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As part of our ongoing efforts to review and update policies, we’ve updated our Acceptable Use Policy. These changes come after a review period in which we made adjustments as a result of moderator feedback - we've also made adjustments as a result of feedback in the previous update post.

For the opening three paragraphs, we’ve reworded them all but particularly the second one for clarity and to be more in line with actual practice.

Used to Read Now Reads
The intent of this document is to clarify what we consider to be acceptable use of any website or service provided on the Stack Exchange Network (collectively "Stack Exchange", "Network"). The intent of this Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”) is to clarify what we at Stack Exchange, Inc. (“Stack Exchange”, “we” or “us”) consider to be acceptable use of any website or service provided on Stack Exchange’s set of related Internet sites and other applications for contributed and curated content (the “Network”).
If you are found to be in violation of any of the below policies, you will receive a notice via email. Unless you explain or correct your behavior within 72 hours, your account will be suspended. We will do our best to work with you and ensure a fair outcome in all cases. We reserve the right to immediately suspend, without notice, any content, account, or IP address which we determine to be submitting spam or other potentially damaging or disruptive content to the Network. If you are found to be in violation of any of the below sections, your access to the Network may be restricted or terminated without notice, and your content may be removed at our discretion. When it is possible to do so, Stack Exchange will make a good-faith effort to provide you with advance notice of actions we take under this AUP, and we will do our best to work with you and ensure a fair outcome in all cases. You may appeal any action we take under this AUP via our contact form.
When your account is suspended, public access to content contributed under that account may be blocked or removed, and your account may be suspended or deleted at our discretion. Access to other functionality or information within the Network may also be blocked or disabled. This paragraph has been removed as suspensions are discussed in the CoC, and actions under the AUP are covered above.

We've also reworded illegal use and spam to reflect what we mean by these more accurately.

Used to Read Now Reads
Illegal Use. Stack Exchange may not be used for illegal purposes. Examples of this include using Stack Exchange for fraudulent purposes or operating a phishing site (used to obtain account and password information). Illegal Use. The Network may not be used for illegal purposes. You are responsible for complying with all laws and regulations that are applicable to you, whether or not such illegal purposes are explicitly raised in this AUP or our Code of Conduct. This restriction encompasses any defamation and libel laws that apply to you.
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. Spam. You may not post content for the purpose of affiliated marketing (e.g., to promote a product, service, or similar in a way that is unsolicited or lacks disclosure of affiliation), or use deceptive means to generate revenue or traffic. Posting irrelevant content, non-meaningful content, or other types of content that may reasonably be interpreted as spam per individual site policies, is also prohibited.

We've added sections detailing Phishing, Doxing, and Malicious URLs as prohibited behavior.

Phishing. You may not use the service in any way that deceives users into disclosing sensitive information they would otherwise not disclose, such as passwords, API keys, or personally identifiable information.

Doxing. Disclosing personally identifiable information of a person or group of people, that hasn’t been manifestly made public, without their explicit consent is not allowed, whether or not that information is accurate. This includes such information as financial information, government-issued identification, passwords, phone numbers, physical addresses, and other personal information that may pose a safety or security risk, including usernames and e-mail addresses.

Malicious URLs. You may not post URLs that were created for the purpose of promoting a scam, attack, or fraud.

Further changes were made to Identity Theft, Disruptions and Exploits, and Unauthorized Use of Intellectual Property. We've removed Hate Content, Defamation, and Libel because these are already prohibited by the CoC and Libel is prohibited by Illegal Use above. Changes were also made to Mass Registration and Automation and Sexually Explicit Material.

