I just noticed that the BibTeX entry provided by the "cite" button on questions is not as good as it could be. For example, let's take the Problems Between P and NPC question. This is the BibTeX entry provided by the stack exchange software:

\@MISC {79,
    TITLE = {Problems Between P and NPC},
    AUTHOR = {Lev Reyzin (https://cstheory.stackexchange.com/users/123/lev-reyzin)},
    HOWPUBLISHED = {Theoretical Computer Science},
    NOTE = {URL:https://cstheory.stackexchange.com/q/79 (version: 2011-08-09)},
    EPRINT = {https://cstheory.stackexchange.com/q/79},
    URL = {https://cstheory.stackexchange.com/q/79}

This is how it appears in the bibliography:

[1] Lev Reyzin (https://cstheory.stackexchange.com/users/123/lev reyzin). Problems between p and npc. Theoretical Computer Science. URL:Problems Between P and NPC (version: 2011-08-09).

Can we change the citation text? This citation has several problems. For example, "Theoretical Computer Science" is already the name of a journal, and the phrase doesn't describe this site. It should be more like "Theoretical Computer Science Stack Exchange" or something to that effect. If we can change this, are there any other changes that we should make?

For example, this is how MathOverflow generates BibTex entries:

@MISC {MO23478,    
    TITLE = {Examples of common false beliefs in mathematics.},    
    AUTHOR = {gowers\phantom{x}(mathoverflow.net/users/1459)},    
    HOWPUBLISHED = {MathOverflow},    
    NOTE = {\url{https://mathoverflow.net/questions/23478} (version: 2010-05-04)},    
    EPRINT = {https://mathoverflow.net/questions/23478},    
    URL = {https://mathoverflow.net/questions/23478},    

This gets rendered as

[1] gowers (mathoverflow.net/users/1459). Examples of common false beliefs in mathematics. MathOverflow. https://mathoverflow.net/questions/23478 (version: 2010-05-04).

I like MO's citation. It has a shorter link to the user page (no username in URL), the URL gets linked due to the \url command, and the user URL skips the "http://" part.


2 Answers 2


I'm all for this modification. Granted, we can't get perfect BibTeX, but I see no reason why we can't make some changes that can improve things.


I agree with you that the BibTeX entries generated by the server can use some improvements. There is nothing wrong with reducing the need of modifications by hand.

That said, let me point out that it is unrealistic for the server to generate ready-to-use BibTeX entries.

For example,

TITLE = {Problems Between P and NPC},

is incorrect because BibTeX usually converts “P” and “NPC” to lower case, which is probably not what you want. The correct way to write it depends on your preference on whether complexity classes should be typeset in math font or not.

Another problem is how to write URLs in BibTeX entries. The best way depends on which BibTeX style you use and which package you load, and the server cannot determine the best way.


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