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I recently came across a question that got me thinking. This question in particular is quite easily answered with a D&DI subscription, by searching through the online Compendium. It's asking for an item with a specific bonus attached.

There's been other questions that we have answered by providing Compendium links as references, but these typically call out specific powers, feats, rules, or other items.

This question has me slightly bothered because the only way to answer it definitively is by having access to a full library of resources, the likes of which is only available through a D&DI subscription.

Do we need to draw a line here, to avoid becoming the "ask the Compendium" board for people who may not be paying subscribers to the service? Is there perhaps something in the D&DI ToS that we should be mindful of, when addressing these questions?

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An answer in three parts.

  1. Anyone posting content here should make sure they are not infringing copyright or other IP law, and that burden is 100% on that individual. See the previous meta question on "What constitutes copyright infringement." So yes, if you are posting info from DDI, understand the ToS and IP law in general. (IP law says you can't copyright game mechanics, but their ToS may allow them to boot you for otherwise legal activity, I don't know.)
  2. The SE community generally believes even trivially Googleable information should be put into answers on an SE. I personally am not so happy about that, but it's well established SE culture so I go along with it. Obviously if it holds for a general search engine then it holds for something more rarefied like DDI.
  3. I don't really care if any site "feels like we're stepping on their toes," ESPECIALLY WotC given their attitude towards IP and the player community. If they feel like anything is violating their rights they can file a DMCA request and the extremely knowledgable SE staff will determine if that's right or not.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Given these caveat's it seems like a DDI link is GOOD for WotC - it up-sells subscriptions. If I were running that resource, I'd want as many deep-links into DDI as possible from sites like this one. \$\endgroup\$ – F. Randall Farmer Nov 30 '10 at 2:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @F.RandallFarmer - I agree. In fact, even though I already had a D&DI subscription and full Compendium access, it's this site that pushed me into buying the Essentials Rules Compendium! I'd already been considering the product, and when I saw how many people were referring to that after it was released (when they weren't pointing to D&DI) I was totally sold on it! \$\endgroup\$ – Iszi Dec 1 '10 at 22:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I don't think anyone can disagree with point #1. However, I do not agree with your application of point #2 here. Google and the Compendium are very different resources, with the most pertinent issue at hand being that the Compendium is not a public-access resource. As for point #3, we can hopefully avoid that by strictly following #1 and even enforcing censorship by moderators where blatant violations are seen. Still, for the purposes of properly answering that issue, and the question I've posed, we require the knowledge of someone else who is more well-versed in the D&DI ToS. \$\endgroup\$ – Iszi Dec 1 '10 at 22:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @iszi - point #1 (you make sure you're not violating something) plus point 2 (SE says you don't just link, you copy here) = go ahead. My point 1 addresses the public access vs not issue. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Dec 1 '10 at 23:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I may have not quite caught that. Still, it does not quite address the issue to the degree of clarification I think needs to be sought after. There has to be someone out here who has some better familiarity with the legalese to be able to clarify where the line should be drawn on copying stuff out of the Compendium - especially in cases where the answer to a question can only best be provided by a "proxy Compendium". I'm no fan of this either, but WotC is going to greater lengths now to protect their IP and I think it's in this site's best interest to bear that direction in mind. \$\endgroup\$ – Iszi Dec 2 '10 at 3:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Iszi - IMO it is better for the site for the site not to care and say it's the poster's responsibility. If we get into the business of interpreting the law and providing guidance we take on legal culpability, as many ISPs have discovered. We have no official thoughts on this and don't want to. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Dec 2 '10 at 4:23
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I don't think so. Your answer alone shows that a simple search of the Compendium isn't exhaustive, and can leave some room for error.

Simply because a resource exists, doesn't mean that any question covered by that resource should be off limits. Almost every rules question on the site boils down to a citation of some resource or another: the PHB, the DMG, WotC customer service, etc. Questions about Compendium content are no more stepping on the Compendium's toes than those questions are stepping on the toes of the DMG, PHB, and so on.

As to this question itself, the question that you're really asking is: Is there a level of question that is too trivial to be asked here? Which is an interesting question on its own, but a difficult one to pin down.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps we should ask that question though. After all, SE sites are supposed to be comprised of "experienced professionals" and are not really meant to address novice or entry-level problems. Or, did I mis-read something? \$\endgroup\$ – Iszi Dec 1 '10 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Iszi - It's all very well saying to people, Why are you asking such a simple question, it's easily answered by reading the compendium on DDI, but as players we don't always have access to all of the books and we don't all want to pay for a subscription to DDI. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Booth Dec 8 '11 at 1:05

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