A while back I came across this question. How to connect an old motherboard with a 12 pins power connector?

All of the then posted answers were entirely incorrect. I posted several comments and my own answer that even contained links to the correct replacement parts.

Before my answer could garner enough up votes to overtake the first incorrect answer from Appleoddity, Appleoddity edited their answer basically stealing my answer. (Including my in comment recommendation to not hack it and replace it with the correct part.)

Here are their revisions https://superuser.com/posts/1249428/revisions

Appleoddities answer went from an actually wrong answer to a correct answer, but only after I did the actual research to provide the correct answer. The only attribution given is the very last (buried) comment attached to the answer.

Now in all honesty Appleoddities final answer is much more wordy and looks great with a nice embedded picture and everything.

I'm not a whiner, so my primary concerns are about fairness and about how this affects willingness of anyone to participate in this site.

While life isn't fair, this seems a bad precedent. The problem is that at this time I am much less inclined to participate if my answers can be simply plagiarized.

Basically I'm looking at someone else getting 34 upvotes (compared to my 4 upvotes) for an answer that I did the actual work for.

I'm wondering if there is a policy for this and/or how handle this or should I just let it go and assume that this is acceptable behavior on this site.

  • From the views and vote count, the question was a Hot Network Question. Why certain questions become wildly popular is often not clear. But when they do, the thread's posts can accumulate unusually high upvotes within the first day, then views and voting rapidly taper off. Wrong answers can acquire high numbers of upvotes. A correct answer after the peak traffic might garner relatively few. Answers with pictures tend to attract more upvotes. Appleoddity's answer benefited from being early on a HNQ and looking like a high quality answer, despite being incorrect. (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 20:58
  • But you also benefited from Appleoddity's answer, because it contributed to the HNQ traffic (despite being wrong). The relative vote counts indicate that it may have been the actual HNQ attraction. Without HNQ status, your terse, unillustrated answer likely never would have received 5 upvotes, even though it was correct. Sometimes, things work in mysterious ways.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 20:58
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    BTW, Appleoddity's answer also greatly expands on what you posted, including additional research. So your answer provided the kernel, but it wasn't a matter of simply taking credit for your answer. Correctness is just the entry hurdle. What you do beyond that can contribute more to what the community values in an answer (upvotes). If there was an "unfairness in the system", it was that an incorrect answer attracted substantial upvotes.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 21:17
  • Oh see I was trying to help people not play a game. If I want to play the game I have to use strategy. So it sounds like a recommended strategy is... 1. Post an answer as quickly as possible even if it is wrong. 2. Watch the question and modify my answer to incorporate other peoples answers as my own. (Oh but make sure to google in a little more detail and some pictures so I don't get caught plagiarizing) 3. Completely change my wrong answer to a correct answer instead of just upvoting the correct answer. 4. Give no attribution. Sweet now I know the rules thank you very much. Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 21:45
  • Sounds like a seriously broken system. Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 21:45
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    1) You did help people, and got 5 upvotes for it. You posted a terse, barebones answer and received more upvotes than it would have otherwise received. 2) There isn't a game strategy that works reliably. Posting an early, wrong answer could just as well have resulted in heavy downvotes. 3) There was no plagiarism. 4) The community values answers that educate, that are easy to understand and implement, that are visual, etc. If you had done that, Appleoddity would have had nothing to add and you would have received even more upvotes. 5) No system is flawless. (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 22:14
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    HNQs can have unusual side effects, and you happened to experience an unusual confluence of circumstances. The vast majority of the time, the system works surprisingly well. 6) Even though it may not seem like it at first glance, you were a beneficiary, not a victim. It is normally rare for an answer like yours to get 5 upvotes. Even great answers often receive no upvotes. It is also rare for a wrong answer to get extreme upvotes. 7) Take a step back. Read the feedback here to better understand the process. Focus on the long-term big picture rather than a single, unusual situation.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 22:14
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    @JustinOhms Answers that are incorrect are unlikely to be well received. There isn’t a game. Good answers get upvotes
    – Ramhound
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 2:45
  • "The vast majority of the time, the system works surprisingly well" that seems like a great reason to not try harder to make it more inviting to participants Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 23:34

2 Answers 2


General Response (without looking at your specific answer)

I went to Meta Stack Exchange (the Meta for the whole SE network) and dug up a question that linked to a Help Center article about your specific topic. If you just want the official policy, read the help center. If you want the community's broader take overall on plagiarism, look at the Meta question, or search https://meta.stackexchange.com for "plagiarism" for other related questions.

My understanding is that Super User's take on plagiarism is exactly the same as the network-wide or Stack Overflow policy. Indeed, here's the same page on the Super User Help Center.

Plagiarism - posting the work of others with no indication that it is not your own - is frowned on by our community, and may result in your answer being down-voted or deleted.

