Here are some tag wiki edits that directly plagiarize without attribution of any kind (which can be easily found with Google). However, they were accepted, because many reviewers did not realize that they were plagiarism.

- How could we find plagiarism in tag wikis more effectively? Right now, as seen in these examples, almost nobody even looks for it at all. This is a very big problem.

- I suggest that we automatically run all the new tag wiki/excerpt suggestions through a plagiarism detector. It doesn't have to be hard; the way I found them was by copy/pasting the text into Google.

Also, single users can massively plagiarize. This is getting even worse; I and another user used up all of our reject votes trying to stop a single plagiarizing user. The edits are still getting accepted, as you can see in all of these links! (I have left a comment here (apparently which is now deleted) and flagged, but almost everybody else will just approve the edits and move on.)

  • 4
    Select a sentence or two, wrap it in quotes, and paste it into Google. Do this before accepting a tag wiki edit.
    – user229044
    Mar 27, 2013 at 12:40
  • 19
    @meagar That's what I did. But nobody else does...
    – Doorknob
    Mar 27, 2013 at 12:41
  • 2
    What about duplicated tag wiki between multiple sites? Take for example the tag "SharePoint" - it would be only normal if the stackexchange wiki is a plagiarism of the SharePoint exchange one.
    – SPArcheon
    Mar 27, 2013 at 14:36
  • What about meta tags like closed-questions, election and moderators? I just proposed copying the tag-wiki text from this site for these tags on gis.SE. In the one I've done so far for election, I did include a statement of origin and a reference link.
    – mkennedy
    May 23, 2013 at 19:32
  • Related, but the educative version: Add tag wiki/excerpt audits with copied content
    – Braiam
    Jan 7, 2015 at 4:23

4 Answers 4


Well, to do one individually, there are plenty of free online plagiarism checker tools, such as this one.

Realistically though, that should be ran against any tag wiki addition/edit when it actually takes place, then if it fails by over say 50%, then it should be rejected and the user should be notified that it's plagiarised. We could use a plagiarism checker with an API to do this (such as this one).

To start with, the above API could be called against batches every day, until it has been ran against all of them, that way we could get the effect back-dated for all existing tags.


I agree with @Mattytommo. The problem is even if you take the time to copy the excerpt and run it through a plagiarism checker or simply google it, the wiki will already be approved by the time you reject it. Therefore, your time was essentially wasted. Plagiarism is a problem not only in tag wiki's but on SO in general. However, downvoting and flagging are much more visible on questions and answers than tag wiki's. I recommend the tag wiki system be refined a little more to meet the community scrutiny.

  • But you can still revert it...
    – Cole Tobin
    Mar 27, 2013 at 13:19
  • 7
    @ColeJohnson - you can't revert tag wikis; you have to edit the entry. It can be easy to detect the plagiarism, but much harder to come up with an appropriate entry in your own words. Mar 27, 2013 at 13:26

I'm guilty, I don't know why but it never even crossed my mind when I was approving those that they could have been plagiarized. (Good catch!)

Well from now on I shall check more carefully before I approve any tag wikis.. but that doesn't really help since I'm only one person, and I only realized this because I'm active on meta too.

A few thoughts I have:

1) When it happens go back and add the references! Just because it got approved doesn't mean it needs to stay that way. (I took care of it for the ones in question since it was partially my fault).

2) I don't know if normal users have the ability.. but we can ask Mods to send a message to the user mentioning we noticed it and they need to cite sources.

3) When reviewing... I think it's "low quality" posts, the box at the top gives some suggestions of what to look for. It would help me personally if there was a reminder at the top which asked if the content looked plagiarized.


I'm guilty of suggesting this edit, however I was operating under the assumption that this was fully allowed by the applicable licenses, since both Stack Overflow and Wikipedia have CC licenses for their content, and the action of copying between 2 CC sites is covered by the ShareAlike requirement.

I was however not aware that Wikipedia is currently operating under the Creative Commons Attribute-ShareAlike, I was innocently convinced it had the regular CC licenses which would make the excerpt by definition completely allowed.

However, all I did was copy a small part of the originating page. As such it can and should be considered a quotation, respected by all international laws to be exempt of copyright, and thus completely legal and not plagiarism. It would've been different had I copied the entire page on Windows USER. Plagiarism is the integral copying of content, not a few sentences - it would put news sites out of business pretty fast otherwise.

Funny thing is, you also didn't do your research properly. The copied description has been going around the internet since 2010 and has even been 'plagiarized' by Microsoft Community Support employees.

One of the underlying reasons for the right of quotation is actually that it's pretty damn hard to describe something in 1 or 2 sentences without saying it exactly the same as someone else before you ever did. Like, if you are seriously complaining about this one or this one (random examples from your OP) you're definitely taking this too far. Oneliners describing a product can never be plagiarism.

I think that especially for the excerpts you shouldn't be taking the plagiarism rejection too far, especially if the source is Wikipedia which is on all other points completely compatible through its CC basics. I'll be more than willing to add a source link to the tag wiki though, that should cover it more than needed.

  • Lol, can't fix it if this topic gets me a 7-day tag wiki ban... May 23, 2013 at 0:23
  • 1
    Paragraph 1 and 2: You still have to attribute, at the very least. Paragraph 3: It's only a quotation if you attribute.... P. 4: That doesn't justify plagiarizing here on SO. Also, that user was not an employee, just a random person. (continued in next comment)
    – Doorknob
    May 23, 2013 at 0:46
  • 1
    P5: The tag wiki was "Intel Atom is the brand name for a line of ultra-low-voltage IA-32 and Intel 64 (x86-64) CPUs from Intel." Wikipedia says "Intel Atom is the brand name for a line of ultra-low-voltage IA-32 and Intel 64 (x86-64) CPUs (or microprocessors) from Intel." Pretty obvious plagiarism, I think. P6: Yes, at the very least attribute properly.
    – Doorknob
    May 23, 2013 at 0:47
  • Seriously, I don't care if you are going to keep up your stance on P5 - fine with me but you're going to end up deleting all tag wiki excerpts related to products, and me and many other people will stop doing work on them. You need to grasp the difference between 'writing down a oneliner fact' (like the user32, Intel Atom and MS Narrator examples) and integrally copying someone else's hard work and passing it off as your own. The idea remains problematic with unclear definitions and unclear rules, no need to apply them into the unreasonable too. May 23, 2013 at 0:51
  • 3
    Looking through your tag edits, several of them are copy and pastes from other sources without any attribution. It's as simple as giving credit to the original source. It takes an additional 15 seconds and eliminates the plagiarism aspect nearly entirely.
    – jprofitt
    May 23, 2013 at 0:53
  • Also, Helen Zhao quit her job at the end of 2012, evidenced by her rep graph. At time of writing that post she was an employee, as stated by the forum signature which is locked to show she was an official representative at time of writing in 2011. May 23, 2013 at 0:55
  • 2
    +1, This is the answer. It isn't plagiarism to copy a few lines, and it is definitely hard to come up with a completely original description of anything. May 23, 2013 at 2:21
  • Typisch Curry. Goed je hier te zien ;)
    – user138231
    May 23, 2013 at 11:49
  • 1
    Ey Bauke, ontiegelijke rep-hoer dat je bent :P May 23, 2013 at 12:01

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