I got a flag quite recently pointing out that an experienced (rep >2k) user had included a quoted text in a post as an example, without specifying the source, or giving either attribution or context.
I left a comment, but could take no other action, because while we clearly regard example attribution as highly desirable, I do not see any policy authorizing deletion for that reason alone.
In another case a user left a similar unattributed quote, and a second user complained in a comment, whose comment was flagged as "unkind". I have declined that flag, it is perfectly appropriate to use a comment to point out how a post could be improved, and proper attribution normally is an improvement.
To be clear, when a user quotes a text to ask about an English-language usage or to demonstrate such a usage, that is what I mean by an "example". When a user quotes or links to a reliable outside source to support a contention as to what proper usage is, that is what I mean by a "source". I think that these two cases should perhaps be treated differently. But in either case, attribution is needed. But should lack of attribution result in deletion?
I hope we are all agreed that proper attribution of quoted examples and sources is at least highly desirable, and many think it should be required. I think all agree that users other than the poster are free to add or improve attributions, but are never expected to do so.
But I also take it that there is a range of views about just how it can be obtained, and in which cases different measures are justified. I want to lay out some different cases and give my thoughts on them, and hope for some reactions and alternate views. Then I am going to point to an example that came up recently and mention what has been done, and see if people think it is a good model.
Second Phase — Types of Situations
|Situation||New User||not-new User||Exp user prev warned about attribs|
|Quest. includes example with no attribution at all||(1)||(2)||(3)|
|Ans. includes example with no attribution at all||(4)||(5)||(6)|
|Ans. includes source with no attribution at all||(7)||(8)||(9)|
|Quest. includes example with link-only attribution||(10)||(11)||(12)|
|Ans. includes example with link-only attribution||(13)||(14)||(15)|
|Ans. includes source with link-only attribution||(16)||(17)||(18)|
|Quest. includes example with title-only, no pub or link||(19)||(20)||(21)|
|Ans. includes example with title-only, no pub or link||(22)||(23)||(24)|
|Ans. includes source with title-only, no pub or link||(25)||(26)||(27)|
Second Phase — suggested actions
For the New User, cases (1), (4), (7), (10), (13), (16), (19), (22), and (25), I suggest that we request a proper attribution, explaining what that is, and do nothing more. However, after a given user has been asked to provide attribution but has not done so, I suggest that we put the post on hold until proper attribution is provided, by the OP or another user.
For the somewhat experienced user, cases (2), (5), (8), (11), (14), (17), (20), (23), and (26). I suggest we also request attribution, but after 2-3 requests, we put posts on hold, with a comment explaining why. For no attribution at all, cases (2), (5), and (8), two requests should b be enough, hold after that. I think anyone with at least 10 posts (not comments) but under 1,500 rep might count as somewhere expedience.
And for the experienced user who has been notified at least once of the need for attribution, posts lacking it, particularly cases (3), (6), and (9) (no attribution at all) could be deleted with a comment, which the poster of course, can read and act on.
All the above is only a set of suggestions. I am quite prepared to hear that some people think these ideas are not the way to go.
Second Phase -- Example
Consider the thread Is this sentence an inverted structure or a shortened form: "Not that grief ever ends. You learn to exist with it." as an example.
The initial version quoted an example with no source at all. I posted a comment saying:
Please provide proper attribution for the text that you quote. That means title, author, and publication, or as many of those as are available. If the source is long, such as a book, please include a page number or other location also. If the source is online, please include a link also. See Marking and Attributing Examples, Sources, and Other Quotes.
The OP posted a link-only source in revision 4. Another mod deleted my comment. I followed the link and edited the info into the post.