In accepted answer to this question:

A free papers search engine

@Allure states that:

Your friend is probably thinking of Sci-Hub. Warning: it's likely illegal, including to use the service (as opposed to uploading stuff onto it), in most jurisdictions. If it's not already illegal in your jurisdiction, the trend is towards illegality (i.e. lawsuit after lawsuit has been ruled on, and they are usually in favor of the copyright holder).

The first claim is qualified with "likely"; but - @Allure knows this not to be the case, since we've debated it before. He should, at least, have mentioned that his claim is contested (and not marginally; to my limited knowledge, the opposite of his claim is the truth - downloading from Sci-Hub for the purposes of research is likely legal in most places in the world).

The second claim is a factual one. I admit I have not made any sort of legal survey, but I have not seen evidence that this is the case; and given the other dispute, I doubt such evidence exists.

Now, I can comment on the answer, but it would be the 10th or 15th comment, while the answer itself - other than the claims of illegality - is useful, and is the accepted answer.

What should I / can I do, seeing how I believe readers are being misinformed?

  • 3
    Frankly, I think this question just reduces to "What do I do if I think an accepted answer is wrong", and cag51's answer is the standard response. I don't think it was necessary to include all the details or your arguments; it comes across as an attempt to provoke Allure and continue your debate here on meta, with more attention. (And as we see from their answer below, it worked). Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 17:13
  • @NateEldredge: There's being wrong, and there's misrepresentation of an argument; and it's more significant when it comes to what's legal; and even more significant when even a reference is not given to a previous argument. I think it's not the same situation. I actually didn't think Allure would dignify me with an answer - after all, he completely ignored me and my position in the linked-to question. You'll also note I have not continued my debate with him (i.e. not commented on his answer here nor in chat etc.)
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 21:07

3 Answers 3


What should I / can I do, seeing how I believe readers are being misinformed?

You could post a competing, self-contained answer that includes your point of view and references. I realize that late answers are at a huge disadvantage in the voting, but they can still be useful.

Your other option, which you mention, is to add a comment. Readers are more likely to keep reading if they know that the first answer is controversial.

Beyond that:

  • Moderators do not delete bad answers. We generally delete answers and comments for procedural reasons, not substantive reasons. And mechanically, there is no way for us to change the answers' order or score.
  • In this case, once the debate reached a certain length, a flag was automatically triggered (this happened after you created this post). For this procedural reason, I moved the discussion to chat and added a comment summarizing the debate (and linking this post).

My personal opinion:

  • I have no problem with this answer. I appreciated the "likely" caveat, and it seems self-evident that there might be legal issues associated with accessing copyrighted, non-free information without paying.
  • Indeed, there are so many jurisdictions, and things are changing so quickly, that I don't think anyone could say with any confidence that it is definitely legal or illegal generally. Perhaps it may have been better for OP to say that it "may" be illegal rather than "likely" being illegal, but this is starting to split hairs.
  • My only quibble about the answer is that the statement about the alleged "trend" toward illegality is unsubstantiated.
  • Agree that the alleged trend is the more serious issue. But he's still hiding that fact that his view is contested, and that's also inappropriate. Anyway, posting essentially the same answer but just changing the legality claim seems too "foaming at the mouth" IMO; I have posted a comment, but few people will notice it.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 19:03
  • ... well, I like what you did with the comments on the answer. That's useful and satisfactory (in my view). But - why not put it in your answer?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 21:17
  • 2
    @einpoklum Note that there are many unsubstantiated claims around this site. Too bad, because one wouldn't expect this from a site of academics, but that's it. Other sites, like Skeptics SE are more strict about missing references, and answers with unsubstantiated claims are usually deleted. We don't have such a strict policy and we usually don't delete such kind of answers. Whether we should have a stricter policy may be debated. Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 21:17
  • I try to remember to qualify my answers with "in my experience" or "Having worked in places X Y and Z I can say", but I think I often fail to do that.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 21:21
  • 1
    @einpoklum Anyway, I've also added a "needs citations" post notice. Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 22:15
  • 1
    @einpoklum - glad that you found my solution satisfactory. Not sure what you mean by "why not put it in your answer" -- my second bullet does describe what I did with the comments (if that's what you meant).
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 23:18
  • @cag51: I meant, "getting a moderator to move the comments to chat and say something about it" is something a user can do about this situation.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 6:05

You should vote on the answer.


Is this a joke or just a massive troll? einpoklum knows very well that his answer has been refuted, yet he's trying to claim that there's a debate.

Analyze einpoklum's answer for a moment. There are two points. The first says section 60 (c) allows the use of SciHub, which was explicitly treated and refuted by phoog in the Law SE question. Plus it ignores the other articles of law referenced in DPenner1's answer. Just because X doesn't break one law doesn't make it legal if it breaks other laws. The other point is an outright appeal to emotion. Wikipedia puts it very well, appeals to emotion "[are] a logical fallacy characterized by the manipulation of the recipient's emotions in order to win an argument, especially in the absence of factual evidence." einpoklum knows the evidence is against him, hence he's appealing to emotion.

einpoklum further goes to claim that the trend towards illegality is only "alleged", when DPenner's answer explicitly cites two examples that illustrate the trend: ACI Adam and Filmspeler. ACI Adam ruled that the private copying exception must only apply to lawful sources, which SciHub is not. Filmspeler ruled that streaming copyrighted content is no more legal than downloading it, which means that even if one could view SciHub papers without downloading them, it is still illegal. Both these rulings closed loopholes that could've been used to argue that SciHub is legal.

This entire affair is very much like evolution vs. intelligent design. It's well-established that evolution is a much better explanation than ID, but ID defenders try to claim that there is debate and so we should be fair and "teach the controversy".

I am disappointed the mods are not deleting einpoklum's attempts at misinformation. Yes, mods do not delete bad answers, but by attempting to make an illegal act seem legal, einpoklum goes beyond "bad answer" to being actively dangerous.

  • 2
    As always, you mis-quote and misrepresent.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 6:06

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