Great topic. I've been worried about this myself. We all like to see sources, but I'd rather get the insight of the user not some random expert that I could find via google myself. Of course properly attributed sourcing is still very helpful, especially when it comes from a reliable source, but I think we can do more.
My feeling is that we need to encourage rewording and posting, not just quoting. There are several answers that are barely more than just a few words and several different paragraphs of various quotes from other sites. Everything was quoted and attributed correctly, but I just don't think that is a good answer. I would encourage users to paraphrase and write their own answers, while borrowing from other sources (probably attributed of course).
The only way to change the culture though is through voting and comments. If you see an answer that is nothing more than a few quotes then encourage then lets enourage the poster to rewrite in their own words.
My reasoning here is if we base voting on quality answers on who quotes the best quotes from the best sources, our top users are going to be best googlers and not necessarily the best resources for animal information.
To borrow an SO reference, would Stack Overflow be as good as it is if all Jon Skeet did was provide "quotes" (code) from other resources instead of being an expert in his own right?
Since I am still seeing this happening more than I think is ideal, I wanted to add a bit more to this answer to explain my position here and why
- Links and attribution to references are good.
- Quotes (especially long blockquotes intermixed in text) are not good.
My position on Links
When presented with something that is not common knowledge or even contrary to common knowledge, everyone tends to ask "Really, where did you see this?", so the link helps fend off those questions ahead of time.
As with other SE sites, links should be there to support your post and provide additional information, but the post should be able to stand alone without the links (meaning if the link dies does your answer still make sense). Since you are using it to provide a source and for attribution, that is covered under "supporting your post".
My position on Quotes
Block quotes are fine in small doses, but a post that is a series of quotes (especially long ones) intermixed with your own words is why I am campaigning against. There are a few reasons:
- Like I mention above, I'd rather get the insight of the experts here than someone I can find myself via Google.
- Like I also mention above, it encourages us to be experts ourselves than to see who is the best Googler (or Binger or Search Engine of your Choicer)
- Post like this, especially in the beta color scheme, are virtually impossible to read easily. The background color for block quotes stands out so much that your own text becomes hidden and almost ignored. This takes what could be some very good insight of your own and hides it in plain site so it gets ignored.
So how should I write answers?
My feeling is if you need more than 1 or 2 quotes, or any single quote that is more than 2 lines long, you need to be rewriting it in your own words. This isn't a hard and fast rule as there could be a really fantastic quote from an expert that you need to include, but it should be a good guideline to judge yourself when writing the answer.
How should I judge other answers?
There is no hard and fast rule, and certainly don't start counting characters or quotes, but if you encounter a post that is a series of blockquotes with some original text mixed in or is otherwise difficult to read due to the quotes, I would encourage you to leave a comment and explain. But if this is a repeating pattern with someone who refuses to listen, then I'd suggest start using downvotes (or add your own answer that does a better job of not using as many quotes).
The general point I am trying to make here is fewer quotes and more of your own words (even if you have to reference another site). Not only with this help show off the site's expertise (which will be critically important when we get to the public beta), but will make posts more readable, which is good for getting your point understood, which should turn into more upvotes over the long haul