Is it necessary to give a "source" for something while answering on ELU which we are getting it from some website but rewording it or typing it without looking at the material. For example: Doltish - someone who is foolish. But I looked it up in the online Websters Dictionary. So in writings like these should I still give a reference or source?

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    If all you're doing is copy-pasting from the internet, then the question itself is probably closable as 'general reference'. So you should always be giving some extra explanation so that your answer is adding something relevant. That said, you should -always give a reference/source. Otherwise it is plagiarism (taking credit for something you didn't do).
    – Mitch
    Jul 13 '14 at 15:54

There are two excellent reasons for providing a source:

  1. To give credit where credit is due. You have an ethical obligation to your source, no matter that you are paraphrasing or quoting from memory. Moreover, in many situations you have a legal obligation to your source. For instance, people who post content from ELU or any other SE site are required by the Terms of Service to post a link to the original question.

  2. To lend authority to your answer. You and I are merely anonymous posters, with no credibility other than that provided by our reputations here. But a citation from an established source like Merriam-Webster, with a long-standing international reputation, carries great weight.

As far as I know, there is no legitimate countervailing reason not to provide your source.

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