If there is strong evidence in the edit history of both answers of his or her content being modified to match yours with significant quotation or paraphrasing, that is plagiarism.

On the other hand, if your answer simply inspired the other user to change their mind and improve their own answer (without meaningfully plagiarizing you), that's probably acceptable.

Getting the right idea from someone else, and then doing your own research and putting in an answer in your own words isn't plagarism. If your answer is more comprehensive and useful in the long term, it will tend to get more upvotes.

On the other hand, if the other user put more effort into his answer and it looks more complete and well-written, they deserve the reputation they get from it.

One of the long enduring problems on the Stack Exchange network is the Fastest Gun in the West Problem, where often the first person to provide a (correct) answer gets the most upvotes, even if their answer is terse, lean on explanation, or mostly quotes external sources verbatim.

A valid response to the FGITW problem is to garner more upvotes/bounties by taking a conceptually correct but terse answer and re-writing it to have better exposition, more background explanation to set up the reader's understanding, or working out the solution in greater detail or with better pictures or formatting.

If that's all they did, then it's fair game.

If there's enough of your ideas in his post to be plagiarism, it's at least worthy of the community's downvotes, if not deletion.

Specific Response (looking at your answer)

  • Appleoddity's answer was the first one to be posted to the question. Given the question's high popularity (lots of views and interest in the subject matter), it probably got a large portion of its upvotes very soon after being posted; the actually correct answers didn't start to pop up until around 18-20 hours after the question had the majority of its views and upvotes already passed over it.
  • Agent_L's answer was at 15:57 on September 12, 2017 and got most of it right, at least compared to Appleoddity's original answer. "This is neither ATX nor AT power supply." etc. Your answer came 1 hour, 50 minutes later, and so it could be considered that you benefited from Agent_L's answer too. Unfortunately his answer only has 2 upvotes as of this writing. Ouch!
  • Your answer is the most specific and accurate, but came a bit later than other answers that were partially correct. It seems like arriving at the correct answer here was genuinely a team effort by the community, and rather than editing an existing answer, competing answers were posted, each later answer benefiting from the research done by the previous (even the incorrect research, which can be helpful in eliminating some possibilities when searching for the right answer).
  • Your answer, in a sense, could be construed as plagiarizing Agent_L's answer. You said "It is neither an AT or an ATX power supply." and Agent_L said "This is neither ATX nor AT power supply." nearly 2 hours earlier. Now I don't think that is a statement that can be phrased differently, so I'm not accusing you of plagiarizing, but in the same sense, the edited answer of Appleoddity doesn't plagiarize yours by stating that it's a Compaq 22xx series power supply.
  • Appleoddity's answer is, in my opinion, more comprehensive and explanatory than yours. Besides that, he kept his original incorrect answer intact for posterity's sake to show that he was originally wrong; this is good intellectual honesty.
  • The last part of your answer where you provide links to purchase the item is not really a great fit for Super User. That sort of information (providing specifics on "where to buy something") is off-topic for the site, and could possibly be perceived as shilling for those companies (even if it isn't). I would advise you to delete the links.
  • so as I suspected, just assume that this is acceptable behavior Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 19:43
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    Well, your objection seemed to be about plagiarism (you said, "The problem is that at this time I am much less inclined to participate if my answers can be simply plagiarized.") We do not like plagiarism here, but the user's answer you seem to object to is not plagiarism, in my opinion. The reason that his answer is acceptable is that it adds to the answers already there; he took the basic info you provided and made a better answer. If you had taken the time to write a detailed and explanatory answer as he did, it would be hard for him to add anything to yours without plagiarizing. Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 20:22
  • Actually my concern isn't about plagiarism at all. It is about the sustainability and growth of a community based on a gamification system that inappropriately distributes rewards and incorrect information. But if you want to take the opportunity instead to berate me for helping the OP and answering the question (and accusing me of shilling to boot) instead of giving him wrong unresearched information as others had done simply because I have a life and didn't write a long drawn out exposition with pictures. Awesome for you. You really know how to build a community. Yep, This is fine. Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 21:35
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    @JustinOhms, obviously you are very bothered by the apparent unfairness of how the referenced thread played out. It was a very atypical situation. Hopefully, when things cool down, you'll be better able to view the other perspectives presented here. But just to pick up on your comment, "simply because I have a life and didn't write a long drawn out exposition with pictures": think about this--The community doesn't upvote you having a life; it does upvote exposition with pictures. (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 22:33
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    It's great for you to prioritize having a life, and that produces more rewards than imaginary web site points. But if you want to generate rep, the way to do it long-term is to invest the time to polish answers with exposition and pictures. If you had done that in this case, you would have garnered the additional rep that Appleoddity did after expanding that answer.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 22:33
  • Er... I didn't accuse you of shilling. I said that it could possibly be perceived as shilling, which is a very different thing. When writing content on a public site like this, it's important to consider not only the content you write itself, but the appearance it will give others -- because other people do not live inside your head, and can't force you to take a lie detector test to be certain you aren't shilling. We don't want to be seen as favoring any particular vendor over others on the site, which is why product purchase links are discouraged. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 4:05
