This is my report on the April board meeting, which was held in Berlin
on April 3-5, in conjunction with a meeting/conference of the Wikimedia
chapters. But first, let me say that it was wonderful to be able to
coordinate so these could happen in the same place. I really appreciated
the opportunity to get to know the chapter representatives, exchange
ideas, and get a sense of their plans, priorities, and concerns. Thanks
to Wikimedia Deutschland as the host, those that contributed so we could
make sure every chapter was represented (itself an impressive
accomplishment), and all who participated. My biggest regret is that we
still had to have the board meeting and thus couldn't spend all of our
time with the chapters, who had plenty to work on and discuss themselves.
This will only be a brief summary, but I want to at least touch on some
of the more important points from the board meeting. As usual, more
detailed minutes will be published later. And yes, we are trying to
release the minutes more quickly - in fact, James has a draft for us to
For housekeeping items, we approved the minutes from the January meeting
(previously published, so you may have seen them already - in fact, they
were published before we actually approved them), along with the Form
990 to be filed with the IRS. Once our auditors report back that it has
indeed been filed, it will be posted along with an FAQ. With that
complete, the Audit Committee has been reconstituted for the coming
fiscal year's cycle, and all of its members are staying on. Sue also
briefly reported on the status of the CPO hiring process, the result of
which was recently announced so you already know about that.
Moving on to larger items of discussion, we spent some time on the issue
of biographies of living people (or BLP, for the acronym-happy), which
is an ongoing challenge in a number of Wikipedia languages. Since the
Wikimedia Foundation doesn't control the content of the projects, and
editing is entirely the domain of the volunteer community, there are
limits to what the board should appropriately do here. Ultimately we
worked on and passed a formal statement on the issue, which we'll be
publishing shortly. We also passed a brief statement on the foundation's
approach to trademarks. Both of these are in general terms, and the
ideas in them are probably not new to most of you, but we think they
contain some important shared principles.
Sue presented an overview of the annual plan for 2009-2010, which the
staff is currently developing and will be finalized before the end of
the fiscal year in June. The annual plan is a regular part of our
operations, but beyond that, we discussed development of a long-term
strategic plan for the organization. This is something that would frame
the overall goals and direction of Wikimedia, not just the foundation
but the overall movement, and supply the goals that an annual plan would
seek to implement at an operational level. We touched on the strategic
plan during a combined session of the board with the chapters and got a
lot of interesting thoughts and positive feedback. Since our meeting,
the board has recently passed a resolution directing Sue to develop a
working process for this strategic plan. We anticipate it will really
kick off around July, and be ongoing for roughly a year or so. It's been
emphasized throughout that the planning process will need to involve the
Wikimedia projects, chapters, and volunteers participants at all levels,
so this will be fairly unusual and challenging compared to strategic
planning as it is done in typical organizations.
Also, my apologies for not posting the agenda items here for everyone's
information in advance, as I've tried to do in the past. We had
mentioned the major issues before, like biographies of living persons,
and the strategic plan is a continuing topic from the previous board
meeting, but I neglected to put them all together for you.
I'm sure some people who aren't on commons-l are still interested in
this. Please vote! :-)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael Maggs <Michael(a)maggs.name>
Date: Sun, Apr 19, 2009 at 1:00 PM
Subject: [Commons-l] Final of the Commons Picture of the Year competition 2008
To: Wikimedia Commons Discussion List <commons-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
Voting is now open in the Final of the Commons Picture of the Year
Commons-l mailing list
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen wrote:
> Anthony wrote:
>> On Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 2:44 AM, Bence Damokos <bdamokos(a)gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hi all,
>>> Could we please summarize the outcome of the long discussions on this
>>> subject instead of discussing different external search services to the
>>> mailing list?
>> What is it specifically that you want to know? The discussions on this
>> mailing list were largely for the benefit of those involved in the
>> discussion, not for others to get a summary afterward. Furthermore, they
>> were censored to the point where they weren't able to get to the heart of
>> the matter, which is a fundamental difference on the moral issues
>> surrounding copyright law, attribution, integrity rights, etc.
I am somewhat curious as to the allegation of censorship on this
list. Do forward old e-mails by you that were blocked, to me personally,
if you retain any.
>> Are you strongly opposed to all types of "intellectual property"? Vote for
>> the change.
I don't see how this is warranted. As it stands the TOS proposed
is certainly semantically confusing, but hardly in stark opposition
to intellectual property. In fact Lawrence Lessig is on record as
stating taht CC licenses *depend* on intellectual property rights,
even if their purport is to maximally facilitate unlimited re-use, and
keeping the content in play for re-use.
