A number of community members have recently been launching puzzle sites of their own. This is something I'm actually personally proud of - that Puzzling might be an inspiration for original content puzzling sites around the 'net. Not only that, but a number of community members have existing sites worth sharing.

It isn't the goal of our spam policy to prevent this from happening; all things being equal, the development of original content is a significant step for puzzling on the 'net everywhere, and is definitely not something we want to discourage. However, this policy is intended to protect Puzzling Stack Exchange from being swarmed with posts saying "here's a puzzle from [our site](http://www.example.com)".

Unfortunately, this can sometimes conflict with source attribution requirements. Hopefully this relationship will be clearer by the end of the post. However, to start with, one thing should be made clear: it is definitionally not possible to plagiarize or steal from yourself.

Secondly, it should be noted that Stack Exchange operates on a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, and anything posted here is therefore licensed under CC-BY-SA. Roughly, this means you can reuse SE content for any reason, as long as you attribute both SE and the original author, as well as link back to the license. Since mods are (typically) neither legal experts, nor are authorized to speak for Stack Exchange on legal matters, I'm going to move on from this - if you're curious or think it's relevant, you should look into it on your own or ask on Meta Stack Exchange for an Official Answer.

Whose content is it, anyway?

In truth, as moderators, we don't want to care about the legal ownership of content or websites, and we probably shouldn't have to. If you're part of the group that created it, part of the group making decisions about it, or are involved with it in anything more than a tangential way, in our eyes, it's also your content or website.

It's about the spirit of ownership more than anything - did you have an active hand in it? If so, it's yours, too.

We trust you to not abuse the site...

Truth be told, a little bit of self-promotion can be okay. This site is far more relaxed than other Stack Exchange sites to begin with, and "hey, check out my cool thing!" has the potential to actually work well here, unlike at many sites on the network. That is, so long as it doesn't become excessive, and as long as we continue to believe you're doing it in good faith.

Primarily, don't give anyone reason to believe you're doing it to draw traffic to your site. That means a couple things:

  • Only include the link if it's absolutely necessary to
  • Don't create an excessive number of self-promoting posts
  • Declare up front what your affiliation is with the linked site
  • Avoid posting links out to your own services if we have reason to believe you're being disingenuous about your desire to help the community with such a post

For the first two, we're very liable to just send you a mod message asking you to slow down a bit with self-promoting behavior. For the third, we're also liable to send you a message, but it will depend more on circumstance.

That last point deserves a bit more explaining, though, because it can be hard to tell.

...unless we have reason not to.

There are a few reasons where we're liable to be less tolerant of self-promotion, but they all boil down to a single common thread: if someone has given us a reason to believe they are not posting with the best interests of Puzzling.SE in mind, we're probably going to take some form of action.

This primarily affects new users posting links out to a different site. Because a new user is, well, new, it can be hard to tell whether they actually want to improve the site (for which the correct response is guidance), are plagiarizing from other sites (for which the correct response is deletion), or are spamming from other sites (for which the correct response is deletion as spam).

However, it's fully possible for veteran users to give reason to believe they're not posting in good faith. One of those is as stated above: not disclosing your affiliation in your post. Most other reasons would come from us actively investigating what's going on - something that's likely to happen when we see a post like this. Suffice it to say, if there's sufficient reason not to trust someone's self-promoting post, we are liable to take some form of action.

Wait, now I'm more confused than I was before! What can/can't I do?

The short version of the above boils down to the following:

  • Attribute your sources if you need to. If the source is you, this isn't mandatory, but due to plagiarism issues in the past, you should state you're the author anyway. If the source is from your own website, then...
  • If it's necessary for attribution's sake, feel free to link back to your own website - but you must state your affiliation, and...
  • Make sure it's very high quality, and really worth our time.
  • Don't do it excessively. We ultimately do want your community projects to succeed, and I'm personally proud that the site could be a source of inspiration for other potential puzzling sites. Still, Puzzling.SE isn't a host for you to link out to other sites, and that's what this is intended to prevent.
  • We'll send you a message or otherwise notify you if we find what you're doing crosses the line somehow.


  • Consider putting links in your profile. Your profile is a place for you to talk about yourself, and you can put pretty much anything there.
  • Consider mentioning it in chat, particularly if it comes up organically (though again, not to excess). Chat's far laxer than the main site, and while it's still not a place to flood with links out to your site, if you want to talk about what you're working on with people, that's kosher. (Again, assuming we trust that you're doing it honestly - see above.)

