Sent off-list by accident:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton(a)gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] SOS Children Wikipedia Selection 2008/9
BitTorrent link up
To: Andrew Cates <Andrew(a)soschildren.org>
2008/10/24 Andrew Cates <Andrew(a)soschildren.org>rg>:
I have left a fairly full reply to this on the WMF blog awaiting
approval from Jay and also it is discussed on the project pages on
Wikipedia, over several years. There is a gap between the wording of
licenses and urban myths circulating about what they say.
Broadly the GFDL demands that authors are "credited" but does not
include anything on how you idenitify them (unlike the creative
commons licenses). Either this means to comply with GFDL you need to
carry a local copy of the edit history (which provides the only local
way of identifying authors, albeit in a tedious fashion) including all
10,000 versions of the Global Warming article
complete with every
piece of obscene vandalism etc.) or this means you have to
authors providing a theoretically possible route to identify them.
Nothing in between this is any better than the second option since to
find an author for a piece of text you still have to go to the page
history on Wikipedia. The German DVD which carries an author list copy
locally which may be better for egos but is not more compliant than
us: to get the author who wrote xyz is still a long trip through WP
page histories. There is no different in license terms between a link
back and any other way given of directing the reader to the page
histories in Wikipedia. GFDL does not mention "link" (see
Some of the CC licenses include carrying a local copy of an artists
preferred name (we do this as we carry the image pages).
Sure, it's been discussed constantly for the last 7 years and there
has been no conclusion, so I would strongly advise erring on the side
of caution. I see no reason to include each revision, the GFDL only
talks about listing authors, not listing who wrote each bit. That
means you just need the history page, not all the pages it links to.
An obscure and non-explicit reference to a page that may well not be
accessible to the reader, hidden away on a page I doubt more than 1%
of users will read (or even be able to find if they wanted to know who
wrote an article) is hardly in the spirit of the license, is it? All
you need to do is include a list of names (and/or pseudonyms) with
each article, that isn't hard.
If you want to encourage the use of free content, you need to do it
properly. That you can convince yourself that you're just about
complying with the license if you stand on your head and squint as you
look at it is not enough.