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I'm sort of tired of seeing questions like this or this. I believe they show very little work and effort, and even if they did, they do not contribute to the overall HSM community very well. HSM should be asking about the history of science and math, not about how to find old journal articles. We are a question and answer site focused on history, not a database for old science papers. One doesn't go on Chemistry SE and ask for someone to find a certain paper for them. Or am I completely wrong, and these questions are encouraged?

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    $\begingroup$ Old papers are not a primary source of information in chemistry, but they are in history. Looking for help with finding original sources strikes me as very much on topic on a history site, especially those hard to find online. If specific sciences SE are not a place for it, and hsm is not either then what is? As for questions that show little prior effort, I am tired of seeing them too, but they are hardly confined to asking about sources. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Oct 13 '18 at 19:25
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While often on Chemistry of Physics I will find (or happen to have sitting around more often) a good, often old, paper to address the question. Or older sources come up naturally while answering questions like this. In those cases, I don't mind because (i) the topic is of some interest to me, (ii) I have access to some good search capabilities that they might not, (iii) frankly it seems like how to perform a real literature search (not just Google) just isn't taught well anymore, and (iv) related, few people seem to have access to a research librarian, if they even know what they are (yes, I'm old - get off my lawn!).

So, an old paper in the context of an interesting question of science or the history of science, that is great. But, somebody just asking for a paper, that doesn't sit well with me. If someone is truly interested in science or the history of science (i), then it is time to start figuring out (iii) and (iv) above, and making local contacts to address (ii).

(Now, for stuff behind a paywall I'm more conflicted. I know that I have institutional access to a wide variety of things, and many others don't immediately have such access. And perhaps they aren't near a college or university that does. But, I think that SE should not become the avenue to finding papers.)

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    $\begingroup$ Not quite sure why I'm tagged as a 'New contributor' - yeah, I haven't answered a lot of questions but I have been stopping by for some time. Don't let the muddy paw print moderate your feedback! $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Aug 30 '18 at 13:15
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    $\begingroup$ But this is a history site, not chemistry or physics site, the kind of site where, presumably, a research librarian would turn to in a bind. It seems that your reaction is mostly based on personal feelings ("the topic is of some interest to me", "doesn't sit well with me") than quality assessment. You are willing to do work for someone who asks "an interesting question" without any effort to answer it themselves, but not someone who did some work on their own, concluded that they need to look at an old paper, and now just need help finding it. That is fine, but not a basis for a policy. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Oct 29 '18 at 0:39
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Well, there are some hsm users who look for authentic source documents on old science/history of science.

And then there are others who spread fiction and gossip from twitter or quora to start scandal-mongering wild goose chases -- maybe on purpose to get a rise out of regular users? -- but anyhow, hard to distinguish from deliberate fake history and fake news generally.

I know which of these two kinds I consider better promotes the exchange and improvement of knowledge in the hsm field, and which of the two I'd prefer to deal with more and less of!! Let's just recognize and count our blessings while we still have them!

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