It occurred to me that the Data Explorer makes enough user information publicly available that it can be an effective recruiting tool. I.e. it is easy to get a list of users in a particular location, who use certain tags, etc. and list any information about themselves that they have made publicly available (website URL, about me, etc.).

However it's also possible to get a link to their StackOverflow/StackExchnage profiles via the User.Id field.

Is it okay to use the Data Explorer as a means of identifying people and then potentially contacting them (given that contacting a person will only be possible if they have made that information publicly available)?


This is not a duplicate of A Terms of Service update restricting companies that scrape your profile information without your permission. The change in terms of service discussed here mentions recruiting companies that sell lists of contactable users and potentially lying regarding the origin and contents of these lists.

I'm asking a separate question - i.e. currently StackOverflow data is accessible to anyone with some SQL skills and understanding of the platform. I'm specifically asking about the case of providing your own HR department with a list of contactable users stipulating that these were identified via the StackOverflow platform - i.e. stipulating that 'these are a bunch of developers who are likely worth trying to recruit based on the way that the StackExchange platform functions'.

From a developer's perspective, it would still be annoying.

So while SE user data is available, it currently requires some technical knowledge to use. If the same data was made more easily available to anyone non-technical users (i.e. a free online SE data explorer for example, along the lines of Tableau, and similar interfaces), the additional reach of the data could result in spam/etc. But providing an easier means of exploring data than currently exists doesn't seem like it would be outside terms of use

  • 4
    I re-opened this as I believe the chosen duplicate isn't explicitly meant for SEDE and I think it is fair that the community leaves a strong message (in the form of an answer) that a lot of users hate recruiters / HR depaartments no matter where they get their data from.
    – rene
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 10:04
  • I have the feeling that many people downvoted this because they don't like the contents of the question, rather than rating the quality of the question itself... Perhaps there's no point in recruiting SE users in any case :p. In any case. A 'reaction' in itself is not useful. So a downvote without a reason is ... unhelpful (assuming there are good reasons for downvotes I am interested in knowing what those reasons are)
    – Zach Smith
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:40

1 Answer 1


It is probably a violation of the ToS. There is nothing in the ToS, how the scraping can happen. Scraping by the own tool of the SE is exactly so forbidden.

In practice, probably there is no way to avoid it, but it is still a violation.

Note, a "free online SE data explorer" is available, although it requires some technical skill to use: there are SE data dumps in every 3 months, and anybody can use their data for anything. It can be imported in any database engine and then processed as usual.

No, it is not okay and hopefully the SE does something if they find such activities, but they can't do too much.


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