I don't want to point fingers, but one fairly prolific answerer gets 90% of his answers from Wiki and posts them here, with a sentence here and there interspersed that essentially recaps his copy/paste answers.

IMDB is also a large source of information on movies, although it's not quite as easy to search if you only have limited knowledge.

IMO, and this is strictly my opinion as I don't purport to speak for anyone else, Plot-related questions should not be allowed here, or, at the very least, be discouraged from here. I mean, if all people do is copy/paste from Wiki, what's the point of using up server space? Just send them to Wiki and be done with it. Maybe put a pop-up when they choose the tag to check Wiki before posting or something.

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    My experience with software developers who use and need google on a daily basis is that not everyone knows how to correctly use google to find an answer. So yeah, I think plot related questions are fine and answers quoting wiki's are fine as well. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 16:43
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    I think this question may have had more traction if it was focused on question quality. The site exists, in theory, because there are people with questions that aren't easily answered on wikipedia. I'd argue if the answer is simply cut-and-pasted from Wikipedia, then it's not the answer that is bad, but the question. The question should have been closed.
    – DA.
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 0:26
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    @DA. - Funny this came back up. Oddly enough, I was really railing about Andrew Martin's answers. Since then (whether due to this question or on his own accord isn't even important), his answers have really gotten to be outstanding, in fact some of the best here. I was pretty new to the site at the time, and you know how those n00bs are... ;o) Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 1:08

2 Answers 2


Just because one person quotes heavily doesn't mean the site has no value, and I don't believe that should be discouraged.

I'm sure there are some examples of results that have significant segments quoted from one site, but ones that I've looked at that are available on the home page are often taken from more than one and summarized.

If someone asks a plot question, I don't see a problem with attributed quotes from wikipedia or other sites to illustrate that. Personally I tend to summarize a plot point in my own words, but I don't think its fundamentally a problem doing it this way.

Like with many other issues with the site - feel free to not upvote answers that you think have not required much work, or have not added to the body information already available online. However I do feel that a targeted answer to a question, even if the answer comprises a lot of referenced material is perfectly valid.

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    Do you work at the Department of Redundancy Department? :oP All I'm saying is, link-only answers, or answers plageurized in their majority, make this site look pointless. Sure, add a link at the bottom, but if I ask a question I don't just want junk spit back at me. I want someone's input. If all I'm getting is links, I don't need this site. And is that the result you want? Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 15:02
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    @JohnnyBones: The logic is that the site becomes a definitive source for all this information, including questions not asked elsewhere. Do you mind if I ask what answers you refer to as being heavily plagiarized? Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 15:05
  • Among the many, this was the one where I finally thought, "This guy is just a bot": movies.stackexchange.com/questions/18466/… There's nothing there that wasn't in the Wiki you quoted. Therefore, it was just a waste of SE's server space, both the question and its answer. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 15:08
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    @JohnnyBones. It was a weak question, but the OP was genuinely confused. In future, any similar questions will be brought here generating site traffic. Do you mind if I point out this question. This is the only question you've asked on the site, and the answers are straight from other sources. Why was that answer acceptable? Please note - I'm not trying to be provocative or argumentative. I'm genuinely interested in your opinion and how you feel my answering could be improved. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 15:12
  • Weak questions should be deleted, then. No? On StackOverflow they are. And I'm not saying that answer was the greatest answer ever, but the reason it's my only question is because I get my answers from Wiki. LOL. In that case, it was a question that was difficult to google and I got my answer. If I want to understand the plot of a movie, I will go to its Wiki because I know I'm going to get my answer there. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 15:31
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    Weak questions are permissible, provided they fall under the scope of the site. On SO most weak questions are now closed because they're duplicates and were answered once definitively. Perhaps the OP in the Graduate question didnt think wiki could help so never checked. It was a weak question, but going back to YOUR original question, I still think linking to other soirces should be fine. Objectivity over subjectivity and all that. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 15:36
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    @JohnnyBones Weak questions should be downvoted if too weak. Invalid or off-topic questions should be deleted (or closed first, and possibly repaired/reopened). There is a significant difference.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 16:05
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    @JohnnyBones And it's not just about developing genuine ideas on your own in each and every answer, but often enough also about gathering information from different sources and combining them into a conclusive answer (i.e. doing the asker's research and condensing the information therefrom), and that's IMHO exactly what the linked Graduate-answer does. Of course we should encourage people to do their homework before asking, but to me everything that goes beyond reading a Wiki article or a single obvious source is valid enough to be asked as a question.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 16:08

You wouldn't be talking about me, would you? There are a few responses I'd have to your answer.

