Assuming that you could make a nice tag-wiki simply by pasting and editing content from Wikipedia, is there any problem with doing something like that?

There are a lot of empty tag wikis that would be better off with default content from Wikipedia rather than an empty wall. This would at least give people a starting point, I think it's easy to be intimated by the task of creating a new wiki page.

But there could be some social or legal issues with this.

  • With proper attribution, this shouldn't be a problem. I would also link not to the page, but to the historypage of that particular edit (the nice long get string) so that people can know when you took the info. But both sources are setup to allow anonymous contributions and takeaway, provided attribution is maintained. – jcolebrand Feb 11 '11 at 18:25
  • I wouldn't focus on copying whole wikipedia article, instead I'd put the question differently: "is it a problem to copy paste first 2-3 sentences from wikipedia to tag-wiki? Do I still need to post a link to wikipedia as a source of these 2-3 sentences?" (in fact, that would be stupid and clumsy..) – Tomas Oct 28 '11 at 15:51
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    possible duplicate of Can we do anything against tag wikis copy-pasted from Wikipedia? – gnat Sep 9 '13 at 15:54
  • @gnat - This question predates the other. – Mark Rogers May 2 '14 at 22:48
  • @MarkRogers this doesn't matter, see eg meta.stackexchange.com/questions/147643/… – gnat May 3 '14 at 14:58
  • @gnat - Uh, so what is your argument then, this question has more voting, more views, and more answers, therefore the other should be closed, right? – Mark Rogers May 3 '14 at 17:32
  • Or do you simply disagree with the selected answer? – Mark Rogers May 3 '14 at 17:39
  • my only point is, it doesn't matter which question was posted earlier – gnat May 3 '14 at 20:21
  • @gnat- Sure, just trying to figure it out. Usually when someone posts a link like that it often means they are trying to close the question. Sorry for the demanding tone. – Mark Rogers May 3 '14 at 23:17

Many other sites (such as Facebook) pull directly from Wikipedia for school and company pages. It says in Wikipedia's copyright statement that this is okay to do as long as a link back to the original article is provided.

The licenses Wikipedia uses grant free access to our content in the same sense that free software is licensed freely. Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed if and only if the copied version is made available on the same terms to others and acknowledgment of the authors of the Wikipedia article used is included (a link back to the article is generally thought to satisfy the attribution requirement; see below for more details).

The only problem I see is having too much irrelevant information posted from a copy-paste. The entire Wikipedia article should not be included; the main facts should be summarized briefly.

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    agree, the summarizing is important, wikipedia articles are huge! – Jeff Atwood Feb 11 '11 at 19:40


I routinely reject tag wikis that are copy-pasted from Wikipedia, because they are almost never appropriate. Consider a recent suggested excerpt from my review history on Science Fiction & Fantasy:

Brandon Sanderson (born December 19, 1975) is an American fantasy author. A Nebraska native, he currently resides in American Fork, Utah. He earned his Master's degree in Creative Writing in 2005 from Brigham Young University. He was chosen in 2007 to complete Robert Jordan's epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time, and his own works have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.

In addition to the illegality of including Wikipedia content in the excerpt (because of the lack of attribution), most of the information here is completely irrelevant. What the excerpt should say is who that person is (an author) and why he's famous (what subgenres he wrote in, any particularly famous books by him).

The suggestion for the tag wiki goes on for a couple more paragraphs:

Sanderson married on July 7, 2006 and is a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (…)

Seriously, how is this relevant? We don't care about his personal life, we care about his writings!

Creating such tag wikis not only doesn't help the site, it makes it harder to eyeball tags that lack a proper wiki. A tag wiki for a tag that isn't ambiguous (it's obvious that the [brandon-sanderson] tag is about Brandon Sanderson's works) only helps if it contains useful information, which Wikipedia copy-pastes rarely do. Wikipedia copy-pastes do more harm than good. I'd favor an automatic filter to reject them outright.

Inappropriate tag wikis are a big problem on SF&F. I'm having trouble even finding a good tag wiki to cite as a counterexample (unless I allow myself to cite one I wrote). Here's an ok one, at least it cites some of the most important information without too much fluff.

Tag wikis are mainly intended for people who are about to ask a question; they should help those people write better questions, or find answers on their own. An example of something that's useful in a tag wiki for an author is an overview of that author's works; another is a link to a wiki site about that author.


If you do it right, yes. Wikipedia is licensed under the same license as Stack Exchange content is: Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike.

From the Wikipedia attribution requirements page, with a bit of reformatting:

  1. Attribution. To re-distribute text on Wikipedia in any form, provide credit to the authors either by including:

    • a hyperlink (where possible) or URL to the page or pages you are re-using

    • a hyperlink (where possible) or URL to an alternative, stable online copy which is freely accessible, which conforms with the license, and which provides credit to the authors in a manner equivalent to the credit given on this website, or

    • a list of all authors. (Any list of authors may be filtered to exclude very small or irrelevant contributions.)

    This applies to text developed by the Wikipedia community. Text from external sources may attach additional attribution requirements to the work, which should be indicated on an article's face or on its talk page. For example, a page may have a banner or other notation indicating that some or all of its content was originally published somewhere else. Where such notations are visible in the page itself, they should generally be preserved by re-users.

  2. Copyleft/Share Alike. If you make modifications or additions to the page you re-use, you must license them under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 or later.

  3. Indicate changes. If you make modifications or additions, you must indicate in a reasonable fashion that the original work has been modified. If you are re-using the page in a wiki, for example, indicating this in the page history is sufficient.

  4. Licensing notice. Each copy or modified version that you distribute must include a licensing notice stating that the work is released under CC-BY-SA and either a) a hyperlink or URL to the text of the license or b) a copy of the license. For this purpose, a suitable URL is: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/


  • For tag wikis, you can merely copy and paste, but then you have to give attribution to Wikipedia in the form of a link to the source. Since Wikipedia has no rel attribute requirements (StackExchange does), there should be no problem.

  • For tag wiki excerpts, you can't. You can't add any formatting or links to tag excerpts and the list of authors would be longer than the excerpt itself.

In practice, it's much simpler if you don't do that.

You should still be free to collect information and rephrase it originally — only the form of facts can be copyrighted, the facts themselves cannot. However, I'm not a lawyer.


I think that there is no reason to create one more Wikipedia database. If we start copying from Wikipedia to StackOverflow tags (or other Stack Exchange site) then we will just copy content. Perhaps even without reading articles. Remember that Wikipedia is open to anyone and anyone can write whatever he wants. There are a lot of official sites with approved documentation (MSDN Library, Mac OS X Dev Library, e.g) - copy from there.

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    These sites are often not licensed in a way compatible to our license, though. – Paŭlo Ebermann Oct 28 '11 at 15:23
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    @beryllium You are exactly right. If we're just going to mirror wikipedia, then why have wiki pages at all – bobobobo Jul 1 '12 at 16:05

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