Consider this review audit. The post appears of good quality, but the expected action is not to let it through (i.e. downvote, flag or edit).

The reason is that the post is actually a copy of an existing answer. Note that comments are not visible during the audit.

I happened to pass this audit only by accident, because I wanted to edit the post to add backticks to code pieces. But the risk is high that the next reviewer upvotes this (or a similar) post and fails the audit.

I've suggested to show other answers next to the target post during review, which would help in this case. But it would make reviewing a much more time-consuming task.

Flag as "Plagiarism"?

Another option is to add a separate reason for flagging:

I am flagging this answer because ...
... it is a copy of an existing answer (~> "Select original answer" dialog box)

and to exclude the answers flagged this way from review audits.

There's the problem, however, that several persons could be writing answers at the same time and posting them in short time intervals. It is very common that a trivial question like

How do I print to console in Java?

receives many almost identical answers:

Use System.out.print();

Try System.out.print();

You do this like System.out.print(); Hope it helps.


For such cases, I'd suggest that only late posts would be allowed to be flagged as clones. Besides, heuristics could be used for the final decision (whether the flag passes through to moderators or not), like length of the original post, reference to the original post inside the clone, amount of code copied from the question, etc.

  • It needs to be edited to fix the code formatting anyway, IMO; if clicking Edit passes the audit then the system works fine.
    – Wooble
    Sep 16, 2013 at 11:57
  • 1
    @Wooble: I do agree, but consider that the "cloner" is smart enough to copy formatting as well Sep 16, 2013 at 12:02
  • 2
    another idea would be to let moderators dismiss any flag as "delete, but it's not a good audit" Sep 16, 2013 at 12:04
  • @AlexShesterov is the purpose of this flag to just exclude it as an audit? Or is your intention to delete the duplicate answers? Sep 16, 2013 at 12:05
  • 1
    @psubsee2003: My suggestion is to make "plagiarism" a reason for flagging. Duplicate posts are now downvoted/deleted manually. I don't know if moderators mark such posts somehow, but "commoners" like myself may only flag them "for moderator attention" with some custom text. I suggest including "plagiarism" next to "not an answer", "spam", etc. AND, one of the usages for this new information is to exclude the posts flagged this way from audits. Sep 16, 2013 at 12:15
  • @AlexShesterov "Plagiarism" is probably a bad name for the flag since it will be misused as flagging content plagiarized from other sites. But other than that as long as it only shows up for late answers like you suggest, it seems like a solid idea. Sep 16, 2013 at 12:46
  • How would you handle similar answers in a rapid time frame for this flag? I think a plagiarism flag could be dangerously subjective.
    – thegrinner
    Sep 16, 2013 at 14:12
  • @thegrinner: I've described the problem you mention and a possible solution at the end of the question. And in the end, it's always up to the moderators to decide whether to delete the post or not. It's just that moderators would receive the uniform "copy of post <N>" message rather than a custom text. Sep 16, 2013 at 14:29
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    Somewhat related is this question in which someone flagged a good answer as plagiarism because, upon looking at the question, it seemed to be a copy. It turned out that it only looked like a copy because it had been anonymized for the review. In your case, if the question had been a better copy (i.e., with code formatting), it might actually not have been plagiarism, but the same answer, just with a different name. Sep 16, 2013 at 15:16


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