-13

The way comments are currently implemented a moderator edit of a third person comment constitutes an infringement of the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license under which such comment was published. In particular section 4c(iv):

and (iv) , consistent with Ssection 3(b), in the case of an Adaptation, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Adaptation (e.g., "French translation of the Work by Original Author," or "Screenplay based on original Work by Original Author"). The credit required by this Section 4(c) may be implemented in any reasonable manner; provided, however, that in the case of a Adaptation or Collection, at a minimum such credit will appear, if a credit for all contributing authors of the Adaptation or Collection appears, then as part of these credits and in a manner at least as prominent as the credits for the other contributing authors. For the avoidance of doubt, You may only use the credit required by this Section for the purpose of attribution in the manner set out above and, by exercising Your rights under this License, You may not implicitly or explicitly assert or imply any connection with, sponsorship or endorsement by the Original Author, Licensor and/or Attribution Parties, as appropriate, of You or Your use of the Work, without the separate, express prior written permission of the Original Author, Licensor and/or Attribution Parties.

Assuming that said comment is eligible for being copyrighted, which is not always the case.

When a moderator edits another person's comment only the name of the original author appears. It is noted that the comment has been edited but that is indistinguishable from a comment which has only been edited by the original author.

It would be fine if the comment read "Comment based on original Work by Original Author" as the license states. Indeed this would be an acceptable alternative to disabling comments.

CC-BY-SA 3.0 states a way in which credit for adaptations my be given and also states that " You may only use the credit required by this Section for the purpose of attribution in the manner set out above". So in that manner and only that manner. And it is quite reasonable for the license to be like this, because with the current wording of comments edited by moderators any random user finding such comment will likely erroneously believe that it was authored only by the original poster.

This is not a duplicate of Is proper attribution given when a moderator edits someone's comment?. That other question is concerned about the rights of the comment's editor while this question is concerned about the original author of the comment.

  • 3
    From the ToS "You grant Stack Exchange the perpetual and irrevocable right and license to use, copy, cache, publish, display, distribute, modify, create derivative works and store such Subscriber Content and, except as otherwise set forth herein, to allow others to do so in any medium now known or hereinafter developed (“Content License”) in order to provide the Services, even if such Subscriber Content has been contributed and subsequently removed by You. Subscriber warrants, represents and agrees Subscriber has the right to grant Stack Exchange and the Network the rights set forth above. " – DavidPostill Nov 5 '17 at 18:31
  • See where it says "modify"? – DavidPostill Nov 5 '17 at 18:32
  • @DavidPostill Indeed I see it in the ToS. Are you thus claiming that the license under which posters grant use of their posts to SO is different than the license under which SO publishes content? The later is most certainly CC-BY-SA 3.0. I thought the former was CC-BY-SA 3.0 also due to "user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required." which you can read at the end of this page, but maybe I was wrong and the former is actually the ToS you just cited. – Jose Antonio Dura Olmos Nov 5 '17 at 18:48
  • I'm not sure which is binding, the CC-BY-SA 3.0 or CC-BY-SA 3.0 together with the additional terms on the ToS.s. Disclaimer - I am not a lawyer ... – DavidPostill Nov 5 '17 at 18:50
  • @DavidPostill After searching a bit more I got to this answer by Jeff Atwood where he says "[...]IANAL, but my interpretation of that is anything you post here, you are implicitly posting and licensing to Stack Exchange, Inc. under cc-by-sa 3.0. Which should be OK unless you're one of those people who wears a tinfoil hat, since it's an extremely permissive "everyone wins" license. Thus until a lawyer says otherwise I think we should go with Jeff's interpretation. – Jose Antonio Dura Olmos Nov 5 '17 at 19:03
  • 1
    Question relevant to the discussion in the comments: Do Stack Exchange’s ToS mean that the user-generated content is double-licensed to them? – unor Nov 5 '17 at 19:35
  • @unor Alas, that is a very useful link. – Jose Antonio Dura Olmos Nov 5 '17 at 19:38
  • If a moderator is editing comments that significantly, then they are using the privilege wrong. Moderators do need to have the ability to edit others' comments, but the ability should be used very sparingly and never in a way that what you describe would ever be a problem. If they are, that's a reason to report the moderator, not remove the privilege altogether. – animuson Nov 5 '17 at 20:36
  • @animuson Certainly you are right. But that is not what I am asking about. I am asking if every edit by a moderator to third party comments under the current system, no matter how small, should be disallowed or reworded since it infringes the license under which such commend was licensed to SE. And, as I have discoved thanks to several helpful commenters here, the answer is no since such comment is dual licensed also under the ToS. – Jose Antonio Dura Olmos Nov 5 '17 at 21:06
  • 2
    @Jose It's completely relevant. Incredibly minor changes generally do not constitute an adaptation under the license and all that text you quoted does not apply. You may want to read up in CC's faq about when use becomes an adaptation. The reasons we grant moderators to edit comments almost never qualify. – animuson Nov 5 '17 at 21:20
  • 2
    As a moderator, the only case where I actually use that ability is to fix typos or broken links. Essentially, I only use it if I'm sure the author would agree with my edits. Using it in any kind of adversarial situation is a terrible idea. In almost all cases, we don't edit comments, we simply nuke them. – Mad Scientist Nov 5 '17 at 22:37
  • @MadScientist Don't do that for me, please. I'd rather have my comments deleted than anonymously "fixed" by someone thinking he knows what I'd agree with. – Jose Antonio Dura Olmos Nov 5 '17 at 22:47
  • 2
    @JoseAntonioDuraOlmos moderators almost never edit comments, period. We have this ability for unusual situations, but in almost all cases a moderator will simply remove a comment that causes any trouble. – Mad Scientist Nov 5 '17 at 22:54
4

Comments are licensed to Stack Exchange under two licenses.

Let's say we were to agree that your interpretation of CC-BY-SA 3.0 is correct and such adaptation of comments infringes it. In that case SE can use the ToS license under which you have dual licensed your comment. Such license states (emphasis mine) :

  1. Subscriber Content

You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license. You grant Stack Exchange the perpetual and irrevocable right and license to use, copy, cache, publish, display, distribute, modify, create derivative works and store such Subscriber Content and, except as otherwise set forth herein, to allow others to do so in any medium now known or hereinafter developed (“Content License”) in order to provide the Services, even if such Subscriber Content has been contributed and subsequently removed by You.

As for missrepresentation, it can be argued that comments edited by moderators are indeed flagged as edited and everyone can see that it has been edited. Since no mention is made of who edited it anyone assuming that it has only been edited by the original author is taking just a wild guess. SE can't be held liable for such wild guesses.

Furthermore, as animuson comments, it may be argued that incredibly minor changes generally do not constitute an adaptation under the license and all that text you quoted does not apply. Hence coment edition by moderators is just a tool which, like most tools, may be used for good or evil. Bad uses should be reported but there is no reason to disable the tool.

Thus there is no need to modify the comments system.

  • 6
    Worth noting that the moderators and CMs can see who edited it. So, while it may not be public, it is logged and inappropriate usage can be reverted. – Catija Nov 5 '17 at 21:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .