I read the attribution instruction here : https://stackoverflow.blog/2009/06/attribution-required/

And they are pretty clear.

However I still have a question!

- Repetitive Attribution

Say, that I am helping on one of the sites on SE and several users are involved and we resolve the issue of the question at hand.

Now, I want to use this content on a page of my own in a discussion format. Jeff advised:

  1. Visually indicate that the content is from Stack Overflow or the Stack Exchange network in some way. It doesn't have to be obnoxious; a discreet text blurb is fine.
  2. Hyperlink directly to the original question on the source site (e.g., https://stackoverflow.com/questions/12345)
  3. Show the author names for every question and answer
  4. Hyperlink each author name directly back to their user profile page on the source site (e.g., https://stackoverflow.com/users/12345/username)

My question is, can I create profiles for each participant in the discussion in my page with the same names as the users from SE? Inside these profiles would contain a description saying something like: This user profile was created solely for the purpose of linking back to this Stack Exchange user This profile would also contain a direct link to the original authors profile page in SE. This is, so the person viewing the profile I created would know that they can find the original author in the SE community.

Every response would include this profile created by me. This profile has a description and links back to their user profile on SE(Stack Exchange). This is apart from all the attributions that I would already include in the main discussion page, such as a links to the original topic. That is something I will always include.

Phrasing my question again: Can this profile I created be considered a fair attribution to the author since it would sign each contribution with the authors name on my discussion page as per license requirements with a link directly to the original author via the profile link inserted in the description? This way anyone interested in reaching the author directly would know that he is only available on the Stack Exchange platform.

I am asking because I have used contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required in the past and I always give proper attribution but I had never seeing a case where I would need to add HTML links after every paragraph. By doing the way I am asking, it would help keep the attribution consistent to every author in every piece of shared content on my page.

  • 1
    Can you give an actual example? I'm not sure why you'd be linking to your user profile rather than just linking to the actual sources. It seems like a two-step process that's only making it more difficult for the people trying to answer a question you have or to understand an answer you've written.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 0:57
  • Let's say that the discussion from this page is entirely from SO: kaggle.com/stackoverflow/rquestions/discussion/24689 Now let's imagine that all those responses are from SO users. Would attribution be fair by having a link in each of those users profile with a description saying that these profiles were created to linked directly to the original authors profile page? In other words, instead of signing each post with a link, each profile would attribute to the author's profile automatically. Does it make more sense? Thanks in advance.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 1:17
  • 2
    "Say, that I am helping in a discussion here"... what? This isn't a discussion forum. Where would you be having a discussion?
    – Laurel
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 1:21
  • I tried giving a sample and used the word discussion. It could be resolving an issue for that matter. I`m pretty sure this is not a discussion forum.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 1:26
  • What is kaggle? Kaggle is not SE.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 1:27
  • It's an example for crying out load! I don't know what the heck is Kaggle.. I know they use SE content but I am trying to use them as an example that you asked.. wht?
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 1:47
  • I reworded the entire question to try to give more sense to it and make it more clear.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 2:13
  • Sounds like a scraper site. If it doesn't properly attribute content, it needs to be reported.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 2:44
  • I don't understand the purpose of these 'profiles' that you are creating - why not just link back to the site and be done with it?
    – user50049
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 13:28
  • the profiles are to give a better discussion look to my pages because it includes content already created by other users which is unique. but yeah.. apart from the profile i will just include a link in a blurb on the bottom of the page with all the links.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 14:04

3 Answers 3


You appear to be under the impression that you have to link every mention of a user. That's not correct. You do need to link it once, but not once per paragraph.

As an example I'll point to Mi Yodeya's publications. If you look at the postings there (example, PDF) you'll see that every question has a URL, every contributing user is named, and there is a page in the back with the mapping of user names to profile URLs. This approach has passed muster with SE; in fact, SE even helped us produce a print run of one book. They're well aware of how we handle the license.

If you're linking anyway, how does it help you to use an intermediary link on your own site? Just link to the profile. I don't see how your site's user pages help you with your problem, but you seem to be doing it because you think you have to link every use, and that's incorrect.

Finally, perhaps you're worried about long URLs, particularly if you're reusing content in a print publication. Note that there are short-form URLs, like $site/q/12345 and $site/u/67890. You don't have to spell out 'question" or "user" or include the question title or user name. See the Mi Yodeya publications for examples.

  • Hi Monica! Thank you for your response. For instance, instead of a PDF which is a great example, I want to set up a discussion page were other users can join my page and add on to the material and each user on my page would have a profile page. Based on your response I can simply create the profiles for the users but add a reference on the main page that the following authors contributions to this discussion belong to the SO community and will link to each author. I really don't want to work with the dump to import likes and best answers stats, as I want that to happen naturally on my page.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 21:29
  • Also, it seems that profile links on your pdf are not working but I am pretty sure you know this. As in, in the PDF it's linking to mi.yodeya.com/users/1569/b-a but the only URL that works is judaism.stackexchange.com/users/139/ahron
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 21:30
  • @Hugo there's currently a bug with the URL redirection (which I forgot about when I used that example, oops); we're waiting on a fix from SE. I realize your usage is different, but what I'm saying is: where you would otherwise link to your made-up profile on your site, you can just link to the SE user. If your {page, book, whatever} uses a bunch of content from the same user, you still only need to provide the link once, so long as you attach the user's name to each contribution. Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 21:36
  • Thanks! Hopefully they get the bug fixed soon for you guys! :) As for the link, I see what you mean and it makes sense. The made up profile would naturally tie and link to my page to just give a natural structure and flow to the discussion and it would carry the SE user's name as well. I will for sure link back directly to their SE profiles at least once in every discussion page. Thanks for elaborating and helping out.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 21:47

No -- don't do this.

