12

One of the requirements of the CC BY-SA license used for content on the Network is Attribution. What does proper attribution look like for questions and answers found on the Network?

0

1 Answer 1

6

The Requirements

The full requirements for attribution can be found in Section 4 of CC BY-SA 2.5, Section 4 of CC BY-SA 3.0, and Section 3(a) of CC BY-SA 4.0. The Creative Commons also has a comparison chart for the attribution requirements across different versions of their licenses.

The minimum requirements are very similar across the three versions of CC BY-SA in use on the Network:

  • Author's name or pseudonym. Credit to other parties, such as editors or the collective body maintaining the work, is required if asked for in a reasonable manner. You do not need to list all editors, especially if it's unreasonable, but can identify the collective group. Stack Overflow does ask that an indication that the content is from a Network site is visually included. The post timeline can be used to see editors and their edits.
  • Copyright notices, if supplied. Network posts do not typically contain additional copyright notices.
  • Title, if supplied. Questions typically have titles. Answers do not.
  • License. A notice that refers to the Creative Commons license the work is made available under. This includes the specific version of the license. A URI or link to the license must be provided. The post timeline can be used to view information about the license at any point in the post's history.
  • Warranties, if supplied. Network posts do not typically contain an warranties from the licensor.
  • URI or link to the material. This is a link to the specific post being attributed. It is a good idea to link to the specific version of the post being attributed. TODO: Find a Help Center or Meta post that explains how to link to a specific version of a post.
  • Indication of modification and an indication of previous modifications, if applicable. Required by 4.0, required for adaptations by 3.0, and not required in 2.5.

Recommended Practices

The Creative Commons has recommended practices for attribution. For CC BY-SA 3.0 and CC BY-SA 4.0 licensed works, it is required avoid giving the impression that the author, editors, and publishers of the content endorse your work, but this is a good practice for CC BY-SA 2.5 licensed work as well.

Some examples of attribution for Network posts that meet these recommended practices for attribution and would be considered great attributions:

"A Terms of Service update restricting companies that scrape your profile information without your permission" by Jaydles posted on Meta Stack Exchange is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Because there are a large number of editors to the post, it is not likely to be considered reasonable to name all of the editors. However, it does mention the publication - the Network site - where the content was found.

Answer to "Why is 80 characters the 'standard' limit for code width?" by Oded, edited by gnat and posted on Software Engineering Stack Exchange is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

In this example, there is only the author and one editor. In cases with a small number of editors, it would be reasonable to include all of the editors who contributed to the version of the work being attributed.

Answer to "Why is 80 characters the 'standard' limit for code width?" [https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/revisions/148678/2] by Oded, edited by gnat and posted on Software Engineering Stack Exchange is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/].

In some cases, it may not be reasonable to provide hyperlinks. Perhaps the medium is one where a person cannot click on them - a document intended for printing, a slideshow where the slides will not be made available electronically, a video. In these cases, the URI to the content and the license must be given. URIs to profiles or the host are not required, but may be offered if reasonable.

Post [https://pm.stackexchange.com/revisions/2766/4] by Eric Willeke, edited by Mark Robinson, mattdm, and callmekatootie and posted on Project Management Stack Exchange is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/].

Because answers don't have titles, you don't need to fall back to the question title. Using the term "post by" or "answer by" and providing a hyperlink or URI is sufficient.

Do note that these are all great attributions. There may be other, minimally acceptable, attribution formats that meet the license requirements.


Closing Thoughts

Keep in mind that each post on the Network is a separate work. If you are copying, redistributing, remixing, transforming, adapting, or building upon multiple posts, each post (question or answer) should be attributed independently. That is, a separate attribution should clearly appear for each post that you use.

It should also be noted that attributing a work is different than citing a work. If you are not copying, redistributing, remixing, transforming, adapting, or building upon the material, but were inspired by it, the work should be cited. A standard citation for web-based content include the name of the author(s), the publication (site) title, the article title, a URI, and the date of access. Some sites in the Network have a feature that allows users to generate citations.

3
  • 1
    Personally I use a different format.
    – Peilonrayz
    Jan 26 at 21:04
  • Doesn't (proper) author attribution include a link to the user profile (on the same site as the post)? Jan 26 at 21:16
  • 1
    @This_is_NOT_a_forum No. The company does ask that you do it. However, they can't place additional terms on the license. The only place what they ask is applicable is as an attribution party. It's probably a good practice to link to the profile, but it could also be unreasonable to provide URIs to multiple user profiles. Jan 26 at 21:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .