Yes, it's time for me to complain about plagiarism again.

We already have Suggested Edit audits, but I would like to see Tag Wiki and Tag Wiki Excerpt audits that specifically introduce copied content for that tag without including the appropriate source(s), and warn people who approve it that they just approved a tag with plagiarized text.

For example, an audit for the tag could be:

Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database management system developed by Microsoft. As a database, it is a software product whose primary function is to store and retrieve data as requested by other software applications, be it those on the same computer or those running on another computer across a network (including the Internet). There are at least a dozen different editions of Microsoft SQL Server aimed at different audiences and for different workloads (ranging from small applications that store and retrieve data on the same computer, to millions of users and computers that access huge amounts of data from the Internet at the same time). Its primary query languages are T-SQL and ANSI SQL.

Anyone who spends 15 seconds Googling this will see where it came from -- the problem is, most people don't.

I know with Suggested Edit Audits, it's just random text to catch the most egregious reviewers; for this, you would have to most likely select a small sample of tags, and then create their copy-and-paste entries for audits.

The whole point of this would be to raise awareness for people who have figured out how to recognize and pass Suggested Edit audits, but still don't understand the finer nuances of reviewing.

  • As long as there is an attribution, like "From wikipedia: quote", I see no problem with this kind of copying.
    – Mansfield
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 19:36
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    @Mansfield -- sorry, I meant for that my problem was with edits that don't include the appropriate source, hence the plagiarizing. I'll edit my question to make that clear. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 19:37
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    @Mansfield The purpose of tag wikis is not to be an encyclopedia entry for the tag, it's supposed to tell you how to use the tag, not to just provide general purpose information about that topic. They can look up the encyclopedia entry on their own if that's what they're looking for. These entries aren't just plagiarism, they're also just [generally] bad tag wikis.
    – Servy
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 19:37
  • Of course sometimes the plagiarism is reversed so googling doesn't always work. Note the tag usage instructions seem a bit out of place Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 20:03
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    @Servy In that case I imagine practically every tag wiki out there needs revising. Your comment may be the intent but it's certainly not how they're used in the majority of cases as far as I've seen.
    – Mansfield
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 20:11
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    @Mansfield Which is largely because tag wiki reviewers don't actually know the guidelines when reviewing tag wiki edits. All the more reason that we need audits for them.
    – Servy
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 20:14
  • @Mansfield I do regularly roll back these useless edits when I run across them.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 20:17
  • @Servy Fair enough.
    – Mansfield
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 20:21
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    @animuson I suppose that begs the question of whether or not these are useless. Certainly for the Sql-Server tag which already has an abudance of information it is, but there are many tag wikis which remain completely empty. To my mind having a brief summary is better than nothing at all...
    – Mansfield
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 20:22
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    yes YES YES
    – Doorknob
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 20:59
  • but wouldn't you have to commit plagarism yourslef in order to create the audits? Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 22:14
  • @SamIam: That's probably a straw man. I doubt that audits are publicly indexed by Google (there's no reason to).
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 22:15
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    @Mansfield If it's copied from Wikipedia, there's no question about it. Wikipedia information is basically random facts and information both useful and not useful compiled into paragraphs that rarely make any sense together. If a user really wants to go to Wikipedia to learn about something, let them. We don't want that crap in our tag wikis. Unfortunately that's the number one place I catch people copy-pasting from, and the text they copied is atrocious.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 22:28
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    @Mansfield A lot of people copy-paste Wikipedia into tag wikis because it doesn't require any effort. That doesn't make it the right thing to do. It isn't (only) a matter of attribution. Wikipedia copypasta usually includes a lot of irrelevant details and fails to mention things that are important for the site's audience. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 22:59
  • Possible duplicate of Add tag wiki/excerpt audits with copied content Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 5:48

1 Answer 1


If you're uncomfortable with a tag wiki missing an attribution, just edit the tag wiki and add the proper attribution.

Tag wikis can be tremendously useful at identifying the technology and providing general information about it. The tag wiki for PHP has an abundance of useful information, telling people how to do their homework and find good information about PHP, not the mind-bogglingly crappy and out of date tutorials about PHP that seem to saturate the Internet. So please don't try and argue that the tag wiki is only there to tell people how to use the tag.

I don't think reviewers should be spending their time Googling tag wikis to find out if the text has been copy/pasted from somewhere, or attributed (especially fake audits). We have far more pressing problems. Microsoft is not going to care that the summary we put into the tag wiki about their product is copy/pasted from their website. If anything, they probably prefer it that way, since it is their official verbiage. While attribution is clearly important, wiki editors should be focusing on the quality of the tag wiki itself.

To be clear, attribution is not the real issue here. As Gilles and others have already pointed out, copy/pastes from Wikipedia have other problems besides lack of attribution.

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    I don't think reviewers should be spending their time Googling tag wikis to find out if the text has been copy/pasted from somewhere. Then I guess we just disagree. Its not like it takes that much time, and the queue isn't backlogged. I figured it would be easier to be proactive and educate users instead of being reactive. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 22:46
  • We do indeed. There are more important fish to fry. If you can demonstrate that there's a genuine peril to the website, I'd be willing to change my mind.
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 22:46
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    Wikipedia copypasta is rarely appropriate for a tag wiki, because it isn't tailored for the right audience. Sadly, it's very common, to the point that seeing a well-written tag wiki suggestion almost always means WP copypasta. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 23:00
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    @Gilles: That's why we have collaborative editing. You have to decide whether no tag wiki at all is better than an incomplete one. That would be a strange attitude to take, given that such incompleteness is probably the state of most Stack Overflow questions.
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 23:09
  • To the downvoters: the question is about attribution, not about copypasta. It's even bolded in the question. If your beef is about copypasta, then say so. Better yet, post a detailed answer about it. I personally think that attribution is inconsequential here, as is plagiarism (this isn't a school assignment; if you genuinely believe that attribution totally validates otherwise rampant copypasta from Wikipedia, then say so).
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 3:29
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    In other words, the community needs to clarify whether they even want Wikipedia copypasta in tag wikis or not. Attribution is not the real issue; that's just a minor detail that provides faux legitimization.
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 3:36

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