I know Wikipedia has the answers to a lot of the questions posed here, but I've been seeing a lot of answers by people just posting large paragraphs from there or say, on a Star Trek question, from Memory Alpha without adding much more of their own explanation. Even if they cite the source and put it in block quotes, why not just rewrite into your own words? We might as well all go over to wikipedia if we're just going to copy and paste those pages into our answers.

4 Answers 4


We might as well all go over to wikipedia if we're just going to copy and paste those pages into our answer

<fe>Yes, please!</fe>

Or for those who don't get my sense of humor: I think people should stop asking questions that can be answered by a copy & paste from Wikipedia!

In my opinion, if a c&p from WP is sufficient to answer the question, then that's all that should be done. The OP didn't bother to make that little bit of effort before asking, after all. Why should the person answering work harder than the asker?

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    Using scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/1164/… as an example (since I asked and you answered): I'm reluctant to read that Wikipedia page, since it almost certainly contains spoilers (i.e. outlines the entire plot, not just where the plot starts). There's also information in one of the answers that's not (from a quick search; again: don't want to read it) in the Wikipedia answer.
    – Tony Meyer
    Jan 21, 2011 at 4:49
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    There's tons of questions that could be answered by reading the entire Wikipedia article, isn't the idea of Q&A that you don't have to?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jan 22, 2011 at 16:37
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    I'm going to have to agree with Ivo. There are going to be a lot of questions posed here that could be answered by memory alpha or Wiki pedia, but that won't always give you the context or nuance of having someone here who is an expert on that subject give it to you in their own words. Everything is Googleable.
    – Slick23
    Jan 22, 2011 at 16:45

I don't think we can stop this, but what we can do is encourage people to write better answers by simply upvoting well-written answers, in the author's own words.

The best writing will use several sources aside from the popular wikis.


It seems that this will always be a significant problem, because Wikipedia/Wookiepedia/MemoryAlpha (etc) have been around for a long time, and have a lot of high-quality information. This was not the case with (e.g.) SO, where there were well-documented (e.g. early SE podcast episodes) problems with the existing sites.

However, while SE sites are wiki-like, they are not designed to be an encyclopedia. There are significant differences between an encyclopedia and Q&A, for example, scope (questions are specific), depth (questions hopefully look for more insight), and impartiality (questions care less about this than a 'dry' encyclopedia).

I think @neilfein is right: voting is the way to fix this. If there doesn't appear to be any way to answer the question well without regurgitating another site, then comment on the question, down-vote it, and/or vote to close it. If the question is ok but the answer is not, then, again, comment on it, down-vote it, and/or edit it.

All SE sites have poor answers. As long as there are also many good answers, which will float to the top (via votes/acceptance), then that's not a serious problem.


This is partly the nature of the site and partly the nature of the questions.

The site: stackoverflow, superuser and so on are "how tos", which Wikipedia is not.

The questions: if you ask factual, closed questions, "which is the most", "what was the name of" etc you are more likely to get Wikipedia copy/pastes. If you ask open, "why" questions you will get less or no Wikipedia copies.

This is partly the reason for my question, "What about subjective questions?"

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    Just because the answer is on a wiki, doesn't mean you instantly know where to find it
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jan 22, 2011 at 16:38
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    I agree with this, but then ... we get "oh this is a subjective question, blah, blah, blah." I really think SE is verging into a new type of Q&A site but aren't willing to experiment and see what works for a site like this. Hint: it might be that different kinds of questions work here as opposed to Stack Overflow or Superuser. Instead, we have moderators forcing it into a cookie cutter of this is how we do it here at X, so we have to do it exactly the same way for Y and Z. Really? You don't.
    – Slick23
    Jan 22, 2011 at 16:48

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