A user account is supposed to be owned by a user. If you create the user accounts and hold the credentials to them, you own the accounts. This sounds like impersonation to me, and makes it appear that content on that account comes from someone it does not.

I get that you would be attempting to give them credit on Stack Overflow by redirecting people to the original content by linking to their SO account on the user page but most people don't view user pages, which means most people will assume the content is original to your site, which makes your site look better attended than it is. This is false advertising. Plus, linking to their SO account doesn't link to the page where the content is. It's buried at least three or four links in if it's even possible to find the content as the user profile only lists the question titles. Content isn't searchable without using the actual search function for the site.

Discussion page -> Discussion user page -> SO user profile -> ???

This means it's very easy for you to take their content and post it without context... which is a problem.

You need to be citing the post not the user and with your method, the post isn't being linked.

I would strongly prefer that you post the content as you and link every post back to the actual SO answer rather than do this convoluted process you're describing.

  • The license does not require a context in order for the content to be used. It gives users the ability to share, copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to adapt, remix, transform, and build upon the material in any way my intention is to give attribution to each user completely and my main concern was trying to avoid having 50 hyperlinks back to the user's profile especially if those 50 links is in reality on 5 authors.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:05
  • 1
    This is false advertising. Plus, linking to their SO account doesn't link to the page where the content is. I did mention in my question that I am addressing an attribution concern apart from all attributions already inserted in my page which would link to the topic directly.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:06
  • 1
    So? That does not make it OK for you to impersonate a user. I'm answering your entire question along with your poor idea of how to attribute your content.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:06
  • 1
    I'm also not quite sure what's wrong with having multiple links back to a user. They're not notified when their account is viewed or linked to so it's not as if you're doing any damage to them. And, as I've already said, it's more useful to link to the answer itself rather than to the user. It'd be similar to linking to the generic Wikipedia home page rather than linking to the article the content is from. If someone wants to learn more, they're going to want to visit the full post.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:16
  • I am not trying to impersonate a user. If that was the idea I would not be taking hours and days out of my time to ask and research on the matter. I would just go and do it. I'm just trying to get a concern addressed because they were man made requirements not listed in the license such as linking back to authors. I will gladly link bank to all authors while using the content without additional links, but do I have to do it 20 times if he replies 20 times or is linking back once enough? I guess me concern is too specific as in, its open to interpretation? I don`t know.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:22
  • 1
    I don't know why you keep saying or giving the impression as if I had said that I would not link back to the full post or original article. My question it self says that. I can make it more clearly but it's there!
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:25
  • 2
    You have two different people who wrote answers that both say that this method makes it look like you're impersonating the users... give that some thought. If you're already linking back to the answers in the discussion itself, there's no reason to create a fake "user account" on your site.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:27
  • I understand but that's not the intention, especially with all the links back to the original post. I ask you this then, if I am trying to have a discussion on my page about an issue that was discussed here, but wanting to keep the discussion structure similar to what we have here, properly attributed so that others could jump in including myself and add to the content or build upon, how could I build up on the material in the same style as here? After all, the data dump comes with all the data from the discussion allowing others to create derived works such as discussion pages, right?
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:39
  • SO Does not care if their site is scrapped as long as attribution is done so your reference to impersonation doesn't make sense after all and has no grounds. It's all creative commons. I can copy your username and use it in my site because you already agreed to this by posting it here. As long as i follow attribution I am fine.
    – Hugo
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 15:01

You don’t have to link to the authors at all.

What matters is what the license requires. The ToS or this blog post (which, by the way, misses an important requirement) can’t add any requirements.

For the rules you have to follow, see section 4 of CC BY-SA 3.0. For attributing the authors, it says:

(i) the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied, and/or if the Original Author and/or Licensor designate another party or parties (e.g., a sponsor institute, publishing entity, journal) for attribution ("Attribution Parties") in Licensor's copyright notice, terms of service or by other reasonable means, the name of such party or parties;

No hyperlink (nor a URI) required.

  • But, doesn't his requirement to link to authors ("Hyperlink each author name directly back to their user profile page on the source site") fall under the license part that mentions on the same paragraph "unless a request has been made pursuant to Section 4(a)"? If no additional requirements can't be made, should such blog post not be edited to consider such excessive amount of linking as optional? Or should we not ask about these extra requirements in the META as well?
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:13
  • @Hugo: The part "unless a request has been made pursuant to Section 4(a)" allows the Licensor to say that they don’t want any attribution at all, in which case you must remove/omit it. It doesn’t allow the Licensor to say what they want instead or in addition.
    – unor
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 14:56
  • @Hugo: "If no additional requirements can't be made, should such blog post not be edited to consider such excessive amount of linking as optional?" In my opinion, yes. Related discussions: Are the SE additions to the Creative Commons attribution requirements enforceable? · SE should stop using the CC logo. And in my linked discussion, “Attribution Required” misses requirement to reference the license, I argue that it shouldn’t be a blog post in the first place.
    – unor
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 15:02

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