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I was just in the Suggested Edits queue and noticed that this user, RomanC, has been suggesting a lot of tag edits. As usual, I put the text through Google to check for plagiarism. Almost every single wiki he was suggesting came up. I rejected them, but now he's suggesting them again. And again. Here's his reputation for the past few days: Um...

Take a look at his proposed tag wiki for the tag. It lifts directly from the project home page.

Ditto the wiki, except it was accepted.

So, would a mod maybe just PM him and tell him that tag wikis need proper attribution, and would a 20k user please rollback any of his plagiarist edits that were approved?

Edit:

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I've been noticing this too. :( –  Doorknob Jun 9 '13 at 14:12
    
@Doorknob: The user is Roman C. Come start rejecting with me! ;) –  Linuxios Jun 9 '13 at 14:13
    
@Doorknob: But check the wikis through Google first. If anything comes up as a 80% ish match, reject. –  Linuxios Jun 9 '13 at 14:14
    
I know, that's what I meant. I noticed that he was spamming plagiarism too. I ran out of suggested edit reviews rejecting all that plagiarism :( –  Doorknob Jun 9 '13 at 14:17
    
@Doorknob: Thank you! –  Linuxios Jun 9 '13 at 14:18
    
I'm willing to believe that this specific user didn't intend any harm, though. Has anybody contacted him about his activity? –  Pëkka Jun 9 '13 at 14:39
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What is wrong with the projektor tag? It's a single sentence. We have this thing called "fair use." –  Robert Harvey Jun 9 '13 at 14:42
    
@RobertHarvey:, no look here. That entire thing is copied from the project home page. –  Linuxios Jun 9 '13 at 14:43
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It's a fairly short excerpt, and he linked the home page. I don't see what the problem is. Do you really think the projektor guy would object to his home page being promoted this way? –  Robert Harvey Jun 9 '13 at 14:45
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@RobertHarvey: it's less the individual cases, but the fact that this is happening so many times in the last few hours. The three I've linked aren't all. Anyway, a link to a homepage and an attribution are technically different. Anyway, I don't think this has anything to do with copyright law, but more with SE's strict plagiarism policy (don't we have one of those?). –  Linuxios Jun 9 '13 at 14:49
    
@RobertHarvey: I'm more worried about the trend and the fact that he resubmits edits that have been rejected. –  Linuxios Jun 9 '13 at 14:49
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Should they be rejected? If it's not a problem for one, it's not a problem for a hundred. Plagiarism is when someone copies a substantial part of someone else's content without giving the author credit. That's not what this is. –  Robert Harvey Jun 9 '13 at 14:53
    
@RobertHarvey: To be honest, I don't really know, but that's why I came here. At least one of your fellow moderators thinks differently though. AndrewBarber has been rejecting these as plagiarism. –  Linuxios Jun 9 '13 at 14:55
    
@Linuxios: I think we should be cautious about discouraging people from filling in tag wikis. If the site owner was here, this is exactly how I would like him to fill out the tag wiki. It's hard enough to get a good summary in these things (there are so many), and I'd hate for people to stop doing it because it's considered the equivalent of lifting someone else's answer and claiming it as their own. It isn't. –  Robert Harvey Jun 9 '13 at 14:58
    
@RobertHarvey: That's a very good point. I'd like if you'd put that into an answer. I'm quite happy to hand this whole deal off to the diamond mods. Thank you guys for being here! –  Linuxios Jun 9 '13 at 15:00

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There's a difference between lifting someone else's Stack Overflow answer or blog post in its entirety and claiming it as their own, and copying an excerpt from a website into a tag wiki so that we can have a short summary of the technology. One of them is plagiarism, the other isn't.

The doctrine of Fair Use is relevant here. Copying an entire blog post is both plagiarism and a copyright violation; I don't think anyone will dispute that. But what about a site summary in a tag wiki? Does it qualify as Fair Use?

Let's review the criteria for Fair Use:

  1. Purpose and Character -- Does the copied material seek to educate and inform, or is it meant to supplant the author's original work?

  2. Nature of the Copied Work -- Are we stealing the guy's library, or merely displaying facts and ideas about it?

  3. Amount and substantiality -- Are we copying vast swaths of the work, or only a tiny portion?

  4. Effect upon work's value -- Are we diminishing the value of the author's work by publishing their summary in our Tag Wiki, or enhancing it?

I claim that short copies, like the one in the projekktor tag, satisfy all four of these criteria for fair use.

As I've already stated in the comments above, I think we should be cautious about discouraging people from filling in tag wikis. If the site owner was here, the way the projekktor tag wiki is filled in is exactly how I would like him to fill out the tag wiki. It's hard enough to get a good summary in these things (there are so many), and I'd hate for people to stop doing it because it's considered the equivalent of lifting someone else's answer and claiming it as their own. It isn't.

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Thank you. +1, accept. –  Linuxios Jun 9 '13 at 15:14
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Yes, as long as proper attribution is made. In my opinion, just putting [link] at the end isn't enough, you must write "Source: [link]" –  Eugene Seidel Jun 9 '13 at 15:21
    
@EugeneSeidel: It isn't already obvious? I don't have a problem with that, as long as you can get community consensus that it is necessary. It's not like we're writing school papers in APA format here. –  Robert Harvey Jun 9 '13 at 15:21
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On second thought, probably even better would be to write "Quoted from" instead of "Source:". You want to make clear that you are not paraphrasing, which entails some creative effort on your part, but quoting verbatim. –  Eugene Seidel Jun 9 '13 at 15:23
    
@EugeneSeidel: I'd personally prefer not to have yet another thing to enforce. If the site owner were here, he wouldn't be saying "Source" or "Quoted From." –  Robert Harvey Jun 9 '13 at 15:26
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@EugeneSeidel: See this suggestor's most recent tag wiki edit here: stackoverflow.com/tags/trust-zone/info. He has changed his approach; this one now says "From site [link]". Also, marketspeak; blecch. –  Robert Harvey Jun 9 '13 at 15:35
    
@Robert Thank you for that link. For a tag wiki on a proprietary technology, that strikes me as a very good solution. One could quibble and ask that the quote be formatted as a <blockquote> but that's just nitpicking. At some later point in time, perhaps someone will come along and expand that by adding contextual info on the technology from a third-party source, but that's for the future. –  Eugene Seidel Jun 9 '13 at 15:39
    
@RobertHarvey: On the other had, the owner owns it. We don't. We owe it due attribution. –  Linuxios Jun 10 '13 at 2:59
    
I know at least 2 authors of software libraries that have tags associated with them on SO. Neither of them would have any issues in descriptions (or other content) being used on SE sites; In fact it, it publicises what they're doing. Using "Source: link" is a reasonable request, but users will need to be prompted to actually use it. –  nickhar Jun 10 '13 at 16:25

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