According to https://blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/04/when-a-site-grows-quiet/, data dumps of closed-down sites are available under the same CC BY-SA license as other data dumps. However, since the original content (and their owners) have been removed, what satisfies the Attribution part of that license?

That is, to what, specifically, do site e.g. attempting to resurrect answers.onstartups.com pages have to link to?

Jeff Atwood wrote in '10 at Correct attribution is impossible for failed sites:

It's probably fine in this case to link back to the proposal

However, for the specific site in question, it had no proposal, and all the original pages have been deleted. What does satisfy the attribution part in this case?

  • Given that much of it has been reposted on Bright Journey, if you can find the post they license it under CC by-sa 3.0 - you might be able to work off of that content instead.
    – user213963
    May 11, 2015 at 1:00
  • Bright Journey appears to be both a distinct organization from SE network, AND have no attribution to the original content they've pulled from answers.onstartups. Does this imply, that content from that site can be resurrected without the attribution link, or are they violating CC license? May 11, 2015 at 14:45
  • @SilverDragon They are distinct from SE. They do acknowledge SE in the footer of the site and in their TOS. As noted here, linking to particular posts/users is problematic when the old site doesn't exist. There is a discussion on Bright Journey about making clearer distinctions between SE content and new content.
    – user259867
    May 15, 2015 at 5:50

1 Answer 1


Generally speaking, you only have to provide the metadata that is supplied by the Licensor.

In case of a work’s URI, the CC BY-SA 3.0 legal code specifies:

[…] (iii) to the extent reasonably practicable, the URI, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work; […]

So you only have to include a URI in your attribution if

  • it’s "reasonably practicable" to do so (better assume that it is), and
  • the Licensor provides it in the first place, and
  • the provided URI contains information on the work’s copyright or how it is licensed.

So, while you could provide the URIs from the closed site, you don’t have to, as they no longer contain the licensing information (… because they are 404 now).

(Note that this is not the case for deleted posts on Stack Echange sites that still exist.)

Having said that, it can still be beneficial to include the dead links (for transparency, finding the original publication in Web archives, etc.), and a link to the data dump you’ve taken the content from would be nice, too.

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