I couldn't sleep last night, so I started browsing posts on SO, including older ones. I noticed a pattern from a certain user. So I clicked on that user's profile, just to browse his questions. He has lots of questions. In fact, by going back through his [iphone] tagged questions, I was able to find all of the code necessary to write the iphone app that he now has on the app store! I'm not kidding here. All of the nontrivial code was written by lushes at SO (sadly, myself included) who took the time to answer his (largely unaccepted) questions. Should SO get some of the proceeds for this app? I ask somewhat in jest, but I would love to hear reactions from the community about situations such as this. Anyone else find this amusing/sad/annoying?

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    – Brant
    Jun 10, 2011 at 20:21
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    Go leave an iComment on the iStore and iSay that the guy who iWrote the iApp got all his iCode from iStackiOverflow and here's his iAccount name.
    – user1228
    Jun 10, 2011 at 20:25
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    Godammit, now the next time I can't sleep I'm going to be trying to figure out who you're talking about!
    – jscs
    Jun 10, 2011 at 20:33
  • @Won't: Unfortunately you have to purchase the app in order leave a review. Might still be worth it, though...
    – jscs
    Jun 10, 2011 at 20:44
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    @JoshCaswell: iBastards.
    – user1228
    Jun 10, 2011 at 20:48
  • I think I now know who this question was about... :/
    – jscs
    Sep 5, 2011 at 23:15
  • Reminds me of the quote here: (goodreads.com/quotes/…). I say good for him - persistence paid off.
    – Gerrat
    Aug 22, 2014 at 1:44

5 Answers 5


Technically, if he did use that code then isn't he bound by the attribution clause of the cc-wiki license at least?

site design / logo © 2011 stack exchange inc; user contributions licensed under cc-wiki with attribution required

and I believe he's also bound by the share-alike clause as well

Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

  • Yes, and if you can prove it to Apple, they'll reject it from the store if he is violating.
    – jcolebrand
    Jun 10, 2011 at 21:03
  • I'd never actually try to enforce this, but the idea that I could brings a smile to my face.
    – PengOne
    Jun 10, 2011 at 21:06
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    The Share-Alike clause just means that the source code has to be made available, and apparently, it already is! ;)
    – jscs
    Jun 10, 2011 at 21:15
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    @josh Cute, but it has to be made available as modified and integrated into the app. @PengOne, can you name the user and app?
    – nealmcb
    Jun 11, 2011 at 15:13

I've noticed a couple of instances where I wondered if something like this was going on. That does indeed make me sad, but for this person, not for us. It can't be all that satisfying to be so directly reliant on others' help. Also for all their customers, and co-workers if such exist. I imagine it will be difficult for this person to maintain the app.

Then again, if the questions are at least okay, maybe they'll help someone else with the one piece that person needs to finish their cool app.

Who knows, though? Maybe the user you found now understands everything they need to write a great app on their own. A new role for SO: custom-built tutorial? If not, well, we will just have to wait for karma to do its work.


Are you saying that asking questions should no longer be free, when you manage to get something out of them? Well, I better do something about my questions, then: each has been prompted by an actual problem.

I even got paid for solving some of those problems! The horror!

Now, I ought to calculate what part was my original contribution, what part was answers from SO, what part was C&P'd from TDWTF, what was shared by my colleagues, and what part was supernatural inspiration, and accordingly divide the proceeds between my account, SEI, Alex, all my previous cow-orkers, and a religious organization of your choosing.

No, seriously: everything my first ever web app did, I have all learned from the Internet - by reading what others wrote, and by asking. It would have been unfair then, and it would be rather unfair now, to change the rules when it's convenient - and say "oh, sure, it was free, but not really: now that you're bathing in hundreds of cents, we want a cut too". Hopefully, that other user has learned something programming-related, like I have.

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    No, I'm not suggesting that. But this person showed little to no initiative on most questions. He pretty much did none of the coding. I just think that part is sad. It also irks me, but I'll get over it soon enough (until my next insomnia episode when I find yet another example).
    – PengOne
    Jun 10, 2011 at 20:56
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    I think you're taking the question a little too literally. Of course people's questions relate to an actual problem. I think PengOne was just wondering what people's reactions are to someone who leans on the SO community to a rather large extent such that other people are more or less writing the entire app. Jun 10, 2011 at 20:56
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    Perhaps I'm missing someone, but many of the posts to SO show absolutely no initiative whatsoever. I'm not talking about programming expertise or intelligence; just a general reluctance to use any common sense to at least try a problem before asking for help; an in ability to use Google etc. I've not been here all that long, and perhaps it wasn't always like this, but it certainly is now.
    – bye
    Jun 10, 2011 at 22:13
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    @Poldie: Don't worry, it's been like that since Ancient Greece. :)
    – jscs
    Jun 11, 2011 at 2:22

The thing is, with all this code freely available there is nothing is to stop you from putting the same app together and listing it in the app store yourself.

Continuing on this line, that leads me to believe the user in question did add some value of his own to the project: the conception, design, (possibly) graphic arts, the execution of piecing it all together and actually listing it, and (presumably) some end-user support as well.

That fact that he was unable to code much of it himself simply means he is now forced to risk competition in the app store that is on entirely equal footing.

  • True, he did take the time to compile knowledge from SO users to his own end. That's something. Too bad he didn't manage to learn to program in the process. Though, really, it's his loss.
    – PengOne
    Jun 13, 2011 at 0:17

Lack of initiative is disappointing, but we’ll never agree on a threshold below which the sluggardly has to pay. In fact, we’ll probably never come up with a measurable definition of initiative.

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