I haven't seen it done myself, but are there any examples of people stealing other's challenges off the sandbox to use themselves? what happened to those questions/users?

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Everything posted to this site is CC-BY-SA, but intentionally stealing challenges from the sandbox violates the main Be Nice policy. I can't recall a time in the past year or so that I've been here where it's happened intentionally, but I can count a couple of unintentional ones. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 13, 2016 at 20:48
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ It has happened before. It probably depends on how egregious it is, for example, if it was clear that the user knew about the sandbox post it would probably be downvoted, or possibly even deleted for plagiarism. If it was just a coincidence, I don't think anything would happen. \$\endgroup\$
    – DJMcMayhem
    Sep 13, 2016 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


There are a few different possible scenarios here. Here is how I would expect them to play out.

Scenario 1: Didn't see it in the Sandbox

If you post a challenge that is a duplicate of one already in the Sandbox, without having seen the Sandboxed challenge, technically you have done nothing wrong. It's still a good idea to include a reference to the Sandboxed challenge (to comply with CC-BY-SA's attribution requirement). You will almost certainly be barraged with comments to the effect of "you stole this from the Sandbox!" (and possibly downvotes). Once the Sandboxed challenge is ready for posting to the main site, however, don't be surprised if your version is closed as a duplicate of the previously-Sandboxed challenge - since it went through the Sandbox, it's almost certainly going to be a better challenge.

Scenario 1a: Didn't see it in the Sandbox, also posted it in the Sandbox

If this happens, then there is a fundamental failure of our Sandbox system - it's supposed to allow users time to review challenges and point out issues such as potential duplicates (either on main or also in the Sandbox). If that happened, either you didn't leave it in the Sandbox long enough, or the Sandbox has failed you. Either way, it's likely to go the same route as above (closed as a duplicate of the other challenge once it is posted to main).

Scenario 2: Did see it in the Sandbox

If you post a challenge to the main site that you did see in the Sandbox, if you don't provide attribution, you are violating CC-BY-SA, as well as Stack Exchange's Be Nice policy, because the user that posted it to the Sandbox clearly intends to post it to the main site at some point, and you tried to steal that away from them. Again, expect a flood of comments and potentially downvotes, like in Scenario 1.

Scenario 2a: Saw it in the Sandbox, but it was abandoned.

As Martin pointed out in the comments, we have a protocol for that. As long as you follow the protocol, you'll be fine. If you don't, as above, prepare for the deluge of comments and possibly downvotes.

TL;DR: Search the main site and the Sandbox for duplicates before posting a challenge. It's just common courtesy.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think in scenario 1[a], it wouldn't necessarily result in a lot of downvotes. Mistakes and oversights happen, and while it's a good idea there is no formal requirement to search the sandbox. I'd usually assume good faith as a voter in such a case. In scenario 2, I'd like to add that this is a community and the most joy you can derive from participation on PPCG is from the interaction with others. If you're deliberately stealing others' ideas, you're probably not going to have a good time. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 14, 2016 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's also scenario 3: found it in the sandbox but the post was abandoned. There's a protocol for that case. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 14, 2016 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinEnder Though you may assume good faith, not everyone will (though ideally they would). \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Sep 14, 2016 at 20:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BetaDecay You mean searching for it but not finding the dupe? That's still Scenario 1, essentially. \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Sep 16, 2016 at 23:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego I see, yes \$\endgroup\$
    – Beta Decay
    Sep 16, 2016 at 23:32

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