What should be the policy regarding copy-pasting excerpts like definitions or examples from dictionaries and text books? Any concerns about copyright issues? Should the source be mentioned/linked to/copyright notice included? Should reproduction of such material be discouraged or banned?

1 Answer 1


I think that we're all mature and experienced enough to use our own judgment to determine whether some content requires a mention of the source or not. This is no different from any citation requirements specified for research papers in secondary and post-secondary education.

If we're talking about the definition of some random word then I think it would be a little excessive to start quoting which dictionary you got it from unless you're copy/pasting more than just "it means X, Y, and possibly Z in this context". I don't think anyone is going to sue Stack Exchange because someone said 宿題 means homework without citing their dictionary as the source.

I think if you're comparing two or more different dictionary entries then it would definitely be worth citing which dictionaries you got the information from.

There is of course never any harm in providing citations. You could always just append the name and edition of the book and maybe the page number(s) at the end of your answer. I don't think we need to get totally technical with author names, publishers, and publishing dates. Having too many requirements will discourage people from answering questions (I am noticing an increasing trend where I use the word "discourage" on Meta).

Finally, I do not see any reason to ban this form of answering as long as proper credit is given. I am not entirely convinced that a full-blown copy/paste answer will necessarily be upvoted more than one that is handwritten by someone anyway but that might be just me.

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