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Consider the tag wiki for modifiers:

Modifiers are used to modify objects non-destructively until Applied.

There are four groups of Modifiers:

  • Modify
    Modifiers in the Modify group act simpler than those in the Deform group without directly affecting the objects shape, rather than affecting some data.

etc…

Now, from the Blender wiki entry on Modifiers (excerpted):

Modifiers are automatic operations that affect an object in a non-destructive way … you can Apply a modifier if you wish to make its changes permanent.

There are four types of modifiers:

Modify
The Modify group of modifiers are tools a bit similar to the Deform Modifiers (see below), but which do not directly affect the shape of the object; rather they affect some other data, like vertex groups…

etc…

Sure, there are minor changes (sentence collapses, "types" to "groups"). But these are trivial, and some of these changes that appear to be for the sake of making changes actually obfuscate the meaning (e.g., "rather" to "rather than" completely inverts the meaning of the sentence). With that in mind,

Are these kinds of tag wikis really helpful?

Judging by this answer, the answer would seem to be that it's discouraged:

Often times people ask these questions, they have an idea of what it does and are not entirely sure or they have read the manual but don't quite understand it (which is one of the reasons why simply linking to something is frowned upon.)

Personally, when I write tag wikis, I tend to explain the concept on my own as best as I can, and dot it with links to the Blender wiki and/or Wikipedia (e.g. animation, cycles). This offers a new point of view/method of explanation, while still containing references to authoritative sources for more in-depth explanation of a particular subconcept. I find that simply copy-pasting from an obvious source of information will not help the user to "learn more" about the subject, as the link implies that they will.

What should be our policy on this?

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The only times these won't be accepted is if they are directly copied from the wiki. There is a reject reason for these type of edits that says:

This edit plagiarizes content from an external source without proper attribution.

So, it is perfectly fine to copy and or modify these provided that you link to the original source and cite as you think necessary. If you see one that obfuscates the meaning too much, feel free to suggest an edit or edit it if you are a trusted user.

More importantly, as you note, these are often not very helpful at times so it is generally a good idea to try and reword them to be more compact and informative.

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  • $\begingroup$ How directly is "directly"? Is correcting a typo or substituting a word still plagiarism? $\endgroup$ – wchargin Aug 16 '13 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ Directly.. as in you go there, highlight text and slap it here and as I said, as long as you link to your source, modifications are ok. As Aldrik also notes, if you are going to be changing a good portion of it, consider rolling your own definition and still linking for more info. Wherever possible, we try to include tutorial links and resources in the tag body. $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Aug 16 '13 at 17:30
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If you can produce higher quality content that's great. If not quoting is fine as long as you remember to include a link to the source. Forking is stongly discouraged. Improvements should be made to the Blender wiki before quoting.

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