The issue recently came up in some comments about how much of an external article it is fair to quote. I noticed some answers paste very long responses from elsewhere on the web, but this seems unfair to the original article and perhaps illegal. (See rule #4 on this Nolo Guide.) The answer on
How should I cite an answer elsewhere? says that "you may quote small excerpts", but some answers seem to go much further. Should moderators flag or delete long quotations of external articles?

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    And what does "small" mean? Is it an absolute measure, like "500 words", or is it proportional to the length of the source? If I quote 500 words of a 600-word source that feels different to me than quoting 500 words from a full-length book. Dec 18, 2011 at 20:02
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    It would be helpful if you can point us to the answer(s) that sparked those "comments".
    – yydl
    Dec 18, 2011 at 23:19

1 Answer 1


It seems to me, based on my previously-expressed reasoning and on the Nolo citation you bring, that those with editing power should edit out "too-long" quotations from other works, particularly if they're copyrighted and/or online elsewhere, even if they come with attribution. People without editing power who see such problems are welcome to flag them for moderator attention, preferably with a note pointing out the particular problem.

  • "those with editing power should edit": I agree. But that means the answer to the question "Should moderators flag or delete" is "no", right?
    – msh210 Mod
    Dec 19, 2011 at 16:15
  • @msh210, thanks. I've edited the answer to clarify and address the question more directly. There's no need for anyone to delete the entire post, and there's no need for mods to flag anything, but deleting parts of posts through editing and flagging for the mods are both potentially appropriate.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Dec 19, 2011 at 16:27

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