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I'm writing a paper for my Ethical Hacking class. In 'hacking', you use a lot of tools written by other people, some of them are mainstream and/or made by big teams, others are less known and made by individuals or small teams.

If I'm using a relatively uncommon software tool for a particular task, a tool that my readers may not know of, would it be courteous/helpful to cite the individual or lead developer of said tool? Would it be acceptable that the reference is just the website, or should I find another article that talks about the tool?

(NB: We use Harvard referencing)

  • I believe the linked question is an exact duplicate of yours - if it isn't, please edit your post to explain the difference. – ff524 Feb 5 '15 at 5:39
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It is entirely appropriate to cite notable tools. How to cite, exactly, depends on the origin and nature of the tool.

If the software is closely tied to a scientific work, then you should cite both the website and the key associated paper. The website will typically instruct you on the preferred paper to cite. If it is not tied to a paper, just cite the software.

Authorship of software typically falls into three cases:

  • A personal creation, by one or a few people: cite those people as authors, e.g. Facade is authored by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern.
  • An organization: cite the organization as author, e.g., Fortress is published by Sun Microsystems.
  • An informally organized open source community: leave author blank or put "X Development Community", as weight of authorship is unclear and the set of authors is constantly in flux.
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