While using google to search for "11th power diophantine" it gave the mathoverflow link,

The diophantine eq. $x^4 +y^4 +1=z^2$

which is copied word-for-word from my mathstackexchange post,


While I'm glad it generated some fruitful discussion in this forum, the least the poster (fermatII) could have done was cite that he/she found the question elsewhere, and not copy it word-for-word.

(Looking at his/her profile, it seems this was the only question he/she asked. Perhaps stranger things have happened in this forum?)

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    $\begingroup$ I wonder whether the moderators here and there could migrate the MO version to m.se and merge it into the m.se post. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2013 at 4:17
  • $\begingroup$ Can a moderator send a pvt msg to the parties concerned when instances like these occur? I saw this was copied in 2011, but it's only now I noticed this doppelganger post. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2013 at 4:23
  • $\begingroup$ Curious that the transgressive account was only used in that instance, and not since. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2013 at 5:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @TitoPiezasIII Moderators can send messages to other users, that feature is meant for serious issues, suspensions for example require such a message and you can't suspend someone without it. All such messages are also copied to the SE community team. But I don't think it'll do much good here as the user hasn't been on the site for years. $\endgroup$
    – user35354
    Aug 28, 2013 at 5:01
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I believe (quite strongly) questions that are 'too old' (older than 60 days, IIRC) cannot even be migrated by moderators. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Aug 28, 2013 at 8:18
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    $\begingroup$ While I can see this is an unfortunate exprience, on the relatively positive side two points: first, somebody else pointed out essentially right away the original source in a comment (so in some sense attribution happened even though not by OP of question on MO); second, as mentioned already, that OP is an unregistered account that it seems did nothing but reasking this one question, so this rather seems to originate in being unaware/oblivious of proper procedure than any actually bad intentions. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Aug 28, 2013 at 8:27
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    $\begingroup$ Quid is right, moving old posts does not work. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2013 at 9:40
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    $\begingroup$ Is this copying any worse than copying a question word-for-word from a textbook? Or from an on-going web contest? $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2013 at 13:29
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    $\begingroup$ He/she could have at least mentioned that it was copied. Also, somebody (whose account has since been suspended for violations) edited my mathstackexchange question and put a bounty on it. Then on the very same day, someone copied it to mathoverflow. Hmm. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2013 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ Since this spans more than one site, I recommend you describe the situation at mathoverflow.net/contact so the community managers can fix it. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2013 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ @TitoPiezasIII generally it is considered as a nice thing to do to add a bounty to somebody else's question. And the timing is extremely unsurprising since it just had regained a lot of visibility. By contrast why somebody should with bad intentions put a bounty and reask here completely escapes me. (And it seems you are somehow implying this.) I think likely it was somebody else, and even if not this action merely suggest that they really wanted an answer to this/your question. Perhaps try to see this in a more positive way. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Aug 28, 2013 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ To stress the point already made. The acount was unregeistered and instantly went idle. We had cases where people reask without attribution question so to say to "steal" some points or unduly gain some credibility. But for this to make sense you need to do is with an actual account. Not with a single use throw-away acount. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Aug 28, 2013 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ I think using other people's words without attribution is bad academic practice, and the existence of MSE and MO do nothing to change my views. $\endgroup$
    – Yemon Choi
    Aug 28, 2013 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ @quid speculating here: perhaps the user who posted on MO wasn't the person who put the bounty up, but instead was someone who saw the bounty and figured they could post the question here, copy whatever answer they got on MO to math.SE and claim the bounty? Certainly the point's mostly moot regardless... $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2013 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ @StevenStadnicki well it's possible. But, then all this effort for a 100 point bounty on math.SE. And, also, it is not uncommon that cross-posts are called out. Actually, and more generally, this has happened in this case. The only thing that was "missing" was that somebody also put the link on math.SE. Had this happened this could have been resolved at time it happened. So, perhaps the lesson to be learned from this is that it is really worth it to by vigiliant regarding cross-posts, or things that look like them, and effort to post these comments with links here and there can be important. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Sep 3, 2013 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


After investigation we concluded that the question was indeed plagiarized. A notice was added to the post to restore proper attribution. The user who posted the question has been deleted and is no longer welcome to use MathOverflow.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Interesting. I wonder if someone complained about a question taken word-for-word from a textbook, it would receive the same treatment... $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2013 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ @GeraldEdgar: Maybe. These things are handled on a case-by-case basis and there have been precedents similar to the one you describe. $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2013 at 14:56
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    $\begingroup$ meta.math.stackexchange.com/q/10772/18398 $\endgroup$
    – JRN
    Sep 4, 2013 at 23:38

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