I flagged this answer earlier with a custom reason explaining that the code had simply been copied from an answer to a similar question on another SE website. The author of the newer answer has provided a link to the original answer (probably important to know).

The flag was declined (no evidence etc.) so I just wanted to get the official policy on this.

I'm now under the impression that copying answers from one SE site to another is absolutely fine, as long as a reference is provided to the original answer.

Could someone confirm if this thinking is true or false? Or is it just a judgement call?

3 Answers 3


It is perfectly legal to do this (but it might be nicer to ping the original author in chat if they have accounts on both sites). All content posted to the Stack Exchange network is licensed under CC-wiki, this means that as long as they:

  • Atribute - by linking to the original answer and stating clearly that it wasn't their original code.
  • Share Alike - release under the same license (not relevant in this situation as all Stack Exchange sites use the same license).

Then there should not be a problem.

  • 1
    Thanks, I wasn't even thinking of it from a legal point of view but that's good to know. I was thinking more along the lines of whether or not this is "frowned" upon based on quality issues (duplicate questions/answers across sites)
    – Clive
    Jun 27, 2012 at 14:32

The copying of content itself should not be a problem. All content is licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

However, as soon as an answer to a question on a different SE perfectly answers a question on SO or another SE, you might want to have a look at whether or not either one of those questions is at their appropriate location to begin with. (I can't entirely judge this particular situation myself).

  • Yep that's exactly what I was wondering. Technically the question is perfectly valid on SO, as well as being perfectly valid on Drupal Answers, so I thought I'd ask.
    – Clive
    Jun 27, 2012 at 14:33
  • 1
    For what it's worth, I would have had the exact same hesitation. Perhaps less so if the OP of the SO answer would have actually explained how and why the code solves his problem, rather than just link to another SE.
    – Bart
    Jun 27, 2012 at 14:35

If the answer applies and correctly addresses the question, then who cares if it was copied from elsewhere? Though, as others have pointed out, attribution to the original would not only be nice, it is necessary (regardless if they're all on the same resource, SE, or not).

I don't think you have an invalid question here, but in the spirit of the Q+A site that SO is, why is it a problem that a good answer is given?

Now, on the other hand, if it is a bad answer, then downvote it (and I think for most cases flagging would still be unnecessary).

  • Any comment on the downvote?
    – Gaffi
    Jun 27, 2012 at 21:00
  • 2
    I didn't down-vote, but your overly simplistic example is just too overly simplistic. Writing the same exact code is different from writing 4. Now, it can happen both the users saw the same code in the same site external to Stack Exchange; in this case, it seems the user who wrote the second answer knew of the first answer (which was linked).
    – apaderno
    Jun 27, 2012 at 21:10
  • @kiamlaluno Fair enough, I've removed the example, but the point still remains.
    – Gaffi
    Jun 27, 2012 at 21:17
  • 4
    Attribution is necessary. It doesn't matter if the posts or on the same site, even on the same page: the license doesn't have any same-site exception. Jun 28, 2012 at 0:00
  • @Gilles Sorry about my ignorance, then publicly announcing it. You are correct, and I've updated my answer to match. Thanks for your guidance.
    – Gaffi
    Jun 28, 2012 at 13:27

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