I'm new to SE as a contributor. In this answer I didn't initially think about the time to relay information to other players, but several other people pointed it out, so I added a note to my answer as well, in hopes of making a better complete answer. I think that's consistent with what I've read about making answers stand on their own, but I've also seen complaints about copying answers.

Q: Did I do the right thing according to community standards? Should I have included some form of attribution, like "as others have said" or "as Name pointed out"? And would your answer change if the amount I copied was larger or smaller?


1 Answer 1


Stack Exchange is basically a big made-up game that drives people to compete or collaborate to provide the best possible answer to any question the site accepts. That also means the most complete answer, as every answer should independently fully answer the question. This encourages absorbing material left sitting around in comments. Absorbing material from other answers is also fair game: you're making a more complete and helpful answer, good job. On principle, everything's fine here.

Here's the rub: don't half-arse it. That's why you're feeling like you did something wrong. If you just add an inferior summary of another answer, your answer will look inferior and half-arsed, and you'll just be making the other answer look good by comparison. Don't update your answer just to keep up with the Joneses. If you're going to cover new material in your answer, make a stellar treatment of it that you can be proud of, and that we can be grateful you contributed. Beat the other answer by a league. If you don't, you're probably just dragging your answer down, and you won't be winning the made-up game.

You'll feel better for putting your whole heart and soul into making that amendment awesome. You'll feel okay for leaving your answer as-is.

Now, for crediting other users: that's only required when you're obviously using their work, because you're falling into the terms of our site's CC-BY-SA license. Otherwise, it's discretionary. Provide it if you feel like they deserve it. Make it short and snappy and out of the way. As a rule of thumb, if you're legally obligated to cite someone else under CC-BY-SA, you probably half-arsed it. If you did a really good job, you might want to thank someone for putting you onto it anyway, because you can stand proud that you worked hard and defer to the people who helped you get there without feeling like a cheapskate.

Also obligatory (not that you did this, good job): Don't signal your edits in text. If you're going to update your answer to cover more stuff, don't include an Update: section. That's being lazy. Revise your answer so that the update is just a natural part of it. It'll look better and flow better, and there'll probably be other parts of your answer that'll be more awesome for it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, I was pretty confident that my treatment of the idea was as good as anyone else's - more succinct and with a better citation - but if it looks half-assed to you, let me know how I can improve it! Thanks for the otherwise helpful answer + links, though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 14:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ The flip side of this is, partial answers are better than nothing and can be built on to crowdsource a solution: "Help us find a solution by researching the problem, then contribute the results of your research and anything additional you’ve tried as a partial answer. That way, even if we can’t figure it out, the next person has more to go on." \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW that gives me pause for thought about the fully answering the question meta. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 23:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SirTechSpec I don't know enough to judge those D&D 5e answers, not being someone who has played that game. If you feel like you did a good job, well, good job. ;) I'll edit later to have this not make that assumption. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 23:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener You may find it helpful to think about it in the context of an alternative to answers-in-comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 0:43

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