Lately there are a number of answers to questions that are mostly copy-pasted quotes from references:
- The origin of the term “Baker's Dozen”? and also another answer to that question
- What is the standard rule for using or not using hyphen...?
- Is it suitable to use 'etc.' in an academic paper?
- Is it correct to use the word “freeer” or “free-er”?
- “Infective” or “Infectious” (adds some good commentary)
This is not a particularly new phenomenon (it has been done from the beginning of ELU), it just seems it has been noticeably common lately.
There are multiple competing principles here:
- having authoritative references for any claims (you can trust the answer from an authoritative source)
- having explanation (whether the text is on SE or not, the OP gets a good answer)
- not having LMGTFY answers (we want value added here, not just empty links to somewhere else)
All of these have their own controversies. And then they each pull in different directions. (Plagiarism is not one of the issues: copying is wrong but quoting is OK).
The question is: do any of these principles take precedence over the others or does it depend on judgement?
I find some of the answers given above (and others) to be the 'right' answer; there is no better answer that the authoritative reference could give.
But usually I also find these kinds of answers particularly unsatisfying, and I feel if giving a quote from the web is the answer then the question should be closable as GR and the answer should really be a 'LMGTFY' comment or direct link to the reference (and if not closed, shouldn't the answer text give the direct link anyway? (of course, both text and link should be given but if one rather than the other then the quoted original text is better) )
And then there's the question of whether it is generally available on the web, say behind a pay-wall or only published on paper.
So, to simplify, should answers like these be welcomed, tolerated, or deprecated? Or does it depend?