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The website Learnhub.org seems to be copying content wholesale from EL&U without any attribution at all. Unlike with this blogsite problem here, there isn't even a link back to the original EL&U posts. So apart from your material being published without respecting your moral right to be recognised as the author of your own work, EL&U content is not recognised as belonging to EL&U. The questions and answers there even appear in the same order that they appear in on EL&U if ordered by reputation.

I don't really wish to scan through learnhub.org to find all my posts so that I can make an individual complaint for each one, and I don't suppose you guys would want to do that for yours either. Can EL&U help us get this content removed from that site, given that both questions and answers from here are appearing there together?

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    Though the content in question in specific to EL&U, the broader phenomenon of content scraping is observed across all of SE, and so this might be better discussed on Meta Stack Exchange. In particular, since the StackExchange corporation (not community) is the only one empowered (or at least likely) to bring legal action, and since C&D letters have a lot more pull coming from corporations rather than individuals, I think it would be best brought to their attention. They're active on Meta.SE, but less often visit the local !etas. – Dan Bron Jun 30 '15 at 10:59
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    There's a post about what to do on MSE: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/200177/… – Andrew Leach Jun 30 '15 at 11:16
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    @Dan: This problem first came up 4 years ago on ELU, but when it happened again a year later I had to raise it again. If anyone wants to know what they should do to help out, that's covered by our answer here, but it's up to each of us as individuals to complain, so if it's not publicized here on ELU probably nothing will get done, because those who could help won't be aware of the situation. – FumbleFingers Jun 30 '15 at 15:11
  • @FumbleFingers Fair enough! – Dan Bron Jun 30 '15 at 15:27
  • @Dan: I went through the complaints process both times before. I reckon it's your turn to step up to the plate this time. – FumbleFingers Jun 30 '15 at 15:36
  • @FumbleFingers I'd prefer you asked me than reckoned it's my duty but ... I'll get it done this evening. – Dan Bron Jun 30 '15 at 15:38
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    @FumbleFingers Text is an imperfect and unnuanced medium. No offense taken. I admit I fall into the camp of "unviolated users". I frankly feel that this process could easily be automated; it's not like the scraper sites even bother to paraphrase the text: it's verbatim copying without attribution. I'm not sure I see why they need individual human beings to report the obvious. Nonetheless, as I said, I'll put a report in tonight, if only to thank you for your personal diligence, if nothing else. – Dan Bron Jun 30 '15 at 15:54
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    @Dan: So far as I know, these scraper sites are entirely automated, and "paraphrasing" is probably beyond the capabilities of any current software. I expect Google don't want to make it any easier to file because on their side they actually have to pay staff to scrutinise and act on the complaints. But complaining to Google is a lot easier than finding which national jurisdiction the rogue site is operating under, and trying to start an actual legal action there. – FumbleFingers Jun 30 '15 at 18:01
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    @FumbleFingers In this case I reckon it's a bit different because the questions and all answers are being copied, so it's obviously coming straight off EL&U. They reckon that there's something they can do. Are you saying that that doesn't work? Did you go down that avenue before? What happened? Maybe you could put that info in an answer? – Araucaria Jun 30 '15 at 20:12
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    @FumbleFingers Agreed with Araucaria: the fact that the scraper sites don't materially change the content means it's instantly identifiable as illegitimate duplication. And I wasn't suggesting Google automate the filing of complaints (though they could, because they index SE in real-time, and they know the content appeared here first), but that StackExchange does. Even if SE still requires users to find these scrapers (which task IMO can & should also be easily automated), once that's done, SE should report the perps to Google, rather than require duplicate manual effort from users. – Dan Bron Jun 30 '15 at 22:38
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    @FumbleFingers That's changed since yesterday! There was originally nothing. SO wrote back to me "Please note, bringing these sites into compliance (or getting them to no longer serve our content) is often a long and arduous process. You may not see immediate results. However, rest assured that we're working on it." You may be right. I'm going to make a couple of reports to Google ... – Araucaria Jul 1 '15 at 13:17
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    I'll keep half an eye on this issue for a few days before deciding what if anything I'll do, apart from immediately upvoting this question and commenting (I deleted my precipitate answer). I definitely think we owe it to ourselves and TPTB to stamp out this kind of plagiarism (which is purely motivated by financial gain, nothing to do with spreading knowledge through the Net). – FumbleFingers Jul 1 '15 at 15:39
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    @Mazura The fact that that was a recent addition to their site is an irrelevance, so I won't bother pointing that out. The problem is that the individual authors' moral rights to be identified as the authors of these works is being violated. You understand that, right? They aren't attributing the work to the authors. – Araucaria Jul 13 '15 at 23:16
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    @Mazura Well, people should be citing not just linking, imo. And if people forget they should be asked to do so. However, if people are just using links, although this is still bad, the page they're linked to includes the source. – Araucaria Jul 13 '15 at 23:44
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    @Mazura And more importantly, no-one here is taking 70-100% of an authors different works and publishing them without attributing them. – Araucaria Jul 13 '15 at 23:45
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So I reposted this on Meta Stack Exchange. It seems that if you want to do research about this on Meta sites, the terms scraper and scraping are very useful. Here's what I found out:

Short answer: What to do:

Section of short answer by Pops:

Send all reports of SCRAPERs to us via the form on the contact us page, linked at the bottom of every page.