Used to Read Now Reads
Identity Theft. Users that misleadingly appropriate the identity of another person are not permitted. Users may not post other people's personally identifying or confidential information, including but not limited to credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers, and driver's and other license numbers. You may not post information such as other people's passwords, usernames, phone numbers, addresses and e-mail addresses unless already publicly accessible on the Web. Identity Theft. You may not falsely represent yourself as a real person or entity you are not.
Disruptions and Exploits. We will terminate accounts and block addresses of those who attempt unauthorized use of the Stack Exchange Network. Disruptions and Exploits. You may not attempt to exploit, overload, or otherwise disrupt the operations of the Network.
Copyright. Using copyrighted material does not constitute infringement in all cases. In general, however, users should be careful when using copyrighted content without the permission of those who created it. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement sent to [email protected] that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"). Unauthorized Use of Intellectual Property. You may not post content that infringes on another’s intellectual property right, including trademark, copyright, patent, trade secret, or other intellectual property right. While the use of copyrighted material does not constitute copyright infringement in all cases, users should be careful when using copyrighted content without the permission of those who created it and adhere to any license requirements (e.g., attribution, notice, etc.). Stack Exchange complies with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"), and you may view our process for reporting DMCA complaints.
Mass Registration and Automation. Accounts that are registered automatically or systematically will be removed and access will be permanently suspended. Mass Registration and Automation. You may not register accounts en masse, either by hand or through the use of automated tools, without prior written approval of Stack Exchange, Inc. Please contact [email protected] to request approval.
Sexually Explicit Material. Accounts that use Stack Exchange to post sexually explicit or pornographic material, or links to it, will be suspended. Sexually Explicit Material. You may not post content, or links to content, that is sexually explicit in nature, unless it falls within a reasonable interpretation of a Network site’s scope and purpose. However, you may never post content portraying the sexual exploitation or abuse of minors. For the sake of clarity, sexually explicit content is “material that is explicitly sexual, pornographic, prurient, or lascivious in nature,” as defined in our Code of Conduct.

We've also added two sections (which were one in the last iteration) to cover Framing and Mirroring and Content Scraping.

Framing and Mirroring. You may not manipulate or otherwise simulate the appearance or function of the Network by using framing, mirroring, or similar other methods, such as by creating deep links to the Network or directly framing our site on another domain. This restriction does not apply for accessibility-related usages such as screen readers. Please contact [email protected] with any inquiries.

Content Scraping. You may not use any automated data-gathering means (including robots, spiders, scrapers, crawlers, and the like) to gather any text, files, audio or visual media, profile information, or any other content from any Network website for any use that violates the Public Network Terms of Service, including the content license, or this Acceptable Use Policy.

Your usage of automated data-gathering means is exempt from this policy if either:

  1. Such automated data-gathering is necessary for accessibility-related reasons.
  2. You have obtained our express written prior consent. (You may contact [email protected] with any inquiries.)
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  • 3
    Can you respond to the comment I left on the Teams post? "Does the Framing and Mirroring section mean Ferdium violates the AUP? What are you going to do if people use Ferdium?"
    – Peilonrayz
    Jan 22 at 20:55
  • @Peilonrayz I'm not familiar with the intricacies of how Ferdium works, but based on a little poking around I'm not sure why the app would run afoul of the guidelines any more than setting SE to be your home page in a browser would be. It's not mirroring/ cloning it to another domain or hosting it in a new place, it seems more akin to a fancy browser profile manager, which I really don't interpret these rules to be barring.
    – zcoop98
    Jan 22 at 23:41
  • 4
    @Peilonrayz I don't believe it prohibits Ferdium, no.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Jan 23 at 0:27
  • 3
    @zcoop98 Ferdium is an Electron app so the entire app is 'one webpage'. Which then opens each web app in a frame. Legalities are extremely pedantic so when "frame" is used I'd like clarification on if a certain framing is prohibited. "It's not mirroring/ cloning" yes.
    – Peilonrayz
    Jan 23 at 1:02
  • 7
    so.... are you going to do something about meta.stackoverflow.com/q/421453/11107541 now?
    – starball
    Jan 23 at 9:32
  • 19
    What does "creating deep links to the Network" mean?
    – Bergi
    Jan 23 at 10:26
  • 3
    You mention "We've also added two sections (which were one in the last iteration) to cover Framing and Mirroring and Content Scraping." The two sub-headings which follow are "Framing and Scraping" and "Content Scraping". Should that be "Framing and Mirroring"? Jan 23 at 19:52
  • 5
    @JonathanLeffler, you're right. it should be, and I've confirmed with legal that the text as it appears in the actual policy is correct. I'm updating the text here to match.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 24 at 12:50
  • 3
    Yeah, the "deep links" thing is just weird. If you have some services or portions of the website that would suffer merely posting URLs as a kind of attack, then (a) you should fix those, and (b) why isn't that already covered by "Disruptions and Exploits"? Jan 24 at 22:49
  • 9
    Given the "deep links" clause is an example of "similar other methods" to "manipulate or otherwise simulate the appearance or function of the Network", I think the intent is "don't hotlink our site design CSS or images", and not to ban posting links to questions and answers. Banning all deep links would effectively ban search engines from providing useful results. Jan 25 at 2:11
  • 3
    @JeffreyBosboom - I'm stepping in late in the game because Cesar is on holiday now, but I believe that what you've said there is correct. I'll verify with legal.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 25 at 7:34
  • 2
    Many VLEs have an (annoying) habit of framing content. That will make it very easy for people to inadvertently violate this condition if they make SE content available to students.
    – cfr
    Jan 26 at 4:03

