I see an increasing number of answers that are plagiarized. And, I have mentioned it a couple of times in chat as it seems to bother me quite a bit. I am posting this in meta in order to get a wider opinion as well as to document it as an official policy of the site for future reference.
Just to clarify what I consider as plagiarism:
- copying someone else's work (usually verbatim) and claiming it as your own
- copying the ideas of someone else and paraphrasing it without sufficient attribution (paraphrase plagiarism) - usually difficult to catch and might not be the worst problem we should be worrying about
Anyway, three types of plagiarism I am seeing these days:
- Answers copied from existing answers for very similar questions without attribution or linking to the existing answer
- Answers copied from resources online without any attribution or citation
- Self-plagiarism - reusing their own answer on multiple similar questions without declaring that that is the case
The first case is in violation of our content license CC-BY-SA 3.0 as the Stack Exchange content policy requires proper attribution. And not to mention our practice of closing the question as a duplicate in order to better manage the content.
The second case is even worse. We are in risk of getting tangled into legal issues, including copyright limits. If someone passes someone else's work as their own, without any sort of attribution and the original content owner discovers this, he can sue us for copyright infringement. Even worse, any added edits done to the plagiarized answer would most probably have to go away too.
The third case isn't too much of a problem as the other two but I think it ought to be brought up nonetheless.
So now, I have the following options to tackle this:
- Fix the answer myself - I do all the editing and include blockquotes, links to original content and author.
- Comment on the answer and ask him to do the required work.
- Flag the answer for deletion with link to the original content.
- Just downvote and move on.
Ideally, I would want to have the plagiarized post deleted until they are fixed and then have it undeleted. But I think the moderators might have more work to do than they already do.