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Often a Spanish learner will write a question that follows this basic model:

I read (or "everybody knows") the following rule or an explanation of a concept. [Bald statement.] Now I have a question about that.

Sometimes the bald statement looks reasonable, but a bit oversimplified. Sometimes it looks wrong. In almost all cases, I wish I could see the rule or concept as it actually appeared in the source, so as to clear up whatever the OP is asking about. Once in a while the OP will cite the source, for example Algún to represent an indefinite quantity?

Is there some way we can encourage learners to cite the source? I've been looking around and don't yet have anything specific to propose. So this question is intended to be at the preliminary, brainstorming level.

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Is there some way we can encourage learners to cite the source?

Ask in a comment.

There is for sure no way that we can enforce people citing sources. Even if we have a Tour and Help sections, with a description about what is considered on-topic or off-topic, as you know, many users don't follow the guidelines included there.

We could of course change our How to ask section to include some guidelines about citing sources but, again, I doubt we would get what we want that way. Those instructions/suggestions are not going to be read.

I'm afraid that the only and best way of getting this would be including a comment on each question that requires it, helping both the original poster and others reading that question understand that is important to cite source in that case and why.

Remember that comments are essentially used to request clarification, offers some advice or guidance and to communicate with the original poster to help them improve their contributions.

As a note, I don't know if citing the source is that important or not for that type of questions. Of course, the better and more complete the question is the easier is to write a high quality answer that addresses the original poster's needs, but I don't see it as a (hard) "requirement" to be able to answer the question (like we try to do for example in the translation question, asking for an attempt to translate and some previous effort).

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The one bit of progress I've been able to make, in my own thinking, is that if we had a tag specific to this type of question (e.g. "learner"), then we could include instructions in the tag definition. See related: ¿Podríamos crear la etiqueta "learner" como sinónimo de la etiqueta "principiante"?

But this doesn't seem ideal (aside from the fact that we don't yet have a clear tag for this type of question), because tag definitions don't give as clear, up-front guidance as some other places might be, such as "how to ask," "on-topic for this site," "What types of questions should I avoid asking?" and the list of close reasons.

  • A new user or a user unfamiliar with our stack probably would not know about that tag, and maybe would not care to read whatever instructions we could include in there. Probably we could not include both these guidelines and the tag usage and description in the excerpt. – Diego Mar 4 '18 at 2:14
  • @Diego - Hmm. Good point. – aparente001 Mar 4 '18 at 2:20

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