See this answer:


It is my understanding that SE answers are meant to be answers from experts in the given field, here, English Language and Usage, and thus that answers should be written primarily in one's own words, reflecting one's expertise.

Thus, is plopping down a Quora answer here, with minimal comment, and some bolding, an acceptable way to answer a question posted on SE: ELU?

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    You should ask this on meta.stackexchange.com I'm sure this is a sitewide issue
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 0:55
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    It's already covered by the SE plagiarism meta-question (link in my answer here).
    – MetaEd
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 16:54
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    Related at MSE: Would it be wrong to copy-paste questions from Quora?
    – choster
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 21:23
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    @choster I don't think Clare would be satisfied by Jeff Atwood's answer (the founder of Stackexchange) We don't support plagiarism from this or any other site. However, it is fair use to quote and attribute content in general, from any public website — including ours!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 7:33
  • OP is very right to wonder if it's acceptable to copy&paste an answer from another site, even with attribution, not contributing anything new to the answer. COPYRIGHT RULES having being followed (not my area of expertise; see below answer giving copyright rules of Quora website) an ELU member could ethically copy&paste an entire answer (with attribution to another site but no new material) if they were legitimately entitled to do so. This is nothing we could determine either way, but considering the community-established credibility of senior ELU members I will take it in good faith! Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 20:14
  • By all means, update your question and include a new example of plagiarism. But wait a bit. I had several tabs open about the origin of "boof" which I was going to edit and post in my answer but now it would now look I did it out of fear, which is total rubbish of course. Here are the links: books.google.co.uk/… and books.google.co.uk/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 6:03
  • and telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/1316244/… feel free to borrow my links and write up your own answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 6:05

3 Answers 3


The Stack Exchange plagiarism meta-question explains that your answer should be your own work, not someone else’s. “A post that consists only of copied text is not your work.”1 So, when writing an answer, it should be your own expert answer. Do not post answers from elsewhere on the Internet.

A side note: the SE plagiarism policy applies equally to questions. When writing a question, it should be your own question.

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    Plagiarism implies the personal attribution of the work of other authors, which is not the case here. The source is clearly stated and the link is easily visible. When a user cites the definition of a term from whatever dictionary (it's been done thousands of times on ELU citing the relevant dictionary), would that be "plagiarism"?
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 19:08
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    @Josh: There seems to be a kind of terminological bait-and-switch that has unfortunately developed where the policy called "the SE plagiarism policy" covers other things in addition to plagiarism. The linked post does say " A post that consists only of copied text, even when attributed, is not your work either." It also says "[so-and-so] is plagiarism if you try, explicitly or implicitly, to pass it off as your own work." Apparently we are supposed to infer from this that a post that is "not your work" is bad in some way, even if if it doesn't meet the definition of plagiarism.
    – herisson
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 20:41
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    I haven't brought up plagiarism. I have brought up an answer whose content is an answer taken verbatim from Quora. It seems at least two moderators here are aware of this–yet the answer still stands. Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 4:56
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    @Clare - here is another "plagiarism" exemple. Essentially a verbatim quote from a dictionary (btw you forgot the link....). Yet the answer still stands. english.stackexchange.com/questions/384782/…
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 5:14
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    Only subscribers can read OED links, presumably Clare was quoting from that specific dictionary, not Oxford Online Dictionaries.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 7:31
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    @Josh It's different to quote a dictionary when explaining the meaning of a word, to copying an entire answer from another platform. When you answer a question outside of the scope of 'what does this word/phrase' mean, you are giving your opinion regarding the best answer to the question. I'm not saying it's wrong to quote an answer from another platform. Providing the answer is the best answer you can provide, and moves the question along, personally I don't see anything wrong with it. Just wanted to make the distinction clear between quoting a dictionary for meaning, and an entire answer.
    – Gary
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 6:12
  • @Mari-LouA I have no OED subscription and yet I've been able to read all links to its entries posted by other users. I'm not sure why exactly that is the case, but my suspicion is that whenever a link to OED is posted, the article becomes accessible through that link to everyone. You can confirm it yourself by trying to access such links via the incognito(aka private) mode in your browser.
    – undercat
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:19
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    @undercat I think in your case that is the exception. And I don't know why you can view its pages. Next time, I'll try the incognito mode. I do know that there are some pages which are available, free for viewing, but that number is very very limited.Whenever someone has posted a page linked to the OED (not Oxford dictionaries online) I have never been able to see its contents. The annual subscription fee is also astronomical, if it was a lifetime...maybe I'd consider, but otherwise I'll just live without.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:47
  • @undercat Nope doesn't work for me. I tried the incognito page and nada, I only see the request to punch in my subscriber login and password or Library card login. I tried here: english.stackexchange.com/a/301859/44619
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:55
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    @Mari-LouA I guess you're right and I was just lucky enough to stumble across open articles such as take or gender. I wonder what exactly determines which articles become public!
    – undercat
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 16:09
  • I interpret your answer to be that the answer I'm asking about is not in the poster's own words. If so, why is the answer still standing? Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 17:10

