Sorry this is not the most eloquently worded question, and I admit is loaded, but I am hoping some useful meta answer could come from it.

I just noticed this hot meta topic The MIT License – Clarity on Using Code on Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange and thought it was useful to just bring it as a question on this site.

As a few questions have asked a persons role as a programmer in terms of contribution, as well as questions about help on mathematical problems. Maybe this has already been answered in an actual question, but I thought I would ask here. Would the change of licenses on SE make any difference in how the use of code in research would warrant contribution.

I guess I am looking at this in a 'meta' way, in which code is similar to me as a mathematical notation of a problem, a sequence of steps in an experiment, or a specification of a gear reduction. Maybe I am interpreting it wrong, but when I look at code in MIT license, it is about contribution to 'public domain', which I view in academic terms as 'public knowledge'.

I would not cite something that is common knowledge in my field. I realize there may be a difference between public and common, but I still think there is an interesting difference when something becomes intellectual contribution, especially if the use is not from an original poster. For example, person A asks a question, person B answers with the intent their answer is completely public domain and contribution to the general knowledge without any attribution.

If person C finds this information and uses it to solve their own problem, does the fact of where they found this information change based on persons B intent?

  • I’m voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on the main site, unless I am totally misunderstanding it (in which case it should be clarified).
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Dec 20, 2015 at 11:18
  • @Wrzlprmft Sorry its not phrased well. I see it as a meta question because it has implications on how answers here are made in reference to other SE sites. There have been a few questions that ask about help from Math or SO SE sites. Dec 21, 2015 at 5:40
  • If those other questions become obsolete, you can ask for updated answers or at least mark them to be before the license change. Also, “Does the MIT licence affect citing SE in academic writing?” sounds like a valid question for the main page.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Dec 21, 2015 at 6:46
  • Moving this to the Stack Overflow meta site. This meta is for the Academia site, and I don't think you'll get any useful answers here.
    – eykanal
    Dec 21, 2015 at 16:26
  • 1
    Based on the comments on the meta.SE site, I'm re-opening this here. I'm still not sure that we'll get any useful replies on this site, but they clearly feel that we won't get useful replies on that site either. Sorry for moving this one around so much!
    – eykanal
    Dec 22, 2015 at 4:22
  • I don't really understand this question. I think you may be mixing up two things: (1) copyright, which limits reuse of code, depending on the rights granted in the license, and (2) attribution in the academic sense: crediting work that isn't yours to its author. The former is no different in academia vs any other domain, and the latter does not depend on the license of the material (academic ethics require attribution even if the license doesn't.)
    – ff524
    Dec 22, 2015 at 4:48
  • So I'm not sure what you're really asking. Can you edit this post to clarify?
    – ff524
    Dec 22, 2015 at 4:49
  • @eykanal FYI it was still locked here. You need to clear migration history to reopen a migrated question.
    – ff524
    Dec 23, 2015 at 0:55
  • @ff524 - Thanks, sorry for not doing that. Looked open to me...
    – eykanal
    Dec 23, 2015 at 3:03


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