today I will be deleting all questions and answers I have written on this site before the 5th of September 2019. This is due to the re-licensing effective from the same date. This post serves as a notice to the moderators who will be dealing with my flags.
My problem is, I was not asked to relicense my content, but rather told that this is what will happen. If I did nothing, I would implicitly agree to it. Since I was not asked for consent I get the feeling that, from SO's perspective, it's "our way or the highway", so to speak. I respect SO's decision. I will take the highway.
- Who do you think you are? We don't care about your stupid content anyway
- Good. Please delete it.
- You're not hurting SO, you're hurting the community. Do you not care about that?
- I do care, which is why I contributed in the first place. The platform is increasingly callous to its treatment of unpaid contributors, such as myself, and I do not wish to grant it any more authority over my content than it already has.
- What about disassociating the posts from your account?
- No, it doesn't work for me. I'd like the content attributed to myself, as originally licensed. The second part is no longer possible, and disassociating the account does not solve my problem.
- Deleting content en-masse might be disruptive to the day-to-day of the site, and creates a lot of work for the mods
- Re-licensing my content without as much as a by-your-leave is disruptive to me. I'm sure the site will recover and this will be forgotten shortly. As for the moderators, they asked for the job, and this is part of the job.
- Why now? Why have you waited all this time?
- I had other things to worry about in the meantime. It's not like I got advance notice or anything.
I would like to ask a moderator to kindly lift the delete limit from my account, if possible, to make the process faster. Alternatively, if a bulk-delete option is available, I'd be grateful if it was used. At the moment I have 217 answers which would take 40 days to delete with the current limit of 5 deletes per day.
I have used the "Contact" section at the bottom to ask SO employees to take care of this, thus freeing up the mods.
If you're interested in this I recommend reading this post by Thomas Owens on Meta.SO (thanks to Mister Positive for finding it). Thomas does a much better job of expressing it than I ever could. I will quote the relevant bits here, emphasis added:
4.c in CC-BY-SA addresses distribution of the Work in a Collection. It requires that all copyright notices remain intact. Prior to September 5, the Collections were also distributed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.
8.a [...] "Each time You Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work or a Collection, the Licensor offers to the recipient a license to the Work on the same terms and conditions as the license granted to You under this License." Again, "You" refers to SE distributing individuals Works in a Collection.
The upgrade guidelines state that you must either a) obtain consent to relicense, or b) clearly display the license version.
To restate my grievance:
- I was never asked
- The older license version does not appear on my old posts1
That's two violations of the old license, which, by the way, is still in effect.
1 When I visited an early post of mine, from January 2019, I did not see anywhere on the page (rev 2020.1.24.35889) any reference to cc-by-sa other than for version 4. Further, the license cannot be determined by a third party as there is no field (that I could find) in the Workplace.Posts schema on Data.SE.
I'm happy to report I received a timely reply from the Stack Exchange team, which I read before writing Edit 3 above. Thank you guys, I sincerely appreciate it.
I hope you don't mind2 me quoting here, since I believe this has wider interest.
Hello, I would like to delete all my content posted on or before the 5th of September 2019. This is due to relicensing effective from that date. I explain my reasoning further in the link below. Thank you for your time.
Unfortunately, we cannot grant your request. All posts are licensed to us for use under the perpetual license of Creative Commons and cannot be removed by request.
You can, however, delete your profile which removes your credit as a Licensor per Section 4(c) of the Creative Commons license. The content itself is part of the collection of Stack Exchange and the collective effort of other users who have also contributed to that content.
I hope that you understand our position and that you continue to find Stack Overflow a valuable resource.
Stack Overflow Team
2 If you do mind, I'm happy for you to do your edit-history-proof magic.
I will respond here. My responses are indexed for ease of reference, but not in any particular order.
- I do and will find SO a valuable resource
- Believe it or not, I do understand your position. My original post here, and my message to you, was lacking context. I hope I provided this missing context in Edit 3 above
- For those contributions of mine which I made after your announcement:
- I'm happy to have them licensed under version 4
- I'm happy for my future content to be licensed under version 4
- I do not grant you the right to re-license them in a way that violates the new license
- Any contributions I made under version 3 are still licensed in that version, because I was never asked to re-license them
- You do not display the correct license version on these posts
- Your announcement and subsequent communication is not clear on this issue, making it seem like the license update applies to all posts, old or new
Which leads me to answer why I asked you to delete my content: Because you are misreporting the license, which is a violation of its terms.
Any technical measures that could redress this (such as displaying the correct license version) are relatively easy to implement. Since you have not done this already, I assume you never will, so there is no point asking you to fix it like that. Therefore, I ask that you remove content provided to you under version 3, which does not display the correct license.
I won't bore you with this much longer, this thing is coming to an end. Thank you, kind reader, for keeping up so far.
SO's reply to me is not just polite boilerplate, as I originally thought. Here's why:
The content itself is part of the collection of Stack Exchange
The word collection here has a specific meaning
1b. "Collection" means a collection of [...] works, in which the Work is included in its entirety in unmodified form along with one or more other contributions, [...] which together are assembled into a collective whole. [...]
[...] This Section 4(a) applies to the Work as incorporated in a Collection, but this does not require the Collection apart from the Work itself to be made subject to the terms of this License. [...]
Here's what I understand from this, without any legal training: SO has the right to create a Collection, which includes work licensed under v3, but is not obliged to license the Collection under the same terms.
- I license Work to SO under v3
- SO creates a Collection, which includes my work, under a different license
- SO did not address my main concern, that they violated our licensing agreement
This leads me to believe that SO is licensing the collection of works, as displayed on their site, under a different license. To my understanding, this is why they're relicensing en-masse. They're not relicensing individual works, but the collection.
To my understanding, this means they can make the collection fully proprietary if they want, but they still must, per our licensing agreement, display the original license under which the work was contributed. SO has refused to do this, which means one of the following:
- My understanding is correct and the license is violated
- My understanding is incorrect and the license is not violated
If (1): SO doesn't care about violating the license. They owe me no money anyway so they don't care about damages.
If (2): What is the point of having a license, and making such fanfare about it, when the license doesn't actually govern our relationship? This dishonest and misleading.
In either case, (1) being real-politik and (2) being pure bullshit, I do not see a reason why I should participate in something where the terms are either intentionally obfuscated or outright ignored.
In case you were wondering, the venerated data dump does not include the correct license either