Please have a look at Quora's terms of service, more specifically the section Quora's Licenses to You, which starts with the words (emphasis added):

Subject to these Terms, Quora gives you a worldwide, royalty-free, revokable, non-assignable and non-exclusive license to re-post any of the Content on Quora anywhere on the rest of the web provided that the Content was added to the Service after April 22, 2010, and provided that the user who created the content has not explicitly marked the content as not for reproduction, and provided that you: (a) do not modify the Content; (b) attribute Quora by name in readable text and with a human and machine-followable link (an HTML anchor tag) linking back to the page displaying the original source of the content on http://quora.com on every page that contains Quora content; (c) upon request, either by Quora or a user, remove the user's name from Content which the user has subsequently made anonymous; (d) upon request, either by Quora or by a user who contributed to the Content, make a reasonable effort to update a particular piece of Content to the latest version on http://quora.com; and (e) upon request, either by Quora or by a user who contributed to the Content, make a reasonable attempt to delete Content that has been deleted or marked as not for reproduction on quora.com. (...)

So you can, under certain specific conditions (please read the entire section "Quora's Licenses to You"), reproduce answers submitted to Quora. As always when you reproduce content that is not your own, it should be very clear what the source is, and what you actually reproduce (by using quotation marks, quotation markup, ...) and what you add of your own.

However, due to provisions c, d and e, reproducing Quora answsers that are not your own does not look very attractive.

Update: Added provisions c-e in response to a comment by Tonepoet.

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    I'm not primarily interested in Quora's terms of service, but in what makes a good SE:ELL answer. Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 15:07
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    @Clare When quoting Quora, you cannot ignore their terms of service and copyright rules, regardless whether you are "interested" in them or not.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 15:31
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    @ChristopheStrobbe Yes, Quora's terms need to be respected, and in the cited answer they are. However, even if Quora's terms are respected, that doesn't necessarily mean that the answer is acceptable on ELU. The question is asking about the acceptability of "importing" a Quora answer here, not about whether Quora allow its "export".
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 8:05
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    The omitted section E, and sometimes C (since our revision histories prevents compete removal of formerly cited names without deletion), of the quoted paragraph are important actually, unless we're willing to have an answer that disappears at a moment's notice, which is not very conducive to building a library of answers as mentioned in the tour. Provision E still requires us to delete it if Quora decides it does not want it on the internet any longer. Without complete compliance to the policy, we would need to claim fair use like we would with any other copyright protected source material.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 21:01
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    @Tonepoet You make important points, and I have updated my answer.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 10:11
  • @ChristopheStrobbe well, those that are blatantly against fair use can be ignored for small snippets. Commented May 1, 2017 at 16:23
  • @Tonepoet, et. al. We would need to ask a lawyer whether editing the most current version of a post is enough to satisfy provisions c and e (and d), or whether editing/purging the revision history is necessary. Note that community managers and developers can directly modify posts (without leaving user-visible history) and delete old revisions. See also the June 2015 edition of the moderator newsletter, second paragraph. Commented May 4, 2017 at 23:04
  • The emphasis in the quote is not in the original. I think you ought note that in your answer. Commented May 6, 2017 at 12:51
  • @PeterMortensen Done.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 16:48
  • @Andrew Exactly my question is what makes a good ELU answer. Yet I've received no answer to my question yet. What I assume is that an answer must be written by the answerer. Does the answer I'm asking about do this? Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 17:09

The issue has two aspects.

Firstly, Quora has its terms of use and if I understand them correctly, its content may be used if credits are given.

Now about Stack Exchange. I wouldn't consider Quora as a separate case because it's just another external resource.

IMHO, if there is content that completely covers the OP's question and just a short quote does not suffice, a link to it may be given in a comment. If you have something more to say or if to answer the OP's question, you have to use excerpts from an external text and give additional comments, than it deserves to be a full-fledged answer and credits should be given.

Doing just copy&paste and bolding essential phrases without additional comments seems to be a waste of space. Doing it without giving credits seems to be unethical and smells of plagiarism.

Again, the aforementioned applies to any external resource, not only Quora.

  • A brief summary falls under "comments and something more to say". I put it wrong. If there is, say, an entry in a dictionary with 100500 definitions, of course a quote is expected. I should've been more specific.
    – olegst
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 8:14
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    @Mari-LouA The question turned out to be more difficult than it seemed to me first. I've thought of it a bit and now I would say, if a short answer with a quote is possible, it would be better than just a link.
    – olegst
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 8:23

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