# How should we deal with attributing imported deleted posts ?

+ 3 like - 1 dislike
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I'm concerned about the way this site attributes imported, deleted posts such as this

The explanation from Dimension10 is that there isn't a legal requirement, but I still think the site and user should still be atributed by linking to the site and the user, just out of good manners really. The original site provides an explanation: it was voluntarily deleted by the user.

Instead, the link to the user in the example above links here as: (This user is not yet participating on PhysicsOverflow, but we hope he will).

retagged Apr 14, 2014

We shouldn't over-attribute. Attribution is only for legal requirements and for some convinience.

In particular overatributing deleted posts, posts being deleted means the OP and/or SE gives a damn about them, seems ridiculous or at least hypocritical ...

@dilaton @dimension10 please see my comment on Ron's answer. You *do* have a legal requirement to put attributions on these posts. Whether they were deleted on SE is irrelevant because SE is not the copyright holder, the original user is, and you're licensing it from them (the user, NOT SE) under a license that requires you to attribute it to them.

@Nathaniel I am very sorry for ignoring what you said. It seems you are correct. I checked on meta.SE. I am going about giving the right attribution to these posts.

+ 2 like - 1 dislike

The way we do things now, attribute to a site only when the post is claimed by another site, is the correct way to do things. Absent a party willing to claim ownership for the text, it is difficult to know whether the original site/user still wants to be associated with it. We attribute only to the extend that the originating party wants to be associated with the material.

So not only do we not attribute such things to a site, we should not attribute such things until the site requests it. There is nothing to link to, except obscure archives of deleted material, and clearly the material is considered unimportant by others.

Attributing it to the author is necessary, especially if the material has been deleted against the users will. So we should attribute it to a user with the same name, so as to make it clear who the author is, so as not to plagiarize unintentionally, but this is what we already do, and if the user has never logged in here, we should say so. That's what we already do.

I think the site currently has the best possible policy regarding this.

answered Apr 15, 2014 by (7,720 points)
edited Apr 16, 2014

This is totally against the license. The copyright is held by the original user, and that user licensed their content to SE under the CC attribution share-alike license. Because of the terms of that license, you as a third party are allowed to reproduce the content under the same license, *as long as you attribute the original author*. Whether the post was deleted by SE is completely irrelevant. SE itself is irrelevant. They don't own the copyright, they merely license it from the user under the same terms that you do. The *only* thing that allows you to reproduce the original user's work is the CC license, and the license requires you to credit them. If you post it without doing so then you are in violation of the license and technically breaking the law.

But  @Nathaniel, a deleted post cannot be seen even by low reputation users within SE. There does not exist a link to attribute to, except the "imported from SE". Only high reputation users can see deleted posts and I do not know for how long either. So attrubuting it to the user  identity in SE, connects the material with the copyright holder,. So maybe pointing out the SE in the " from the source Question & Answer " solves your problem . After all archives of deleted site entries can be found with the time machines ( or something like that) .

@nathaniel: Yes, we do attribute the original author--- we produce an author with the same name, and attribute the post to this author. This is the only way I see to be compliant with cc-by-sa, there is nothing to link to on the other site. The author is still clear when we import deleted questions, it's a generated or identified local author with the same handle.

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