I have another money-making idea for the foundation, which is the setting up
of a "Pledge bank".
This ties in with my earlier direct debit/standing order suggestion but is
even more voluntary.
The concept is people sign a pledge to donate an amount to Wikimedia either
every month, every quarter, bi-annually or annually. For example, someone
pledges $5 per month to support the Foundation. They fill in details on a
form and every month the Foundation sends them a polite reminder with a
quick link to the donate page with the amount filled in.
This is aimed at providing a more steady stream of income from project
supporters, the periodic emails can document items like project milestones
and the like to encourage fulfilling the pledge, but it remains optional.
You're not spamming people for money, you offer a very easy opt-out, but you
do end up with people who believe in the various project goals giving small
Robert Hornung writes:
> What has been suggested here by Mike and Andrew was
> not a modification of the GFDL to an updated version, but suggesting
> that some sort of community vote could happen here that would simply
> ignore that the GFDL even exists, and simply replacing the default
> license on all Wikimedia projects to something like CC-by-SA.
This suggestion is wholly incorrect. What we have been talking about
is working with FSF to develop an update of GFDL that better
accommodates wikis and that also is harmonized with the terms of a
revised versino of CC-BY-SA.
Note, by the way, that criticisms of other CC licenses generally don't
tell us much about about possible objections to CC-BY-SA specifically.
I think CC-BY-SA is already very close to GFDL in terms of how it
> I have not agreed to have my contributions released under any other
> license other than the GFDL, and that is all I'm asserting. The flame
> is coming from the presumption that I am insisting on maintaining
> everything under the terms of the GFDL v 1.2, and that is not what I'm
> saying. I'm simply declaring in a public forum that I am asserting my
> copyright on my contributions to Wikimedia projects, and insisting
> they remain under the terms of the GFDL.... nothing more or less than
> simply this. The rest is reaction to this bold statement, as if the
> GFDL doesn't matter at all.
I think because of your incorrect statement of the issue (see above),
what you say in this paragraph is pretty much irrelevant. We're
talking about a revision of GFDL, not an abandonment of it.
It has been over a year since the first commission was appointed. It was
high time for renewal. I would like to thank you our previous team,
Nathan, Steve and Enders for their help over the past year (their task
was not always very easy), and welcome the new team
The ombudsman commission is tasked with processing complaints about
concerning the use of CheckUser tools. The ombudsman is tasked with
investigating cases of such policy breach or CheckUser abuse for the
board in an official manner. They will mediate between the complainant
and the respondent (usually a CheckUser, bureaucrat, administrator, or
arbitration committee member). When legally necessary, the ombudsman
will assist the general counsel, the executive director or the board in
handling the case.
Since the issue was raised during the year, let me repeat that the
commission is not here to fix various disagreements and abuse reports,
These people were selected to provide a healthy mix of language, project
and gender diversity. Two have been CU, so are familiar with this role
and the issues related to CU activities. The third is deeply interested
will feel confortable with them joining this commission.
More on the commission here:
Matthew Britton writes:
> Allowing people to "opt out" like this simply isn't
I think it's only theoretically impossible. As a practical matter, I
don't think it's much of a problem. I believe we could work with the
minority of contributors who believe their content cannot be migrated
in a way that is satisfactory to them.
> I imagine most people who have been contributing for any
> length of time share my view that our contributions are
> effectively public domain and, regardless of what I, the
> Foundation or indeed anyone else does, have been and will
> be used in many different ways without the slightest bit of
> respect for the GFDL or any other license.
This is in fact what makes it possible, as a practical matter, to
accommodate those contributors who object -- most contributors aren't
personally invested in the specifics of the GFDL.
As Andrew Whitworth writes:
> Besides a few GFDL ideologists, most contributors wouldn't care at all
> if we switched licenses, and many would welcome the freedom of a less
> restrictive licensing scheme.
Now, I don't disagree with Tim Bartel's point that:
> Clauses like '...or later
> versions.' are invalid in German jurisdiction and only the rest of the
> license applies. [Delphine makes the same point about French law.]
... but I think as a practical matter this is not a problem, because
you'd have to find a copyright-holding Wikipedian in Germany who (a)
doesn't want to relicense, and (b) would prefer to spend money on
litigation rather than simply withdraw his or her contributions (from
Wikipedia, not from any other venue that is using the content
consistent with older GFDL versions) . And even if you could find
someone for whom both (a) and (b) are true, the fact that WMF would
likely withdraw the contributions anyway if litigation were even
hinted at would go a long way towards building a legal defense for WMF
in such a case.
Kwan Ting Chan writes:
> There is either a legal need for WP to provide an opt-out if/when it
> relicense under a later (major revision) version of GFDL, or there
The Law of the Excluded Middle is less helpful in applying the Law of
Copyright than you might imagine. The latter, like all human legal
systems, is far more probabilistic and far less binary.
> True. But in practise, the foundation will based on the advice given
> it by its counsel, decide that there either is a need or isn't.
The Foundation's actions will be based on many things most likely, and
only one of the factors will be my advice, or the advice of other
counsel we consult.
>> One may
>> reasonably assume that oldtimers who want their stuff removed would
>> help us comply in removing it.
> How can they help? Giving someone who rejects the licensing terms of
> wikipedia admin powers is not a good idea (currently it pretty much
> results in a block on sight).
