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This is a bit of sticky question because it concerns the scenario where it's unclear if a site is a pirated site or not.

We clearly need to link to only non-pirated content, but when someone has a question about if a site is legal or not, what should we do?

The concern is that if it's illegal, we now have a link to a pirated site. If it's legal we're all good, but that's the best case scenario.

Is it okay to link on main? Is it better to link on Meta? Should we not link at all? Is there a different way to look at this?

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We can deal with the questions as they warrant, when they are asked.

To any question that's asked there are multiple facets and layers. One of the most important are why the question is asked. And without having actual examples of a given question frame, it's really hard (probably impossible) to give a solution to how to deal with them.

The closest example I can think of (where a pirate site has been integral to the question) the pirate site hosted official material mixed with homebrew. We can deal with that as that.

If the asker wants to be able to identify pirate content, they should probably ask for that, and we can decide whether using an explicit example is necessary. Or, they could ask the positive question of what is included in the SRD/Open licence or applicable equivalent for the system. Example from Pathfinder 1e: What content can I reproduce from Pathfinder?

If they're asking because they want to know whether we're ok with links to it, they should ask on meta or chat. (Judging by the last paragraph of the triggering main site question, that would probably be the best approach there.)

If they're after some other concern I haven't thought of, we can handle that then. If need be have the meta discussion then.

For now we aren't getting a flood of such questions. If we start doing, we can deal with it then. My suspicion is that the majority don't care outside of posts being made on our site (and others), and for such concerns chat or meta are probably better suited.


I revised a fair chuck of this answer from focusing on how to ask the middle category of questions, to dealing with the actual problem. We don't need to solve that problem for them now, we can do that once they've asked the question (or they workshop it somewhere). There was only a single vote at that time, so none such to invalidate.

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Such questions are, strictly speaking, XY problems

The question of a site’s “legality,” strictly speaking, is

  • unanswerable: It only becomes known after a court ruling. And strictly, that ruling only applies to what the site was doing at the time it was sued, not to anything they’ve done since.

  • useless: These matters almost never actually go to court, so the undecided question of “legality” won’t ever truly be decided. Therefore it won’t affect anything, including the querent, the site, or the copyright holder.

But people asking this question aren’t literally asking “what is the court ruling on this site’s use of this material?” which is, strictly speaking, what “is this site legal?” has to mean. What they want to know is if there is something immoral and/or dangerous about the site in question. They want to know if using it is damaging the publisher they want to support, or if the site is going to disappear on them, or if they can get in trouble for using it.

And those questions are things that we are best-suited to answer. We know the landscape, copyright holders, the things that are acceptable and unacceptable. We can and should answer those questions.

“Teach a man to fish” is not an acceptable answer, in my opinion. Because the actual answer isn’t something we look up, or reading licenses, or whatever. It’s experience—knowing what kinds of things, historically, have been considered acceptable by the copyright holder, and which things have not. What they have said is acceptable. And so on. We can’t transfer that knowledge and experience in an answer. I don’t see any way to actually accomplish this in a useful way.

Instead, we should put a banner on it disclaiming legal authority and pointing out that “legality” barely even comes into it, and then answer the question. And if the question links to the site that’s being questioned—and this is a sincere, genuine question, not a “subtle” attempt to promote a piracy site or whatever—the link should be fine. Maybe if it turns out to be a piracy site, we edit the link out and just describe the site by title or whatever. But even if we leave the link in, the only real danger there is link rot—which, if the site dies, the entire question is completely historical anyway so it doesn’t really matter. Such a question is unlikely to cause any other troubles for the site.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess my concern is do we want to be a resource for pirate links? Just having the question up creates a link to that site that people can then use. We are definitely the experts who can if it is or isn't, but is just having it there bad for our site because we end up potentially generating more traffic to them? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 29 '20 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Worry about that problem when it actually becomes a problem. I strongly doubt it would. We don’t get many questions like this, and I don’t expect a torrent of them. I doubt the question is exactly going to blow up and become hugely visited. It’s just not going to matter. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 29 '20 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is excellent advice, and I guess it isn't a problem because the one recent question did get deleted. But it raised the potential concern for me. Totally fine leaving this for another if and when someone posts a question and they don't delete it. And I don't understand the hot question system and couldn't it show up there? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 29 '20 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not sure why this is getting downvoted, it's not an unreasonable approach. Is there something I'm missing someone can comment on? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 29 '20 at 14:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Note that I deleted the question because I was made unsure as to whether such questions were allowed. I can certainly re-ask it or undelete it \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 29 '20 at 16:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 I'mnot sure it's worth undeleting just so we have something specific. I believe you've done the right thing, so maybe we pick this up again when someone posts a similar question and they don't delete. Either way, I think we need to let this marinate more as additional answers/ideas come in. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 29 '20 at 16:10

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