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According to the answer in Meta Stack Exchange, Ask Ubuntu is "sponsored informally, under special agreements that were negotiated before SE launched the formal site sponsorship program" by Canonical.

Is this true? Can someone from Canonical confirm if Ask Ubuntu is sponsored by Canonical?

If it's sponsored, I am curious to know why our site does not have a sponsored by Canonical image in the top like https://salesforce.stackexchange.com and https://serverfault.com.


In an answer to a similar question in Ask Ubuntu Meta, Jorge Castro said that there is no commercial relationship with SE and Canonical.

No.

There isn't a commercial relationship with SE and Canonical. Ask Ubuntu was first proposed as a community effort and reached enough critical mass to get the support of Canonical. (Things like the theme matching, etc.)

This makes me wonder if the answer in Meta Stack Exchange is inaccurate.

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    I don't understand the question. Of course it's true, why wouldn't it be? And as you say, it is an agreement that predates the formal site sponsoring program, so it doesn't have the "sponsored by" link. What else could an answer add?
    – terdon
    Aug 12 at 8:43
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    @terdon Check the updated question. Aug 12 at 13:32
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    Possibly related: Is Ask Ubuntu “official” Ubuntu? (and its "linked" questions)
    – Andrew T.
    Aug 14 at 10:12
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    I don't see a conflict. As Jorge said, back in the day, we (Ubuntu Community) which consisted of Canonical employees and the wider non-Canonical community worked together to bootstrap the site. No money changed hands.
    – popey
    Aug 15 at 19:11
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    For the record: I sent this up to Canonical, and am awaiting their response. However, personally, I would interpret the "informal sponsorship" components would mean non-monetary sponsorship. Therefore Canonical is an indirect sponsor of the site, but provides no actual sponsoring of StackExchange or its parent companies. A long time ago, Ask Ubuntu was created as a community effort, so there is an informal sponsorship, but no commercial or financial sponsorship to StackExchange or its new parent company by Canonical.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Aug 16 at 14:13
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    @ThomasWard Did you contact the legal team of Canonical through legal@canonical.com or through some other medium? Aug 16 at 18:08
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    @Random via the Canonical Community Team and Monica who I've referenced numerous times. legal@ is also NOT the proper medium for requesting 'sponsorship' information as that's not a legal matter. None of what I said in my comment is quoting Canonical. I also COULD contact Katherine, head of Legal, but Legal doesn't handle the question of 'sponsoring'. Unless you're claiming there's a legal issue at hand here, which I don't really think there is (and I have a good understanding of corporate law myself)
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Aug 16 at 19:08
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    @popey If you can, please post an answer :) Aug 21 at 18:15
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    I don't need to. You have your answer. I don't understand why you have such a bee in your bonnet about this. No money changed hands, end of story.
    – popey
    Aug 22 at 12:02
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    @popey There are certain things happening in Ask Ubuntu which you might not know about. There's a reason why I have posted this question. I won't be able to explain the reason. But, hopefully, you will know the reason in the future. Aug 22 at 18:29
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Via Monica on the Canonical Community Team, I was given the following content to share on behalf of Canonical:

Sorry for the delay! Here's the quote from Thibaut in marketing:

We granted them for free the right to use the name Ubuntu (Ask Ubuntu) for free. So as I mentioned it's a quid pro quo: they benefit from building a community around Ubuntu, we benefit from having an amazing amount of content and a great community on the platform.

Follow up to this message should be directed to the Ubuntu Discourse.

ALSO, Canonical has asked (via Monica) that I post the following notice given continued inquiries by the original poster here to them via email:

There is no more information than what you have already uncovered with your emails to SE, and contacting Canonical additionally on this is not going to get you any more answers or information.

ADDITIONALLY, Canonical is not obligated to provide this information as it is a private company and therefore is not obligated to share any information upon requests.

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    Which affirms an informal sponsorship, and no actual money or corporate sponsorship is in place.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Aug 17 at 12:54
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    @RandomPerson your POC for any questions about the message I got from Monica is to be taken up with her - I have no insight into the inner workings of Canonical and a who's who. I also don't trust LinkedIn to not have fake accounts so I can't help you. POC will be: Monica Ayhens-Madon <monica.ayhens.madon@canonical.com>
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Aug 17 at 15:21
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Stack Exchange

I contacted Stack Exchange regarding this on 17th August, 2021 at 8:10 PM Indian Standard Time (approximately).

Screenshot of https://askubuntu.com/contact after pressing "Submit"

This is what I sent them:

Sir/Madam,
Through this mail I would like to enquire about Stack Exchange's Ask Ubuntu's relationship/agreement/partnership with Canonical.

