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Would anyone have an opinion if using a <cite> tag might tell the spyder to accept the content between tags as an obvious quote from somewhere else?
Or any other method that might be used by science/education/etc sites when they have to use a citation word-for-word?
Be sure to set up a reference of some sort to the original source. I don't know if he cite tags help but they wouldn't hurt. I'm not sure if <cite> is that meaningful anymore.
The only real duplicate content issue you would have is if you simply copy and pasted in a gov web page into your webpage. Any other use is fine. Any normal, fair use type quoting is just one block of some text within other blocks of text.
Google only pays the barest of attention to tags, and I would give you 100 to 1 odds the cite tag is totally ignored. Like most other tags, by the way.