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This Stack Overflow question, which was originally ambiguous, has been clarified, and the intent is clearly to try to try to capture the frames of a video, presumably to make his own copy of it.

This sort of question could have dubious legal/moral applications, e.g. to capture copyrighted materials. (Admittedly, there could be legitimate reasons for it, too, but it strikes me that if the provider of the content wanted to provide a download feature, they would have.) For this reason, now that the intent is a little more clear, I have elected to remove my comments and my answer, as I personally don't want to help someone write an app that does this. Clearly, that's my personal choice and I'm not seeking feedback on that decision.

My question is this: Is it appropriate to flag a question for moderator attention on these grounds? The question is not explicitly asking something illegal, for example, "how do I make my own copies of copyrighted materials," but the answer could certainly be used for unscrupulous reasons. What is the appropriate action/answer for a question like this?

I see these sorts of issues occasionally. The other example I've seen periodically is, effectively, "how do I track a user's location without telling them". But that seems easier, as I can make my point and still provide a constructive answer (e.g. point out the approved methods and bring their attention to the relevant app store guideline that prohibits the unapproved behavior).

But this "can you help me with techniques that copy frames from a video" is more ambiguous.

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marked as duplicate by Joachim Sauer, BinaryMisfit, ChrisF, hims056, Asad Saeeduddin Feb 13 '13 at 16:36

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Oh come on. Copying a video? Seriously?!?! That's nothing compared to something like this:… – Mysticial Feb 13 '13 at 15:52
Apart from dubious moral values, that question is abysmal in its grammar. There seems to be some actual technical know-how, but I can't understand a sentence he writes without reading it three times. – Joachim Sauer Feb 13 '13 at 15:53
SE cannot police each and every law or moral code or private agreement out there. So we don't. – Martijn Pieters Feb 13 '13 at 15:56

Stack Exchange cannot police each and every law or moral code or private agreement out there. So we don't.

Judge posts on their quality alone, there is no point in flagging something because it might be morally or legally wrong, the moderators are not in a position to judge posts on those grounds either.

You can certainly express your opinion about it in a comment.

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We judge questions on their technical merits:

  • Is the question clear and on topic?
  • Is enough information provided for others to accurately answer the question?
  • Will this question help anyone else in the future? Is it a real problem or just an artifact of a typo?

If the answer to the above is yes on all counts, then it's a good question for the site. It's not up to us to examine the motive of the question author beyond our own inclination to answer the question or move on. Legal stuff is way beyond our pay grade.

A common manifestation of this is Woah, man, you're totally violating the Apple NDA! or perhaps the user is violating some kind of cyber crime law that some country has passed. That stuff is far out of the scope of what we expect from users of Stack Overflow, we simply ask that you share your expertise on questions that interest you. In fact, it's even out of the scope of moderation - we aren't equipped or trained to examine the legal merits of a question.

I'm not telling you to not flag things that you think need our attention, but we're not going to take action on a post on advice given from one non-lawyer to another. If you see a bar fight break out under such a question, then of course the correct course of action is to involve a moderator.

In short, don't take on unnecessary angst - just answer questions you feel good about and alert us to things that don't meet our quality standards, or instances where you see people not behaving at their best.

For everything else, we have lawyers and clear channels for third parties to communicate with them. And, well, don't forget you can vote.

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IME these types of questions tend to get closed.

That said, I'd be opposed to flagging questions based solely on (perceived) legality.

If I had moral objections to it I just wouldn't answer, if I felt strongly enough I'd leave a comment, and let it go–not my business unless I'm a named (or likely) target.

Flagging on quality, locality, and the other standards is enough: if they don't apply, don't flag.

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