>> Do you believe that the right to attribution is a fundamental natural right
>> which is held by individuals and cannot be alienated by majority vote? Vote
>> against the change, or refuse to vote at all.
Now this is just simply beyond the pale. You know full well that the
license as such is implicitly BY. And there is no TOS under vote that
would clearly deny any such purported natural right. The license
even states that whereas jurisdictions have moral rights legislation,
nothing in the license can be construed as limiting those exceptions
to the remit of the license itself.
Fortunately the license under vote is unsorted. Like I have said
before, I would prefer TOS that would require multiple licensing
under all localized license forms, but as a compromise it is enough
that a specific jurisdiction is not chosen as a privileged one.
--- On Fri, 4/17/09, Anthony <wikimail(a)inbox.org> wrote:
> In any case, this proposal certainly *will* undermine the
> individual right
> to attribution held by individual contributors, so anyone
> who supports that
> right *should* vote against the proposal or refuse to vote
> at all. If you
> want to nitpick whether or not this is indisputable, fine,
> I'll let you have
> your way. But indisputable or not, it is a true
Personally I don't think this proposal really changes anything significant in that regard. I think the our attribution model is inadequate and always has been. I don't think making this inadequacy more public than it has been in the past is a significant change.. I have confidence that someday we will switch to a better attribution model and that it will then be possible to migrate old edits to that model. I supported the change of license even though it not address my attribution concerns, because the change itself does not create these concerns. Trying to hold up the license change in an attempt to leverage proponents of CC-by-SA to address long-standing attribution inadequacies does not appeal to me. I cannot agree that vote for a change in licensing can be interpreted as support for the current attribution model. It only means you believe the change in licensing is a net benefit over no change.
I found a few apparent legal problems while translating the license
update documents. Apologies if these have already been discussed to
death - I didn't follow earlier debates, and the archives are mostly
useless as a knowledge base.
== revision not specified ==
The TOS says that reusers have to attribute the authors by linking to
the article. The problem is that such a link will actually point to a
different article after each edit (that is, the text and author list
will have been changed). If you find a text copied from Wikipedia on
the net, and there is no date information, it is very hard to find out
which version of the article it is (and thus who the authors are); if
the text is a derivative work from a Wikipedia article, then it's
Even if one argues that attributing bogus authors is not a problem as
long as the real ones all appear on the list, the author list can
change arbitrarily when the article is renamed or deleted and
rewritten. (Neither of which is apparent even if one looks at the page
A few possible solutions to that:
- require reusers to permalink to the revision they used; change the
totally unhelpful error message that is shown when one follows a link
to a deleted version. (Probably not a very good idea as it messes up
caching. Also, bad usability: most of the people who click such a link
don't care about authors and original version one bit, and just want
to see/edit the current version of the article.)
- develop some syntax that shows the current version of the article,
but with a little message on top saying "you have followed a link from
a page reusing an older version of this article. You can see the most
recent version of the article; if you want to see the original click
go through the cache?) We would still have to address links to deleted
- require reusers to give date/revision of the page along with the
url. Make some sort of search interface to find the text and/or author
set of an article based on that information.
== CC version incompatibilities ==
Copyright policy now says "You may import any text from other sources
that is available under the CC-BY-SA license", which is incorrect for
to reasons. First, CC-BY-SA-1.0 (used, for example, by Wikitravel) is
not compatible with anything but itself (as they forgot to include the
("or any later version" part). Second, different versions and
jurisdictions of CC are not quite compatible: for example if a wiki
has an article under CC-BY-SA-3.0-US, then uploading that to Wikipedia
(which will use CC-BY-SA-3.0 unported) is actually a breach of the
license. You could change the version or jurisdiction when you create
an adaptation (that is, you make changes significant enough to be
considered on of the authors), but not when you just redistribute the
work. (I doubt anything could be done about this beyond prodding CC to
release a saner version of their license soon.)
== edit summary cannot contain links ==
The currently proposed editing policy says:
"If you import text under the CC-BY-SA license, you must abide by the
terms of the license; specifically, you must, in a reasonable fashion,
credit the author(s). Where such credit is commonly given through page
histories (such as wiki-to-wiki copying), it is sufficient to give
attribution in the edit summary, which is recorded in the page
history, when importing the content."
(which BTW should be rephrased more clearly - does it mean you can use
the edit summary if you import text from another wiki, but not when
you do it from any other web page?)
The problem is that the edit summary does not allow external links:
they will show as plain text, and it would be hard to argue that that
is reasonable to the medium. (This one is easy to fix: allow them, and
rely on rev_delete and capctha to stop edit summary spam instead.)
