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General Conventions for Quoting

The Jargon File is in the public domain, to be freely used, shared, and modified. There are (by intention) no legal restraints on what you can do with it, but there are conventions about its proper use which help people get the best use out of it, and minimize hassles for the maintainers. They're simple:

These conventions are ways to cope with the fact that some of the File's material dates rapidly. Quoting from or keeping around very old versions may mislead people, and causes nasty headaches for the maintainers -- it's frustrating to get repeated reports about bugs we fixed years ago. Helpful detail follows.

Get the latest version...

Please check the Jargon File Resource Page before quoting to make sure you have the latest, freshest version. This is good for your readers and helps the File's maintainers too.

Cite the File correctly...

Please extend the courtesy of proper citation when you quote the File, ideally with a version number, as it will change and grow over time. Examples of appropriate citation form: ``the Jargon File 4.1.0'' or ``The on-line hacker Jargon File, version 4.1.0'' followed by a date. Of course, you want to cite the correct current version.

The point of this practice is to clue in your readers when the quote might become dated.

Try to check with a maintainer...

Although there is no legal requirement that you do so, it is considered good form to check with the File maintainer(s) before excerpting the File in a published work or commercial product. Email us at; we may have additional information that would be helpful to you, and can assist you in framing your use to reflect not only the letter of the File but its spirit as well.

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Eric S. Raymond <>