We have recently seen a significant number of questions that contain significant quotes from external sources and often very little other content. Some of these were mentioned a while ago and it wasn't clear that any action was warranted. However the overall volume is now at a level that we as moderators feel is not good for the site’s signal/noise ratio. After all, the goal of Stack Exchange is to build a high-quality question and answer library.

We already have guidelines for referencing in answers, but none for questions. As a community, what do we think would make these questions asking for explanations of external sources appropriate for the site?


In my view, questions should be subject to the same referencing guidelines as for answers, most importantly:

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.

Formulate your own independent question based on the material. Don’t simply say “explain this” or similar.

For example if you don’t understand something, state what you don’t understand and what are the possible interpretations you’ve thought of.

  • 2
    I agree with this - and to the extent any question is 'close' to being answerable, the person who wants to answer that question should edit the question to make it so. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Mar 10 at 17:49

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