Lately, we have lots of questions like this one or this one, asking about some specific text but without telling us where the text came from or what the context might be. I think that's unfortunate.

There are several reasons we should cite sources (in both questions and answers):

  1. Although many questions can be answered without context, many others cannot! And usually, it's the people writing the answers who can tell whether or not they need context, not the askers.
  2. Even if a question can be answered without context, it's often harder to answer.
  3. And if you quote a source in an answer, it could be considered plagiarism if you don't tell us where it came from.

Recently I've been participating in ELU and ELL, and on those sites people are generally required to cite their sources. On the English sites, posting a quote without a source in a question may get it closed, and posting a quote without a source in an answer may get it edited or deleted. I don't see why Japanese.SE should be different in that respect.

So please, if you quote something, whether it's in a question or an answer, tell us where the quote came from!

  • I think I'm guilty of that as well as I quoted a sentence or or two from a novel I was reading and I don't think I provided a source. I'll improve :) One question though: what level of details do you think is necessary, especially when quoting from paper sources (where a link cannot be provided)? If I just give the author and title of a book, that can cover plagiarism but won't give much context. Full referencing as in a scientific paper may be a bit too much though... Maybe in smaller font at the end of the question?
    – Szymon
    Sep 21, 2014 at 21:42
  • 2
    @Szymon I don't think we need to be terribly formal about it. I just think we should give people enough context to make sense of a question, and we should at least minimally say where some text comes from (name of a song or book, from a conversation you had, etc.). If you can give a link, great! If not, well, at least people know where it's from :-)
    – user1478
    Sep 21, 2014 at 22:10
  • Maybe this could be featured or otherwise not many people will see it here on meta.
    – Szymon
    Sep 21, 2014 at 23:30
  • I thought this guideline on Word Reference's JP subforum is pretty nice. Also, prior to the title change, I thought you were talking about answers (as sometimes people use anime and TV series as their source) as opposed to questions. Sep 22, 2014 at 15:48
  • I very much agree with this post. By adding the reference, not only it will give clearer context, it can also give more publicity to the referenced works, and it's better (if not done aggressively, or course! :)
    – Andrew T.
    Oct 9, 2014 at 3:46


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