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    Also, if it's not about plagiarism, why did you explicitly state such in your original question? -- Lastly, we (folks who have input on the policies and operation of the site, which includes you since you're now participating on Meta) cannot reasonably prevent all forms of activity that might cause one user to get reputation that in someone's opinion is more "deserved" to be given to another user. We have no control whatsoever over who casts a vote on what answer and for what reason. If not getting all your imaginary Internet points bothers you, you might want to step away. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 4:09
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    A more constructive way to approach looking at reputation and the "gamification" system of the site is, rather than trying to go to war with other users and try as hard as you can to garner reputation for yourself, instead just do what you enjoy. Answer questions you find genuinely interesting for the opportunity to learn. Ask questions when you're curious or have a problem that others can help with. Don't worry about the votes unless you're getting a lot of negative rep answers. Yours are positive, so you're doing fine. Don't sweat the small stuff like getting less votes than expected. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 4:10
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    If you're not here because you find it fun/useful/educational to actually write answers (or questions) but are just here or primarily here to get a large number next to your name, well, you're going to be pretty unhappy, on the whole, and there's nothing we can do policy-wise to fix that without being far too restrictive of what people can do on the site and causing even worse problems than we already have. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 4:11
  • @allquixotic You and I are probably very much on the same page. On a personal level I do not care about points. But just because you and I don't, doesn't mean others don't. I mean if you gamify something you are going to have people who are there for the points and the dopamine. What I am concerned about is a broken system which (as you pointed out) is why I posted into meta in the first place. However, I was not expecting such low level hostility simply for pointing out a potential problem. It's kind of sad to see such acquiescence to problems. Kind of defeats the purpose of meta. Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 23:21
  • @JustinOhms I can tell this particular experience has been disappointing for you and I'm sorry about that. Your concern is valid and is worth taking seriously. At the end of the day, this is a community of people, and as such there will be cases of injustice. But that doesn't mean the whole system is broken. I encourage you to set this situation aside and, if you want, keep posting answers motivated by your genuine desire to help people. I'm confident you'll find that around here the rule, as opposed to its exception, is that good answers are well received & people are good to each other. Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 23:09
  • And BTW, good on you for discovering the error in the original answers. You obviously have knowledge that will benefit this community. It would be a shame to have this one atypical situation scare you away from finding out this is a good place for someone like you to participate. Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 23:13
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    OK, @JustinOhms. If you think we're "acquiescing" to some problem and ignoring some solution that could improve the site, what, specifically, do you think we can change about the site to make this problem go away without causing any unintended side effects? You've spent a good deal of energy identifying the problem, but no solutions have been forthcoming. If you want something changed, you have to suggest a way to change it. What policy or technical change can we make to address your concern? Better yet, post it as an answer to this question,and let it be judged on its merits. Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 20:58
  • Re: product purchase links, they are more or less accepted as examples accompanying a searchable name, especially for more obscure components. It's generally only an issue if the answer is otherwise poor, or there's a pattern of linking to the same site across many answers. Requesting them in the question is off-topic by default but providing them in an answer is not.
    – Bob
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 0:09

If I were you, I'd ask @AngryCub why did they accept a wrong answer in the first place. Accepting normally means they have tried the answer and it helped, so they either didn't try it, or toasted their motherboard and decided to accept the answer anyway. Neither of these is good.

Oh and don't get bitter for getting only 4 upvotes for a correct answer: I've seen people writing much better answers than yours and getting no upvotes at all. Don't expect to be properly rewarded every time, but rest assured that you will get rewarded in the long run if you keep posting answers that help people. Answers here are a bit like stock market: most will only reward you moderately, but if you keep investing yourself, you'll hit that Nice/Good/Great answer badge sooner or later, and it will not necessarily be the answer you'll spend most time on.

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    +1 for I've seen people writing much better answers than yours and getting no upvotes at all. I've got pages of them. Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 19:22
  • Justin: I've received no/few reputation points for some answers I thought were great, and lots of points from answers where I expected little. There are factors outside your control, like how active the question is (including other people submitting answers). +40 is above my average score. You're welcome to wish you had more, but I do suggest being happy with what you got. This is not a "seriously broken system". The system works well to fulfill certain goals, and StackExchange sites are pretty popular, but can take some getting used to. fixer1234 is highly regarded with great reason.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 3:44

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