Typical disclaimer is now just common fodder for all papers and books. Any advice on a more original take to this generic statement would be appreciated!

  • 9
    That's certainly not a typical disclaimer in applied CS.
    – xLeitix
    Jul 30, 2014 at 7:28
  • 2
    "work done by @mateuz and barring a response below, is error-free. thoughts, questions, bugs, feature requests?" and add a link to your github repo/comment form/etc
    – albert
    Jul 30, 2014 at 7:55
  • 34
    "It is traditional for the author to magnanimously accept the blame for whatever deficiencies remain. I don’t. Any errors, deficiencies, or problems in this book are somebody else’s fault, but I would appreciate knowing about them so as to determine who is to blame." — Steven S. Skiena, The Algorithm Design Manual
    – JeffE
    Jul 30, 2014 at 12:56
  • 8
    I've never seen such a disclaimer in an academic paper (pure maths, theoretical comp sci). Who else's would the errors be? Jul 30, 2014 at 20:21
  • 11
    All your error are belong to us?
    – user20213
    Jul 31, 2014 at 10:51

5 Answers 5


Making the manuscript error-free is left as an exercise for the reader.

  • Now that I read this nice one from you, using it is plagiarism :( (it would be odd to provide a citation in a disclaimer) ;-)
    – gerrit
    Jul 30, 2014 at 15:08
  • 26
    I hereby place it in the public domain! Jul 30, 2014 at 15:11
  • 4
    But, using a text from the public domain without stating that it's not ones own, is still plagiarism, isn't it? ;-)
    – gerrit
    Jul 30, 2014 at 15:11
  • 2
    It would be nice to include the sentence "This text contains at least an error" as well. Jul 31, 2014 at 14:06
  • 1
    I wonder why this got upvoted so often. It is a non-helpful response, and there are fields in which this disclaimer is common, so the original question is fair to ask.
    – DCTLib
    Aug 1, 2014 at 8:12

What is the point? If errors are due to factors other than those under ones own control, it should be mentioned (people are usually careful to protect their own names from problems they are not responsible for). Any unreferenced errors, ambiguities, misconceptions will clearly be labelled as the fault of the author by default.

  • 5
    The point is to protect against angry colleagues, and there are fields (not CS) where adding such a disclaimer is customary. For example, sometimes, a citation to previous works will lay out a different story than the author of that previous work prefers to be told. The disclaimer points out that "errors" may be possible (as always), so the author of that work is more likely to see this as an error rather than a try to attack that older work.
    – DCTLib
    Jul 30, 2014 at 9:31
  • 1
    Another case is when someone puts a draft paper of some work on her homepage for a work that is still in the discussion-with-peers stage. Ideas by peers may already be integrated as essential parts of the paper, thus justifying co-authorship of a final published version of the paper, but not every draft version is thoroughly checked by everyone who contributed. Yet, it makes sense to add the contributors already as authors, so that they receive some preliminary credit for the ideas. Adding the disclaimer helps to free the contributors from being able to justify details of the unfinished work.
    – DCTLib
    Jul 30, 2014 at 14:01
  • @DCTLib Why would you be making a draft public without the consent of your co-authors? If your co-authors have consented to the draft being made public then they are consenting to be associated with any errors in it so no disclaimer is necessary. Jul 30, 2014 at 20:24
  • @DavidRicherby The draft would not be made public without the consent of the co-authors (whose contribution at that point the paper might have simply been contributing some ideas and explaining them to the leading author). The idea of such a draft is to stimulate discussions along colleagues rather than being perfectly throroughly checked published works.
    – DCTLib
    Jul 31, 2014 at 10:46
  • Consider for example a 100-page draft with some ideas by various authors. It is put online such that everyone from the community can read it, not only those that contributed ideas already. The work is discussed at a workshop. After the discussion on the workshop, the lead author who collects and compiles the ideas probably scrapes 70% of the paper and replaces their concepts. If everyone who contributed one idea would have had to read every detail, then (1) the work would have been delayed a lot due to the workload, and (2) much work would have been in vain, due to the replacement of stuff...
    – DCTLib
    Jul 31, 2014 at 10:56

Donald E. Knuth writes in the Preface of Volume 4A of his series The Art of Computer Programming:

I fear that [errors] lurk among the details collected here, and I want to correct them as soon as possible. Therefore I will cheerfully award $2.56 to the first finder of each technical, typographical, or historical error.

This is not novel but if there is a greater way to own up and ask for help, I don't know it. This assumes, of course, you want to know about errors and not just issue a blanket "my faul, duh" statement.

Incidentally, Knuth cites Christos H. Papadimitriou (Computational Complexity, 1994) just below; if you are in for a little snark:

Naturally, I am responsible for the remaining errors---although, in my opinions, my friends could have caught a few more.

I don't think it makes sense to copy such a statement (even as citation) to replace your own words. The best way is probably to be authentic and write what you think.


Usually, such a disclaimer appears when the author of the paper/book acknowledges some contribution from other persons that do not appear as authors, especially when (for papers) the referees are acknowledged for constructive comments and suggestions.
The polite way is to say "all remaining errors are my own".

The "heavy-weight professional" way is to say "the usual disclaimer applies".

A natural way to create a Catch-22 (a vicious circle) would be to state "to the best of my knowledge, this paper contains no further erors".


I find the increasing prevalence of this type of acknowledgement annoying. In political science, it seems like it is on almost every paper. Indeed, some authors have now switched to just writing "the usual disclaimer applies". Why I would need to acknowledge that I am responsible for (errors in) something I have authored continues to allude me. A novel (yet pleasantly classical) strategy would be to say nothing of this sort at all.

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