Furthermore, a long link does not necessarily fit into the summary
(which is 255 bytes long, and there are a number of web pages that use
ugly links with loads GET parameters that are longer than that), so
some sort of separate attribution log might be more reasonable.
I am delighted to announce that this week, Jennifer Riggs begins work
as the Wikimedia Foundation's first-ever Chief Program Officer. She
will report to me. Frank Schulenburg, Jay Walsh and Cary Bass now
report to Jennifer: as CPO, she is responsible for all non-technical
program activities such as volunteer recruitment and public outreach.
As you probably know, we've been searching for a CPO since last fall.
Because this is a new and important position for us, we deliberately
decided to allow a large pool of candidates to accumulate over several
months. We wanted to build in time to think seriously about our needs
while meeting with a wide range of people.
Since October, we received applications from more than 150 people with
a diverse array of backgrounds including media, academia, the public
school system, non-profits, the free software movement and the
business world. As we carried out the interviewing process, the
hiring committee came to the understanding that Wikimedia is, at its
heart, a volunteer-centred organization -- and that what we need most
in a CPO is a rich background in facilitating, structuring and
supporting the work of volunteers. Enter, Jennifer!
Jennifer comes to Wikimedia from the American Red Cross Bay Area
chapter, where, as Manager of Volunteer Resources, she managed the
work of more than a thousand volunteers. Prior to the Red Cross, she
was Project Director at the non-profit California School-Age
Consortium, where she ran a program of train-the-trainer workshops.
Before that, she worked for six years in program administration at the
Peace Corps, as a Country Desk Office on the Central America Desk, a
Country Desk Assistant on the Pacific Islands Desk, and a Training and
Technical Coordinator in Togo, West Africa.
Jennifer speaks French, Sango and some Spanish. She has a B.A. in
History with minors in Education and Political Science from New York
We know that the success of the Wikimedia projects depends upon the
150,000 active volunteers who are our core contributors. Jennifer's
wealth of experience recruiting, motivating and retaining volunteers
will be enormously useful to us as we aim to better support the
volunteers we currently have, and also reach out to new people.
Please join me in warmly welcoming her to the Wikimedia Foundation.
I want to take a moment also to thank Erik Moeller, Michael Snow and
Kat Walsh for participating on the hiring committee. This was an
important decision, and their experiences and advice were really
helpful throughout the process.
415 839 6885
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in
the sum of all knowledge. Help us make it a reality!
Again, I'm not sure this is right place and time to discuss it. But as
it seems we're discussing new TOS and we wish to continue using GFDL, I
believe it will be good to discuss the matter now.
GFDL have some kind of sections which should be preserved in derived
version of GFDL-licensed content. One kind of such sections is
"Invariant Sections", and they are explicitly forbidden in Wikimedia
projects. Every contributor acknowledge that their content is licensed
under GFDL without invariant sections.
However, there are also "Sections entitled Dedications and
Acknowledgments" in GFDL, which also should be preserved in derivative
versions. Such a feature of GFDL were abused in Russian Wikipedia
several times: disruptive editors used this feature to add some kind of
inflammatory or offensive comments as "dedications" (e.g. using "edit
summary") and then claimed that those comments should be considered as
"Section entitled Dedication" and therefore should be preserved as is
(can't be editor or deleted by admins/oversights, only with article
text) due to copyright reasons. Certainly, this lead to conflicts
between editors and finally we added a notice to edit form that state:
"You acknowledge that your contribution does not contain and does not
produce sections entitled "Dedications" and "Acknowledgments" in the
terms of GFDL".
I believe that this notice should be added to the TOS to avoid such
conflicts in future in every Wikimedia project. I also believe this
would better harmonize GFDL and CC BY-SA licensing, because CC BY-SA
does not contain any features like "Dedications" in GFDL. And I
definitely want to become sure that this notice does not violate any
Foundation regulations about licensing -- neither current nor future,
because I do not want to give disruptive editors this ability to game
the system again.
With best regards,
Ilya V. Schurov.
--- On Tue, 4/14/09, Brian <Brian.Mingus(a)colorado.edu> wrote:
> From: Brian <Brian.Mingus(a)colorado.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Problems with the new license TOS
> To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List" <foundation-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
> Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 12:13 PM
> > the archives are mostly useless
> as a knowledge base.
> This is false and you know it. Several of these questions
> *have* been
> debated here and with a few simple searches you could be
> well on your way to
> reading the discussions.
The archives are horribly messy and line breaks don't always happen.
It is much better to use something like: