I have flagged a couple of questions and answers which are outright copy/paste jobs.

I wonder what action will be taken. Will it be open action so that others don't go down the same road?

  • 4
    This has been happening a lot recently, there isn't really anything anyone can do except keep flagging™.
    – Seth
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 18:18
  • Had a bit of a comment purge. Speculating and finger-pointing (including in chat) isn't that useful in the clear. As Seth said, if you see a problem like this flag it up and we'll handle it.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 22:03
  • When you mean copy and paste jobs, do you mean direct copies, or the ones where they have added their own version of some instructions (with reference links, or without). The later is useful, as other sites, e.g. blogs, don't hang around for ever...
    – Wilf
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 22:32
  • 5
    @wilf Copying is copying, if you reference other material you can include it in your post in block quotes with attribution, copying a chunk of text and/or images and presenting them in a way that makes it look like your content is against the rules
    – Flyk
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 23:28
  • "Speculating and finger-pointing" seemed necessary because I got the impression (from a downvote and a comment) that it was being treated as a "duplicate". Of course, as time goes by I'm understanding more about how this site functions and its priorities.
    – user25656
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 0:43
  • The same just happened to a question of mine. Downvoted and flagged as well. Besides the "big" problems mentioned by Oli, I'd just purge these posts out of QA reasons. It's a bit odd that these "scammers" (?) think it would work, especially when the answer was already provided.
    – henry
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 10:21

2 Answers 2


There are two separate problems here, both very significant:

1. The legal aspect: Copyright

Not all content on the internet is under a CC-BY license like ours. If it's not specified, the copyright is automatically reserved and you have no right to duplicate a work, regardless of how many links you give it.

Of course there is something called "fair use" that allows you to use insignificant portions under certain circumstances but that doesn't cover wholesale copying.

And even if the content is out there under a permissive license, you need to be conscious that the content you provide here is then relicensed out under a CC-BY license. If you're inputting content that isn't original, you either need to make sure it's insignificant or relicensable under CC-BY.

2. Our rules: Plagiarism

Our help is pretty clear about plagiarism. Don't do it.

So if it's not attributed (and it's not written by the author of the post), that's a problem straight away. Flag it. Flag all of it.

If it is attributed but it's outside the remit of fair use, we also need people to flag content that is incompatible with our licensing here. If the poster doesn't have the right to redistribute it under CC-BY, that's a problem for us as a site.

  • so it is likely that this particular user will be deleted as most of his posts are plagiarisms? Seth said yes in the above comments but as you have the "magic diamond" next to your name, could you verify that that is true? (some of his posts give attributions, but are still just word for word C&P's) or would his "stolen" posts just be removed?
    – TrailRider
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 21:09
  • @TrailRider as with all disciplinary issues, we'll only delete users who only or persistently break the rules. Most issues warrant a warning or two before execution.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 21:39
  • 1
    Looking at my flag history, that seems pretty persistent and close to "only" to me.
    – user98085
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 0:37

The best open action is downvoting followed by flagging. I downvote all plagiarism.

I also try to add a link to the original content

If you only flag (without downvote and comment) the person doing the plagiarism is still likely to get some upvotes and it will have been worth while copying stuff for that person.

  • I'd think twice about from commenting because one's avatar is revealed. If you've following things recently, you'll notice incidents of "highly visible" Ask Ubuntu participants being hit by serial downvoting. Whether these serial downvotes are reversed, in my opinion, depends on how blatant the downvotes have been. Then, we've had a spammer who took over a genuine user's name for a while. I think something similar happened to me but a mod in chat spotted the attempt. So, in short, no matter how much pressure there is on commenting while downvoting, I won't be doing so.
    – user25656
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 11:07
  • The other thing that seems to be happening is that the same person has than one account here, posting a question from one account and answering from another.
    – user25656
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 11:16

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