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Someone (anonymous user) tried to edit in a link to open5e.com to one of my answers, and another one. I tripped over the edits via comment notification, and I rejected them both with the cause "harmful" -- I am not familiar with the site and something didn't smell right.

That the editor came up as "anonymous user" for the proposed gave me a bad gut feel.

Personal opinion: editing in links to someone else's question or answer is one of those things that is sometimes helpful, and sometimes not. I'd prefer it be discussed in comments, but that's not required. The SO/SE guideline on links being added to another's post is supported in this blog post at SO on editing guidance:

•Linking to other resources related to the post

Perhaps the user was trying to be helpful along those lines.

Did I overreact?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I put in links to the two edits after looking at the queue's history to find them. I'm not sure what amount of rep is required to view the queue history (it was a feature added long after I had enough rep for it), but I think the edit records themselves should be visible to anyone once they have the direct link. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 23 '16 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Aha, I went to the edit page and tried a few more options than I usually open -- sure enough, there it was, I could have found it after the rejection by opening a different tab than my devault. Glad to see the other reviewers agreed with me. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 23 '16 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not a feature advertised anywhere; I tripped over it one day myself, and then wondered why I'd never noticed it before! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 23 '16 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe open5e is legit, isn't it just the SRD? \$\endgroup\$ – Teralynx Feb 24 '16 at 14:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Teralynx SSD's review of the site from a comment below: Having had a look at open5e, they do seem to be paying the right degrees and kinds of overt attention to the license and how they're reusing the text. I'd say, in a totally personal evaluation, that they're on the up-and-up regarding both their intentions and their understanding of the OGL's workings. What got me was a non logged in/drive by edit inserting a link (and one I did not at the time recognize). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 24 '16 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ So if we see links to the site, they're all good in the hood? \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Feb 25 '16 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looks legit so far \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 26 '16 at 3:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ The site looks about as legit as d20srd.org. \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Mar 7 '16 at 19:31
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Anyone can edit, anonymous edits (just like those by low rep users) must be approved by two users with 2k reputation before they become active (or the power owner can approve). Repeatedly suggesting edits that are denied leads to a fairly quick automated IP level block.

Following that, yeah, putting links in to dubious sources is suspect and those edits should be denied. For rulebook content, there is no reason to link to a source other than referencing the page number. If you want to link to a source though, the official sources (Basic D&D and the SRD) would be much preferred as they aren't going anywhere and are official.

However, there is no reason for us (as a site) to be the judge of OGL compliance by a site like open5e.com. So links to there are not a problem. If that site is taken offline for some reason (C&D from WOTC or something else) then we will have to fix links to that content, but until then I don't see any reason to actively remove links to that site.

So basically, don't insert unnecessary links into other people's content, there's no reason for it, but also, there's no need to shy away from linking to this particular site.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast there's a longstanding SE policy that "moderators should not enforce copyright" by extension, the community shouldn't be either. We had something similar with a 3.5 site a while back where we advised against linking to it, but that was (IIRC) because they were republishing non OGL content. I can play armchair lawyer and tell you that my reading of the 5e OGL indicates that site isn't in violation, but IANAL and don't need to be to say that I don't see an issue linking there, but would not encourage us to insert links where the OP isn't using it. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Feb 23 '16 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast re the no username showing up, that means it's an actual not logged in anonymous user. (random drivebys can do this) \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Feb 23 '16 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Having had a look at open5e, they do seem to be paying the right degrees and kinds of overt attention to the license and how they're reusing the text. I'd say, in a totally personal evaluation, that they're on the up-and-up regarding both their intentions and their understanding of the OGL's workings. Your caution is/was still appropriate, and I agree with wax that we don't have a need for anonymous edits to posts that are already well-cited. I have some concern that there could be spammy intents, to get the site more exposure riding on our coattails. Or it could be benign. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 23 '16 at 21:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ "referencing the page number." Totally off-topic, but please also cite the chapter and heading, because people that own translations to their native language will be left hanging. "The first sentence on page 73 PHB proves you wrong" means I will have to read every single sentence on pages ~50-90 to hopefully find the one mentioned. "The first sentence of chapter 5 Combat under the Heading "Attack actions" on page 73 PHB" is a waaay better description for those of us that don't use the english books. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Feb 24 '16 at 11:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt maybe another meta on that topic? It really doesn't fit this question. (but I think you make a good point). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 24 '16 at 14:49
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  • The site does not seem to have anything obvious that would make higher traffic profitable for the owner, so I would exclude that malicious intent.
  • They seem to be on the safe side of the law and probably won't have to fear legal action from WotC, which means we don't have to fear the consequences of the site being taken down (fixing the links, that is)

However:

  • Consensus on quoting the Rulebooks is that it is generally tolerated, if the exact wording is relevant. Otherwise you are to paraphrase or reference.
  • In my opinion, the SRD5 and D&D5e are not exactly the same thing and if a question is on the topic of 5e, answers should relate to that and not to the SRD5.

Thus I suggest we stick to referencing and paraphrasing the official rules of D&D 5e and removing links to unofficial sites.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd be interested in where you see differences between the SRD and 5e, but that'd be a chat conversation rather than here in the comments. Hit me up sometime. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Feb 26 '16 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ “The site does not seem to have anything obvious that would make higher traffic profitable for the owner”: prestige. In the open source world, prestige is a very large motivator. :) There's also exposure/SEO (open5e.com is in fact trying to build a homebrewing community around itself), since we're a direct conduit to top Google ranking. There's nothing inherently wrong with adding links to online versions of the SRD, but if we see a sudden influx of anonymous/low-rep edits adding links to one online SRD in particular, then I'd be concerned about RPG.se being exploited for prestige and SEO. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 26 '16 at 16:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have noticed enough differences between the SRD and the printed rule books that I will probably stop referring to the 5e SRD at all. I have sent if seven error reports already. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 26 '16 at 19:40

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