Any and all sources, particularly when we are quoting from another website, journal article, book etc. must be properly attributed to the source.

Attributions can take the following forms (and folks are welcome to add to this):

  • A link to the web source, this should contain the name of the article (in case of dead links later on) and attribution to the author and/or organisation.

  • A full reference for non-online resources (yes, they do exist).

Failure to attribute to the resources is outright plagiarism and is not only unethical, it is in many cases, illegal. At the very least, it casts a very negative light over this site.

Basically, if you did not write it, even if you did - give a full link, hence full credit to who wrote it and where the information came from.

All members need to keep an eye out for this activity - if you see it, downvote and flag it. It is almost tacit approval if people upvote a plagiarised question or answer.

Anecdotal side note: I have had my work plagiarised before, I can tell you from the receiving end of that, it is a awful feeling.

  • $\begingroup$ Is it possible to have an update on how this policy is working out. It seems to me that Astronomy SE contains a high % of answers that simply cut and paste from other sources. Often these are attributed, but equally these are often from sites which assert a copy right with "all rights reserved". I have noted in the last few days that even when flagged there is inconsistent treatment of these. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ This is insufficient. It needs to be made clear which words are not the authors and where they have been taken from. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ @RobJeffries I know this comment is old, but in case this is a still a concern: If you suspect the usage of material violates the terms under which that material was shared (including cases where material is not explicitly licensed), please flag those posts with a custom message giving a brief explanation of what the problem is. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ @RobJeffries And if you feel the text in the question or answer here needs to be more explicit with attribution guidelines, feel free to edit them. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


Absolutely agree, and might I add that in some cases where individual users tend to blindly copy/paste off other sources and conveniently:

  • forget to use quotation markup, a.k.a. blockquote for extracted materials, and
  • tend not to clearly attribute their sources with original author's or source name and link, where possible

and do this frequently or don't pay any attention to continuous reminders from others, this will have to be sanctioned with a suspension of the user account for the duration that should suffice to read and understand the Attribution Required Stack Exchange blog post, that is linked to on all Stack Exchange pages in the footer, saying:

user contributions licensed under cc-wiki with attribution required

This is an even more sensitive matter for a young beta website, and failing to keep this under control can result in consequences for the whole website that might result in failing to graduate. This is not an official Stack Exchange statement, but I can see it hitting us like a boomerang after complaints are filed at the head office.

Additionally, users answering questions should understand the materials they copy off other sources and be ready for follow ups in the comments and improve their contributions when requested. Comment threads ending like this:

I don't know - I didn't write the article.

which actually happened here, on this website, an hour ago, should never ever reappear, unless we are building a website that will serve as a target for mockery of others. And I don't think we're here to waste our time on comical low quality. Not those asking questions, not those answering them, or worse yet, new members reading such threads and getting fair yet unfavorable impression where they ended up at the same time.


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I cannot upvote this enough. Especially "never ever reappear". $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 15:00

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