A certain user is presently in the process of creating tons of new tags and creating tag wiki excerpts with plagiarized content. For example, this suggested edit review, which is an exact copy of this Bioinformatics journal article abstract. Since I do not have 20k rep to roll back the edits and there is no flag for tag wikis, posting on meta seems to be the only course of action I can take.

I'm not going for votes or rep here, I'm just trying to get this "editor" stopped. Most of the suggested edits seem to be getting rejected, but there are quite a few upvotes.

Also, I'm sorry to say that I approved one or two of his edits before getting suspicious and doing a Google search for the exact content in quotes. Now I've used up my 20 suggested edit reviews, and there are plenty more horrible edits to reject.

In the questions here and here (the duplicate flags), there is no mention of plagiarism. This seems like a different issue now. Also, I understand there is the concept of fair use potentially at work here - and I am no expert - but I feel this is blatantly lifting content from various copyrighted sources. This seems to be an instance of a legitimate problem, even though the user appears to have good intentions as the edits are fundamentally useful.

Note: I do not want to imply that the user is an intentional plagiarist. As Tim Post indicated in comments, the user may simply not be aware of the requirement to provide proper attribution for the content - a fair point. The user should be given the benefit of the doubt.

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    possible duplicate of How to flag a user editing tag wiki – hims056 Nov 20 '13 at 6:58
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    The question is asked for the same user third time. – hims056 Nov 20 '13 at 6:59
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    And I was told that this very user was doing good and useful work. – SudoRahul Nov 20 '13 at 7:01
  • @hims056 OK, so flag a random post of theirs? Robert Harvey seemed to suggest that a meta post was the best way to raise attention to it... – chappjc Nov 20 '13 at 7:01
  • @chappjc - I know posting on meta is a good way. But this is already posted twice before. – hims056 Nov 20 '13 at 7:05
  • @hims056 So what came of it then? Now he is simply plagarizing. This seems different. It is certainly no longer subjective as was concluded in R.J's question. I get why this is flagged as duplicate, but if you search for "payeli" on meta, you get nothing. – chappjc Nov 20 '13 at 7:07
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    He was doing the same before. Just that it became a bigger issue now, with the user not willing to stop. Its been going on for days and day and thus, this user got reported thrice(including this). Man, that guy is famous :D – SudoRahul Nov 20 '13 at 7:08
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    @chappjc - Have you read the answers given here or here? – hims056 Nov 20 '13 at 7:11
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    @chappjc - My question wasn't subjective either. I wanted to know, how I would be able to flag such a user, and the answer given was that the user is not doing anything wrong and hence, no need to stop them. – SudoRahul Nov 20 '13 at 7:13
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    @hims056 Yes. How is this not plagarism: stackoverflow.com/review/suggested-edits/3396145 Ripped right out of journal article abstract. – chappjc Nov 20 '13 at 7:16
  • @R.J I was referring to the fact that the issue of plagiarism did not come up in that question. I read the answer regarding fair use, and I am not sure I would consider as such. – chappjc Nov 20 '13 at 7:19
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    @chappjc - Yeah, you could argue about that. Nevertheless, the pressing point now is that, this user needs to be stopped. We badly a moderator to pitch in here. – SudoRahul Nov 20 '13 at 7:20
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    Failing to construct a proper citation does not automatically make one a plagiarist, if we assume the best in folks then it merely points out that the person is unaware of that requirement. I'll reach out to them; in the interim, let's not forget that every single indicator points to the user simply trying to be helpful while working to unlock a couple of features. – Tim Post Nov 20 '13 at 8:05
  • @TimPost Thanks, Tim. Your point regarding intentions is important to recognize. I have to conclude the user is trying to be helpful as the edits themselves are appropriate. – chappjc Nov 20 '13 at 8:10

Being uninformed of copyright conventions does not automatically make someone a plagiarist; if we can't assume the best in otherwise friendly and helpful behavior while providing mentoring and guidance then we're really in trouble.

This is our fault, because this keeps happening and we haven't put proper just-in-time guidance in place to teach people how to properly cite excerpts; something I'm going to look into. We can't realistically expect reviewers to catch this, at least not immediately, because you can't discriminate between a great edit and an unattributed blob of text unless you spot a pattern or happen to be familiar with the text. You noted this in your question - you shouldn't feel bad about approving a few of them - they were great edits. The problem isn't textual, it's circumstantial.

I've contacted the user privately to let them know that it is a problem, to show them how to cite text correctly, and provided guidance on knowing how much copied text is too much. Blame be with us diamond folks today as I confess; despite this happening on multiple previous occasions, nobody previously contacted the user to let them know.

I also thanked them for the amount of time they've obviously put into this, as evidenced by the number of times this has come up.

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  • I don't know, Tim. I find it very easy to tell if a piece of writing is original or taken from elsewhere without attribution, and I'm right 99% of the time. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Nov 20 '13 at 8:25
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    @BoltClock'saUnicorn Spotting it as quickly as you (and others) are able to do is a bit of a talent, one that many reviewers really haven't developed yet. You're also a seasoned moderator now, and brought that talent with you when you joined the team. I don't think the insight it lends is as common as you think :) – Tim Post Nov 20 '13 at 8:29
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    Well, fair enough. It's not like I've ever sung praises of the reviewers in the community anyway. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Nov 20 '13 at 8:30
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn I don't know about the majority of reviewers, but you can count on me to catch this now, as I will be searching the content of most every tag wiki edit I review. – chappjc Nov 20 '13 at 8:34
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    An obvious illustration of why rejected suggested edits should be notified to the editor. (Hoping that at least one of his plagiarized edits got rejected!) – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 20 '13 at 13:04

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