Talking to one of the Islaam mods, he pointed out that this answer is pretty much just copy & paste. I've seen a couple others like this and while they do seem to answer the question, they don't really do much for making this an expert exchange.

Here's their thoughts on the topic:



It's important to remember that real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions. However, a third-party article is not an answer: It is an item.

An item can be immensely useful to an answer — many of the best answers on this site are full of them — but it is not an answer in and of itself. The person who wrote the article, the fatwa, whatever, was not writing it in response to this question. Things change, and while it may well be that the facts presented or the conclusion drawn would apply just as well to the current situation, that needs to be established by the poster.

Now, maybe we won't have a plagiarism problem, but we're bound to have a copy & paste issue. What should we do in cases like this? I've removed some of the excess quotage from the answer above, but it's still just a copy/paste job.

4 Answers 4


Well being somewhat new to these kind of things.. what exactly is an "expert exchange"... if we were to really use the term expert in answering, then only very few people such as certified monastics, teachers, and scholars could or should really "answer" any questions here without deferring to scholarly and/or canonical sources.

I suppose it could be suggested that a person add more personal text and explanation to ground the sources that are copy/pasted?

  • Yes, that would be great. Jul 3, 2014 at 2:44

That it was a copy-paste job was my first reaction to seeing that answer, and I considered it lower in quality than it could have been as a result (not even considering the plagiarism aspect).

Completely off the cuff thought is that an answer that quotes other text should have an original:quoted ratio of at least 1:1, and ideally at least 2:1. The answer you linked to has a ratio of barely over 1:10.

  • so what should we do? maybe a comment is the best place to start... Jul 3, 2014 at 1:13
  • Yep. I was about to do it (to save you :-) ) but you beat me to it.
    – tkp
    Jul 3, 2014 at 1:18
  • 1
    Where were you during moderator elections? ;) Jul 3, 2014 at 1:19
  • 1
    Skillfully hiding under a table.
    – tkp
    Jul 3, 2014 at 1:20

A copy-paste is fine as long as the answerer gives the source. The OP could have found the copy-paste if they'd spent the time googling that the answerer did.


I'm glad we have reached the other extremum of the question of original answers vs. quotes. This helps define a good answer as "an interpretation of a subject, based on respondent's experience, factual evidence, and opinions of authoritative sources, targeted at expanding questioner's vision of Dharma and illuminating its application to everyday human existence".

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