The current “plagiarism” template for moderator messages (minus lead-in and fade-out, but including original emphasis) is:

It has come to our attention that several of your answers consisted primarily or entirely of text copied from other answers or websites. We prefer not to simply copy content already available elsewhere in lieu of creating something that adds value to this site specifically.

Whenever possible, we prefer that posts be your own original work, but when a great answer already exists elsewhere, including a small passage of text from another source can be a great way to support your solution. But please note that we require full attribution with a link to the original author, and please be sure you are not copying content without permission.

Thank you, and I look forward to your contributions in the future.

Please add a link to /help/referencing somewhere.

Also, I think the word plagiarism should be present in the mod message itself.

  • 1
    So, this is ironic, but I just realized I don't know if the emphasis is original or not…. Aug 11, 2018 at 4:44
  • @NathanTuggy You mean, whether the bold and italic parts are bold/italic in the message template? Yes, they are. Aug 11, 2018 at 8:22

2 Answers 2


It looks like the plagiarism mod message template changed at some point to include a link to the /help/referencing page (among other changes since then), so I'm marking this request as .

The relevant portion of this mod message template currently reads:

We’ve noticed that at least one of your posts contains text copied from other published material without indicating the source of the text.

As a general rule, posts should be your original work, but including a small passage of text from another source can be a great way to support your post. Please note that we require full attribution with a citation/link indicating the original source, and make sure that you clearly distinguish quoted text from text written by you. For more information, please see how to reference material written by others.

(The link at the end points to the /help/referencing page on the site it's being sent on, of course.)


The problem that this mod-message exists to address isn't folks attributing their quotes incorrectly; it's wholesale copying of others' work without any indication that it isn't theirs, on an ongoing basis.

The primary goal here is to get folks to stop copying completely, or at least reduce it to the point where copied material makes up only a small portion of what they're posting. As with all mod messages, it tries to leave very little room for debate: the recipient need not ever respond to the message, but absolutely needs to stop whatever they're doing that motivated it.

The problem that the help center article exists to address is that of plagiarism from folks who don't know better.

Its primary goal is education: about the concept of plagiarism in general (which does appear to be completely foreign to a good many people) and about the attitude that tends to arise toward it on these sites. It doesn't require a moderator to send; authors can readily find it in the help center if they look for it, and others are free to point it out to them if they miss it. The actions pushed by the article tend more toward subtle adjustments rather than wholesale cessation.

In short... The two bits of text are related, but have different goals and thus need not be intermingled. I generally link to the help center first upon encountering a problematic post, and resort to sending a mod message only if the problem continues or severity is very great.

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    The two are complementary. The help center is what you should do. The moderator message is what you shouldn't do. The moderator message should explain what you should do instead; a link to the help center would do nicely. Jun 11, 2018 at 22:53
  • Wikipedia has a great page which discusses Self-Plagiarism (copying your own answers, even questions, from one SE site to another without referencing the duplication - especially disliked for same question on a few sites) and a clear definition (our definition could be tweaked from this but we need one standard for all SE sites).
    – Rob
    Aug 11, 2018 at 10:11

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