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I'm thinking of developing a third-party client for Quora in Windows Phone. There are a few but they just run Quora in a mobile browser.

The problem is there is no public or open APIs of Quora. And I want to develop an app which logs in a user and displays questions related to his faved topics and all.

The way i've figured out is through scraping a user's webpage content and then accessing the important elements. Is this way of scraping legal?

I won't save his data anywhere, except the user's session so he keeps logged in even in the background.

Oh and should I ask this on Stack Overflow, if this isn't the place?

Thanks.

  • The best way to find out if something's legal is to ask a lawyer in the appropriate jurisdiction. – Mark Aug 9 '14 at 23:12
  • How is It off topic? Can anyone tell please? – Abdussami Tayyab Aug 10 '14 at 8:29
  • Requests for legal advice are generally seen as off-topic. – Mark Aug 10 '14 at 9:05
  • Oh okay, i'll be careful next time. One last question, where should I ask about these issues? – Abdussami Tayyab Aug 10 '14 at 10:01
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    Legal issues? If the correctness of the answer is important to you, ask a lawyer. Asking random people on the Internet is a spectacularly bad idea, since most of them are not afraid to speak authoritatively about how they think the law works, while not knowing how it actually works. – Mark Aug 10 '14 at 10:05
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As a general rule, most content web sites get really upset if you republish their content.

I think this section of the Quora ToS disallows writing your own interfaces:

You must not do any of the following while accessing or using the Service: (vi) access or search or attempt to access or search the Service by any means (automated or otherwise) other than through the currently available, published interfaces that are provided by Quora (and only pursuant to those terms and conditions), unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Quora (crawling the Service is permissible in accordance with these Terms, but scraping the Service without the prior consent of Quora except as permitted by these Terms is expressly prohibited);

Quora allows users to flag some content as "Not for redistribution", and in theory users retain ownership of the content they write, which are both also hurdles, because you could be violating the users' copyrights.

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    Those that don't get upset usually provide a method more efficient than simple crawling, such as Wikipedia's API and database dumps. – Mark Aug 9 '14 at 23:31
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    Haha Jeff I follow you on Quora too, I need to have a good WP app, consider flexing ToS or making an API. – Abdussami Tayyab Aug 10 '14 at 8:31
  • You can try to ask the Quora team (I'm not one). If you send them a proposal that stresses the benefits to Quora of having third party apps or open APIs, they might approve it. – Jeff-Inventor ChromeOS Aug 10 '14 at 8:42
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    What I wonder is where exactly the legal line is drawn between just another user agent, and "the currently available, published interfaces". None of the user agents are actually showing the raw HTML / CSS / Javascript. They're all interpreting it and displaying it (slightly differently). The OP isn't proposing to run a service that proxies Quora against which users separately authenticate, he's just suggesting writing a customized User-Agent. Now, I'm not a lawyer, so don't take that as legal advice, but as a technologist there doesn't seem to be a clear distinction. – Parthian Shot Aug 10 '14 at 16:37
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This is not really an information security question, but I'm sure you'll find this is addressed in the Quora terms of service: http://www.quora.com/about/tos

crawling the Service is permissible in accordance with these Terms, but scraping the Service without the prior consent of Quora except as permitted by these Terms is expressly prohibited;

In general the site terms of service should be the first place you look when there's any question about what you can do with their content.

  • You should mention that violating any terms of service in itself is not illegal. It is just a list of things the author will see as reasons to block you. – Philipp Aug 9 '14 at 23:41
  • @Phillip Only block me? Isn't it a case where I can be sued? Or dumped up in jail haha? – Abdussami Tayyab Aug 10 '14 at 8:30

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