9 Answers 9

35

I'm still a little worried about the disconnect between "spam" as it’s defined in the AUP and "spam" as it’s defined on the rest of the Network. No site on the network, as far as I'm aware, considers irrelevant or non-meaningful content to be spam. In fact, that type of content is explicitly not spam on the Network.

The issue with "usernames" in Doxing wasn't resolved from the Moderator Teams draft that was previewed. I believe the intent is to prevent people from disclosing what usernames are associated with someone here on other platforms, but it's written such that you need explicit permission to use someone's user name to, for example, @-tag them in a comment or chat.

The wording around content scraping is a bit awkward still. I think it’s only intended to block people who are scraping content and violating the Terms of Service or the content license or the AUP. I don't think it’s intended to block, for example, search engines—Google is not blocked from indexing SE sites until they get express written consent from the company.

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  • 6
    I find the language about scraping very clear. It says "You may not [scrape] for any use that violates the Public Network Terms of Service, including [...]". So yes, your interpretation in the last paragraph is correct.
    – D.W.
    Jan 22 at 23:08
  • 7
    @D.W. is correct. Usernames and @ people are not a problem because these have been manifestly made public. If someone has made their association to another platform public (say, put it in their profile), you can mention it. If someone has not made their association to another platform made public, you likely shouldn't mention it anyway.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Jan 23 at 0:23
  • 7
    As for spam, there's a destroy reason on profiles called "User primarily posts spam or nonsense" so they're sort of in the same bucket for enforcement. It doesn't mean that you need to start flagging everything that is out-of-scope as spam, folks can continue moderating out-of-scope normally, just if someone is posting only that, they're likely to get destroyed by that reason.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Jan 23 at 0:30
  • @CesarM With the "manifestly made public" argument, doesn't that fall apart if people change what is visible? For example, if I have a link to a GitHub profile in my page today and not next week, is that still Doxing? It feels weird to have such nuances and inconsistencies in a legal document. Of course, SE also doesn't update @-tags if someone changes their name, which has led to deadnaming, but there are other Meta posts about that. Jan 23 at 0:30
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    @ThomasOwens I'm not sure I understand why it would, you do not retract something manifestly made public because you removed the link, it was public when the comment was posted, so it still applies. Further, there's also a clause that it needs to be "information that may pose a safety or security risk", so if it doesn't qualify for those risks, then it's also fine.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Jan 23 at 0:34
  • 5
    I'm back to not having any issues with the policy. I just find the wording to be a bit imprecise and unclear. And I find that strange and potentially problematic in a more of a legal document that represents agreements and policies. Policies shouldn't leave any room for debate on exactly what is meant or not meant and lines should be as bright as possible. Jan 23 at 0:35
  • 6
    @ThomasOwens, you're out to put lawyers out of work, aren't you? :-) (i'm okay with that....)
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 25 at 7:36
  • "Google is not blocked from indexing SE sites until they get express written consent from the company" -- I don't understand this phrasing.
    – E.P.
    Jan 25 at 12:41
  • 2
    @E.P. More concisely, it means "Google may index SE sites without getting express written consent."
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 27 at 10:27
  • @Philippe I understand that last statement, but that's not what the wording in the answer says -- I think it should be edited (@ Thomas).
    – E.P.
    Jan 29 at 13:04
  • 1
    @E.P. It doesn't need to be edited. The statement is factually correct, and Philippe confirmed it. If you want an exemption from the policy, you need to get written permission from the company. Google's crawling does not require an exemption from the policy so they are not blocked from indexing until they get express written consent...because they don't need express written consent. Jan 29 at 13:06
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For Identity Theft, it previously referred to "misleadingly appropriate", but now says this:

