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I recently saw this answer to a question in the integration tag. The answer has clearly been copied from this link, the infamous online integral calculator. There was nothing added to the answer, or even any attempts made to make the work seem original.

Is this plagiarism? Is this allowed? Does this warrant more than a down-vote (if a down-vote at all)?

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    $\begingroup$ Well, in my opinion, the answer deserves at least a downvote already for the simpler reason that "I did this by hand but the online tool gave me a different answer" is not answered by "Here is what the online tool gives." (But this doesn't answer the general issue of plagiarism.) $\endgroup$ – Misha Lavrov Feb 14 at 23:35
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    $\begingroup$ It appears that the answer has now been deleted by the user who posted it. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 15 at 8:56
  • $\begingroup$ Just curious: why is the online integral calculator you mentioned "infamous"? Is there anything wrong with it? $\endgroup$ – user1551 Feb 15 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ @user1551 I think of it as infamous because it would be the go-to source for users like the one in question who just copy/paste from it $\endgroup$ – clathratus Feb 15 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ The early discussion Proposal for a plagiarism policy seems still relevant. This 2015 thread, Answers composed entirely mechanically..., also touches on the need for attribution and balance in such posts. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Feb 15 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ Picasso is reputed to have said "good artists borrow, great artists steal". Generalising, one may suppose it applies to practitioners of mathematics... $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Feb 19 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ @copper.hat It is one thing to 'steal' others ideas, but it is entirely another to blatantly copy/paste the work of an online symbolic calculator and claim it as your own. Sure, gaining inspiration from others work can make one a better mathematician, but that is certainly not the case for those looking to gain reputation without possessing the knowledge required to answer the question (stealing answers from CAS). $\endgroup$ – clathratus Feb 19 at 23:14
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    $\begingroup$ Well my comment was intended in jest, but it is not obvious to me that the answer was copied from the site you mentioned, plus I am not sure I could call it stealing. $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Feb 19 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ @copper.hat Every single word of the answer was identical to the integral calculator page, and even the OP recognized the formatting/wording of the answer, and mentioned so in the comments. That is obvious enough. Semantics aside, I'm sure we can agree that this sort of behavior should be discouraged. $\endgroup$ – clathratus Feb 19 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ Sad, isn't it? If integrity was a prerequisite, we wouldn't be getting a lot of homework questions, too. Nor would we be getting rep-farmers who post solutions in full without a care for upholding integrity. Nor would we get a truckload of trοlls and crackpοts. Anyway, you should read carefully the TOS, which mentions that all content must be licensed to Stack Overflow under CC-BY-SA, and that "any and all Public Content you provide to the public Network is governed by the Acceptable Use Policy". $\endgroup$ – user21820 Feb 26 at 8:30
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    $\begingroup$ @copper.hat one could argue that you are in fact "specializing" if you subscribe to the idea that mathematics is an art. $\endgroup$ – Andres Mejia Feb 28 at 18:40
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That's surely plagiarism since the answerer has hiden the source and presented the calculator's work as his own. You may flag this for moderator's attention, apart from downvoting it. It's more than the lack of research effort in the post---it's the lack of integrity.

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    $\begingroup$ Integrity is a very good thing, and I support it in all of its manifestations. However, I'm not sure it's written anywhere that integrity is a prerequisite for posting on math.stackexchange. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 15 at 3:33
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I hope that people understand that integrity is expected here, even if it's not explicitly written anywhere. If there's a specific code of conduct type page (I don't know of any myself), then that is where I believe something like this should be mentioned. $\endgroup$ – John Omielan Feb 15 at 3:37
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    $\begingroup$ @John. it's one thing to say integrity is expected, another to say it's required. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 15 at 3:47
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I agree. If it's not stated now, perhaps we should say this, along with other appropriate expected behavior. $\endgroup$ – John Omielan Feb 15 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ It's now in LQ review. You may vote to remove this plagarized answer from the site. $\endgroup$ – GNUSupporter 8964民主女神 地下教會 Feb 15 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ out of curiosity, how does one differentiate between Plagiarism and two or more people utilizing the same method to solve a problem? further what if the method used is similar/identical to the way that a resource like integral calculator calculated it but was still done by hand? surely this is a learning environment/resource and so long as the OP has learnt how, does it matter where the answer is coming from? this isn't peer review after all, and if it was i'd expect the required practice to be upheld there but still. $\endgroup$ – Vaas Feb 28 at 2:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Vaas The first thing is the wordings. It's quite difficult for two persons to write sentences in exactly the same wordings in English. Regarding the method, it depends on the originality of the argument itself. If it's a commonly known method, then that's in the public domain. Otherwise, we're advised to attribute the source. If you give us the post, the community can judge by votes. $\endgroup$ – GNUSupporter 8964民主女神 地下教會 Feb 28 at 8:05
  • $\begingroup$ @GNUSupporter 8964民主女神 地下教會 fair point, though i'm merely suggesting given the fact the majority of us use pseudonym that the answer is more important than the source in this context of mathematics. no matter how enlightening the answer, whether plagiarized or not i doubt anyone is truly going to accredit fartmaster69. why get bogged down with what seems in all honesty peoples own hubris and politics when the crux of the matter is the problem and whats important is the solution. when we're breaking new ground and its to be peer-reviewed i understand the issue. $\endgroup$ – Vaas Feb 28 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ @GNUSupporter 8964民主女神 地下教會 this is a community driven message board in order to help others learn? do any of us truly have the time or inclination to track down the original source of a calculation? though we honor those like Fourier, Cauchy etc by using theorems named after them in all honesty it's but a semantic technicality. we're not politicians, we're mathematicians. the important bit is the maths. just my 2 cents. the community will sway based on the orthodoxy, if the enforcers don't care, few others will. $\endgroup$ – Vaas Feb 28 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Vaas Supposedly yes for the 1st question, but voting involves independent judgement of users, so there can be no guarantee, just like free software. I don't think so in the 2nd question, especially for less popular tags like linear programming. I remark that voting is a topic of interest in both politics and game theory, so math can be used to study politics. It's also possible that mathematicians become politicians, such as Cédric Villiani and Paul Painlevé. The best that the community can offer is an undeletion queue and a team of dedicated moderators. $\endgroup$ – GNUSupporter 8964民主女神 地下教會 Mar 1 at 10:54

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