With Ubuntu redirecting Ubuntu wiki pages to AskUbuntu, we have an issue regarding copyright and attribution. Supposedly AskUbuntu, the Ubuntu wikis, the Ubuntu Manual, and the Ubuntu Desktop Guide all have the same CC-BY-SA-3.0 licensing requirements. However, practically, Jeff Atwood has a notice on the bottom of every page, requiring 4 things:

  1. Visually indicate that the content is from Stack Overflow, Meta Stack Overflow, Server Fault, or Super User in some way. It doesn’t have to be obnoxious; a discreet text blurb is fine.
  2. Hyperlink directly to the original question on the source site (e.g., https://stackoverflow.com/questions/12345)
  3. Show the author names for every question and answer
  4. Hyperlink each author name directly back to their user profile page on the source site (e.g., https://stackoverflow.com/users/12345/username)

I don't have a problem with 1 or 2 (but Yelp, Ubuntu's help browser does not show citations to end users which seems to be a bug in Yelp or Mallard or both). Number 3 and 4 are extremely time intensive and I see that requirement as significantly cluttering the user interface. Even AskUbuntu does not directly show all the editors for community wiki questions; you'd have to click revision history to see that.

The way we normally cite wiki or team contributions when it's difficult to point to any one contributor is by citing the team like "Ubuntu Documentation Team" for the stuff we do or "AskUbuntu Contributors" for this content. This is similar to how Ubuntu packages are maintained by "Ubuntu Developers" instead of the individual person or persons that Debian packages are. The way I read the CC license is that it is possible for the Original Authors to delegate their copyright to another party to make attribution easier.

Wikipedia allows the simple URL to suffice for attribution, as seen on their Terms of Use or by clicking the Toolbox>Cite This Page button. Because the original URL will have all of the original contributors in an easy to read format without cluttering the derivative work.

Can we follow Wikipedia's example or is there a better way?

  • Care to show an example of where this is being a problem? Because I'm having trouble visualizing what the solution should look like
    – Ivo Flipse
    Apr 27, 2011 at 20:40
  • askubuntu.com/posts/28087/revisions has 6 authors. And I originally thought that we would have to cite every answer to the question which now does not appear to be the case unless we're using the other answers. Specifically I am on the Ubuntu Documentation Team helping to write the Ubuntu Desktop Guide (offline help installed by default) and we want to fulfill our citation obligations without cluttering the actual help. Apr 27, 2011 at 20:49
  • See how scientists do it: math, TCS. That's a different world, but may provide inspiration. Apr 27, 2011 at 20:56
  • 1
    Note that the above list is what we require, it's not a suggestion. Apr 28, 2011 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


Math Overflow has a cite button on answers, generating something like this:

    title={Decomposing a discrete signal into a sum of rectangle functions},
    author={Gabriel (mathoverflow.net/users/13825)},
    note={URL: http://mathoverflow.net/questions/63167 (version: 2011-04-27)},

Our version of that could be something like

[1] [Unity keyboard/mouse shortcuts](https://askubuntu.com/questions/28086) —
[Jorge Castro on Ask Ubuntu](https://askubuntu.com/users/235/).

[1] Unity keyboard/mouse shortcutsJorge Castro on Ask Ubuntu.

It's short and fulfills all four recommendations.

Optionally, one may want to include a date:

[1] [Unity keyboard/mouse shortcuts](https://askubuntu.com/questions/28086) —
[Jorge Castro on Ask Ubuntu](https://askubuntu.com/users/235/),
retrieved [Apr 12 at 14:18](https://askubuntu.com/posts/28087/revisions).

[1] Unity keyboard/mouse shortcutsJorge Castro on Ask Ubuntu, retrieved Apr 12 at 14:18.

We could either add a [cite] button to questions, like Math Overflow do, or (since that's a bit extreme in my view), have a topic on meta - "How do I cite content".

What do we think?

  • It looks like the Cite button only shows the most recent editor to the answer, but that does simplify what we need by only citing the specific answer, not all dozen answers to some of the questions. Apr 27, 2011 at 20:32

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