Edit: This question isn't a duplicate of Acceptable solution for 'answer copying'?. The quote in the highest voted answer on that question is "Bottom line: if you want to get up-votes, WRITE A GREAT ANSWER." that works well in that question. But in this question the situation is that the potentially great answer could just be copied and made to look as if the author of the answer was the one who did the copying. This is not the same situation.

This isn't a huge issue, but it's something I've witnessed more than once now.

Take this question for example: How to open new dynamic form with dropdown menu[Select tag]

When I posted my answer about using jQuery's on change event listener there was one other answer which only said something along the lines of, "you can use AJAX for this", nothing more - not helpful at all, especially as AJAX wouldn't be used for this anyway.

After posting my answer I commented on the other answer saying that AJAX wouldn't be used and a few minutes later that answer was changed to also use the on change event.

The problem here is that as this edit was done so shortly after the answer was submitted, the original content doesn't appear in that answer's edit history.

Anyone looking at the two answers would think hey, this guy [edited answer] posted the correct solution first so this answer should be accepted.

How would this be dealt with? What's in place to stop people making a really quick invalid answer then editing it as soon as somebody else has posted up a working solution to replicate that?

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    Don't comment..? Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 9:16
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    somewhat related: Fastest Gun in the West Problem Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 9:19
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    Similar but not the same situation, @ShaWizDowArd. That discussion is about people who post very similar answers afterwards, not editing to do so. Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 9:19
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    @JamesDonnelly: when you see bad stub answers downvote them. Don't revoke your downvote if they fix it either. Eventually they'll learn (or not and suffer downvotes).
    – user7116
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 16:06
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    @sixlettervariables that wouldn't change the fact that it would appear that they got the copied answer in first, though. Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 16:10
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    Also, I can't find the duplicate but there was a proposal somewhere to make the first version of a question/answer permanent and roll all subsequent grace period edits into their own revision. Thus saving a history entry containing the user's crappy attempt or placeholder.
    – user7116
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 16:11
  • As @benisuǝqbackwards mentioned. Don't comment on such replies and just flag them for action.
    – hjpotter92
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 2:46
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  • @sixlettervariables That takes away the incentive for editing and improving though. Unless you're suggesting that should only be the approach for answers that plagiarise?
    – user200500
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 5:49
  • @Asad: why does leaving an edit trail take away incentives to edit and improve? It is irrelevant to regular users.
    – user7116
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 12:51
  • @sixlettervariables Leaving an edit trail is totally OK (I already upvoted that proposal), downvoting and not reverting a downvote if the problem is fixed seems suspect to me.
    – user200500
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 13:06
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    @Asad: gaming a system has consequences. "You should use a different class. I'll add an answer in a sec." <- deserves a downvote no matter how they improve it.
    – user7116
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 13:21

2 Answers 2


First off, if it's an exact, word-for-word copy, flag it and say so - plagiarism isn't cool.

Beyond that... The same advice applies as to the question you link: make sure your answer is better. In this case, the guy may have adopted your method, but he certainly didn't adopt your style: no comments, little in the way of explanation, no working examples...

You could throw in a link to the docs and make it extra embarrassing I suppose.

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    Are moderators able to see every edit that's occurred on a post? If not, how would someone go about proving that plagiarism occurred if this was to happen? Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 9:04
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    plagiarists rarely stop at one post.
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 14:21

Ultimately, yes it is annoying when it happens because you spent time posting a really great answer and then someone edits their quick and dirty answer to add details from your really great answer.

But there is not much that can be done in many cases since the edit history isn't shown.

First, if it is an exact copy and paste from you, then flag so a moderator can look into it. And if the individual has a history of doing the same, you should also flag.

But what if it wasn't a copy and paste answer? How do you know the earlier answerer didn't plan on adding that info originally. In fact, s/he could have been typing it as you were typing yours. That is the essence of the Fastest Gun in the West Problem I mentioned in the comments a while ago, you write a quick answer to be "first" then work on expanding the answer in the first 5 minutes.

You should try to avoid confrontation (via commenting), as that rarely ends well and will often end with a revenge downvoting spree, accusations of who downvoted who's post, or end up with a moderator locking the answers. And if you do comment, you are either going to accuse an innocent person of plagiarism or you are going to accuse someone who won't admit they plagiarized you. And if you do comment and someone just deletes their post, that might not be a sign of guilt, it could just be there are trying to avoid a confrontation.

The best advice is to just ignore it and move on.

But in the end, you are still convinced, you can ask a mod to investigate but unless there is a history of repeat behavior or an exact copy & paste, it usually will not go anywhere.

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