I have been seeing comments or answers which attempt to answer or help addressing the OP's question by copy-and-pasting from a wiki page or the likes. IMHO, there are several issues with doing so:

  • Some of those pages are horribly formatted, making it barely readable.
  • Sometimes, only some part of the pasted section is helpful. Pasting all can potentially lead to further confusion.
  • If the OP complies with the general guidelines to asking a constructive question, one could safely assume that he/she has done some research and apparently has not found the answer with a few minutes of google search.

While copy-and-pasting might not itself be bad, doing so without careful consideration can lead to low-quality posts.

Should there be a flag to discourage such behavior? What do you guys think?

1 Answer 1


Note: I'm not very active on this site (I just recently started occasionally browsing again), but I think I have some idea of what you're talking about.

I think how bad this is depends somewhat. For instance, I asked a question last summer, and the one response I got was one line of the expression I wanted and a dictionary example. This wasn't terrible, but the answer could have used more curation.

Normally I'd suggest editing, but this requires us to have an idea of what the answerer had in mind, and with language SE questions, it's probably not that easy. Moreover, it's a bit time-consuming, and I'd hate to give an incentive for people to not fix their posts (because other people will).

I'd argue that we should just improve things through the current system: we can salvage such answers if possible (e.g. improve the formatting), and if not, perhaps downvoting (with a comment about this) will be a decent penalty?

  • 1
    I should add that honestly, if I were to seriously implement such a policy for myself, I'd only want to downvote seriously useless answers - if I can at least get a good idea of what the answerer was talking about, I'd probably just not upvote if it's too bad.
    – user5714
    May 9, 2015 at 1:09
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    I'd hate to give an incentive for people to not fix their posts (because other people will) – this is exactly what i'm concerned about. Some users seem to "insist" on their chaotic formatting and confusing message. But thinking about it now, I guess it's inevitable, even on SO. Perhaps this site just need more users. May 9, 2015 at 1:18

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