I was answering this question; after my answer posted, this user edited his/her answer to make it almost identical to mine, but just rearranged the statements $(1)$ and $(2)$ in different order. Should I ask him/her to edit or delete the answer?

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    $\begingroup$ It happens relatively often (usually the other answer comes after yours and is just a copy, or does not add anything). Sometimes, it's just that two contributors post an answer almost at the same time (and then it's not on purpose). You may downvote, and explain in comment, and you may also flag the answer and explain the problem, so that the answer may eventually be deleted. $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut May 18 '20 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy "As T.S details below, they could not have copied and pasted your solution." While I agree with the general principle of not assuming nefarious motives, that statement seems misleading to me: while exact copy/pasting isn't what happened, substantial copying of an answer without attribution is still improper and quite possibile here (indeed, in my opinion likely). And Manx's question says "edited [their] answer to make it almost identical to mine," not "literally copy/pasted." $\endgroup$ – Noah Schweber May 18 '20 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ @NoahSchweber: Agree. When I posted the answer below, I did not, do not intend to make a subjective judgment. Instead, I listed the details of the events. What I found frown upon is that the second version of the other user's answer was very likely to be motivated by Manx's answer and they didn't say anything in the post explicitly about the new version. $\endgroup$ – user9464 May 18 '20 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ But you did make subjective judgments in your "answer", T.S. Therein lies the problem. And it would help other users out if you did not repeatedly edit your answer. Please don't do that, to play to the audience. And yes, you did repeatedly edit. You're now on version #7. $\endgroup$ – amWhy May 18 '20 at 19:09
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    $\begingroup$ @amW: Not at all, and I have left a comment to explain your misunderstanding below. $\endgroup$ – user9464 May 18 '20 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy sorry about that ... i just upated 'his' to 'his/her' $\endgroup$ – user483923 May 18 '20 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @Manx. I'll delete my respective comments. $\endgroup$ – amWhy May 18 '20 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ amW: I saw you edited your comment. If you have something to say, PLEASE, say it explicitly. If you have a point to make, PLEASE make it into an answer. Distorting other's intentions basing on no facts and putting off-topic comments under the answer do not make any sense. $\endgroup$ – user9464 May 18 '20 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ @NoahSchweber: now that one of amWhy's original comments was deleted, readers have no way to tell what your response above means. $\endgroup$ – user9464 May 18 '20 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ Dude, how the hell do you copy established rules of logic? Just because you both used the distributive laws doen't mean its a "copy-paste." Lmao. $\endgroup$ – Bertrand Wittgenstein's Ghost May 19 '20 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ Disregard my earlier comment, you said they edited their answer after yours. $\endgroup$ – Bertrand Wittgenstein's Ghost May 19 '20 at 1:27
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    $\begingroup$ Related previous meta discussion: Copying my solution, verbatim, is just so not cool. $\endgroup$ – fəˈnɛtɪk May 19 '20 at 6:21

I am the user who copied your answer Manx. My original post did not answer the OP’s question, so I edited it to yours.

I apologise for copying your answer without mentioning you. I have edited my answer to give credit to you for the original post, and I have recently visited this page for advice on how, and when to edit an incorrect answer.

In retrospect, I should have attributed the original answer to yours in the first place. I did not because I assumed that the time stamp would be enough. This assumption was wrong, and in the future, I will always leave a note or just delete the original answer.

I preferred editing the original answer, because I was taught the distributive law one way (distributing a logical $\land$ over an $\lor$), however your answer and Wikipedia cite it in two forms, where one distributes an $\land$ over an $\lor$, and in the other, an $\lor$ over an $\land$. While I was aware that these two forms existed, I was not aware that the second form was common in logic courses.

I was also not used to using double $ symbols for tagged equations, and had always used \begin{equation}\tag{…} instead. In this way writing the answer was a learning experience for me.

Sincerest apologies,


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    $\begingroup$ I am very happy that you are acknowledging your mistake, it is difficult because one's ego always wants to transfer the blame. I know it won't repeat, and I hope you go on to become a reputed contributor on the math site, because we need more like you. Thank you once again. $\endgroup$ – Teresa Lisbon May 20 '20 at 4:04

Comparing the sources of the two answers, it is unlikely that the answer you referred to is "copy-and-paste". In particular, you use \vee while the other one use \lor. (See source code below.)


