I have noticed that a large (increasing?) fraction of Astronomy SE answers appear to be relying very heavily on simply cutting and pasting material from other sites.

Where this is done without attribution - this is clearly plagiarism and is beyond the pale.

However I have noticed some inconsistent treatment recently of answers which quote huge chunks of material from other sites with essentially no further value added.

In one case, I see that a moderator deleted an answer because the material came from a copyrighted source. In another case, an answer flagged (for exactly the same reason) has been left left untouched?

I am also concerned about block quotation from sites like wikipedia. Whilst this breaks no copyright rules it hardly reflects well on the Astronomy SE as a place for learned discourse. I have seen one egregious example where a question was asked, that could easily have been answered by looking at wikipedia. The question was upvoted considerably(?); then the question's author answered his own question by block-quoting wikipedia, and then this answer was heavily upvoted too(???).

It doesn't look good and it doesn't happen on Physics SE (or not to the same extent). I think it should be outlawed.


1 Answer 1


An answer that is just a copy and paste - even attributed - from somewhere else doesn't add any value. You might as well just add a link to that source as a comment. However, in terms of breaking someone's copyright - that's up to the copyright holder to contact SE and ask for the content to be removed. It's not something the community needs to or should be involved in.

By all means include a small section from the article as a quote, but add your own words to explain how that quote is relevant and how it answers the question. This adds value to the site rather than it just being a place you go to find out where to go to get the answer.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Astronomy SE will stand or fall on the quality and originality of its content. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Feb 28, 2015 at 0:49

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