As stated at the bottom of this page :

site design / logo © 2017 Stack Exchange Inc; user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required

I would assume this also applies to comments.
The attribution part is what I think gets infinged upon when a comment is edited.

Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

When a comment is edited by an user different than the original poster there is an small icon for it. And a tooltip pops up with the number of editions.

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But no mention that this is not the text by the original author is made.

Is this usage of the user posted comment in agreement with CC BY-SA 3.0? Are there other stipulations besides CC BY-SA 3.0 that apply?

  • I'm awfully confused. Comments can't be edited by anyone else but the person who posted it. The text in this common space is attributable to me. So I'm not sure I understand your question.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 0:46
  • 1
    @Zizouz212 - Moderators, at least, can edit comments of other people. (I admit to having used that sacred power to correct the occasional typo in a particularly useful comment.)
    – feetwet
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 1:40
  • @feetwet Oops, forgot about that. But even then, I feel that the premise of this question is largely wrong, due to the fact that other users can't generally edit comments. Even if edited by a moderator, the original author still remains there. So I'm largely confused.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 1:53
  • 1
    @Zizouz212 - Yes, K-C's answer clarifies that confusion. The implicit question that remains unanswered is, "Does attributing something to an author that has been adulterated somehow infringe the rights of the original author?" Which sounds like an interesting question, but which I think would be very specific to the terms of the license.
    – feetwet
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 2:06
  • 1
    @feetwet Indeed there is an issue of missattribution. Regarding the implicit question you have identified: The edited comment is publised by the editor, not the original author; when publishing a work covered by CC SA-BY 3.0 "a link to the material" (quoted from CC site) must be provided, which is not. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


I'll clarify my understanding of your hypothetical.

  • X authors a comment.
  • StackExchange publishes that comment, under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license, properly attributed to the original author
  • Y edits that comment.
  • StackExchange continues to publish the comment, still under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license, properly attributing the original author, X, but does not give any attribution to Y for their contributions

In this scenario, Stack Exchange is properly respecting the license agreement with X. X is still given attribution, and the comment is still CC BY-SA licensed, and it indicates "if changes were made". StackExchange has no duty to X to display who made the changes.

Stack Exchange may be failing Y, by not giving them any attribution for their edit. However, edits to a comment are often so minor that they are not copyrightable (deletions, copyediting, link fixing, etc.). If the contribution isn't even copyrightable, it doesn't matter that Y isn't given attribution.

Y certainly isn't infringing X's copyright. X is given the required attribution.

  • Attribution involves something more than just the name of the original author. It also requires "a link to the material". For answers and questions in SO this link to the material is provided when an edit is performed; not so for comments. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 20:06
  • It appears in the human-readable summary if you click at "appropriate credit", here a screenshot. As for the legalcode, for which the summary is no substitute, it would be "to the extent reasonably practicable, the URI, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work" (this may be debated since I have not specified an URI for my work. Neither does anyone else in questions and answers since SO automatically assigns one) and... Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 21:17
  • ... ", in the case of an Adaptation, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Adaptation (e.g., "French translation of the Work by Original Author," or "Screenplay based on original Work by Original Author")." which is also automatically done by SO for questions and answers; and is not done for comments automatically; neither is usually inserted by the editor in the edited comment. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 21:19
  • If it said "Edited comment based on work by Jose" I would not question about infringement. I does say "Jose X days ago - <pen icon>(this comment was edited 1 time)" though. But I can see how your opinion has merit. +1 from me even if I disagree; for your helpful insights. Guess the other option I have is to exercise "If You create an Adaptation, upon notice from any Licensor You must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Adaptation any credit as required by Section 4(c), as requested." so that I am not missattributed. Or, even easier, just delete myself the edited comment. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 22:12

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