I know it's probably too late to change it, but do you think it would have been better if Stack Overflow used the non-commercial version of the Creative Commons license?

I ask this because I was doing a Google search, and one of the top results was to efreedom.com, which basically just scrapes Stack Overflow content and puts a bunch of ads around it. Stack Overflow wasn't even on the first page at all for my search query.

If Stack Overflow had used the non-commercial CC, then sites like efreedom.com wouldn't legally be able to exist.

What do you guys think?


4 Answers 4


As long as we agree to release content under Creative Commons, the content would be copied, regardless of what Creative Commons terms we use on it.

(it'd probably be HTML scraped and re-used if we didn't provide data dumps, too)

That's the reality of the situation.

So rather than spending a lot of time fighting the inevitable "put up your content and surround it with ads" people, we prefer to let them work with us -- by enforcing our attribution guidelines.


How does this help us?

Mainly, by linking back to us without nofollow so Google and other search engines can find, index, and credit the original source of the question.

It is very, very important that..

By “directly”, I mean each hyperlink must point directly to our domain, and not use a tinyurl or any other form of obfuscation or redirection. Furthermore, the links must not be nofollowed.

.. be honored, and we're strict about following up on this!

  • efreedom nofollow's their links to Stack Overflow. About the enforcing aspect: is Stack Overflow allowed to send DMCA takedown notices to infringing sites that don't follow attribution, or does it have to be the individual poster of the question/answer that sends the DMCA takedown notice?
    – Kyle
    Sep 24, 2010 at 21:27
  • 1
    efreedom has removed the rel=nofollow
    – jjxtra
    Sep 24, 2010 at 23:49

Is it really too late to change it? Surely it isn't, at least for new content. And the pain in separating grandfathered content from new content might be a sufficient deterrent to chase off these leeches.


I initially posted this as a comment, then realized this was a discussion, not just a theft report.

Unfortunately, efreedom is not the first such content abuser to be reported, by a long shot. See the list, the blog and a related question.

The most relevant line from the blog states that this is by design:

And note that we explicitly allow commercial usage — after all, we’re a commercial entity, so it felt only sporting to allow others the same rights we enjoyed.

I agree with Jeff, though I have no love for sites like efreedom. They're abusing the system and should be shut down.

  • 3
    I don't see how it's "sporting" to allow a company to reap the rewards of all the hard work the SE company has put towards building a site that attracts (and keeps!) a large community that generates the content they are now taking without providing any value in return.
    – Ether
    Sep 24, 2010 at 19:01
  • I'm curious to know, how is efreedom violoating the terms of use? They don't have nofollow and give proper attribution? Am I missing something?
    – theJerm
    Sep 28, 2010 at 23:34
  • @theJerm, regardless of whether they're following the letter of the law, sites that do no work except for scraping and then throw up a bunch of ads are abusers in my book. And in fact, whether or not they strictly followed the terms of use was irrelevant to the OP's actual question.
    – Pops
    Sep 29, 2010 at 0:48
  • I think the original question is brought up in frustration, but efreedom.com adds value in the sense it has a simpler interface than stackoverflow. So I would argue absolutely, the content should be licensed because it allows smart developers to freely create enhanced pages that of course link back to stack overflow and the other sites with attribution.
    – theJerm
    Sep 29, 2010 at 16:25
  • @theJerm I'll take your word for it; I've stopped visiting the clones, in part because there are so many but mostly because some of them are reported malware sites.
    – Pops
    Sep 29, 2010 at 16:40

If you look at the concept of Wikipedia, Facebook, etc., these are platforms that allow people to freely edit and distribute with proper attribution. In the end, this is a good thing because smart developers with a creative mind are creating content that links back to the original sites (Stack Overflow, ServerFault, Super User) - if they follow the rules of course. I've seen sites do this to great effect (like efreedom).

Why not allow people to freely use the content?

How will smart developers be limited by closing off content?

Is it worth the time to police all sites using the content?

Can you be certain sites like efreedom are just 'scraping' Stack Overflow? What if they have a legit copy of the database and were smart enough to write a system to display the information?

In the end, those that do it right with proper attribution are just creating more link power for the original sites. I do agree that 'leeches' who are just looking to make a quick buck and hide attribution are clearly against the terms outlined. But I say give smart people who get things done an opportunity to leverage this wonderful CC Wiki open content.

If they are doing it, then ask yourself, "Why not you too?"

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