We know that we need to cite some sources (preferably scriptures) to validate our answers.

Suppose, I write my answer and then simply write "See [Scripture's name][verses locations] for the details" as the source part.

  • Is such a citation okay?

Looks to me to be incomplete and we need to do some further work to state what those verses actually say and then show how those verses are supporting the claims we have made in the answer.

  • If we find such answers what kind of actions do we need to take?

Let me give a concrete example to clarify my point. This is a question that I have myself answered on the main site but not without giving fully all the verses required.

Example Q:

Is taking Diksha (getting initiated) mandatory for Moksha (attaining liberation)?

My answer:

Yes, it is absolutely necessary as per both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.

Lord Shiva says that it is his command that without Diksha there is no Moksha and that's why the various paramaparas are created.

Source - Kularnava Tantram X.Y

Lord Vishnu also states the same while discussing with his bird mount Garuda. Lord Vishnu says its only the knowledge that one obtains from the Guru directly is capable of giving Moksha. No other methods suffice.

Source - Garuda Purana X.Y.Z

So, now how will the readers verify what is there in those verses? Will they have search to find that out themselves?

Given that they can not verify immediately the correctness of the answer due to unavailability of the actual verses what sort of response is required from them?

I am not asking whether we should downvote or not which one can do anytime without bothering to give an explanation. I am talking about flagging basically.

  • 1
    " I write my answer and then simply write "See [Scripture's name][verses locations] for the details" as the source part." Is writing not same as explaining? All the sources are for supporting what claims you have made. That is a complete answer.. Why does it look incomplete to you? Jun 28, 2019 at 8:21
  • Can you clarify bit by giving example?
    – Pandya Mod
    Jun 28, 2019 at 13:26
  • 2
    I think that would be very weak reference. Quote always will be helpful. If someone says in BG 2.47 Krishna suggested to do work always without any gap, this would be bad way of answering. We need quotes also to reduce user bias.
    – The Destroyer Mod
    Jun 28, 2019 at 17:03
  • 1
    It's not a week reference at all. There could be two kind of answers, 1) TL DR 2) Very small answer. For the first type of answer, this will be surely fine. And for second type of answer, we can inform answerer thru comment to add the verse. Hence it is fine to write such answers
    – user6981
    Jun 29, 2019 at 3:47
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    I do not want to give any particular examples by citing any particular answers. Like what Destroyer said. @Pandya Suppose at the end of my answer I simply write "Source - Rig Vedax.y.z". It can be wrong, that particular mantra may not even be related to the answer or the post. How will readers verify if that RV mantra is really a source for the answer or not? Will they have to open another website just to verify the correctness of an answer posted here?
    – Rickross
    Jun 29, 2019 at 6:05
  • If you feel an exact verse is a weak reference, don't post such reference in your own answers. Simple. But for site, that is enough until there is enough explanation in the answer written above the source part. SE (including our site) encourages own explanation rather than copy pasting other site's content here. Opening other website and copy pasting other website content here - both are just the same. Jun 29, 2019 at 7:00
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    I think such answers are not much helpful to the readers who are not much aware of the topic. Users should always explain what the sources are trying to say. For most of the scriptures the English translations and detail commentaries are available easily like Upanishads , Darshanas even Mahabharata , so there will be no problem in explaining part , only a little time and efforts are what that are needed. I think for new users this type of answering should be allowed until they get aware of scriptures and where to find them . SE expects us to write very precise and comprehensive answers. Jul 1, 2019 at 5:25
  • @SwiftPushkar you have said clearly and understood what is needed to make users who read it! Excellent wordings! Jul 1, 2019 at 6:28
  • @SwiftPushkar You can write those points as an answer
    – Rickross
    Jul 2, 2019 at 7:57

1 Answer 1


First of all let's see the difference between citation and quotation:

Citation means writing sentence in our words and mentioning the source e.g According to Lord Krishna (BG 4.37) Jnana nullifies the Karmas.

Quotation means quoting a verse or text as it is from source e.g "4.37 O Arjuna, as a blazing fire reduces pieces of wood to ashes, similarly the fire of Knowledge reduces all actions to ashes."

The advantage of quotation is that the source text is available to read within the answer. So, it is easy to check or verify the source with OP's explanation. (Though it may still require to refer the source in case of translation or interpretation issue) whereas in case of citation without quotes, it is needed to refer the source text to verify it.

Though we can't demand that citation must be quoted always and it is fine to cite or quote the source as you prefer while answering the question. But If you are answering question based on specific verses (e.g the Q/A demonstrated in the question), you should quote the verse and explain the subject-matter in your words so-that users can verify the claim by reading the quoted text. This would make the answer more useful and reliable. Or when you're citing multiple sources at different instance in the answer, it's recommended to quote the most significant source and for other ones, you may prefer to just cite them without quoting.

In any case I think it would be more useful to provide the link e.g. BG 4.37 while citing or quoting the source so-that readers can easily get the source text and refer it. Also note that citation needs to be specific i.e verse number and location of verse should be specified instead of just writing "Valmiki Ramayana or Bhagavad Gita says this".

Another method of properly citing source can be as follows:

.......According to Lord Krishna1 Jnana nullifies the Karmas.........
........According to Adi Shankacharya2 Brahman is......
.....<body of answer>.....

1 : Srimad Bhagavad Gita 4.38
2 : Vivekachudamani 107

This is also fine as far as source with verse number are mentioned with proper citation e.g. 1,2 etc. in the sentences of answer body.

But following type of citing source is not good:

Good Karmas lead you to Swarga.........You should do Sandhyavandanam 5 times on Ekadashi......
Maya has a power to hide the qualities.....
.....<body of answer>....

Ramayana 5.3.8,
Srimad Bhagvatam 8.34

This practice of citing sources is not good since it is unclear which source belongs to which point of the answer.

So, if you find improper method of citing or quoting source, then comment underneath the answer guiding OP how to cite the source. Also consider to downvote answer citing improper or wrong/misleading sources and upvote answers which are properly cited.

  • I have added an example in my Q .. See that and pls update your answer if needed
    – Rickross
    Jul 1, 2019 at 10:11
  • @Rickross I think there is no need to flag the answer if verse number and location is given. We can ask in comments to include quotes or provide link for the source if needed.
    – Pandya Mod
    Jul 1, 2019 at 11:28
  • Ok I thought we can bring it to Mod's notice by flagging
    – Rickross
    Jul 1, 2019 at 12:44
  • We don't follow Wikipedia type of citations and writing style. There was an FR regarding that but I don't think that received a positive response. Should we write source for each and every word? This Wiki style of references implies that. Whereas, help center says total answer should be based on a source which is like last paragraph. I don't understand why the last paragraph is not good. For me, it's okay when we generally know what the body is really saying. Adding source for each and every word looks like spoon feeding. There should be some freedom to the author too. Jul 2, 2019 at 16:50
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    Now your answer is addressing my specific example. And, I agree with your answer for that point. @Pandya
    – Rickross
    Jul 4, 2019 at 7:14

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