I recently posted a question in Mathematica SE, Can a package append its context to $DistributedContexts?. Out of idle curiosity I then googled for some of the code in the question, and I was very surprised to find a single hit at http://pastebin.com/cbM2wxjc, which looks like this:

Code blocks from the answer pulled into a Pastebin paste

These are all the code blocks in the question, and they appeared there within ten minutes of posting the question. Moreover, they are unattributed and contain no licence information. I reported the content as a Scraper using the usual procedure, but I have some questions.

  • How did the code end up there? This does not feel like your usual scraper, since they took only the code and not the context of the question, so it's hard to see how this paste would benefit anyone. Has this behaviour been observed before? Do we know who is doing it? Do we know why? I imagine it is not an automated SE mechanism, since the content is unattributed.

  • Should I do anything about it? Pastebin provides a DMCA mechanism which I'm tempted to use, partly because I have better standing than Stack Exchange as I hold the copyright, and partly to find out how DMCA takedowns look from the initiating end, in a setting with minimal damage.


I don't think it's a scraper, or else we would have seen much more of these, and we don't.

More likely someone (either anonymous visitor or a registered user) saw the question and decided, for a reason we can't really know, to paste the code from the question in Pastebin, without any malicious thoughts. Maybe future use, maybe to understand it better, etc.

While a valid concern, can't see anything we can, or should, do - just keeping open eye and if indeed lots of these happen, maybe investigate further.

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What most likely happened is that an user who wanted to try out or keep your code copied it to pastebin. There is nothing automated happening from the side of SE (that would be both useless and stupid).

We can't know who did it and personally I don't think you should care too much. You can report this to pastebin as unlicensed use of your code, but is that really worth all your effort?

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