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A while back I posted this question on Server Fault. I now see that it appears on Quora with both the question and answer copied from my question. Why is my question appearing there? Is Quora stealing from Stack Exchange? If so, for what purpose?

  • 12
    Feels like that one particular user is. Bot? Person trying to get what quora's equivilent of rep fast? Does seem fishy – Journeyman Geek Nov 25 '18 at 6:46
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    I reported the answer on Quora for plagiarism. Let's see what comes out of it. – muru Nov 25 '18 at 7:19
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    Well, probably better than the other way round :3 – πάντα ῥεῖ Nov 25 '18 at 9:06
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    I reported the user on Quora for plagiarism. – Meta Andrew T. Nov 25 '18 at 10:24
  • @and myself: Isn't it more than a guideline? Like an actual legal requirement? – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Nov 25 '18 at 17:41
  • @PeterMortensen welp, I messed up, but I also put the link for Quora team to read the legal requirement... – Meta Andrew T. Nov 25 '18 at 18:04
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    Looks like some of this user's stolen questions and answers come from Seasoned Advice. – Michael Hampton Nov 25 '18 at 19:16
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    After almost a month... looks like Quora didn't do anything to any of our reports... :( – Meta Andrew T. Dec 17 '18 at 3:33
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    I just checked the link I posted above. The question is still there, but the answer has been removed. – kojow7 Dec 17 '18 at 19:10
  • A site (or scraper) is copying content from Stack Exchange. What should I do? "In principle, there's actually nothing wrong with doing this. ... so long as they follow the attribution requirements and link back to us as the source." – Mazura May 28 at 10:30
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    And when done so, as I understand it, it is not only legal but "required". Re: “Our mass infringement”, is LearnHub doing anything illegal? "CC BY-SA 3.0 requires SE to grant a licence to any recipient of a distribution (e.g. on a web site) on the same terms" – Mazura May 28 at 10:31
  • I see lots of my answers on SFF being copied over almost verbatim on Quora without attribution. It annoys me but my complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. Ce la vie. – Richard May 29 at 23:54
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  • Maybe this question should specify what is meant by stealing. Is proper attribution given or not? If not, it might be plagiarism or violation of the content license. If yes, it might just be normal and expected usage of the content license and not really stealing. – Trilarion Jul 15 at 9:51
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    @Trilarion Click on the links. It's pretty clear that attribution is not given. – jgon Jul 18 at 15:10
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+50

The other answer is partially correct:

Quora has official rules against plagiarism.

The problem is: they are less and less and less enforced.

I have seen (or at least heard about) dozens if not hundreds of posts on Quora pointing to often blatant plagiarism. Even top Quora writers (with thousands of followers and millions of views) saw their content stolen on that very platform.

The really problematic part: Quora (moderation) does not sanction the users behind such activities. Sometimes stolen content is removed, but the culprits are allowed to continue on the site.

In my experience, the only recipe that sometimes worked is this:

  • You write down a Q/A on Quora, pointing out the stolen content, the user(s) involved, etc.
  • Then you manage for a lot of (ideally: highly respected) real users to read that

Because then the "stolen" content will be reported by dozens, or hundreds of people. And maybe then you have a decent chance that Quora moderation will not only delete the stolen content, but also sanction the culprits. Without such leverage, the stolen content might stay in place for weeks or months. And forget about the people behind that scheme being sanctioned without putting real pressure on the moderation team.

For some reason, Quora moderation is extremely inconsistent (see here for example). A harsh word can get your content deleted within minutes today, but it stays forever another day. But "plagiarism" is the one corner were Quora moderation appears super-weak, and determined actions seem to be super rare.

Probably the only real answer is: requesting an official DMCA takedown. You can try that yourself, or use some commercial service. Whip them hard, show no mercy. They do not deserve it.

