Recently, there have been a series of posts when a user's comment has been transformed into an answer or long excerpts have been quoted from various English websites.
First of all, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with copying a user's comment and making that into an answer. On Stack Exchange, copying comments and correctly attributing the author in answers is good practice. It's especially an asset on ELL as can be seen by the stream of lengthy comments by the same two or three users to questions that are on-topic.
What I find objectionable is reaping the rewards of these acute observations i.e. in the form upvotes and reputation. Users who wish to preserve valuable comments should be encouraged to do so but if they are unable or too busy to expand on these comments=answer then the copied content should be made into a community wiki post.
The upvotes would not go to the original commentator nor the user who copied the comment in an answer. What is auspicious is that users do not refrain from voting. If a comment can attract 5 upvotes, why is there silence when it's transformed into an answer?
Secondly, when copying directly from books, exam papers, and websites it is recommended that a link to the source is included and the text is shown in block quotes. Unfortunately, too many users fail to perform this simple courtesy. Sources must always be attributed, otherwise it is plagiarism. But even when the source is mentioned, this is not enough. The author, if easily identifiable, must also be attributed. So, if we are quoting the grammar book Usage of English we should also mention the author's name, the person whose hard work we are quoting from. In some cases this is Raymond Murphy but in others it might be Martin Hewings.
If we're quoting an excerpt on the origins of a proverb vis The Phrase Finder, then it should be clear whether the author of the piece is the same creator and owner of the site or only a reader who has posted a reply on the forum. This applies to any website that is quoted in length, be it Quora, English Club, Grammarly, WordReference etc.
Here's how to attribute a source that supports your answer
Why Do I Have To Do That? Scholarship, Attribution, Citation, and Plagiarism
Citations serve two primary purposes:
- They give proper attribution to the original creator of a piece of content. In that way, citations are a recognition that ideas have value. By citing the author of a work, you are giving credit to that author.
- They increase the cogency of your argument. Including citations demonstrates to your audience that you are not making your ideas up in a vacuum; […] By including the full citation information, you also allow your audience to locate the source and ascertain that it supports the argument you are advancing.
Source: University of Maryland (UMD)
31 July 2014 By Cinthya Ippoliti
I welcome hearing the opinion of users, especially those who disagree or believe the procedure suggested above is unrealistic.
Further reading and references