You may not falsely represent yourself as a real person or entity you are not.

Given that it no longer says "misleadingly", does this mean users' usernames should not be a person that they aren't. For example, there's there's a number of users named "bill gates". There's also a handful of other instances of this, such as with Jon Skeet.

Would all those users now be in violation of the AUP? Bonus question: if there's a disagreement on if someone really is that person or entity, is it the responsibility of SE to prove they aren't? Or is it on the user to prove they are? Both come with challenges.

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    I think this one requires a bit of internet context that we all can use to adjudicate it. It doesn't have to be 100% black and white. One thing is for someone to have "Gabe Newell" as a username and a picture of Gabe as an avatar on Arqade, I wouldn't immediately adjudicate that as someone claiming to be actually Gabe, even if it could generate confusion. Same thing for the Bill Gates you mention. But if they started claiming to be Gabe/Bill in comments or on their profile, and we got a report of "hey, that's not really me". Then it'd be a problem.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Jan 23 at 0:19
  • 27
    I think the dissonance is on the word "represent" here. I don't believe username/avatar is enough to "represent" yourself as a famous person given the internet context of how those work. So, misleadingly was kind of redundant. We could've said "you may not misleadingly falsely represent yourself" but that's not really a good construction, and it should be clear. We're not about to start requiring that parody accounts label themselves as parody.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Jan 23 at 0:26
  • @CesarM here's an example of the grey area from late '22: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/421772/… - based on your comments that would be fine unless the user writes posts or comments implying that they are the person on "their" twitter or github?
    – l4mpi
    Jan 23 at 9:55
  • 2
    @Cesar's covered it pretty well here but for some further insight I gleaned from the mod discussion about this: "Falsely" in this context it means to make actual (but false) claims that you are someone you are not. Imagine you have "Gabe Newell" as your screen name. You get asked "are you the real Gabe?". If you answer "no", you haven't falsely represented yourself as Gabe. If you answer a question with "Hey I'm Gabe Newell and here's what I think: <answer>", then you HAVE falsely represented him.
    – Robotnik
    Jan 23 at 23:56
  • 3
    (In case the real Gabe Newell ever reads this: Sorry to keep using you as an example :( Also welcome to Stack Exchange!)
    – Robotnik
    Jan 23 at 23:58
  • 9
    Gotta be honest, I find it utterly bizarre that screen names are not considered a representation. Frankly, I would prefer that people not use screen names that are the real names of other real people. Though that’s a bigger question that just rewording the AUP.
    – KRyan
    Jan 24 at 21:02
  • 1
    @KRyan You seem to imply that non-famous people cannot have the same name as famous people. Using Bill Gates as a screen name should not by itself be interpreted as representing oneself as "the" Bill Gates, since you might just happen to have the same name.
    – FWDekker
    Jan 29 at 11:34
  • 1
    @FWDekker No, I realize that; I did say “other real people” as a hedge against that. That would be an out for any “Bill Gates,” whether the Microsoft one or not. Though I suppose that becomes an enforcement headache...
    – KRyan
    Jan 29 at 17:00
  • 2
    @KRyan What makes me "really called" Bill Gates, then? Surely, if I'm using the name "Bill Gates" to refer to myself, that makes me called Bill Gates? I'm not sure what else it could mean for something to be somebody's name.
    – wizzwizz4
    Jan 30 at 17:28
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Under "Mass Registration and Automation" it seems you have moved from a "No, never" stance to an "if Legal approves" one. What kind of legitimate use cases are there for mass creation of users on The Network, and have you received such requests in the past?

