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I previously asked this question here on ELU Meta and on Meta too:

From the information that I got from the answers to that question from Meta and from ELU I posted this answer, which detailed the recommended way of going about reporting sites. However, since then the situation has changed considerably. The recommended actions don't address the problem outlined here, to any extent. This question has since been closed as a duplicate of that other question, but this question is specifically asking about SE's actions and responsibilities in relation to user's copyright of material posted on the ELU site. This question is necessary because the number of sites scraping SE users work without attribution is rapidly growing. Here is the original question.


Recently, I've seen more and more sites scraping content off SE EL&U and SE ELL. There are now so many that I can't keep up with them. I think we need a public ongoing page accessible on Meta where people can list websites that are nicking content without the full proper attribution, and where TPTB (the powers that be) can get back to us once the situation has been resolved.

However, I am now more interested in what SE is doing to ensure that it isn't neglecting its users. I'm a bit surprised that users seem to have to find this stuff and report it. I kind of feel that it's SE's responsibility to check on a regular basis who is scraping its members' (and its own) material. Shouldn't this be a routine practice on their part? If not, the agreement that they put forward to users is kind of useless. It amounts to - anyone can scrape your content without attributing it to you under the terms set out here on SE - so long as you don't report them to us. This seems unacceptable to me.

Some sites seem to be worse than others. Some link to SE, but not to the page they scraped the content from. Some list the username from here on SE but don't link to the page or mention SE or EL&U. Some just mention EL&U. There is definitely a range of violations going on. But it seems to me that SE has a duty of care towards its users - at least a moral one - to try to ensure that the terms set out on the site actually apply in a meaningful way.

What is the policy for checking up on who's nicking what from users here and from SE in general?

Here's what I found in 20 mins.

List of scrapers

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    For reference, here is the canonical MSE post on this topic, with guidance from the SE team on how to handle and report scrapers, as well as what the limitations are in dealing with them. – Dan Bron Dec 3 '15 at 19:49
  • Can I suggest that you don't link here, because links increase the Google ranking of the target site (especially since this one is highly-placed) and we don't really want that! – Andrew Leach Dec 3 '15 at 22:39
  • @AndrewLeach Where can they be listed? I'm kind of tempted to think that in that case, SE might do something about it faster! But I'll move them if you can tell me where to. If you want to report them all on the SE form, I'm quite happy for you to do that? – Araucaria Dec 3 '15 at 22:45
  • @AndrewLeach I'll remove the links for the time being, but something needs to be done about this. – Araucaria Dec 3 '15 at 22:46
  • Listing here is fine; it's the linking which is counterproductive. Note that SE can automatically produce links and you really need backticks. – Andrew Leach Dec 3 '15 at 22:50
  • @AndrewLeach But if you list www.newtips.com it comes up as a link ... :( – Araucaria Dec 3 '15 at 22:50
  • @AndrewLeach I'l try and sort that out then when I get back. – Araucaria Dec 3 '15 at 22:51
  • So if I understand this post correctly, what you're saying is that answers we give on ELU are copy and pasted to another website. Correct? – michael_timofeev Dec 4 '15 at 6:48
  • @michael_timofeev they are copycat websites, they look like genuine English language Q&A websites but the difference being that they contain "our" questions and answers. I don't know how they do it but days after posting a question you will see that same question replicated elsewhere. – Mari-Lou A Dec 4 '15 at 7:50
  • So a question I posted is there, or an answer I posted is there...but no name? – michael_timofeev Dec 4 '15 at 7:52
  • @michael_timofeev sometimes the author is credited, but more often than not it 's anonymous. – Mari-Lou A Dec 4 '15 at 8:18
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    The answer to the question is on M.SE. And while Google may (or may not; who knows?) respect nofollow, others won't. – Andrew Leach Dec 4 '15 at 20:57
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    @Araucaria oh, right, I'd forgotten that they replaced the previous version (in which they asked you to post the site in an answer) with the current contact form. So I see the benefit of also publicly posting scrapers here. But (I think) the fact is, the people at SE are unlikely to pay attention to this post. There is little pressure for them to do anything about it either way, but filling out the form has the advantage of semi-actively bringing someone's attention to the scraper site, whereas this does not. – David Z Dec 7 '15 at 11:05
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From the footer of this (any every Stack Exchange) site:

user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required

I checked a couple of the sites you linked, and somewhere on the page they all list the source of the content with a link to the original question.

  • Are they unethical? Yes.
  • Can we stop it? Probably.
  • Is it infringing copyright? Probably not.
  • I've reactivated the links. I might be wrong, but starting with the first link there, maybe you'd like to tell us where the original author is credited and where the link is to the original question? – Araucaria Dec 7 '15 at 23:04
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    Scratch what I said, one of them autoredirects to some wierd porn sites. Nuke them from orbit! – user53089 Dec 7 '15 at 23:49
  • How is it unethical if the creative commons license allows them to use the content in any way they want as long as they attribute it? – desbest Dec 15 '15 at 19:24
  • @desbest: To the extent that they're skimming money off the top without adding any value, they're unethical. That's the situation with most scrapers, legal and illegal alike. CC doesn't attempt to define added value (partly for philosophical, partly for practical reasons), but confusing legality with ethicality is a grave error. – Nathan Tuggy Dec 16 '15 at 3:03
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    @desbest Because they aren't attributing it. None of the listed sites list the source of the questions and answers. – Araucaria Dec 16 '15 at 4:23

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