I stumbled across an answer recently to a question that was copied and pasted (with some minor re-wording) directly from an answer of mine from another question.

A: Why should I use PNG and not JPG?

(Note the "source" at the bottom.)

And my original answer:

A: PNG vs. GIF vs. JPEG vs. SVG - When best to use?

I don't know how I feel about this. Should I flag the question? Has this person done anything wrong per SO's community?

  • I'm surprised it isn't closed as a dupe of the older question.
    – Mysticial
    Mar 31, 2013 at 14:54
  • Yeah, that crossed my mind, too. Mar 31, 2013 at 14:55

1 Answer 1


This is a clear duplicate, and a vote or flag to close would have been the thing to do. We also prefer citations to be much more brief, and much more obvious. E.g.

According to {link_to_user} on {link to answer}:

(short bit of supporting text)

Additionally, cited content should not make up the majority of an answer. The bulk of any post a user writes should be their own.

With that being said, I think the user posting it had the best intentions at heart, and just didn't quite realize how things work. If you look, a link back to the original answer was present even in the first revision. I honestly think they were trying to be helpful by trying to summarize your answer. The question itself has been subsequently and appropriately marked as a duplicate.

When you see a clear case of plagiarism, where even an attempt to give credit to the original source isn't made, it's definitely something that should be flagged and we take it quite seriously.

In this case, it really wasn't plagiarism, it was just someone answering a question that they really should have flagged, while not quite understanding how to cite other answers properly. Still, this should be brought to a moderator's attention - it's a clear duplicate and a mod needs to see the answer in question.

In either case, use the 'other' reason and provide as much context and information as you can.

  • While I was waiting for the mods to think about how to handle such situations, I did flag the Answer for moderator attention using the 'Other' reason. Nothing changed, however :-/ Mar 31, 2013 at 16:21
  • @DjangoReinhardt The post was closed by a mod after you flagged it, as it should have been all along. You've also since edited the answer appropriately, you're obviously qualified to make such an edit. Given the circumstances, the moderator handling it initially did the least amount possible after evaluating the flag. I considered mentioning editing, but these cases tend to be quite odd and I wanted to offer clear cut guidance. The issue did raise a conversation (edit:internally) which was on-going as you edited.
    – Tim Post
    Mar 31, 2013 at 17:11
  • Actually I edited the answer after you posted your response, I just flagged the question as a Dupe before that. I was just wondering what procedure is for a mod once an answer has been flagged for plagiarism. Is there actually anything they can do? Mar 31, 2013 at 17:16
  • @DjangoReinhardt Yes, if it's clear cut plagiarism then swift action will be taken, usually the post is deleted and the user will be (at least) warned, possibly suspended. This was a case that, well, wasn't clear cut plagiarism as a link providing citation was included and the answer was paraphrased, just not very well. I was continuing to think about what else should be done here as you made your edit, and then there wasn't much else to do once you had. I answered as to what you should do in general, and them moved on to think about what else should be done this time.
    – Tim Post
    Mar 31, 2013 at 17:48
  • Actually it was just cut-and-pasted directly -- it's just that I since edited and reworded my original answer. At the time it was a direct copy with no paraphrasing at all. Anyways, that answers my question. Thanks. Apr 1, 2013 at 11:55

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