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  • 4
    Smells like AI related reason. Jan 25 at 8:14
  • 9
    @IronEagle, I checked with the legal team on this, and the change in posture is not related to any specific ask from the past or anything in particular that we’re anticipating. Rather, it’s part of us strengthening the document by allowing for a situation that could happen in the future, and not precluding things unnecessarily.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 25 at 14:13
  • 24
    Off the top of my head, one legitimate use case would be an existing community that wants to move from their current site to the SE network.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 25 at 15:01
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Regarding Framing and Scraping, it presumably bans sites like proxies or mass-scraping sites that don't attribute content.

Would sites like metasmoke that have automatically gathered SE content also be banned (without written consent)?

I'm confused about how "appearance or function" would apply. On one hand, displaying users' content would count as a "function" of SE. On the other hand, it's visually different.

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  • 3
    As I read the language, metasmoke is in the clear and not banned. The language says "You may not [scrape] for any use that violates the Public Network Terms of Service, including [...]". metasmoke is not a "use that violates the Public Network Terms of Service", so is not banned by the language on scraping.
    – D.W.
    Jan 22 at 23:08
  • 2
    @D.W. I'd agree it's fine regarding that. My concern was about the "manipulate or otherwise simulate the appearance or function of the Network by using framing, mirroring, or similar other methods" part of the phrasing.
    – cocomac
    Jan 22 at 23:43
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    We don't consider that metasmoke "otherwise simulates the appearance/function" of the network. They're in the clear. The "Simulate the appearance or function" is for websites that are scraping content and the look/feel/functionality of SE/SO in a manner that violates our rights as a company - there are sites that scrape SO/SE content and then pretend to be us, or just straight up mirror our website in their domain. That's not allowed and will be blocked.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Jan 23 at 0:22
  • @CesarM how can SE limit what people do with Creative Commons-licensed text? It looks like CC stuff is still available, so what could a "non compliant" scraper do that they couldn't do with the CC dump? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/389922/… Jan 28 at 19:33
  • 2
    @SubatomicTripod From what I've seen, scrapers aren't using the dump. Scrapers also rarely bother checking a website's TOS. As far as they're concerned, there's nothing special about Stack Exchange except that it's another website they can auto-plagiarise with a "change words to synonyms" script.
    – wizzwizz4
    Jan 30 at 17:30
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I'm curious about the purpose of the change to the "Sexually Explicit Content" policy. Were there communities that felt like they were significantly limited by the existing rule, or was there another motivation for this?

To be clear: as a sex-positive person I'm pleased about this change. I'm just wondering where this change comes from.

