I can think of a few legitimate situations where a post might primarily contain another user's content:

  • The classic "comment should be an answer" situation
  • Another answer is half-correct, but needs another half, or corrections far beyond what is acceptable for an edit (after all, your major "corrections" might make a correct answer wrong).
  • An answer to another question is half-applicable, but needs another half; the question is not a duplicate, but shares enough that that portion of the external answer is appropriate.

What is the "correct" way to deal with situations where using another user's content (without permission, since getting permission is effectively impossible) gives the best overall results?

  • 7
    The CC:Wiki license is pretty clear on this already: it states that you have to credit the original author.
    – user102937
    Jul 15, 2013 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


Upon consideration, I chose to post my opinion as an answer, rather than part of the question, as it is just that: an opinion, of equal standing to any others--

I know that SO is community editable, etc. but at least to me there is still a pretty strong ownership/attribution culture.

My optimal solution is a system by which one is able to tag a post as "contains XYZ user's content; half rep goes to them". Of course such a system would probably be unnecessarily complex and not justify the benefit it would deliver.

Failing that, I would say that giving credit and quoting is appropriate, though it is rather hard to draw the line, and I always feel awkward posting "XYZ posted this as a comment, but it is the correct answer: ".

It would be quite interesting (and eat quite a bit of compute power) to categorize each sentence on SO, and trace it back to its original poster (by date). I wonder what the most-quoted line on SO is?

  • 7
    I wonder what the most-quoted line on SO is? -- Probably "Premature Optimization is the root of all evil." Or maybe, "Now they have two problems."
    – user102937
    Jul 15, 2013 at 21:14
  • @RobertHarvey "gimmecodez" should win by a large margin
    – gnat
    Jul 15, 2013 at 21:39
  • 9
    you cannot parse regex with HTML Jul 15, 2013 at 22:25
  • 1
    Attribution should result from a scenario: user uses part of content of another user, so when readers upvote this solution, they also follow the link to the referred solution, and also upvote it.
    – BartoszKP
    Oct 13, 2013 at 22:14

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