It happens quite frequently that someone posts a question that's taken from, say, an online IQ test. (The most recent example I've seen is from this one.)

Sometimes the question is posted without proper credit to its creator. That's plagiarism and we have a nice clear policy about that. But sometimes the poster gives full and appropriate credit, with a link to the website or a reference to the book or whatever.

The question might be a copyright violation. But our general policy is not to be proactive copyright-police -- we will of course do the right thing if a complaint about copyright violation comes in, but it's not the job of our community or moderators to go checking the legal status of everything posted here.

So let's suppose our hypothetical question does give proper credit and we haven't had anyone complain about copyright violation. But the original source says something like this (taken from the preamble to the IQ test linked above):

We ask that you do not share your answers in any public forum in order to maintain the integrity of the test

and/or something like this (taken from the same place):

This test [...] is the unique property of the International High IQ Society.

Quite aside from questions of plagiarism and copyright, a question taken from there is copying something its creator doesn't want copied and is seeking help with something its creator doesn't want help sought on.

Should we forbid questions whose creators have asked that the questions, or their answers, not be shared?

[EDITED to add:] At the time of writing, the votes are +10-0 on the question itself (which I take to mean that there is general agreement that this is a thing we should make explicit), and +19-0 on the "yes, forbid them" answer and +1-1 on the "no, allow them" answer. My own vote, which of course I can't actually cast on any of these, is that this is worth making explicit and we should forbid such questions.

I think it's fair to summarize this as follows: The People have spoken, and henceforth questions of this sort are not permitted here. If a question here reproduces a question from elsewhere whose creator has asked for either the question or its answers not to be shared, you are encouraged to downvote the question and/or vote for its closure; it will likely end up being deleted.


2 Answers 2


(This is one of multiple answers I'm posting so that they can be voted on. It does not necessarily reflect my own opinion.)

Such questions should be forbidden.

In cases where the creator of the question has asked that the question not be shared, doing so is probably a violation of copyright. If they've asked for either the question or the answer not to be shared, then posting it here is rude. If (as is common) the reason why they don't want it shared is that they're trying to use success in answering the questions to measure something (e.g., intelligence, or fitness for a particular job), posting it here is trying to interfere with what the creator is trying to do.

What do we get in exchange for all those downsides? A question that can already be found elsewhere.

(They're often, though not always, also pretty bad questions by the metrics we use here at PSE. Which doesn't, for the avoidance of doubt, necessarily mean that they're bad questions for the purpose they were created for.)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It is my personal policy as a moderator to honor the wishes of content creators where they are plainly known. See also this answer which has some related thoughts. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio Mod
    Oct 8, 2019 at 16:11
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ It is already this site's policy to take down anything where the copyright owner has asked for it to be taken down. The situation in the question is effectively the same thing, except the copyright owner has had the courtesy to make this request preemptively, thus saving everyone the trouble of posting something that will immediately be taken down. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2019 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ Since this answer is at +39-2 and the contrary "no, permit them" answer is at +3-1, I have accepted this one to make it extra-explicit that yes, this is now official PSE policy. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan Mod
    Dec 19, 2020 at 14:25

(This is one of multiple answers I'm posting so that they can be voted on. It does not necessarily reflect my own opinion.)

Such questions should be permitted.

They may (as my other answer argues) often or always be bad questions, but the proper remedy for a bad question is downvoting. If an actual copyright complaint comes in, we should take the appropriate action (which will usually result in the question being removed). But until such time as the question is downvoted to oblivion or removed because of a copyright dispute, we should leave it alone.

If someone creates a question that they hope will (say) help them test intelligence and then posts it publicly on the internet in the expectation that no one will copy it elsewhere or ask others for help, then their own intelligence is in some doubt. If they don't post it publicly, there are legal mechanisms they can use to stop people sharing the questions. It's not our job to replace those legal mechanisms.


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