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    My recollection is that there was some discussion about the appropriateness of some material in the context of medicine / biology / history / art / etc. And, as Justice Potter noted, it is hard to describe what is inappropriate---you just have to know it when you see it. Jan 26 at 12:38
  • 2
    @XanderHenderson I see. Would videogames be covered under that "art" part? I'm curious whether this would allow Arqade to cover questions about adult games.
    – Nzall
    Jan 26 at 13:01
  • 1
    Honestly, I don't know. I would expect so (I certainly consider "video game" to be a medium capable of artistic expression)---I think that the main goal is to prevent people from posting "shock" images (imagine goatse... or, better yet, don't) and off-topic images / content for the purposes of getting a reaction out of people. But this is also very community specific, and it would likely be up to the moderation team at Arqade to set the rules for what they find acceptable. I don't think that the CoC prevents the discussion of adult games, but the community might. Jan 26 at 13:22
  • 3
    I can think of examples in religion sites, which already contain many question related to sexual things in the context if they''re allowed or forbidden, so those questions and the answers given might fall under "sexually explicit material" due to the words used in them, even if without links or media. Jan 26 at 14:16
  • 3
    @XanderHenderson Here's a possible example from SciFi SE. I asked the question. The answer references "sexually explicit content" without being overtly sexually explicit. I don't think it would be in violation of the AUP. I certainly hope it wouldn't be! Jan 27 at 5:33
  • 1
    @EllieKesselman I can't imagine a world in which I would support an action on that answer for being sexually explicit.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Feb 23 at 2:12
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Not sure if this should be a new question, or a response to this post, but: I like the new language regarding spam—I think that it gives moderators a bit more discretion to deal with problematic posts which get very close to the line of what is acceptable, and makes it a bit easier for non-moderator users to red flag a spammy post. However, the guidance when flagging still reads

Spam: Exists only to promote a product or service, does not disclose the author's affiliation.

While I think that the intention is that the two clauses are joined by an "or", I have been asked some questions about the intention of spam flags with respect to this guidance. I would suggest that this be rephrased. Perhaps

Spam: This post serves to promote a product or service, and is either unsolicited or fails to disclose author affiliation

5

Doxing should be changed from

This includes such information as financial information, government-issued identification, pass...

to

This includes but is not limited to information such as financial information, government-issued identification, pass...

My non-governmental identification, like my ID for something like medical insurance or an access code for a building should be covered by this also.

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    It looks like the change here is the addition of “not limited to”, but I think this is already OK and covered as-is. The sentence before the list establishes the actual rule. The list is phrased as examples of things that would be covered in that rule, not a comprehensive and exclusive list of what the rule covers, so it's already implicit the rule is not limited to that list. Jan 28 at 12:55
  • 3
    "such as" is essentially equivalent to "not limited to" as it makes it clear the list is not exhaustive but only illustrative list. Also, you omitted that the section ends with "and other personal information that may pose a safety or security risk" thus dispelling any possible illusion that "such as" is for some reason exhaustive.
    – VLAZ
    Jan 29 at 10:40
  • @VLAZ - TBH the end of that sentence should be changed also. I dont want any kind of negative result. Financial impacts, something that creates work for me to do, any kind of annoyance, etc. Someone doesnt need to have leaked/shared my financial information in order to create an impact on my finances.
    – StingyJack
    Feb 8 at 18:13
-1

From the section about doxxing:

This includes such information as … and other personal information that may pose a safety or security risk, including usernames and e-mail addresses.

Utility Bot’s username is… Utility Bot!

Oops, I violated the TOS!