  • The other user posted the first version at 2020-05-17 06:43:07Z,
  • you posted yours later at 2020-05-17 18:34:30Z
  • The other user then made an edit at 2020-05-18 09:12:22Z with a note: "after understanding the definitions of the distributive law used in the question askers text, I was able to correct the answer."

It is possible that the user saw your answer and figured out they should correct their answer. [If this is the case, I would prefer writing it out explicitly in the edit.]

Nevertheless, you have a valid concern. Unethical copying of other's solutions verbatim (repeatedly) did happen on the main site before. If you find repetitive behaviors, you should flag a post.

The most current version of the answer you referred to:

The distributive laws $(1~-~2)$ can be applied in two directions.

p\land(q\lor r)\equiv (p\land q)\lor (p\land r)

p\lor(q\land r)\equiv (p\lor q)\land (p\lor r)

Applying $(2)$ from right to left on $(p\lor\sim q)\land(p\lor q)$, yields the desired result $p\lor(\sim q\land q)$.

Your answer:

Distributive laws states that
$${\displaystyle p\vee (q\wedge r)\equiv (p\vee q)\wedge (p\vee r)}\tag{1}$$
$${\displaystyle p\wedge (q\vee r)\equiv (p\wedge q)\vee (p\wedge r)}\tag{2}$$
Here we are applying $(1)$ that $(\color{red}p\vee \color{blue}q)\wedge (\color{red}p\vee \color{green}r)$ implies $\color{red}p\vee (\color{blue}q\wedge \color{green}r)$.

That $(\color{red}p∨\color{blue}{∼q})∧(\color{red}p∨\color{green}q)$ implies $\color{red}p∨(\color{blue}{∼q}∧\color{green}q)$ which is distributing $p$ out.
  • $\begingroup$ Just because "it happens" (rarely: unethical copying), doesn't mean it did here. $\endgroup$ – amWhy May 18 '20 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ @amW: "it happens" is not a phrase in my answer and I don't consider it "means" it did here. I'm afraid you are talking about something else. $\endgroup$ – user9464 May 18 '20 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ "did happen": you wrote. Because you write a paragraph that unethical copying "did happen" on this site, doesn't mean it happened here. Sometimes it is not helpful to feed the imagination of someone feeling wronged. Your original answer was fare better. $\endgroup$ – amWhy May 18 '20 at 16:45
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    $\begingroup$ To me it's pretty clear that it's copy pasted and a little effort was involved to modify "vee" into "lor". Note that originally it was used "neg" and after the edit "~" appeared as in the other answer. $\endgroup$ – Zacky May 18 '20 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Zacky The original version also used "$=$" instead of "$\equiv$" - I personally do suspect copying. $\endgroup$ – Noah Schweber May 18 '20 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Noah Perhaps the original post did. But the original edit seems like an oxymoron. $\endgroup$ – amWhy May 18 '20 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy OK, fixed. $\endgroup$ – Noah Schweber May 18 '20 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ Note that Manx did not claim copy/pasting, but rather the looser "edited ... to make it almost identical to mine." $\endgroup$ – Noah Schweber May 18 '20 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy "I suspect that she, Manx" Did I misgender Manx at some point? $\endgroup$ – Noah Schweber May 18 '20 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Zacky: It is hard for me to make any judgment because it is impossible for me to know the exact history. Maybe you are right. That's why I listed the events in the timeline for readers to make their own decision. $\endgroup$ – user9464 May 18 '20 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ Answer version #7, note. Yep, people edit sometimes once, as in the answer questioned, and sometimes 7 times, based on others' answers and/or comments, T.S $\endgroup$ – amWhy May 18 '20 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ @amW: if you have something to say, say it explicitly. If you have a point to make, make it into an answer. Putting off-topic comments under the answer does not make any sense. $\endgroup$ – user9464 May 18 '20 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ @NoahSchweber: "Note that Manx did not claim copy/pasting" Yes, I agree. And I do agree that Manx has a valid concern. If, by any chance, the second version of the other user's answer was inspired by Manx's answer, I do think the author should explicitly say so in the new version. $\endgroup$ – user9464 May 18 '20 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ While I think it is good form and the other asnwer should to cite that their answer is basically the same, it isn't like Manx's answer is "original" and that basically that exact answer has appeared in many other questions and many books etc. Of course two answers will be similar in this situation. $\endgroup$ – user29123 May 22 '20 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ @T.S, I see you're new here, so know that amWhy's been doing that for years. Unfortunately all we can do is get used to it. $\endgroup$ – user307169 May 30 '20 at 0:31

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