Looking through the list of recently created tag wikis (10k only) and suggested tag wiki edits, one thing stands out - a lot of the content is copy and pasted directly from other sites on the internet. Case in point:


A Session refers to all the request that a single client makes to a server. A session is specific to the user and for each user a new session is created to track all the request from that user.

Copied from http://dotmethod.com/forums/YaBB.pl?num=1197400908


Cairo is a software library used to provide a vector graphics-based, device-independent API for software developers.

Copied from cairo's Wikipedia page.


HTML5 video is an element introduced in the HTML5 draft specification for the purpose of playing videos or movies, partially replacing the object element.

Copied from HTML5 Video's Wikipedia page.


Firebug allows the debugging, editing, and monitoring of any website's CSS, HTML, DOM, and JavaScript, and provides other Web development tools. It also has a JavaScript console for logging errors and watching values, as well as a "Net" feature which monitors the amount of time in milliseconds it takes to execute scripts and load images on the page. Firebug is free and open source, licensed under the BSD license.

Copied from Firebug's Wikipedia page.


A diagram is a two-dimensional geometric symbolic representation of information according to some visualization technique.

Copied from the Wikipedia page for 'diagram'

Others include and , both copied from Wikipedia. All of the above were created in the last 24 hours or so on SO. A lot others not mentioned were copied from the software project's homepage without attribution.

The fact is that although we have official guidelines on how to plagiarise Wikipedia, most of the reviewers and editors are not following it (all of the above 'copied from Wikipedia' cases do not contain attribution). And even worse would be cases like the first one, where you are outright copying information from a site with strict ('All Rights Reserved') copyright notices (although I have to admit with Google showing three identical results I can't be sure which is the original).

The solution would have to for both reviewers and editors to be aware of the copyright policy of the sites they are copying from - a notice on the tag wiki edit page warning of copying and the suggested edits review page about rejecting improperly attributed copy-pasted information should do.

  • 1
    How is this any different from copying stuff to write other kinds of posts like questions or answers. Why specifically tag wikis? Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 16:54
  • 5
    @GoranJovic Because most of the time when we copy stuff into our answers we cite our source (speculation, of course. But I don't believe we see this amount of copy-pasting in 'normal' posts). Also remember that there's now a two rep reward for doing this, so it might be a further motivation to users doing this.
    – Yi Jiang
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 22:21
  • 2
    Yeah, and there is a 10 per upvote motivation for answers. However, since tag wikis usually contain definitions and other generic stuff, it is possible that verbatim copying is more often here. Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 22:33
  • 1
    There's been a flurry of iOS-related tag wiki creation which seems to largely be a copy-paste of Apple doc snippets, with no link to the original source. Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 23:21
  • Your "official guidelines" link contains 4 answers which, in order of votes, are: Yes, NO, yes?, no?
    – JDB
    Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 21:07

3 Answers 3


The box shown in the sidebar when you edit a tag wiki currently reads:

What are Tag Wikis?

The tag wiki excerpt is a brief plain text introduction to the topic that the tag represents. It is shown at the top of tag question lists, and as a tooltip wherever the tag appears. Complete this first!

The full tag wiki is a detailed introduction to the topic, suitable as a destination for those curious about it:

► what questions should have this tag?

► some basic definitions

► brief introduction to the subject

► important links for learning more

► one reasonably sized page

See our advice on writing great tag wikis.

I see two main issues with this:

  1. it doesn't even mention plagiarism, and

  2. the old blog post really isn't that great a resource on "writing great tag wikis" — sure, it contains some very good advice, but it's buried among lots of other stuff, and it's hard to update.

To address those issues, I'd like to suggest two changes to the message:

  1. Add a brief note about about plagiarism to the sidebar itself, e.g.:

    Do not copy content from external sources without attributing it properly!

    (The link here is optional, if advice on attribution is directly incorporated into the new "writing great tag wikis" page; see below.)

  2. Change the "writing great tag wikis" link to point to a new post here on meta (or possibly to a new help page) that gives more detailed advice on how to actually write great tag wikis. We could seed it from the "few words of advice" in Jeff's blog post, but I'd like to see at least the following two additions:

    • Incorporate the attribution advice from the new help page on referencing material written by others, either directly or by reference.

    • Explicitly state that the full tag wiki should include the content in the excerpt, rather than merely serving as an appendix to it. (Unrelated to this discussion, but a common mistake I've seen new users make.)

Edit: Proposed FAQ post: What is a tag wiki? How do I write a good one? Improvements welcome.


I do not see a problem if only 1 or 2 lines are being copied, it is much better to have same text that says what the tag is there for, rather then having people choose to use a tag just because they like the word.

But how do we award tag wiki editors that make the effort to create a great wiki?


JavaScript could be used to detect a paste event, and then prompt the user to provide a linkback.

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