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    I think we can see past it this time. :). On a more serious note, I knew when I selected my username here what the chances were. I suspect Jeff did too. I certainly don't consider the tie between my username and my identity to be PII. But if my username were someting totally disconnected from my identity, and I was not an employee, i'd be pretty upset with someone publicly tying the two together.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 25 at 14:15
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    I was responding to the quote that you posted, as well as your commentary. you mentioned username, so I was talking about username.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 25 at 17:44
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    @Philippe How explicit does the linkage have to be? It isn't uncommon for somebody to use a pseudonym here which is trivially linked to their real name e.g. they say in their profile they wrote package X and package X is copyright their real name. TeX SE has a good many users who fit that category.
    – cfr
    Jan 26 at 4:13
  • 2
    1. Technically I think the system username is jeff-atwood, since SE seems to do case/space folding (meta.stackexchange.com/users/1/jeff-atwood). 2. This information is already public via the link you shared, so the Doxxing section doesn't really apply to this. However, if you know of a private UNIX server where Atwood's login is, say, atwoodjay, and you identify that, and that information's not public, then possibly that could be considered technical Doxxing under this policy. However, if you reveal only a username and nothing else, then that seems relatively harmless to me.
    – Brandin
    Jan 26 at 11:24
  • 1
    @cfr (Not SE staff, but) I would still say "don't do that". If someone says “I wrote package X” in their bio, you may say things like “@‍LewisCarroll Is that why you did such-and-such in package X?”, but not "@‍LewisCarroll Is that why you did such-and-such in package X, which you wrote and published under the name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson in 1860, in which you make an off-hand reference to your time at Oxford, placing your date of birth prior to 1842 and your country of origin likely England?"
    – wizzwizz4
    Jan 30 at 17:59
  • 1
    And if information is provided in someone's bio, but later removed from it, you should treat it as private information that you happen to know, and behave accordingly (i.e., not disclose it unless told otherwise). If, for an extreme example, someone's changed their username, you shouldn't go around writing "@NewName, formerly known as Old Name" in your posts or comments, even though it's not hard to find Stack Exchange username history. It's just respect for others' privacy (where "privacy" is defined more broadly than mere protection from mass surveillance, or Bayesian knowledge arguments).
    – wizzwizz4
    Jan 30 at 18:09
  • @wizzwizz4 I was thinking more of something like '@ LewisCarroll, as the author of package X (1860), could you explain why using Tweedledum and Tweedledee in the same document causes a fatal error?' Perhaps @ LewisCarroll hasn't publicly claimed package X but only package Y, where both packages are copyright Dodgson. [How do you get the second @ in a comment without adding a space, backslash or similar?]
    – cfr
    Jan 30 at 18:34
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    @cfr If it's not something that only the author can answer, why mention the authorship? Ask "@‍LewisCarroll Can you answer this question? Why does using Tweedledum and Tweedledee in the same document cause a fatal error?" or something. If Lewis Carroll chooses to write "that's a problem with package Y, which I plan to fix in the next release" in an answer, then that signals it's fine to bring that up in that answer's comments, but… People can have all sorts of reasons for using different names or separating their activities. A general policy has to be general. (@ U+200D LewisCarroll)
    – wizzwizz4
    Jan 30 at 18:46
  • @wizzwizz4 Perhaps a question about why something is designed in a certain way would be a better example? [Often the author is in an especially good position to explain why something doesn't work and this kind of comment usually comes up in a discussion where people are puzzled, but you're right I didn't choose the best example.]
    – cfr
    Jan 30 at 18:51
  • @cfr If you want to ask such a question, you can ask it, then email it to the package X contact address. It's up to the person to decide how and whether to disclose information about themselves. If there's a reason to direct something at the author of a package in a comment thread, and that information is currently public (e.g. stated in the bio), you can just do so: no need to preface it with "as the author, you'd be expected to know this". If the association between the account and the authorship is not public, or efforts have been made to disguise it, act as though you do not know it.
    – wizzwizz4
    Jan 30 at 19:21
  • @wizzwizz4 To be honest, I don't think that's a realistic policy. Nobody is really going to double-check in this kind of case. But hopefully that's not really expected.
    – cfr
    Jan 30 at 19:55
-2

Identity Theft. You may not falsely represent yourself as a real person or entity you are not.

I appreciate that you want to keep it short and simple, but I'd like to warn that I've seen transphobes interpret language like this in a transphobic way. You may want to explicitly put "identity" in there.

2
  • 8
    If the issue is transphobes then putting “identity” in there (like presenting as an identity someone is not) sounds even more likely to be interpreted by them as a weapon. As a trans woman nobody can claim I am misrepresenting myself as a real person or entity that I am not, but people in my country are presently arguing people like me are using an identity I am not (that identity being “woman”). Feb 6 at 10:59
  • 1
    @doppelgreener I guess you're right. Transphobes gonna phobe.
    – SQB
    Feb 6 at 12:34

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