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What do we think of answers like this? On other SE sites I am active on, answers that a purely made up of quotes from elsewhere (even when attributed) are generally frowned upon. There is a discussion of this issue on the SO meta that shows that while such answers are valid, they are not encouraged.

My view is that unless the source is very obscure, then chances are someone who is genuinely asking a question has probably already read that quote in their search for an answer and found it unsatisfactory. I would think we want experts to provide answers from their own expertise rather than being a google-it-for-you service.

What should the view on this type of answer be on this site?

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I would say that they shouldn't be outright disallowed, but authors of such answers should be encouraged to expand and interpret.

One simple way to combat this is to add another answer that works off of the quote and expands it, thus creating a better answer that is more likely to be upvoted. If people do that instead of upvoting a pure-quote answer, the problem will mostly solve itself.

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About a week after going into Private Beta another site had this discussion.

Here's a few tentative thoughts (please feel free to edit or comment if you disagree or can improve).

1) The best answers come from material that you understand very well.

2) If you understand something well, try to paraphrase it in your own words and make it better than it is elsewhere.

3) If you're paraphrasing from somewhere provide a link where someone can go for more information.

4) Occasionally google answers and verify that the words are not copied without attribution from another site.

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Just try to make sure answers actively work to teach something to the reader, and the majority of each answer should be the words of the author. There are of course varying exceptions to this, such as instances where the best answer is to point out a canonical, well known fact. However, we don't want a site that simply re-purposes and republishes content from other sites, our goal is to be different from and ideally better than they are.

This is the gist of the guidance I gave to our pets site, it applies to Ham equally.

Just remember, a good answer brings depth to the information being presented; the author demonstrating their mastery over this knowledge is what differentiates good from great. We want to aim for great as often as we can.

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The objective should be to provide a clear, complete, and timely answer to the posted question. The poster would still be waiting for an expert in solar physics to provide a first-hand response to the question on sunspots.

Re "chances are someone who is genuinely asking a question has probably already read that quote in their search for an answer and found it unsatisfactory", I strongly disagree; the answers to many questions posted here can in fact be found in internet-accessible sources -- if you know how to search for them, and how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Requiring responses based on cited hyperlinks to be rephrased in the responder's own words is a waste of time.

When a response draws on the responder's expertise and ability to communicate, he or she should be appropriately recognized. But when an available online article directly answers the posted question, there should be no penalty for citing it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Agreed. There was a question about inactive operators on field day GOTA, and I quoted the ARRL answer. That was buried in an FAQ in a multi-page PDF, but it was well-written, clear, and authoritative. There wasn't anything to add beyond citing the source. $\endgroup$ – Walter Underwood K6WRU Oct 31 '13 at 3:30

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