Licensing questions on Stack Overflow routinely get closed as off-topic, since the community there has determined that they don't fall within the site scope. I periodically see users recommend posting on either Open Source SE or Law.SE. It occurred to me the other day, though: does Law.SE want these questions?

I do see that there's a tag here that has questions that look kind of like the ones that tend to get rejected from Stack Overflow. I also read this related Meta Q&A but I'm still somewhat confused on the point.

So, my question is: when, if ever, should I encourage people who post licensing questions on Stack Overflow to post their question here instead? Also, does Law.SE want any of these questions migrated to the site directly?


1 Answer 1


We want questions that are on-topic here. We don't want questions that aren't. It's pretty much that simple.

Over everything else, we don't give specific legal advice. Remember also that this is Stack Exchange, so questions and answers should be useful to a wider audience in the future.

That means somebody asking what they should put in their particular license is in the wrong place. Asking what kinds of licenses could apply to a situation given some reasonably common but not overly specific requirements or conditions is in the right place.

Asking what a given licence phrase means is acceptable here, if it is clarifying the meaning or legal usefulness or history for general education and information purposes. Asking whether a particular phrasing will achieve a desired purpose or what phrase to use, is not acceptable here.

By and large, questions here should seek to understand for the purpose of knowing more about how the law works, not to replace getting (i.e. paying for) an actual lawyer in the jurisdiction and specialty of concern.

So, if the question fits the "acceptable good" side more than the "unacceptable bad" side, sure, recommend us! And if you can't quite tell, link it in a chatroom or open a question on Law Meta to see what the community thinks.

  • 1
    Usually, in the software world, the answer to "What should I put in my license?" is "Don't write your own: use one of the existing ones, damnit!" May 23, 2019 at 14:44

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