Firstly, like Stack Overflow, there's nothing wrong with building up a repository of information on this site. Whilst we ideally don't want completely obvious plot questions (and yes, there are a fair few of them), there are many people who genuinely don't understand plot details which have multiple interpretations and so ask them here.
In the case of the former, i.e. this question about The Graduate, it will help redirect future traffic to the site (especially good since it's still in Beta). In the case of the latter, anyone with a genuine question about a plot explanation deserves an explanation, e.g. these Groundhog Day and Mulholland Drive questions.

As to references to IMDB, Wikipedia etc, I understand your concerns, but I think it's a valid way of answering questions. On a site like Stack Overflow, answers that are provided are testable and often definitive. If I want to know if an answer is correct, I can simply copy it into my program, run it and find out. If I ask a question about a specific feature, I'll often have the documentation of whatever programming language I'm asking about quoted back to me.

Relating to that, on this site a link to Wikipedia is perfectly acceptable in my view if it is simply to give a quick recap of a part of a story. A link to the script is perfectly acceptable to demonstrate a quotation if the OP has taken it out of context/misunderstood it. A link to other reputable sources, e.g. academic articles, twitter feeds of people involved with movie, interviews, etc must be considered acceptable as they back up the argument being offered in an answer and help make it definitive.

From my point of view - when I answer questions here, I always want them to be definitive. There are so many sites out there that people ask movie questions on and the majority of the time the answers they get back are highly subjective. Whilst an element of subjectivity is present in almost all answers, it's nice to be able to point to a director interview, or a line from the movie, to almost entirely eradicate any doubt as to the purpose of a scene or plot device.

Finally, straight from the FAQs:

Movies & TV Stack Exchange is for Movie & TV enthusiasts and experts alike!

Anyone with a casual or hardcore interest in Movies & TV is welcome and the site exists to provide a question and answer platform for anyone with an interest in movies and TV who have questions which fall within the scope of the site as defined in that link.

Final Note:

Meant to bring this up yesterday, as it was bugging me, but I forgot. Whether you agree with linking to answers or not, the word plagiarism is completely inaccurate to describe it. The fact you are linking to a source is the exact opposite of plagiarism.

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    Although I can understand OP downvoting, if any other downvoters are lurking, do please share any comments/alternative suggestions etc. Am keen to hear other's opinions on this. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 14:49
  • OP didn't downvote, but thanks for the "retaliation". Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 14:53
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    @JohnnyBones: No retaliation. On meta you upvote questions/answers you agree with, downvote ones you don't. It's nothing personal. I disagree strongly with your question, thus downvoted it. If others disagree with my answer, they're welcome to downvote, but please do leave comments or alternatives!. Otherwise, it's difficult to know exactly what they agree/disagree with. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 14:54
  • Yes @JohnnyBones - voting on meta does not affect reputation score and indicates agreement with the post.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 14:57
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    Well, I'm not going to downvote but I'll tell you what I think; your answers are too "bot-like". They are essentially link-only answers with a little filler/summarization for the most part, and link-only answers aren't supposed to be anywhere on the SE network of sites. So, if a good percentage of plot-related questions are being answered with link-only answers, then maybe plot-related questions shouldn't be allowed here, or people should be directed to the site that most of those answers come from. Do you still think there's a flaw in my logic? Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 14:59
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    @JohnnyBones: I still disagree strongly with it. I think some of my answers have been very heavy on wording, but largely I link to things to provide some form of evidence. I try (and don't always succeed) to be objective. I dislike answering plot questions with just my opinion. I'd much rather answer with what the director/producer intended (preferably with quotes) and let that be a definitive article. I don't use link only answers as I quote what I take. On SO people answer referring to documentation. But they quote what they reference, so it's fine. I try and do the same. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 15:04
  • @JohnnyBones I know what you mean in general, but linking and quoting is a good thing for backing up and providing context, at least if you summarize the stuff from the quotes and relate it to the question to form a proper answer. And I think this particular user usually does this. There are really other users which quote with much less individual assessments and summaries which, I agree, sometimes fail to provide an actual answer. I really don't want to sound like a fanboy, but honestly, Andrew's answers look so bot-like because they're often quite good and well-researched.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 16:20
  • @JohnnyBones And plot-explanation is IMHO one of the most important categories here. If some of the poorer instances of this can be answered by a simple quote from Wiki or the script, then be it so, they're still valid questions. It doesn't buy anyone anything to answer them from memory only just because you don't want to link/quote anywhere.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 16:23

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