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It's a little depressing to realize, but after this user was outed as having copied some bullet points off of about.com, I started googling some of his sentences and everything he's written so far has been lifted, sans attribution.

Is that something that should be reported? Abuse, Spam, etc? Most of the stuff I type I just regurgitate out of Rodale's Encyclopedia (or make up on the spot), but at least it's in my own words right?

  • 1
    Ah, what a bummer. I accepted his/her answer on one of my questions. And it's good info, too. – Michael Todd Jun 9 '11 at 21:47
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I would suggest simply editing it into a block quote and adding the source, as long as it's still helpful.

Flagging doesn't seem to be the right course of action, since flagging should generally mean "I need a moderator to do something I can't." At this point, that's basically only deletion, and if it's helpful, then deletion isn't appropriate.

If there is brief, pertinent information to be included from the external link, then quoted content in the form of excerpts is fine, as long as the original reference is included. It may even be a good thing to be included in an excerpt*, since we don't want answers going stale. Of course, if there is non-trivial information to be gleaned from a large portion of the article, the author should summarize in their own words, rather than copying, as wholesale copies do not qualify as fair-use, as Dori mentions in the comments below.

Answerers should put anything that is not in their own words into block quotes, like I've done on this question where I, too, used information from an About.com link.


* This is more important on sites like Skeptics, where paraphrasing can cause more trouble

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    OK, I googled and sourced out most, the rest have comments to that effect. – Peter Turner Jun 9 '11 at 22:31
  • @Peter nice work – Tea Drinker Jun 9 '11 at 22:58
  • @Dori, so should that user's answers be flagged or were our edits and comments sufficient? – Peter Turner Jun 10 '11 at 13:17
  • @Dori The problem is, saying it's not "good" goes against all the advice to actually paste referenced content so that answers don't become useless as links go dead. This was brought up on Skeptics. BTW, why not just edit my answer, instead of downvoting, to clarify that whole documents should not pasted? – Nicole Jun 10 '11 at 13:35
  • @Dori - I appreciate you not wanting to put words in my mouth, but I actually meant it the way you've put it - excerpts. I will clarify with an edit. – Nicole Jun 10 '11 at 22:45
  • @Dori: Why would you remove an upvote if the edit was good :) – Lorem Ipsum Jun 11 '11 at 0:46

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