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Policy on third-party JavaScript integration on SE sites


Should Stack Exchange sites utilize third-party scripts or libraries to augment the user experience on the SE sites in such a way that they provide additional information without the need for clicking through to other sites? Should design restrictions be imposed on how such third-party information is displayed if it is deemed allowed?


There is a discussion/feature-request over on Gaming about integrating a specific JavaScript utility from a specific third-party site (Wowhead) to allow mouse-over tooltips on links to that site to facilitate a quick reference for information related to an item or spell in a game (World of Warcraft). That discussion is covering the merit of that specific case, but I think it touches on a larger issue that should be addressed: whether or not Stack Exchange sites want to get in the habit of allowing third-party libraries and under what conditions they should allow such libraries.

I believe that a decision would need to be made on this overall policy before Gaming gets too much further on the merits of the specific case being addressed there. If the overall SE policy is "we don't want to do that", then further discussion on Gaming would not be worthwhile. If the overall SE policy is "sure, if you can justify it" or "sure, if you can justify it and make it look pretty", then the discussion will need to address those points as necessary.

Possible Outcomes

  • Do not allow third-party scripts regardless of utility. If users want to use them, instruct them to include them as part of browser-side technology such as Greasemonkey.
  • Allow them as they are deemed to improve the user experience.
  • Allow them as they are deemed to improve the user experience, but enforce style requirements that must be met before the script is incorporated into the site.


  • Hosting: Including code hosted on another site means that SE site is dependent on the code of that other site. Hosting that code locally instead means the SE site doesn't have the most up-to-date version of the code.
  • Performance: Additional code can slow down page loads.
  • Aesthetics: If a style is not enforced, it can lead to clashing creative assets. If a style is enforced, the cost of development needs to be incurred on either the third-party site, the SE staff, or a volunteer.