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A trend has started on tgo.SE where answers are being composed almost exclusively out of quoted snippets from other sites with very little narrative. While this demonstrates a knack for googling topics, and these answers provide no shortage of sources, I find they are uninteresting to read, especially when nearly a dozen quotes are provided in a row, with maybe one or two one-liners in between.

I don't know about everyone else, but I would prefer to read a well composed answer with maybe one or two quotes in it, if any, and provide one or two sources as footnotes or hyperlinks in the body text if source material is used to formulate the answer.

What does everyone else think?

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    I have always thought that a strength of this site was the vast and deep personal experience of the users on outdoors subjects. A valid source in academic articles is a Priv. Comm. (Private Communication) from some recognized authority. Some of the best answers here are Priv. Comms. from the answerer. Other fine answers are well researched and integrate information from several sources into a narrative, with links and with a few key quotes; Sue's are of this form. These are probably the most difficult and time-consuming to write. – ab2 Mar 18 '18 at 3:41
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I agree in the main. There are the odd exceptions, where the collation of data that forms the answer is not easily searchable, but as Shem says, we should write our own answers, quoting where necessary.

Otherwise we are just a slight improvement over a search engine - I personally would prefer us to be much more than that.

  • Would this outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/18616/8794 be an example as the user copied and pasted the answer from somewhere else instead of writing an original one? – Charlie Brumbaugh Mar 18 '18 at 19:28
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    @CharlieBrumbaugh How many belay tutorials does the internet need? To be honest, I posted that because your line-art doodles were hard to understand and hurt my eyes. But to answer you question, that answer only has a single quote, and directs traffic to the original. There is also so original content in that answer at the end. I could have made a rather long listing of example answers, but decided it was unnecessary. – ShemSeger Mar 20 '18 at 2:43
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I agree. Answers with not much more than blocks of text copy/pasted from other sites can take away from the quality of the site. The SE model is designed to bring people in to see our work. Using outside sources is integral to that, but not at the cost of our originality. We want people to find our answers when they do an online search, not copies of things we found online with very little else.

The How to reference material written by others page in the Help Center already addresses this issue.

Do not copy the complete text of external sources; instead, use their words and ideas to support your own. And always give proper credit to the author and site where you found the text, including a direct link to it. (Emphasis in the original.)

Long quotes often include extraneous information. Even if some material is correct, much of it gets buried. They're a different color, and usually a smaller or different font, so it's harder for me to read. When the quotes are broken up by some of our own wording, it's easier to go back and forth. It also keeps the quotes matching the context in the flow of the answer.

How do I write a good answer is another helpful resource from our own Help Center.

Links to external resources are encouraged, but please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there.

From what I've seen, primarily cut/paste answers are usually the first ones and get the most votes and acceptances. That can deter people from writing something that's more original but takes more time.

As Rory Alsop said, there are exceptions, and I think we should, and can, find a balance. There's a place for those answers, but I agree that in general we should keep them to a minimum.

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    This is a perfect example of how to compose a quality answer. – ShemSeger Mar 22 '18 at 2:33
  • @ShemSeger, thanks so much for that support. It means a lot to me. – Sue Mar 25 '18 at 21:01

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