I always appreciate when citations to papers in MO answers/questions have a hyperlink — it’s very convenient for the reader, especially in cases where the referenced paper is non-trivial to find.

Whenever I find myself chasing up a citation that wasn’t linked, I am motivated to edit the MO post to add a link. Is this generally considered worthwhile, or as not enough improvement to warrant bumping the post?

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    $\begingroup$ I personally very much appreciate such edits. I do them myself. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Nov 16 '16 at 11:48
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    $\begingroup$ If the links are not paywalled (e.g. MathScinet?) then adding them can be a public service. Gerhard "Use Service Only For Good" Paseman, 2016.11.16. $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Nov 17 '16 at 5:11
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    $\begingroup$ @GerhardPaseman adding a link to the arXiv version of a paywalled paper is a good habit. Otherwise, adding a stable (eg doi) link is better than nothing. People who know how (and are willing) to use a doi to find a free copy of a paper will still find such a thing useful. $\endgroup$ – theHigherGeometer Nov 17 '16 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ This is almost my entire editing activity. For what it's worth, I add links both to the paper and to the relevant MR. $\endgroup$ – LSpice Nov 17 '16 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ @GerhardPaseman a link to a Mathscinet is not (at this date) paywalled (only the Mathscinet tools are paywalled, but access to the review isn't if you have the link) $\endgroup$ – YCor Nov 22 '16 at 5:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Ycor, thanks for the update. I recall there were some paywall link issues in the past, and I do not remember clearly if it was with MathSciNet or another service. Gerhard "Thus Using The Question Mark" Paseman, 2016.11.22. $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Nov 22 '16 at 18:18

Yes, this is totally worthwhile! Please do this. The value of a linked reference is far higher than the value of an unlinked reference; the latter I fear often simply go unconsulted.

I go further than your suggestion in the question, and say that it is totally fine and encouraged to add the link, even when it wasn't so difficult to find.

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    $\begingroup$ I even go so far as to edit the context of the link: add a full human-readable reference. Or if there is merely a link (say just an arXiv link, or a doi, or an opaque publisher's-platform url) then I give it some detail so people can recognise the paper without clicking through. $\endgroup$ – theHigherGeometer Nov 17 '16 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRoberts, thank you! I hate looking at an old answer and seeing a linkrotted reference to "these notes", which points to the old location of someone's web page …. It's much harder to track down informal notes, especially without a title or description (even knowing the author), than a paper! $\endgroup$ – LSpice Nov 22 '16 at 17:42

Yes please! Sometimes the answer you're looking for is contained in some old post and it is very helpful to have as much information as needed.


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