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Is the software used to run stackexchange open source? I haven't found any info on this in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stackexchange or http://stackexchange.com/about . A related question is the status of its data. I understand that everything is CC-BY-SA licensed (which is great!), and that, e.g., mathoverflow posts dumps periodically at http://dumps.mathoverflow.net/ . If SE turned out to be unprofitable and Union Square Ventures didn't come through with more money, could sites like physics.se have their data preserved and be rebuilt with different hosting, or could everything just vanish into a black hole? If the software is proprietary, would such a rebuilding involve recreating all the software from scratch?

EDIT: Found this http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2009/10/stackoverflow-shares-its-mojo.php , which seems to indicate that the software is being sold, although that doesn't necessarily mean it's closed-source (e.g., Red Hat sells a flavor of linux that's open source).

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    $\begingroup$ I think this question should be migrated to meta.stackoverflow.com - it is relevant to the entire Stack Exchange Network. $\endgroup$ – Anderson Green Nov 20 '12 at 19:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Anderson There are already many copies of it there, so I don't think there is much point in migrating. You're right that questions relevant to the entire SE network should be asked on MSO in the first place, but when they are asked here, it's not usually worth the effort to migrate them. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 20 '12 at 22:27
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No, it is not open source. The data is released under a CC license, but the software is proprietary.

The link you found and included in your edit refers to an old program known as "Stack Exchange 1.0" under which Stack Overflow Inc. would effectively rent out the use of its software to third parties to create their own sites. As far as I know, the software would still run on Stack Overflow's servers, so the third parties never got direct access to it in either binary or source form. Anyway, the Stack Exchange 1.0 program has since been discontinued and replaced by the current system, under which sites are created at Area 51.

If SE turned out to be unprofitable and Union Square Ventures didn't come through with more money, could sites like physics.se have their data preserved and be rebuilt with different hosting?

Yes, in principle, since SE releases monthly periodic data dumps.

If the software is proprietary, would such a rebuilding involve recreating all the software from scratch?

Yes it would, although I believe there are a couple of open source projects that aim to create Stack Exchange "clones" which could, in principle, import data from one of the data dumps.

For more information, you can search on Meta Stack Overflow where this has already been asked a number of times.

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  • $\begingroup$ And several former StackExchange 1.0 sites have migrated to hosted or self-hosted OSQA solutions - OSQA is one of the open-source Q&A packages: you can ask questions about it, and see the software in action, at meta.osqa.net $\endgroup$ – 410 gone Aug 18 '11 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ The meta question that you posted has been removed (for no apparent reason.) :( $\endgroup$ – Anderson Green Nov 20 '12 at 19:45
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As David said, it is proprietary. However, here is a list of OpenSource clones of the engine. IMO the most advanced are Shapado and OSQA.

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