SE has intentionally disabled the data dump. And the CEO has stated to the press that he plans to charge AI companies for access to the data.

Given these developments I think it is almost inevitable to expect more restrictions on data access, as just disabling the data dump is unlikely to stop AI companies from getting the data. Twitter and Reddit are other prominent examples that added very expensive API access, likely with very similar motivations as the Stack Overflow CEO showed in his statements.

But all these restrictions don't just affect the AI giants or other commercial entities, they affect everyone that wants to do something with this data the community generated.

This will affect everyone analyzing the data for academic purposes, or just for fun. It will affect the users that created moderation tools on top of the AI or SEDE. And it will make it much harder to make use of our rights under the CC license to take the content and create something else with it.

Is SE going to stop providing API access for free, or limit the free access in any way?

  • 14
    I think it's obvious at this point. I'm surprised they didn't do it yet. Of course they won't tell anything, people will start posting bug reports, and staff will stay silent. Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 16:42
  • 14
    They could’ve been open with us, worked with us, stayed transparent, and find a good solution that best satisfies the company and the community. Seems like this is not the plan. Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 17:07
  • 1
    @ShadowWizardStrikesBack Well, there are reasonable alternatives. It's possible to allow access to a free API with terms that limit its use, for example, and it would be possible for those terms to be quite generous with respect to ways the API is typically used by the community, while forbidding use for other purposes that they want to offer paid access for. The CEO alludes to this in the linked article, though it does not explicitly address continued access for free to some (rather, it talks of only charging certain actors, like AI companies), hence the point of this question. Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 17:38
  • 10
    @BryanKrauseisonstrike that's not the point. The point is doing it the wrong way, the evil way, totally on purpose. No apology can fix that. Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 18:32
  • 9
    @ShadowWizardStrikesBack Despite its allure, I don't think "the company is evil" is a valid or helpful stance. Call them greedy, call them short-sighted, call them dumb– they're not evil; they're not motivated by causing the community harm. They're at an impasse, stuck between what they believe is the way forward and what the community feels is. Calling them "evil" just obfuscates their real intentions and actions by framing them as irrational.
    – zcoop98
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 19:27
  • 5
    @ShadowWizardStrikesBack I think there's a lot of shortsightedness unfortunately, but it's reasonable for the company to desire to make money. That's...what companies do. They are not a non-profit. But, it's possible for them to preserve avenues for making money without tossing the community aside, and furthermore important for them to do so because we're an important part of the product they're selling. Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 19:40
  • 7
    @zcoop98 I think "the company is evil" is just another way to say "all the company wants is money; they don't care about us. They will shove us down the garbage bin if they see so as beneficial". Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 22:11
  • 3
    @zcoop98 what Andreas said. In my dictionary hurting other people just to get what you want, even without planning to hurt them, is evil. It's not caring in extreme level. I won't call anyone dumb, or their plans, on the opposite, they're sadly mostly smart and their plans are going to work. Commented Jun 10, 2023 at 6:57
  • 2
    Putting a (higher) price on API access is not going to stop AI companies; their pockets are deep enough. Surely SE management realizes this. So the obvious reason to raise prices is to raise profits- the rest is sugar coating (or lying, if you like).
    – Jan Doggen
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 10:15


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