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In the light of all recent moderators and experienced users quitting, I was wondering if anyone is allowed to take the entire Q&A set of a site, and move it to a new site, with new rules?

I think you can, as long as you follow the attribution rules mentioned in the CC license, and you don't copy personal data from profiles (which is prohibited under the ToS). Maybe vote count, and other info is not under the CC license? Is there a difference in taking one question and the entire set?

Is there anything else stopping someone of taking this step?

(Note that this question is highly hypothetical now, since I don't have any plans to do so, I was just wondering what the rules are.)

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  • 6
    This is possible on MathOverflow due to the special agreement they have with Stack Exchange. Sep 30, 2019 at 18:25
  • 6
    It's certainly possible with proper attribution. Physics Overflow imports a large number of questions from Physics Stack Exchange. See this related answer by Emilio Pisanty.
    – user437611
    Sep 30, 2019 at 18:31
  • That are two interesting situations. Thanks both for linking them. Sep 30, 2019 at 18:34
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    "copy personal data from profiles (which is prohibited under the ToS)": Where in the ToS does it say this?
    – unor
    Sep 30, 2019 at 19:16
  • 3
    @unor meta.stackexchange.com/q/277369/245360 Sep 30, 2019 at 19:17
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    @unor's comment is correct. The CC license is clear on this topic, and your "about me" is licensed the same way as your other site contributions.
    – Wildcard
    Sep 30, 2019 at 19:21
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    @PatrickHofman: I can’t find the wording from the linked discussion in the current ToS. It doesn’t even contain the word "profile".
    – unor
    Sep 30, 2019 at 19:24
  • @unor oh my. What happened there? Sep 30, 2019 at 19:25
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    Why move all the Q&A? Leave all the homework behind, please. We might finally have an expert site not needing to be ashamed to display healthy elitism. We might want to leave the votes as well, but that should be discussed. Sep 30, 2019 at 19:42
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    @JyrkiLahtonen true that Sep 30, 2019 at 19:57
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    @PatrickHofman Sure, you can do that. But without conscious moderation it renders useless. Sep 30, 2019 at 20:04
  • I think there was an attempt to do this with one of the startups sites. And one of the goals of having the site under CC was to allow for this to happen. Oct 1, 2019 at 3:49
  • Can in the sense of legally allowed, yes. Can in the sense of practically feasible with limited amount of resources, questionable. Oct 1, 2019 at 9:01
  • @Trilarion -- Larger projects have been done. Infogalactic is a dynamic fork of Wikipedia. Infogalactic was greatly aided by the fact that Wikipedia runs on open-source software. GNU was an open-source reimplementation of BSD Unix' tools.
    – Jasper
    Oct 6, 2019 at 5:10
  • 1
    @Jasper Stackoverflow runs on proprietary, closed software. I don't say it's impossible to fork Stackoverflow. Oct 6, 2019 at 17:32

2 Answers 2

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As per the blog, anything in the data dumps is definitely fair game (emphasis added):

All community-contributed content on Stack Exchange is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license. As part of our commitment to that, we release a quarterly dump of all user-contributed data (after carefully sanitizing it to protect user private data, of course).

Each site can be downloaded individually, and includes an archive with Posts, Users, Votes, Comments, Badges, PostHistory, and PostLinks (new). You’re free (and encouraged!) to share, remix, analyze and build on top of this data any way you want, as long as you follow the attribution requirements.

(Note: The content actually is a mix of CC BY SA 2.5, 3 and 4, depending on what SE's preferred license was when it was created.)

The data dumps contain less information than SEDE, but I would assume that some of the information from there (e.g. PostsWithDeleted, PostFeedback) should also be considered fair game.


Relevant on Meta Code Golf: Should we consider planning a move off StackExchange?

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Moving the old Questions/Answers without "enough" (most for small sites) of the active users also coming is pointless.

The small sites depend on being shown on the "hot questions" sidebar to get new users.

If a new site had most of the experienced/active users, it would not need the content from the old site to be useful.

And how would a new site keep the experienced/active users happy while making enough money?


However I can see how some "tags" from Stack Overflow could move to a different site, if the key developers in these tags with well read blogs decided to make the move. Somehow students and other people without programming expertise will need to be kept off the new site, while at the same time being welcoming to anyone who can quickly learn how to ask good questions.

Stack Overflow was possible due to two very well read blogs directing their users to the new site, and these two blogs having the most expert programmers as their readers. Solving the "chicken and egg" problem is the hard part, not setting up a website or copying old content.

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