What is the magnitude of action moderators will take?

In most cases, we'll simply send you a message as a friendly reminder. Something along the lines of "hey, this is getting to be a little much - mind dialing it back a bit?" Other extenuating circumstances might change what action we take, but all things being equal this is the preferred route.

The line for "too much self-promotion" is a little ambiguous, and you can rest assured we're not going to jump to a suspension immediately (unless you're doing something egregiously abusive).

Feel free to post comments, concerns, requests, adjustments, complaints, trials, tribulations, computer viruses, exam questions, plagiarized content, and spam in the answers and comments below.

We'll do what we can to address your concerns and/or modify this post in a timely way.

Thank you for using ACME Community Moderation!

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    $\begingroup$ It's not clear where your "...unless we have reason not to." heading is intended to flow from. $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2015 at 3:50
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    $\begingroup$ @dop I though it was perfectly clear, it continued the head that ended with ... By beginning with ... $\endgroup$
    – warspyking
    Sep 4, 2015 at 3:56

2 Answers 2


This is an answer to the OP's question "Whose content is it, anyway?".

I also want to make an important clarification to the OP's statement that "roughly, this (the use of the CC-by-SA licence - my note) means you can reuse SE content for any reason, as long as you attribute both SE and the original author, as well as link back to the license." (US spelling "license" used because it appeared in original.)


if you write stuff and post it here, the material is yours, and you can republish it wherever you like, including commercially, without mentioning SE.

Note that to be a "subscriber" to SE "you" must be an individual (Terms of Service 1, 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence) and you must have the right to grant SE a licence to use the material. (ToS 3, 1st paragraph, 3rd sentence).


you can publish stuff somewhere else first, and then post it to SE, so long as they'll let you.

Note that as a subscriber you have already agreed that SE can terminate your use of their services "for no reason at all" (ToS 3, 1st paragraph, last sentence). Since neither human beings nor other animals do things without a reason, I am not sure how this wording would stand up if tested, but there again, perhaps it's standard in US business law.

Sure, there are unusual cases, for example when your right to post a puzzle here derives from an arrangement with someone else. Except of course when the arrangement provides that the puzzle is yours. Then it would be yours. And what if they were someone else's agent? Or perhaps they were a company that had a beneficial owner different from its legal owner. And so on. There are always edge cases. Books of religious legal opinion are full of them. But the commonest case is when an individual puzzle enthusiast writes some stuff off his own bat and posts it here. In that case, he has no obligation towards SE in whatever he might do with his puzzle in the rest of his life. He may, for example, 1) put it on his own website, 2) put it on a website he runs with someone else, 3) publish it in a printed book, or 4) put it on someone else's website, assuming they allow him - all without mentioning SE or attributing anything to them. Posting a puzzle, question or answer here does not give the author any obligation to SE in relation to what he does later with his puzzle, question or answer, or anything else he might do, including in connection with whatever he might have done with the material before he posted it here.

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    $\begingroup$ Very well said claps $\endgroup$
    – warspyking
    Sep 7, 2015 at 18:57

Johnny has had ten girlfriends in the past five years. He decides to plot them as a scatter plot, then arbitrarily derive them as functions of time. If Johnny had each girlfriend for a minimum of six months, how many possible data points can he have where the result of the derivative squared is greater than the original value?

--> For more questions and answers like this, as well as Viagra purchases, click here! <--

Let's see... that covers exam questions and spam. I don't have any viruses handy, and I'm not going to actually plagiarize (would it count as irony if I plagiarized The Riddler's Den here?). The rest of the suggestions actually seem helpful... yeesh.

All goofiness aside, thanks a bunch for outlining the policy. I still have no idea how things escalated so quickly in the events that led up to the necessity of this post, but I assume something behind-the-scenes happened which would explain everything. I'm also happy to see a bunch of puzzling websites popping up, and I encourage everyone who has one to link it in their profile, because I'll definitely click it if it's there! (And I swear to god, if it links to the same place as my link above, I'm so flagging it as spam. Can you even do that? Flag a profile as spam? Whatever, I'm doing it anyways.)

You mods do a great job here (or at least you have been since I joined), and you definitely don't get enough appreciation. So on behalf of everyone here who appreciates you (read: not quite everyone), thanks for doing your job, guys. You're doing it, that's for sure.

P.S. Hey, man, you said feel free.


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