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One can easily cite a mathoverflow answer as there is an option "cite" below every answer. But there is no cite option to any mathoverflow comment to a question.

One is then forced to cite the question itself but then in the reference the author will be printed as the author of the question instead of the author of the mathoverflow comment which could create a confusion regarding authorship.

Is there way to cite this appropriately?

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  • $\begingroup$ This question is tangentially related: How to cite comment by unknown user disproving Erdős conjecture? (But the main issue discussed there was citation of something posted by an anonymous user, not the fact that it was posted as a comment.) $\endgroup$ Mar 26 at 11:45
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak, one can edit the author name and user account to print the author name same as the author name of the comment. But copy pasting the output reference to Google do not give direct us to the actual page. $\endgroup$
    – HARRY
    Mar 26 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ The trouble with comments is that they can be deleted at any time. They are much less permanent than questions or answers. $\endgroup$ Mar 26 at 13:29
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    $\begingroup$ @HARRY I have to admit that I have some trouble to decipher what is actually the question here. But if you're after getting a link to a comment - as opposed to a link to a post - this is explained in several places: Direct Link to a Comment, Is linking to comments possible? $\endgroup$ Mar 26 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak, I'm asking here how to appropriately cite a mathoverflow comment. $\endgroup$
    – HARRY
    Mar 26 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ In case the comments posted there are useful for somebody, here is a link to the same question posted previously on TeX - LaTeX: Citing a mathoverflow comment. $\endgroup$ Mar 26 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ @GeraldEdgar, Is there a way to acknowledge someone whose comment is useful to somebody's work? ( I'm more interested if there is some way to cite it in reference) $\endgroup$
    – HARRY
    Mar 26 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ I guess when you say "cite it" you do not mean to cite it in another post on MO, you mean to cite it in a published paper. If so, why not say that? $\endgroup$ Mar 26 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ I will include also a link to conversation in chat which was basically a continuation of an exchange in the above comments. $\endgroup$ Mar 26 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ @GeraldEdgar, yes I'm trying to understand how to cite it in a paper. I'm sorry if I have failed to convey it. $\endgroup$
    – HARRY
    Mar 26 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ I understand what you are trying to do, but my suggestion is to copy the comment in a footnote, then give the attribution as a "Person (link to MO user page), comment on [n]", then [n] in the bibliography is the reference to the answer. Citation to things that aren't papers are not counted the same way by citation metric services. Google Scholar won't pick it up, MathSciNet or zbMath won't pick it up, since it's not going to point to something also in the databases. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Mar 27 at 22:38

1 Answer 1

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Comments are ephemeral on Stack Exchange and I wouldn't suggest citing a comment like you'd cite a question or an answer in a journal paper, if this is what you wish to do. It's true that MathOverflow, for what concerns comments, has a more preserving culture with respect to the Stack Exchange network at large, but you cannot ensure that the author themselves or a moderator will not delete the comment of interest in the future, and the link would be broken.

If the comment is under a specific question or answer, you can maybe quote the relevant part of the comment in the paper and cite it as "A. Author. Comment to <answer or question citation>".

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    $\begingroup$ I certainly agree that one should count with the fact that comments can be removed and one cannot rely on the permanence. (Which is true also for questions and answers - although they are deleted less frequently.) Maybe one could at least to some extent alleviate this problem by creating an archived version of the page containing the comment in the Wayback Machine (or using some similar website). Perhaps that is a reasonable practice also when citing questions or answers. $\endgroup$ Mar 26 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Massimo Ortolano, do you mean cite as follows: [1] Author name(account information). Comment to " the title of the question". URL.https/......( Version 05/05/2021)? ... something along these lines? $\endgroup$
    – HARRY
    Mar 26 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ @HARRY Yes, exactly, but see also Martin's advice on how to try to preserve the comment. $\endgroup$ Mar 26 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak, Could you please briefly indicate how to create an arxived version of the page containing the comment in the wayback machine? $\endgroup$
    – HARRY
    Mar 26 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ @HARRY You can have a look what they write in the help: Save Pages in the Wayback Machine. $\endgroup$ Mar 26 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak, thanks for the link. It appears that after saving the url in wayback machine it does not become immediately searchable through wayback machine. I think within 45 minutes it will show that no such link is saved. I hope that it works after that time limit( or may be one needs to create an account there) $\endgroup$
    – HARRY
    Mar 26 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin: The difference is that quite a handful of users still have access to all deleted questions and answers and their revision history. Only moderators and SE employees have access to deleted comments. So to verify the veracity of a deleted comment, one has to work harder, in principle, in order to verify it. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Mar 28 at 15:09

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