This is related to the following answer, which is a verbatim copy of a text from the source cited at the end: http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/153/what-should-i-learn-first-mathematica-or-matlab/277#277

I don't think it is right to verbatim copy some text as an answer without using a blockquote, or quotation marks, even if the source is cited at the end. Even in that case, I think the answer should be made community wiki, because the author should not gain reputation from it.

Should something be added about this to the FAQ?

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If the source is obscure I don't see why the quoter shouldn't get some rep as a "finder's fee". (Possibly even if the source is not obscure but the connection to the question wouldn't be obvious without being pointed that way?) But it certainly needs to be made very clear up front that it's a quote rather than an original post. (Your example is especially egregious that way because the quoted text is itself a bit argumentative, so it reads as the poster's own argument.) –  walkytalky Aug 12 '10 at 10:59

2 Answers 2

(Without caring about reputation/community-wiki…) Passing off someone else's text as your own, even if you vaguely mention a "source" at the end, seems like (is?) plagiarism, and I thought everyone agreed it's not right! For now, I've edited the answer to say up front that the entirety of it is a direct quote.

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It is futile to try to frame these discussions in terms of "moral values" that may not be universal in a large, international and wildly heterogeneous user base.

If a respondent copies online material that (correctly) answers the question, then with or without a citation of sources, that is one more answer than existed prior to the response. What some users call "plagiarism" may be considered "generous and useful unpaid labor" by others. Those who want to downvote citation-free answers are free to do so or to leave comments requesting more information: a reference, a proof, a URL, etc.

A more objective approach is to observe that citation of sources is increased information content and thus added value in an answer. For example, knowing the source helps in judging the correctness of the answer. On this basis citations are something to encourage --- but it has nothing to do with matters of plagiarism or reputation gaming or other side issues that many users won't care about, and don't care to be lectured about.

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Fair points, but user heterogeneity and lack of interest in being lectured hardly preclude having something in the FAQ along the lines "When posting quotes from other sources please make clear that you are doing so, giving attribution and if possible a link. Blockquote formatting is preferred for this: precede each line of your quote with a '>' character." –  walkytalky Aug 12 '10 at 13:00
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The FAQ can discuss this or not, without taking a stance on matters such as (from the question) "I don't think it is right to verbatim copy" and "the [copier] should not gain reputation from it". There is a general tendency on this site to frame issues in irrelevantly moral terms and that should be avoided where possible. –  T.. Aug 12 '10 at 13:04

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