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I know that there's no rule against the same question appearing on two Stack Exchange sites if it's asked by two different users at different times (there are many sites with non-trivial overlaps, and cross-site duplication is inevitable), and that the same user cross-posting the same question on two sites is frowned upon.

Does it make any difference if the person who posts the question on the second site is aware of the version on the first site (they didn't ask it themselves, but perhaps they answered it or commented on it, or perhaps they just happen to be an active user on the first site)?

For instance, let's say user X posts a question on Arts & Crafts which is almost the same as a previous question by user Y on Woodworking, and user X is perfectly aware of the existence of this pre-existing question, although they didn't ask it themselves.

Would this be considered abuse? Should user X include attribution to user Y's question and/or ask user Y for permission first?

Note: I have not done this myself, nor do I plan to. I'm just wondering what the advised procedure is if this happens.

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  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/167476/…
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 23:45
  • @HDE226868 Thanks, I hadn't found that one. Would it make a difference if the question wasn't unanswered on the first site? Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 23:46
  • meta.stackexchange.com/questions/218048/…
    – random
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 23:48
  • I don't know. There would seem to be less of a point to cross-posting, other than to 1) reach a new audience, which may or may not help, or 2) get free rep. Either way, it seems to me to be unethical to not attribute (if the first question was the inspiration), or at least mention, the other question.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 23:50
  • 2
    The other reason to attribute is so that potential answerers know the full context. There's nothing worse than spending time on an answer to discover there's already an answer on the other site covering the same thing.
    – Tim Malone
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 8:29

2 Answers 2

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There are three different questions here: Is it allowed? Is it a good idea? If it's allowed, what guidelines are there for making it as useful as possible?

The answers depend on whether the question already received a satisfactory answer.

If the question already received a reasonable answer: No, of course one shouldn't re-post the question on another site. That's just pointless. A significant part of the Stack Exchange mission is to build up an archive of high-quality questions and answers. But if the question has already received an answer and is findable through Google, why do we need another copy of it? We don't. At that point, re-posting the same question is not useful. Technically, it might not be prohibited, but it's not something we should encourage. (Translation: be prepared to be downvoted.)

If the question hasn't already received a reasonable answer: Then there could be a reasonable argument for posting the same or a similar question on a new site, with attribution. However, don't just blindly copy-paste. Instead, think about how to improve the question and tailor it for the audience of the new site. See also Is it OK to cross-post an old, unanswered question?.

Either way, yes, attribution to the original question should be included. Crediting other sources that you inspired you is always a good idea, and helps protect you from accusations of plagiarism. I suggest following our guidelines on how to reference material written by others, by providing a link to the original question and giving proper credit to the original author. If you're paraphrasing, attribution is a good idea; if you're copying, attribution is mandatory. Also, please leave a comment on the original question linking to the new copy so we have links in both directions.

Should you ask permission of the original author? No need. Permission is not required, and it doesn't serve any useful purpose.

Is it OK to copy-paste the original question (written by someone else) onto a new site? While it not be prohibited, in most cases I'd view that as rather lazy. Usually it's possible to improve the question or make it better fit the audience of the new site. In any case, if copy-pasting material written by someone else, you must indicate which material was copy-pasted (e.g., put it in a quote block), link to the original source, and credit the original author, as explained in the guidelines in the help center.

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  • So that means source of the comment has to be found on stack exchange and on google for it to be allowable. So what about posting a comment from a search on google as either comment or answer?
    – user344877
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 6:43
  • @DavidTang, sorry, I don't follow you.
    – D.W.
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 6:46
  • Like what if I copy & paste a site as a comment that I happen to find on google onto Stack Exchange?
    – user344877
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 6:48
  • @DavidTang, I don't understand what you're asking. For example, I'm not sure what it means to copy & paste a site. Perhaps you should use the 'Ask Question' button on the upper-right to ask it as a separate question, and give a more detailed explanation? (An example might help too.)
    – D.W.
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 17:25
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the person who posts the question on the second site is aware of the version on the first site

As far as the questions are similar and not exactly the same, then there is no problem with cross-posting. (By similar, I meant if the question is edited a bit to be on-topic on the respective site.)

If a question is cross-posted after a prolonged period of not getting an answer, then cross-posting makes sense, else I don't see the point of cross-posting (agreeing with @HDE226868 comment)

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  • 2
    Regarding your statement that there is "no problem" with this: I think that's conflating "what's allowed" with "what's good idea". Not everything that is allowed is worth encouraging. Policy might technically allow this practice, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea or that it serves our mission or is beneficial.
    – D.W.
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 22:09

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