I can't quite articulate my exact thoughts on this, but I'm stuck with the quandary:

  • These questions could be about how to notate the citation in BibTeX format, in which case they would certainly be on-topic.
  • These questions could be about how to actually format the citation---they all seem to have that air about them---in which case they are off-topic.

How can we deal with these types of questions that is both not presumptuous and fair?

  • 1
    My only idea is to ask OP to add an example of what such a citation would look like when formatted. Feb 2, 2014 at 16:29
  • 2
    You mean other than answering them? :P
    – percusse
    Feb 3, 2014 at 0:29
  • @percusse Well, yes. For example, a question such "How do I cite a conference talk in IEEE style?", etc. Feb 3, 2014 at 1:18
  • 4
    Well, my favourite is commenting by somethi like: "If your question is about how the citation should look like in the final document, than it's off-topic on the site. On the other hand, if your question is about how to achieve a particular bibitem using bibtex, then it's fine, but you need to provide an example of how the result should look like, otherwise we can't really help you."
    – yo'
    Feb 3, 2014 at 18:36
  • @tohecz And what if the question is "I have to cite this and this, I have no idea how it should like, and I expect that Bib(La)TeX knows that instead of me"?
    – marczellm
    Feb 4, 2014 at 21:16
  • 2
    @marczellm Then he should ask his more experienced colleague, or go to academia.SE, math.SE, physics.SE, biology.SE or whaever site corresponds to his field, and ask there how should such a bibitem look like. Then he can come here again with the specifications.
    – yo'
    Feb 4, 2014 at 21:18


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