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In the past two days I've come across two instances of exact duplicate answers that unregistered 1-rep users evidently copied from existing answers and posted as new answers.

The two examples I've encountered involve an answer posted 19 hours ago by "Mikala" to "choice words" meaning, which is identical to a one-paragraph answer posted by Kate on March 6, 2016, and an answer posted on April 20 by "deirdre brownlow" to Is the spelling fundraising, fund-raising or fund raising? that copies the final paragraph of an answer that I posted on November 22, 2016. (In this case, however, "deirdre brownlow" added the words "This seems clear:" as a preface to the paragraph copied from my answer.)

A diligent moderator has already deleted the "Mikala" answer, and I expect that the "deirdre brownlow" answer will soon vanish as well—but I wonder whether this is (1) the tip of an iceberg of prank duplicates that has recently hove into the EL&U shipping lanes, or (2) an ongoing problem that I simply didn't notice until yesterday, or (3) a very rare phenomenon that happened to affect two question that I had participated in answering.

Has anyone else noticed similar instances in recent days? Is this something that review queue reviewers should be watching for when vetting first answers from unregistered 1-rep posters?

  • I flagged the Mikala answer because the question caught my eye when I was scanning the questions. I don't know if I would have caught it as a duplicate in the RQ, although I might have flagged it as VLQ. I did not notice the brownlow answer – ab2 May 13 '17 at 23:59
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    @ab2: The review system is not designed to allow easy appraisal of the post under review in comparison with other existing posts, so it is entirely reasonable for reviewers not to recognize that a new answer is a copy of another answer. I imagine that the mechanics of the structure for reviewing new posts aren't readily alterable, either. So what I'm hoping to gain from my question is a sense of the frequency and historical persistence of a problem that I've noticed only in the past couple of days. – Sven Yargs May 14 '17 at 0:08
  • I have just cast the final delete vote on the second answer. The system does detect duplicate answers by the same person (and raises flags for moderators), but not duplicates by different authors, and it appears that answers which quote only part of another are not flagged. I guess that's to prevent passages correctly quoted within different answers being flagged as plagiarising each other. I have no idea why new users do this, though; it can't really be a precursor to spam, although I suppose it might be sockpuppetry. – Andrew Leach May 14 '17 at 11:09
  • @AndrewLeach Perhaps the system should show a small banner stating "possible duplicate of existing answer" in the VLQ review queues, if answered by a new user. So us reviewers can investigate it. – NVZ May 14 '17 at 11:19
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    I've seen this happen on Stack Overflow before (but it's not related to this). Sometimes I think it's to try and get upvotes or to troll, but I think the "deirdre brownlow" answer may have been a forum-style reply, commenting on that paragraph. I think it's too early to call two answers "a plague", but thanks for telling us—if this does become a trend, we'll be on the lookout. – Laurel May 14 '17 at 16:31
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    Duplicate post. – Det May 21 '17 at 14:54

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