I certainly didn't propose any such thing. One can help without having
> There are significant differences between wikipedia and other groups.
> Other groups have fewer angry former members
What? You've never heard of the Catholic Church? (Or, for that
matter, the Church of Scientology!)
> This has nothing to do with allowing opt outs. Suppose someone who
> made some changes to the George W. Bush article back in 2005 decided
> to opt out? that would require the deletion of 2 years of derivatives.
There's no particular reason to believe this is so. Not all
subsequent edits would necessarily follow from the material that was
Already from the start, the word "foundation" in the title of the
Wikimedia Foundation has caused confusion. In Florida, you
register a corporation, and "foundation" is just part of a name.
In some countries in Europe, there are completely different laws
for corporations, associations and foundations (German: Stiftung).
In short, a foundation (Stiftung) is an immutable long-term,
self-governing holder of money. A typically example is the Nobel
Foundation, which holds the money inherited from Alfred Nobel, and
every year spends the interest on the Nobel Prizes.
Apparently, the WMF has a problem to foresee how much each year's
donation campaign will bring in, and how the coming year's budget
can be made to fit this. Perhaps each year will raise less and
less money, and that we already have the best years behind us.
Is there a way we could reach better long-term stability? Should
the WMF set up a long-term fund and move some of this year's money
there, as a reserve for future meager years? If the interest rate
is 4% then a fund which is 25 times bigger than the budget can
support it in whole for ever. But even a smaller fund might be a
good help. Should donors be given the option of giving to the
current budget or giving to the fund? Has this been discussed?
(Some people would claim they can easily earn more than 4% annual
interest. Obviously, they should start savings banks.)
Lars Aronsson (lars(a)aronsson.se)
Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se
This is a question for you legal eagles out there:
A town in Missouri (USA) has made on-line stalking and harassment a crime. I
don't know much of the details, I just got it from CNN. But my question is,
if the person charged an/or convicted of this crime were doing this in
Wikipedia, or one of the other Projects, would the case involve us.
Robert Horning writes:
> I've seen other websites try this with Wikimedia content, and I don't
> know how you give "full notice to the community" of a license change.
I regard this as essentially a trivial problem. You could put it on
the front page of each language's Wikipedia, for example. Those who
never see the Project front pages might not see such a notice -- but
they probably don't know we're having a fundraiser, either.
Furthermore, I'm willing to bet that the set of contributors who both
(a) insist on an old version of GFDL and (b) care about it enough to
remove content if migration happens, and (c) wouldn't hear about the
migration is a very, very, small set of contributors.
> If you are modifying the license
> terms outside of the terms of the GFDL, you need to renegotiate with
> that contributor...including all anonymous contributors.
I don't believe this is required, as a practical matter. Consider,
agreements all the time, unilaterally. They issue long, complicated
notices when they do this. Amazingly, this triggers neither mass
departures nor massive negotiations with individuals. And they are
dealing with far larger populations than we are.
I agree that you're right in theory, of course. In practice, not so
big a problem.
> Such a license change (barring massive cooperation from the Free
> Software Foundation to change the GFDL itself using the "or later
> version" escape clause) would require all contributions to be removed
> from Wikipedia by those authors who didn't agree to the change.
We are, of course, assuming cooperation from FSF as a prerequisite
for all this. As Jimbo says, this whole discussion is a product of
three-way negotiations between FSF, CC, and WMF. If FSF suddenly
said, hey, we're never going to do anything to support migration to a
version of GFDL that looks like a version of CC-BY-SA, we could stop
this whole discussion immediately.
What I've been telling people is that if you don't trust the FSF Board
to be custodians of the meaning of GFDL, then you have bigger problems
with the GFDL than anything Wikimedia Foundation could create. Me, I
trust the FSFers.
> An attempt by the WMF to go this route would simply mean a
> fork in Wikipedia where "purists" who want to maintain the GFDL
> of Wikipedia would have everything that currently exists, and the CC-
> version would be a hollow shell of the original version of the
I think the risk of a fork is very low, at this late date. But even if
it happened, the notion that "purists" would somehow control the
"original" Wikipedia while the CC-BY-SA version would be a "hollow
shell" strikes me as less likely than the other way around.
> BTW, you can count me in an a GFDL ideologist if you want, and my
> contributions are under the terms of the GFDL.... and I intend to
> enforce that license on anything I've contributed to Wikimedia
> where the GFDL is the explicit default license of the project.
I of course support your prerogative to do this. I think that any
migration has to accommodate GFDL "ideologists" and allow for their
removal of their content if they believe the project is not adequately
copyleft for them.
> But then again, those websites
> generally got so little web traffic that most of them fold up after
> than a year of operation.
There's also the notion that we law students learned early on -- "de
minimis non curat lex." But that's okay, since you wouldn't have to
seek legal recourse to address your objections -- you'd just remove
your contributions, citing GFDL concerns, and no one would stop you.
But remember (a) we're talking about migration in cooperation with
FSF, not in opposition to FSF, and (b) the CC-BY-SA license is
designed to be viral to the same degree as GFDL, without being as
At the end of the day, what you have to ask yourself is this: is our
primary purpose as Wikipedians to get the knowledge out to the world
for free (and in a way that keeps it free), or is our purpose to
privilege an older version of GFDL regardless of whether it inhibits
our ability to provide the world information for free? I tend to
think our purpose is more the first than the second.