I stumbled upon this answer while looking for information on the Objective-C @synthesize. Shortly after, I found this article, and noticed that one of the sentences looked awfully familiar. I clicked back to the SO answer and realized that (before my edit), the answer looked like it had been directly copied and pasted from the page into the answer field, and the user hadn't even bothered to add formatting before clicking the Post button.

Should anything be done about such answers (other than formatting|spelling|grammar edits)? Are they acceptable or not?

  • 1
    Closely related/possible dupe: meta.stackexchange.com/q/146525/21960
    – ale
    Nov 21, 2012 at 19:52
  • Yeah, they're at least supposed to put a link to where they got it from. Sometimes I myself copy code snipits from the msdn documentation, just so it's there, but i always link to the documentation page when i do that Nov 21, 2012 at 19:53
  • @AlEverett That's about copying just an image—in this case, the answer consisted of only copied information. Some paragraphs from the page were copied and submitted as an entire answer. Nov 21, 2012 at 19:56
  • @Mat I'm…not seeing how they're identical, sorry. Nov 21, 2012 at 20:35
  • @BlacklightShining: both answers I referenced have since been deleted by a moderator, they're only visible to 10k users & mods now.
    – Mat
    Nov 21, 2012 at 20:39

3 Answers 3


That heavily depends on the licence and terms of use of the publishing site. Because no licensing information is found on the site, all information in the site belongs to the site owners, and since he didn't specify, the information should not be copied and reproduced.

At the very least, marking it up as a quote and linking to the original article was obligatory on the answer poster's side, which he failed to do.

So as for your question, they are not acceptable, they should (IMHO) be flagged, and their copied content either stripped or properly linked back to the source.

  • …copied content makes up the entire answer, though. XD Nov 21, 2012 at 19:57
  • 2
    Which would make it plagiarism, in this case, as it falls onto the extreme end of the spectrum of content copied.
    – Servy
    Nov 21, 2012 at 19:58

If all or almost all of an answer is copied from another site or another answer without proper attribution, this is plagiarism and should be flagged. Beyond issues of copyright, this is someone trying to take credit for the work of others and that is completely unacceptable.

I've removed the answer here, the ones that Mat indicated, and a couple others that I found. This user has been warned about this behavior, so hopefully this will stop.

Thanks for pointing this out.


I have written a comprehensible answer to this question if you want to learn more about copyright/plagiarism issues.

  • Comprehensible or Comprehensive?
    – Rory Alsop
    Nov 22, 2012 at 14:51
  • 1
    Rory: Both, I guess :-) Nov 22, 2012 at 14:56

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