My job involves a lot of searching and evaluating software. I routinely have to find out whether a piece of software is actually 100% open source, and sometimes it is more difficult/tricky that it seems.

  • Some claim to be open source but actually are not
  • Some are partly and have non-open source "components"
  • Some are but their source code is extremely hard to find

So should questions like Is [Software X] open source? be on-topic or off-topic?

2 Answers 2


“Is X open source?” — No. That's a question about a specific piece of software, not a question about open source. Doing the legwork to research the provenance of all the pieces of a software package isn't what this site is about.

“X has this license, does this clause make it non-open souce?” — Yes, that's a suitably-focused, on-topic question.


If people can show the effort they have already put into solving the question, then these would be on-topic in my opinion.

"I'm too lazy to search" stuff is off-topic on most/all stacks anyway.

  • 2
    Although your 2nd paragraph is true, allowing this kind-of sets the door open for such questions.
    – Mast
    Jun 24, 2015 at 8:46
  • 2
    I would personally still allow them. Sourcing the community to nail down those hard-to-find pieces of code might be exactly what may draw attention to the site. Of course these matters could escalate but, then again, that is what mods are for imho.
    – Eric
    Jun 27, 2015 at 9:34

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