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The FAQ entry on plagiarism currently says

In the context of Stack Exchange sites, any copying and pasting of any amount of text or code that wasn't written by you is plagiarism if you try, explicitly or implicitly, to pass it off as your own work.

(italics mine)

There is also a concept of self-plagiarism. Should this also be addressed in the FAQs?

In other words, is it OK to copy (large parts of) your own answer without proper attribution?

  • Inside the SE network or to somewhere else? – rene Jul 16 '17 at 7:51
  • @rene I was considering inside the network. For outside, I guess there is the "attribution required" clause of the cc licence. – Earthliŋ Jul 16 '17 at 7:52
  • Within the same site I would almost suspect the answer is no, because the question should be closed as an duplicate. Beyond that I would treat all sources the same, whether they are yours or not: link and attribute to prevent any misunderstanding of your intent. – rene Jul 16 '17 at 7:56
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    @Earthliŋ: For outside, I guess there is the "attribution required" clause of the cc licence. – Nope. It’s your intellectual property; you can do with it whatever you want. The CC license only means that you allow others (e.g., SE) to use your content; it doesn’t restrict your own rights. (See this question for more detail.) – Wrzlprmft Jul 16 '17 at 8:03
  • @Wrzlprmft I see. That would suggest that it's also allowed to copy/paste your own answer to answer a different SE question without attributing the content to your previous answer, since it is your intellectual property and you can do with it whatever you want. In particular, there cannot be self-plagiarism on SE. – Earthliŋ Jul 16 '17 at 8:42
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    @Earthliŋ: In particular, there cannot be self-plagiarism on SE. – Legally: no. But that doesn’t mean it’s always okay (which I presumed you were asking for). Even in academia, self-plagiarism is not a legal issue (unless it’s an explicit part of a contract). – Wrzlprmft Jul 16 '17 at 8:45
  • @Wrzlprmft Right. Knowing the legal situation is only part of an answer. We could still have a SE policy to cite when copying large portions of own answers. (I would be in favour of such policy, because it's also how other communities such as academia work.) – Earthliŋ Jul 16 '17 at 8:57
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Your content belongs to you - you have licensed it to SE but it's neither exclusive, nor do you give up any rights as an author by doing so.

You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license.

As such you are free to use your own content in whichever way you choose.

'Attribution' makes a ton of common sense if it's between sites since it makes it easier to find the other posts. However, you may run into entirely unrelated issues if you're posting identical posts, simply because people might get annoyed at a certain lack of effort. It is however fine to say "I'd like to refer to my answer here", add the relevant bits and build on it. It isn't necessary but it's useful.

Copying your own content from a SE post to elsewhere and building on it should be fine, too.

So, it's a non issue, but you'd get a certain amount of benefit from crosslinking similar posts, both in terms of discoverability and potential upvotes.

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    I don't find think it's sufficient to look at what the license permits; there are plenty of actions that aren't considered OK on this site, even though they don't violate any license. Licenses are about the law (copyright). Plagiarism is about what is right (e.g., giving attribution, credit). Not all plagiarism is illegal; not everything illegal is plagiarism. The legal license might not prohibit posting it, but that's not definitive in determine whether it's OK or not. Ultimately, I'd come to a similar conclusion, but for different reasons. – D.W. Jul 18 '17 at 22:37

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