Yikes! I sent a request for permission to use the modified 1913 Webster
dictionary definitions yesturday and today I got the below response. I'll
probably need help answering some of these.
-- Daniel Mayer (aka mav)
---------- Forwarded Message ----------
Subject: Re: Wikipedia.org
request use of your modified 1913 dictionary
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2002 08:43:20 -0400
From: Patrick Cassidy <cassidy(a)micra.com>
To: Daniel Mayer <maveric149(a)yahoo.com>
Thanks for your inquiry about the modified Webster (copied below).
To answer the main question, the GCIDE files available on the
GNU server are freely usable under the GNU GPL. Since it appears that
you plan to freely distribute any materials taken from the GCIDE,
I can't think of any reason why there should be any limit on your
use of the contents of the GCIDE, or any part of it. The GNU
site version lags my latest master version typically by several months
to a year, though the differences are mainly in a few typos being
corrected here and there. I am making some slight changes in
format, and there should be another version available in a
month or two. If you would like, I can make it available to you
before it gets eventually to the GNU site.
From what I have seen thus far, it seems that there should
likewise be no impediment to my copying and including any
relevant articles from Wikipedia into future versions of the
GCIDE (with references, of course) -- is this correct?
The hypertext format of the Wiki differs from the present format of
the GCIDE, and I would expect only some articles, or quotations
from them, to be included in GCIDE. In most cases it would be
better to just have a reference to one of your pages, where
appropriate. I only include parts of materials already on the
web where the relevant passages form only a small part of an
article, or I am afraid that the site will disappear soon.
This is the first I have become aware of the Wikipedia or of
Nupedia, and it does appear that the purpose of the Webster
and of these projects are similar though the Webster does concentrate
on having definitions of words and phrases, in order to provide at
least a little information on every topic.
I will try to look further at Wiki and Nupedia to gain a better
acquaintance. If it appears that there are adequate quality controls,
I may suggest to anyone willing to submit articles to GCIDE that they
also submit them to the Wiki and/or Nupedia projects. I am very
occupied right now with a different project, so this may take a while.
I am also curious as to whether you have explored the possibility
of submitting any of your articles to the Open Mind project at MIT?
The GCIDE, Nupedia, Wikipedia and Open Mind all have the problem
of getting volunteers to contribute serious effort. It would be
good if there were a mechanism to be sure that any such contributed
effort would be available to all [projects to use, perhaps in
slightly different ways.
I am also curious to know how the Wiki project is supported, if
at all. I have been working on the Webster as a personal effort,
and it has no financial support from external sources. Is
this also true of Wikipedia and Nupedia?
I'm glad to see at last that there are others trying to get useful
information organized into a free downloadable encyclopedia-format
collection on the Web. Congratulations on your progress so far.
I am impressed that you have already obtained 40,000 articles --
are these all recently written by volunteers?
I do hope that we can keep in touch and share any resources, so as
to avoid any unnecessary duplication of effort. Thus far I have been
concentrating on using older (pre-1923) public domain materials, to
permit the widest possible use and redistribution. For technical
materials, however, there is no substitute for an up-to-date article
from an expert.
Daniel Mayer wrote:
I am one of the administrators of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia
and would like to know if it would be permissable for us to use your online
dictionary database as one of our sources for article definitions (this
would be done one article at a time where needed). Succinctly defining a
term is oftentimes the most difficult thing to do when generating
encyclopedia articles from scratch and it is our goal to first define each
article before going into detail (creating a hybrid dictionary/encyclopedia
-- although we do not encourage covering topics that can only be dictionary
All of our contributors and administrators freely donate their spare time
in creating encyclopedia articles and these works are licensed under the
GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL) which encourages collaboration and
the sharing of ideas by ensuring content generated under this license is
made forever free for other people to do the same. A copy of GNU FDL
license can be accessed at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html#TOC2
copy of Wikipedia's copyright policy is at
We already have nearly 40,000 articles and I think both Wikipedia and MICRA
aim to create something similar given your own stated goals to provide a
"starting point for development of a modern on-line comprehensive
encyclopedic dictionary, by the efforts of all individuals willing to help
build a large and freely available knowledge base."
We could make it a Wikipedia policy, enforced by our administrators, to
credit MICRA and the place where your version of the dictionary resides,
, for any content our contributors take from the 1913 dictionary
MICRA, Inc. || (908) 561-3416
735 Belvidere Ave. || (908) 668-5252 (if no answer)
Plainfield, NJ 07062-2054 || (908) 668-5904 (fax)