In https://stackoverflow.blog/2010/10/11/ubuntu-stack-exchange-is-askubuntu-com/, it is mentioned:
"We’re pleased to announce that ubuntu.stackexchange.com, in partnership with Canonical, Ltd, has become Ask Ubuntu."
But there is no details of the partnership mentioned in the post.

  • I would like to know what kind of relationship/agreement/partnership Stack Exchange's Ask Ubuntu has with Canonical.

  • Is Ask Ubuntu sponsored/funded by Canonical? If yes, why is nothing like this: "sponsored by Canonical" mentioned in https://askubuntu.com/?
    Other sites in Stack Exchange which are sponsored by other companies have such text (example: https://salesforce.stackexchange.com/).

  • If Ask Ubuntu is sponsored/funded by Canonical, does Canonical have any control over deciding what topics can be on-topic/off-topic in Ask Ubuntu?

  • If Ask Ubuntu is not sponsored/funded by Canonical in any manner, what is the relationship/agreement/partnership about?

It would be nice if you can answer the above questions here: Is Ask Ubuntu sponsored by Canonical?

Regards,
Random Person.

This was the reply which I got (at 8:20 PM Indian Standard Time on 17th August, 2021):

Hello,

It looks like you’ve already gotten an answer to your question there on meta. There is no formal relationship outside them having allowed us to use the name and logo of “Ubuntu” in the design of the site.

Regards,
Stack Overflow Team

Screenshot of the reply which I got from Stack Exchange


I replied back to the mail. This is what I sent:

Can you confirm if Ubuntu/Canonical has the authority to decide the scope (on-topic/off-topic) of Ask Ubuntu? If yes, why so? If no, does the Ask Ubuntu community have the complete authority to decide the scope of Ask Ubuntu without the influence of Ubuntu/Canonical?

Screenshot of my reply to Stack Exchange

They replied back. This is what I received:

Hello,

They have no influence over the community at all, nor do sponsorships in general give the sponsor any influence over a site. Ask Ubuntu is a Stack Exchange site capable of their own decisions like any other. We do not offer any kind of partnership that gives a specific organization control over a site, as our philosophies do not mesh with it. Sponsorships are basically a form of advertising.

Regards,
Stack Overflow Team

Screenshot of Stack Exchange's reply


I replied back to the mail. This is what I sent:

I would like to ask few more questions.

  1. Does Stack Exchange have a legal agreement with Canonical such that the former can use the latter's logo and trademarks? If yes, please share the details of the legal agreement. I do understand that some legal agreements are meant to be confidential, but if that's not the case with the agreement between Stack Exchange and Canonical, please share the details of it. If the details cannot be shared because of confidentiality, at least acknowledge the existence of the agreement between Stack Exchange and Canonical.

  2. You have said, "Sponsorships are basically a form of advertising.". I would like to know what is the "sponsorship" / "form of advertising" in the context of Ask Ubuntu.

Screenshot of my reply to Stack Exchange

They replied back. This is what I received:

Hello,

There is no further information we are able to share with you about this.

Regards,
Stack Overflow Team

Screenshot of Stack Exchange's reply

Note: The time mentioned in the screenshots are Indian Standard Time.


Canonical

I sent an email (similar to the first email I sent to Stack Exchange) to a representative of Ubuntu on 17th August, 2021 at 11:15 PM Indian Standard Time.

The representative replied back to me within a week. Here's an excerpt of what they said:

So the partnership isn't financial! We gave Ask Ubuntu permission to use the Ubuntu trademark (name and logos), and in exchange, they got to use those to build their community. So there's no financial partnership like there might be with Salesforce.

Canonical has no control over the topics and what is on topic or off topic. That's probably decided by the moderators.

My opinion: Moderators of Ask Ubuntu do not decide what topics are on-topic or off-topic. It is decided by the Ask Ubuntu community.

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    As you can see, from Stack Exchange's reply, the Community and its moderators have influence on a given site, and Ask Ubuntu even with the informal agreements has ALWAYS listened to the general guidance of Canonical and Ubuntu with regards to end of life and such. Canonical doesn't directly govern us, but they do govern the general Ubuntu world and are permitted to issue guidance on that. And for the most part, we've always listened to their suggestions and statements.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Aug 22 at 1:05
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    Secondly, corporate entities are not required under any laws or legal jurisdictions internationally to answer direct requests for specific information, as you ahve seen in their replies. The same applies to Canonical, they aren't required to share more than they have.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Aug 22 at 1:07
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    So to summarise, the reply from Stack Exchange says unequivocally that "[Canonical] have no influence over the [Ask Ubuntu] community at all".
    – Zanna Mod
    Aug 22 at 16:58

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