When answering questions, I often receive a comment that makes an important point which should be incorporated into the post.

But I'm always a bit unsure how to credit the comment author. I've seen all of these:

  1. "As @user mentioned in a comment..."

  2. "... (thanks, @user)"

  3. Credit the author in the edit summary.

  4. Thank the author in a comment.

  5. Just add the information without giving credits.

It would be helpful to clarify what we consider too much or too little. While I'd like give credits to the author, I don't want to clutter up the post. Personally, I think #1 is overused and impairs readability while #5 can be rude. I usually do #2, but I've done all of these depending on how much the comment contributes.

Is there a recommended / established way for that? What do you do?

  • 1
    Note that while the '@' symbol might be a good typographical convention to highlight that your are referring to a SE user, no notification will be actually sent to the user this way (this is only supported in comments and chat messages, not in questions or answers). Jul 27, 2017 at 19:29
  • @WhiteWinterWolf I'm well aware of that. :) As you suggested, I merely use it as a convention to refer to a user without needing them to be notified.
    – Arminius
    Jul 27, 2017 at 19:31
  • For the most perfectionists among us, you could also "link to that user's profile rather than just stating his/her name (since user names are not unique)" (never noticed such practice in real-life though ;) ). Jul 27, 2017 at 19:35
  • @WhiteWinterWolf, the most perfectionists among us would link the user's name to his/her profile and the phrase "in a comment" to the comment itself. >_>; Jul 28, 2017 at 21:02

1 Answer 1


IMO, you answered your own question:

I've done all of these depending on how much the comment contributes.

For guidance, let's look at the conventions of citations in academic papers. In parallel to your list, I've seen all of the following:

  1. "In their seminal 1984 work on DoHickeys, Smith, Doe, and Li showed that DoHickeys have great foobar properties."

  2. "DoHickeys have great foobar properties [Smith 1984]."

  3. "DoHickeys have great foobar properties1." with a footnote or end-note.

  4. "DoHickeys have great foobar properties." and list them in the bibliography with no direct link to the sentence.

  5. "DoHickeys have great foobar properties." with no citation at all.

The amount of page space that the author dedicates to crediting the referenced work actually conveys information about the significance of the idea / work and how common the knowledge is within that academic community. As an example, 1. is a nod that the referenced work is a cornerstone of the field, ex "The key exchange mechanism introduced in 1976 by Diffie and Hellman is based on integer factorization". Meanwhile while 5. may seem like academic dishonesty, it is perfectly appropriate when the idea has become so commonplace that it would be hard to find a single citation even if you wanted to, ex "Integer factorization is used throughout cryptography".

So I don't think there is a single right way to do it, it depends on the situation and how significant you, the author, feel that comment was.

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