One of our users posted a comment on this question pointing out that the question had been asked (not cross-posted, different user) and answered on Ask Ubuntu. Since I had found the question intriguing and the answer over on AU was quite good, I took the liberty of copying the entire answer verbatim and posting it as an answer to the question here on U&L.

Obviously, I marked it as community wiki (I have neither the right nor the desire to gain rep from someone else's work) and I also linked back to both the original answer on AU and to the original poster's profile on U&L. If this were a more active user, I would have pinged him to suggest he do so himself but since this is a 101 rep user last seen about two months ago, I did it myself.

I felt that it is a good thing to have that information on both sites and that rephrasing a perfectly adequate answer just to make it look different would be silly.

How do we feel about that? Does everyone agree with what I did or should I delete the answer?

  • 2
    +1 for the "mark as community wiki" tip. I hadn't noticed we could do that. I'll be happy to copy stuff over now sometimes rather than just pointing to a link. – goldilocks Sep 14 '13 at 12:42
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    just FYI, "last seen" is per-site; if you check his "last seen" of his most active site, which is SO, it is actually in the last few days. – Lie Ryan Sep 20 '13 at 19:02
  • @LieRyan good point, I could have just pinged him. – terdon Sep 20 '13 at 19:02
up vote 19 down vote accepted

I think it's entirely OK to do this and would in fact encourage it. Each site should have their own collections of questions and answers, and often times I find bits to solutions on one of the other SE sites, but then take it over here and either expand it since now I feel it's more appropriate to do so, or take it in an entirely different direction.

I always just try to make sure to reference the other source material so it's obvious to readers where this information came from.

When copying this material I always try to improve it when putting it into this site. Whether it's rephrasing sentences or cleaning up the grammar. If some of the phrasing isn't how I would say it, I re-work it in my own words, but the general ideas came from the other post, more times than not, since much of what we do on a daily basis is reuse more the newly created.


In response to @JoelDavis' comment...

The rep. points are just to get you in the door 8-). After a while they become less important, the real value of the SE sites is they increase the signal to noise ratio on the internet so that others can find information that's organized in some fashion rather then having to mine it themselves from a forum post or a 3 year old blog post 8-). The type of reuse going on here is tantamount to using code from a library. We do that every day without a 2nd thought.

  • Or you offer a bounty, so someone google the answer for you – Braiam Sep 14 '13 at 2:59
  • I know this is old, but I also agree with this. It's not like SE points can be redeemed for cash prizes and if they're asking something so general that you can easily find it on another site, then the reposter is actually still providing the service the points (I'm supposing) are intended to incentivize. I don't know if it's really even required to cite the source since it's unlikely that the true author of an answer is going to be important or that plagiarism even hurts the original author at all. tl;dr: Duplicating work by requiring unique answers is pointless. – Bratchley Sep 24 '13 at 16:33
  • @JoelDavis - glad to see you back on the site, it's been a while 8-) – slm Sep 24 '13 at 17:36
  • @slm for the record I'm entirely happy that is was posted as a community wiki - I held off posting an answer myself because I wasn't sure what the etiquette was – steeldriver Jul 12 '16 at 2:14

I'll answer this by way of example, since this question has been discussed in What to do with cross-site duplicates?.

If it is clearly a question that does belong on another site, migrate it and then treat it as duplicate.


You can't assume that all users will be on all sites. Each site has to stand on its own merits and you have to treat each site as a separate community. [...] In the edge case where the question is appropriate on more than one site, leave it on both sites and let the users of each community benefit from the information.

Often an answer from a cross-site duplicates can be improved within the context of the local question and local community (e.g. adjusting terminologies and expected level of knowledge, tying the general info to the local questions's specific situation, filtering the information down to the most relevant for the local question). So in those cases, I would quote the other site and put these local improvements as the local answer. I see no issue from getting reps for that; moreover, the purpose of community wiki is not to post an answer with which you are not comfortable getting reps from.

  • Thanks, that's what I felt. As for CW it may not be it's purpose, but its original purpose is not really relevant any more and this is a useful side effect. – terdon Sep 21 '13 at 19:17

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