Use the "Other" reason on the form (fortunately, we don't get enough of these reports to justify making SCRAPERs their own category/reason). Please include:

  • the URL of the copied post
  • the URL of the original post on SE
  • for high-rankers, the search string you used (and the name of the search engine, if not Google)
  • any other details you noticed and want to share, because you're awesome

How other sites can use your material:

Information from another post by Pops:

Since day one of Stack Overflow, all content posted on Stack Exchange sites by their users (i.e. you wonderful people) has been provided to the whole universe under the CC-BY-SA license. For my fellow non-lawyers, that license basically means:

  • Anyone can use any Stack Exchange posts at any time without having to ask for permission
  • Making money off of the copied content is permitted
  • You don't even have to copy stuff from here verbatim; you can just use it as a starting point and make whatever edits you want
  • There are just two rules you have to follow:
    • You have to provide attribution. Simple links to the original post and author info are just fine.
    • You have to allow other people to use your content, as long as they follow these very same rules. How meta!

(If you ever forget any of that, and want to refresh your memory, the license info is linked to in the footer of every page.)

There are, in fact, a lot of people who republish varying amounts of our content for assorted reasons. Unfortunately, there are some Stack Content Republishers Attributing Poorly and/or Excelling at Ranking (SCRAPERs, for short).


What attribution re-users must give:

From a StackExchange Blog by Jeff Atwood, Attribution Required:

All the content contributed to Stack Overflow or other Stack Exchange sites is cc-wiki (aka cc-by-sa) licensed, intended to be shared and remixed. We even provide all our data as a convenient data dump, seeded by us.

But our cc-wiki licensing, while intentionally permissive, does require attribution:

Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

I thought it was pretty clear what “attribution” meant, but given the semi-scammy way the content is popping up in some seedier areas of the internet, maybe not:

http://hiveminds.se/vote/framed/story.php?id=23472

http://programmingfaq.w3ec.com/

(there may be others; these are just the ones I know about)

So let me clarify what we mean by attribution. If you republish this content, we REQUIRE that you:

  1. Visually indicate that the content is from Stack Overflow or the Stack Exchange network in some way. It doesn’t have to be obnoxious; a discreet text blurb is fine.

  2. Hyperlink directly to the original question on the source site (e.g., https://stackoverflow.com/questions/12345)

  3. Show the author names for every question and answer

  4. Hyperlink each author name directly back to their user profile page on the source site (e.g., https://stackoverflow.com/users/12345/username)

By “directly”, I mean each hyperlink must point directly to our domain in standard HTML visible even with JavaScript disabled, and not use a tinyurl or any other form of obfuscation or redirection. Furthermore, the links must not be nofollowed.

This is about the spirit of fair attribution. Attribution to the website, and more importantly, to the individuals who so generously contributed their time to create that content in the first place!

Anyway, I hope that clears up any confusion — feel free to remix and reuse to your heart’s content, as long as a good faith effort is made to attribute the content!


Note: Because I cannot edit the blog in question, I've had to reformat it by hand. Some formatting features (use of red colour and so forth) may have been lost in translation.

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Here's what to do. Try to teach yourself not to be selfish with your good answers to questions. Be flattered if the answers are repeated elsewhere. Take pride in your work without trying to keep others from seeing it.

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    Here's a response to your answer. Try to spread people's ideas as much as possible. Be generous with the information you get. Just remember to give a gentle nod to the people you got it from - like bothering to mention them when you reproduce their work. Do you disagree with that for some reason? – Araucaria Jul 3 '15 at 23:01
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    @Araucaria, it is very poor etiquette to plagiarize. Possibly even illegal. I don't draw from that the conclusion that we should engage in a police action. Life is too short. – Greg Lee Jul 4 '15 at 5:47
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    Yes, I'd agree with that for sure. I think though that there's nothing wrong with Stack Exchange asking the site to put an attribution to the authors in! – Araucaria Jul 4 '15 at 6:10
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    Greg, this is ridiculous. The website in question is violating the licence and plagiarising, which is wrong on both an ethical and legal level. You can't just take it upon yourself to hand-wave that away, calling it "selfish"; what total nonsense. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 5 '15 at 14:42
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit, you can remove any violation by giving up any rights you have. It seems you are trying to assert rights to what I have written. Did I give it to you? I don't see where your ethics are in this. – Greg Lee Jul 5 '15 at 16:13
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    @GregLee: wtf are you talking about? The solution to "somebody is violating my rights" is not "so I shall simply forfeit them", and as for the rest of your comment I have literally no idea what you're going on about. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 5 '15 at 16:14
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    I'm with Greg. IDGAF either. Nothing should prevent the dissemination of knowledge in any way, shape or form. – Mazura Jul 13 '15 at 13:47
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    I strongly believe in the free dissemination of knowledge. The problem here is that the information on SE sites is already freely disseminated and these sites are trying to take free content and profit from it without adding any value. I'm happy to contribute to SE because it has value to me. If some other site is going to profit from my contributions, I want either attribution or a piece of the action. – ColleenV Jul 14 '15 at 15:23
  • @EllieKesselman, no. I think you are not following the discussion very well. – Greg Lee Jul 17 '15 at 4:53

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