerers by name. What are your feelings on this practice?
    – Adam Wuerl
    Jun 28, 2011 at 23:39
  • @Adam, I may have misread your question - re-reading the first part of your question, I think you were asking more about "as Tom says here" vs. "as this answer says". Re Ferguson, I understood the last paragraph of your question to be about game experts, but perhaps that isn't what you meant? I'll edit my answer to cover what I now think your main point is. Jun 29, 2011 at 0:33
  • You're right that the last part of my question was asking if the convention we apply to "normal" folks like us should be extended to the famous. Your edited answer addresses everything I was trying to ask. (And NP about adding the table, I realized I couldn't understand your answer until I had the table to look at and the referenced paper only showed the code to generate it not the final result). That answer was a thing of beauty.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Jun 29, 2011 at 2:50

"Citing previous works by author name is clearly the standard in technical writing." I think such a practice on Stack Exchange would make the site more respectable. Ditto for references to Don Rae,

I wanted to give the "props" to you (and Scott) for having been critical (not just influential) in the development of how I think about the AA game.

  • Oh I understand your reasoning and appreciate the sentiment, but I wanted to open a meta question because I don't think there's an established best practice and figured the community would be interested in weighing in.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Jun 16, 2011 at 21:32
  • @adam: I don't always agree with your points on this, or other posts, but always appreciate your efforts to search for "best practices" on the site. Just is in the AA game.
    – Tom Au
    Jun 16, 2011 at 21:38

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