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  • Plagiarism is a popular term but maybe not well enough defined in this context. Is the copying of content from SO on Quora illegal? Is it a breach of the content license? Why would a DMCA takedown request be effective? Would Quora plagiarists just have to acknowledge SO content and be fine with copying it? What is the content license of Quora? Is it compatible with CC-2.5/3/4? Could Quora also be sued for hosting plagiarized content? – Trilarion May 29 at 7:20
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    attribution is required for starters, something that didn't happen in the example of OP. – Luuklag May 29 at 7:56
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    I agree, the point here is that quoting with attribution can be okay. – GhostCat May 29 at 9:25
  • Today I stumbled over (I am not looking for them) Ankusha Rana's answer "What is the difference between .NET Standard and .NET Core?". It is wholesale copied from a Stack Overflow answer - though the Stack Overflow answer itself may also considered to be plagiarised (even if the source is revealed (at the end)) - at least the last half is copy straight from Introducing .NET Standard. – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q May 30 at 23:22
  • Or rather, I stumbled over the Stack Overflow answer (it looked plagiarised) and in looking for the source found that it itself had been plagiarised. Besides Quora, a "normal" scraper site and on a Microsoft forum. E.g. search for the exact phrase "Like most of us, you are probably in the situation below" – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q May 30 at 23:30
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    DMCA does not work here. A Math.SE regular tried it and got a "polite" reply that their request was not accompanied with evidence about them (personally!) having the copyright :-( – Jyrki - No Shog9 - No SE Jul 9 at 16:56
  • At least according to what I have seen and heard from many people... – GhostCat Jul 11 at 19:07
  • @Jyrki-NoShog9-NoSE Based on my understanding of that post, the person who made the request is in fact not the owner of copyright for the content in question and therefore is not legally empowered to send a DMCA takedown request for it. For that and other reasons, it seems wholly unjustified to conclude that "DMCA does not work here". If Quora receives a valid request and declines to act on it, then it would be a whole different story. – David Z Jul 11 at 22:05
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To be blunt: Yes, they are.

To quote @GhostCat: Quora has official rules against plagiarism. But they may as well not be there for all the good they do. I have also seen a few posts on Quora that are duplicates of ones on Stack Exchange, or other sites. I do not know what purpose this serves; Quora will also not apply any punishment (or so far as I've seen) to the perpetrator of such an activity unless you keep on pushing, or enough people write a report, which is a shame.

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    This answer would be better if it would give more evidence for the claims. Please show some plagiarised content from StackOverflow that is currently on Quora, maybe document by adding links to the internet archive, and state the plagiarism (what kind of attribution is given) and how long the plagiarisms were online on Quora. That would underline the answer much more. – Trilarion Jul 15 at 9:49
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It's not Quora who is stealing your content. Quora is a good platform to post questions and get answers to your queries. I have been a member of Quora for four years and have seen lots of things there.

Some people copy/paste answers from different sites without giving them credit. It's okay to copy some part of the information from the web, but you'll have to explicitly attribute the source. This is the authentic way of copying information.

As far as I know, Quora is against plagiarism and it's among the top authorities in Q&A platforms.

You should read the Quora question What is Quora's policy on plagiarism and attribution?. Recently to appreciate the Quora users, they launched the Quora Partner Program and people are earning really good with it. These are not the sign of a fake company. The only thing I didn't like about Quora is that it is not safe for kids.

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    In a sense having a policy isn't enough if it isn't applied, and least in theory, while its nice users make money from their posts, it could possibly be a motivation for plagiarism... – Journeyman Geek Apr 27 at 8:35
  • Quora is a giant website these days and to moderate with just over 100 moderators isn't enough to fight with plagiarism. Spammed, plagiarism, or not related answers are of course there but they can't last long and the earning is possible only if the user maintains a good profile by playing fair. – Ajay singh Apr 27 at 10:37
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    Quora has a financial interest in the content posted there, therefore I would say that it's also partly to blame if something goes wrong with it. It all depends on how much they do and how much they should do. – Trilarion Apr 27 at 12:34
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    They may officially be against plagiarism, but they don't enforce it (they don't react to flagged answers). - – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Apr 27 at 22:47
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    cont' - On this Quora question several answers were copied straight from blog posts. For instance, Keshav Infotech's answer (yes, a company name - "PHP Web Development India") was wholesale plagiarised from Tom Ewer's blog post Web 2.0 Made Awesome: 9 Best WordPress Comments Plugins." – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Apr 27 at 22:47
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    I can understand the feelings of frustration leading to downvotes of this answer, but I think objectively, it is correct in pointing out that it is not quora the platform, but users on quora, that may be plagiarizing contents. So this answer doesn't deserve all those downvotes. – auspicious99 May 30 at 7:27
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    @auspicious99 While it is apparently technically true that Quora is not responsible for posting the plagiarized content, this answer tries to present Quora as blameless, and that's not true: they are not taking action to remove plagiarized content when it is reported to them. That may be why many people are downvoting. – David Z Jul 11 at 22:09
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    @auspicious99, perhaps, perhaps not. But implying that Quora is blameless is pushing it, they do not apply punishment when needed, they don't react to flagged content, they don't really enforce their plagiarism rules at all. – Ollie Jul 14 at 20:02

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