I wonder what relation there is between a Stack Exchange website's meta and SO meta. If the admins of Stack Exchange website X say in their meta something that contradicts some posts on SO meta, what should I respect when posting in X?

For example, these posts (1, 2) on SO meta say it is OK to copy answers into technically different questions. However, this post on Cross Validated meta say it is not OK.

I don't want to enter into this specific argument, but I'm curious to know what rule prevails when posting on the Stack Exchange website whose meta overrode some SO meta rule (Cross Validated in this example).


2 Answers 2


Each Stack Exchange community has somewhat different norms. As long as a given Stack Exchange community respects the platform (i.e. it doesn't do things like turn Q&A into a debate mechanism), they are free to set their norms as they see fit.

In the case of Cross-Validated, it appears that the preference is that answers not be copy/pasted on the site at all. In practice, this is in keeping with the spirit of Q&A since, if the questions are not duplicated, the answers can almost certainly be customized for each question, avoiding the copy/paste problem altogether.

I would also note that, while the two original meta questions that you cited give a fairly loose interpretation of answer duplication, they are both fairly old, and the current community consensus on this issue is probably closer to that which is advocated by Cross-Validated.

For the current network-wide policy, see:

Is it acceptable to add a duplicate answer to several questions?

  • 1
    Might I ask what makes that network-wide policy as opposed to some other highly-voted question/answer on the topic? Dec 13, 2013 at 16:56
  • The community does. Is it really in dispute?
    – user102937
    Dec 13, 2013 at 16:56
  • yes it is in dispute. You saw the posts that the OP linked too. Dec 13, 2013 at 16:57
  • Those posts are both over two years old.
    – user102937
    Dec 13, 2013 at 17:00
  • 1
    So is the post that you've linked. so what? Dec 13, 2013 at 17:00
  • This isn't a grey-area issue. The Stack Exchange software has mechanisms built into it that detect copy/pastes and raise moderator flags. Copy/pastes, in the vast majority of cases, are either someone spamming the site, or placing the same answer on duplicate questions, or not customizing their answer for each question (if they're not duplicates).
    – user102937
    Dec 13, 2013 at 17:01
  • Ah, so the real policy is "Policy is whatever the admins say is. community be damned." Dec 13, 2013 at 17:03
  • 3
    That's not what I said. If you want to argue a straw man, go to soapbox.com.
    – user102937
    Dec 13, 2013 at 17:04
  • 1
    you did say that the issue isn't a gray area because of the mechanisms that SO has built into it. Dec 13, 2013 at 17:04
  • Ergo, it's not a disputed topic. Protecting the sites against activity that is a marker for spammers is something that SE takes very seriously.
    – user102937
    Dec 13, 2013 at 17:05
  • 1
    Not a disputed topic because of what? because it's certainly not because the entire community agrees to it. Dec 13, 2013 at 17:06
  • 3
    Are you saying that you will fight for your God-given right to copy/paste duplicate answers to duplicate questions? Really?
    – user102937
    Dec 13, 2013 at 17:07
  • 1
    Ooooo another FAQ to clean up. :D
    – animuson StaffMod
    Dec 13, 2013 at 17:07
  • @TheGrinch That's just one example, but absolutely! If the answer is still a valid answer than why not post it in two places where it's valid? I'm sure that mods like you are capable of telling the difference between answers and actual spam right? Dec 13, 2013 at 17:22
  • 2
    @SamIam: Because, if they're not duplicate questions, each answer can almost certainly be custom-tailored to each question (even if just a little), which will take it out of copy/paste territory.
    – user102937
    Dec 13, 2013 at 17:24

First of, the Stack Exchange Meta is https://meta.stackoverflow.com/. The Stack Overflow Meta is https://meta.stackoverflow.com/. They are the same site. That said, it appears you meant to discuss differences between a site specific meta and meta.SO, although that can be generalized to any two questions on any two (or even the same) meta site. There are contradictions even on the same site often enough.

Also realize that site policy, and community consensus does change over time. It's generally worthwhile to add a bit more weight to more recent posts than to later posts for this reason; it's possible that each post was representative of policy at that time, even if they conflict now. In such cases, if you bring it to people's attention, they can update their posts to reflect this, to avoid confusion by future readers.

If you see conflicting information on different posts you can simply comment on those posts with a link to the other asking the author to help you understand how they're different, or which one is right. If you don't get responses and are still struggling, you can create a new meta post to discuss it. That said, realize that some topics are simply controversial and simply don't have a community consensus at all, so continually reviving the same debates when there was never consensus to begin with should be avoided.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .