41

According to this announcement,

Stack Exchange staff will actively remove links to a legal fund campaign from user profiles, posts, and comments

Yet browsing around Meta Stack Exchange, I still see some links to said campaign in user profiles and posts. For the sake of transparency: is the removal actually happening? How often does it happen?

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    I think there was a comment from SE staff that they will not actively go fund, sorry, go find those links but do remove them when they stumble upon them. – rene Nov 27 at 6:47
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    ... and since their boss indicated to abandon Meta.SE in favor of The Loop, they don't happen on most of the instances. That would make sense... – Glorfindel Nov 27 at 6:52
  • Might only be acting upon flags at this point, not searching for the links across all profiles – Shadow The Princess Wizard Nov 27 at 7:41
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    You can already prepare your next question : "Is Stack Exchange staff removing questions about Stack Exchange staff removing GoFundMe links?". – Eric Duminil Nov 27 at 7:43
  • @rene My user profile didn't contain a direct link to the GoFundMe, neither did it contain the string "Monica". It might have had too many links, though. – Eric Duminil Nov 27 at 7:49
  • I think the discussion here explains it all. – Mena Nov 27 at 9:54
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    I dont see why this is a duplicate. It asks if the policy is effectuated on – Luuklag Nov 27 at 13:19
  • Oh, I see - it's a followup to that. – Lightness Races with Monica Nov 27 at 14:40
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    @Glorfindel Do not poke the bear. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Nov 27 at 19:07
55

Yes, they are.

link removal

Hello,

We're writing in reference to your Stack Overflow account: https://stackoverflow.com/users/6419007/eric-duminil

According to our policy written here: Why is SE removing links and community ads about legal issues? we had to remove several links from your profile. Please do not add them back in :(

Thank you. Stack Overflow Community Management Team

Said links were actually pointing to my private web-server, with a redirect to the Website-Which-Should-Not-Be-Named.

I tried to use a 𝗪𝔢𝒃𝓼𝚒𝘵𝑒 𝗡a𝒎e 𝙒𝓲𝒕ʰ 𝓦𝔢𝐢𝖗d 𝐔𝑛𝗶𝑐𝐨ⅆ𝔢 C𝐡𝚊𝓇𝓪𝕔𝘁𝓮𝓻𝗌 but it didn't seem to help much.

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    You got a message? Are other people getting messages when employees edit profiles? (I didn't; they silently edited mine.) – Monica Cellio Nov 27 at 14:29
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    @MonicaCellio Moderators were told that we weren’t being directed to enforce the policy, but we could do so of our own volition, so I would expect inconsistency in how it is applied. Frankly, it seems shady as hell to me that volunteer moderators without access to SE’s legal team’s direction would be encouraged to meddle, but I assume their lawyers approved the “only if you want to”. – ColleenV parted ways Nov 27 at 17:21
39

Post history is stored in SEDE so we can write a query which checks for post revisions containing GoFundMe.com links where the next revision does not contain a GoFundMe.com link:

enter image description here

Up to last Sunday (SEDE is updated once a week on Sunday morning) this happened five times, all in the Q&A Stack Overflow is doing me ongoing harm; it's time to fix it!. (The bottom two hits were suggested edits by (probably the same) anonymous user.)

Note that it's possible to redact posts, which would not show up in the revision history nor in SEDE, and effectively be invisible. As far as I know, there's no indication that that happens, it might not be legal anyway, and one of the Community Managers explicitly stated that they don't do this.

It's not possible to monitor deleted/changed comments and/or user profiles this way; we'd have to rely on the Wayback Machine or another archiving tool to capture these. Perhaps someone else has documented such an instance?

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    There was yesterday definitely an instance of a user having the link as display name (as obfuscated bitly url) that was removed. – MEE - Reinstate Monica Nov 27 at 6:33
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    ... **no indication** that that happens, and it might not be legal anyway. - If it's purged that is thought to be in compliance, and invisible. – Rob Nov 27 at 7:25
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    So your telling me that they decided to kick the hornets nest of removing links and all the backlash they got from that for the sake of removing 5 links? – Reinstate Monica Nov 27 at 8:00
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    @ReinstateMonica Unless the rest of the edits are purged or otherwise edited. – Mast Nov 27 at 10:35
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    Hmm, two of my posts were revised, one here and one o EL&U. – anongoodnurse Nov 27 at 13:03
  • This is an interesting approach. It is apparently not so much that got deleted. At least not in the posts on meta. I will see if I can write something that crawls all the site profiles and records how often the gofund link appears. Then this can be recorded in time and it can be seen how many and what kind of changes occur. – Sextus Empiricus Nov 27 at 13:28
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    @ReinstateMonica - I suspect it is a lot more than 5, if you include invisible edits, profiles, posts, comments, etcetera. IIRC, there's some feature in place now that prevents that particular GFM link from being added to profiles at all now. – Ageax Nov 27 at 17:55
11

As Cesar said:

We're not doing mass editing, but we are to remove those links as we encounter them during normal use of the network. We are not redacting the edit history.

Those deletions aren't automated.

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    Those deletions aren't automated... yet, fixed that for you ;) – Enrique Zavaleta Nov 27 at 16:08
8

Lots of profiles still have this link

I have in my profile a link to the legal fund campaign (and in addition a link to a novel open source collective that is trying to build an alternative to Stack Exchange.).

The same is true for several profiles in the top of the stackexchange that I frequently visit.


There is also no legal reason to have the link removed

I see not why this link on a profile page is not within the rules under which I have granted the license to SE/SO to use the material that I write.

The contributers to SE/SO license their material to SE/SO under the terms of a cc by-sa with attribution license. Because of this they will expect that anybody that publishes their material (including SE/SO) will place their name (or whatever they desire) allong with the material, and include a link to their user profile.

It would be a violation of the license and illegal distribution of the licensed content when SE/SO starts to adapt user profiles and restrict the content within tighter boundaries than those that are not laid out in the rules of the acceptable use policy.

There is one important rule in that acceptable use policy that might be related to placing links such as decribed by the OP, or at least it comes closest to it (other rules relate to 'Illegal Use', 'Identity Theft and Privacy', 'Hate Content, Defamation, and Libel', 'Disruptions and Exploits', 'Copyright', 'Mass Registration and Automation', and 'Sexually Explicit Material')

Spam. Users that do not publish meaningful content, use deceptive means to generate revenue or traffic, or whose primary purpose is affiliate marketing, will be suspended.

However, this relates much more to other practices.

E.g. It would mean somebody generates creates an account and makes only/mostly meaningless content with it, use deceptive ways to generate traffic (the links to the legal fund campaign are generating revenue or traffic, but not in a deceptive way, and neither is it with the primary purpose of affiliate marketing).

This does not relate to regular users that happen to have a GoFund Monica link or Codidact link in their user profile.

  • I don't see how codidact is relevant here. The only policy SE have announced is removing links to Monica's GFM page. They didn't say they'd remove anything else. In any case, this doesn't seem to be answering the question which is asking how often GFM links have been removed. The question is not about whether or not it is OK to remove them. – terdon - stop harming Monica Nov 27 at 14:07
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    I'm not seeing a "link to a novel open source collective that is trying to build an alternative to Stack Exchange" anywhere in your profile. So either SE have (ironically) removed it in the 56 minutes since you posted this answer, or I'm just being blind. – F1Krazy Nov 27 at 14:11
  • @terdon You are right; I have written this answer a bit too much about why it should not be removed, as a sort of branch of the original question. However, I thought it was relevant to answer that the link was not removed for my profile (and it shouldn't). I will improve my answer by computing how many profiles on the entire StackExchange contain such links (that will take me a while because I need to download/crawl all profiles). – Sextus Empiricus Nov 27 at 14:13
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    @F1Krazy it is a github link. It doesn't show up in the profile of every site. – Sextus Empiricus Nov 27 at 14:13
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    @SextusEmpiricus I checked your CrossValidated profile and it is indeed there. Thanks for clearing that up. – F1Krazy Nov 27 at 14:14
  • @terdon-stopharmingMonica that improvement to the question that I am planning will still not be complete information because it only shows the current state. But I believe the actual number of profiles with links will at least be some information and an indication regarding the question "Is Stack Exchange staff removing GoFundMe links?" (to which I believe the answer is 'mostly not') – Sextus Empiricus Nov 27 at 14:17

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