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I see that some Answers have a statement at the end to the effect that, "this is a gift and not meant for commercial or personal gain." Since it is not really possible to make money here, and no one is selling or recommending anything, can we dispense with these statements?

If necessary, the person can place such a disclaimer in their profile, yes?

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Samana Johann adds that phrase to his posts. I think the reasoning is:

  • User contributions (i.e. all posts) to Stack Exchange are "licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required"; the text of this license includes:

    You are free to ... Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

    In summary, someone could sell a book consisting of posts made to Stack Exchange, and/or Stack Exchange is or would be allowed to operate this as a commercial site.

  • Samana Johann (and some monks in general) dislike the idea of Dhamma being sold -- in particular, I think that monks are not allowed to sell Dhamma.

I think I've had some extensive discussion on this subject in the past (probably on Meta and probably with an earlier version of his user ID, if you want to look for it, though possibly in a deleted comment thread). I think that it (posting that disclaimer) is unnecessary and useless and a bit annoying, but (as you can see) I allow it of him.


FYI apparently there a concept in France, défendu mais toléré, "forbidden but tolerated". The example I read was of parking your bicycle in the courtyard of an apartment building: doing that is forbidden; but if only one person is doing it, no harm done, it's tolerated; but if everyone starts doing it, well, there's a rule against it, it's forbidden, they can start to enforce the rule.

Similarly this kind of "signature" is forbidden, and signatures or boilerplate should as you say be in the user profile only.

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    I didn't ask until I saw someone else start to do it also. Then, as you say, the courtyard begins to get cluttered. If it is now a world where our freely given words can be repackaged and sold with no consent, then our only alternative is "not to play", which would be sad. I thought that SE was trying to stop the 'scrapers', sites that copy all the content wholesale and relist it with advertising. Is that not forbidden, and untolerated? For the record, I stopped participating on one SE site when I heard that Chat is permanent and searchable. I think it should disappear after about 30 days. – user2341 Oct 17 '17 at 14:09
  • Yes SE does try to stop scrapers: you can report those sites to SE (who'll report them to Google) if you find them. The main point of the "cc-by-sa (commercial)" license is I think for the StackOverflow site: it's to let anyone [re]use code fragments posted there, in their (probably commercial) software. Also (IANAL but IMO) the license allows SE itself to reuse what we post: to combine it on a page with the posts of others users, to post it on other sites (via the Hot Network Questions list), and to post commercial advertisements: which I think it only ever does, and/or did, on StackOverflow. – ChrisW Oct 17 '17 at 15:24
  • My opinion is that SE runs this site pro bono but anyway those are the license terms. – ChrisW Oct 17 '17 at 15:31
  • How do they repackage it? I mean you can't just copy a site's word patterns right? Doesn't some spider bot dealymabob check for that? – Lowbrow Oct 30 '17 at 8:47
  • @Lowbrow StackOverflow has a lot of content, which people find via Google. So some sites try to copy SO's content so that Google users will land on those sites instead of SO, and those sites may get ad revenue. I imagine there are many way to copy SO's content, e.g. by scraping (see e.g. here). – ChrisW Oct 30 '17 at 8:54
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Plus they don't want anyone betting on the answers.

  • So let's hide the answers in the comment section, so nobody that gambles would find them there. It's just risky enough to work. – Lowbrow Oct 30 '17 at 8:54

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