If I lift text from, e.g., someone's comment on meta.*.SE and stick it into *.SE/faq, do I have to either include the full attribution we generally require or get a waiver from the author, is a link to the original content enough, or can I just use it, assuming that's why people wrote it in meta?

My understanding, based on Jeff Atwood's writing, is that the original author owns the copyright and implicitly licenses it under cc-wiki to SE. cc-wiki requires attribution "in the manner specified by the author or licensor." That manner is specified here, and requires a decent amount of overhead. So, perhaps the author's implicit license to SE requires that manner, regardless of any implicit waiver from SE, and therefore would require waiver from the author to leave it out. On the other hand, perhaps submitting content on meta implicitly licenses it for use on that site's FAQ.

If SE has the power to waive [some] attribution requirements, does it in this case, either explicitly or implicitly?

2 Answers 2


Strictly speaking, as far as I understand the license, it indeed requires either providing proper attribution, or getting a waiver. The fact that the content gets copied within the site doesn't really change anything.

However, offering a wording suggestion in a comment implies that they want to contribute to the FAQ, so there probably isn't a real legal problem even in theory.

  • Indeed, a copy on a comment for rewording shouldn't require attribution to the comment, just to the thread. Otherwise, markdowning the url around the snippet should be good enough.
    – jcolebrand
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 17:26

markdowning the attribution url around the snippet should be good enough.

According to ... [snippet I pulled from page ...](url)

should be attribution enough.

Don't confuse what third parties are required to do with what I'm suggesting for internal cross-site posts. If it stays on SE, and you link to another SE resource, then I don't think you need to go balls out on attribution.

However, if you were linking from another site, then you would need to make it evident (per CC-BY-SA requirements, and common courtesy) that the data was not your own, and that you were re-using someone else's ideas/thoughts/words/etc.

I just don't think that inner-cross-site-SEI-network linking needs to be so thoroughly documented. I suppose it becomes a question of how formal do you want it to appear?

  • 1
    If that's not good enough for external entities, why would it be good enough within a FAQ? Commented May 31, 2011 at 17:29
  • Because cross-site is all CC-BY-SA, so all you have to do is acknowledge the source. If you're quoting a comment for a correction, this is sufficient. If you're quoting a person's words, say that they belong to that person in your body of your text. Off-site attribution may need more attribution, for visibility. Also remember, for the time being, this is just one man's opinion.
    – jcolebrand
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 17:32

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