[Foundation-l] Re: [Wikitech-l] File format policy

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Sun Feb 12 10:51:56 UTC 2006

On 2/12/06, Erik Moeller <erik_moeller at gmx.de> wrote:
> Yes, there were misunderstandings -- that doesn't change the facts: that
> Windows does not support Ogg Theora natively

Our media help page provides a half dozen players with Theora support.

Windows also does not support SVG natively, IE renders PNG with
transparency wrong (at least I think it still does). There was also a
time when Windows included no support for MP3. Windows 2000 didn't
ship with an MPEG4 codec, and I don't think that XP does either
(although it will happily download one).

A huge amount of streaming video on the Web requires codec downloads,
but Windows Media player will autodownload most of them, although it
will not autodownload theora this is why the en vogue video glurge
sites use flash based players.

If you want mostly painless universial support for Windows users, what
you should be arguing for is a java Wikipedia player (which is
certantly possible).

> that Theora in particular
> is Alpha software,

And the mediawiki code that Wikipedia usually runs is labeled 'beta'. 
Can you point out any discussion about bugs in Theora?

The code is quite sold and has been for a long time.

> that we've had many reports of problems with playback
> of both Theora and Vorbis,

To where?  They aren't arriving in mass in OTRS.

> and that I've been specifically asked by one
> of the concerned users to bring this up.

It might have been more useful to begin the discussion on the media
help talk page.

> I'm a huge supporter of free
> formats -- I bought an iRiver a while ago only because it supports
> Vorbis, and I exclusively encode audio files in this format -- but we do
> have to keep usability in mind.
> Many PC users who access Wikipedia will not be able to follow complex
> instructions to set up new video or audio codecs. When it comes down to
> it, the question is whether some people will be able to view our content
> or not. A dual format policy strikes me as a reasonable compromise.

If our instructions are too complex then they should be improved. I
think they are pretty easy as is: most of the software is a single
click to install and then both Theora and Vorbis just work when you
click on them.

We haven't even managed to get all of the mp3 files off of english
Wikipedia yet and they've been forbidden for a long time now, so I
can't see how your proposed change would accomplish anything except
forcing our users to use patent encumbered formats.

Also, as the single largest uploader of original music recordings
(although it's still a pretty limited number because the annoyance of
copyright issues on music is keeping me from uploading hundreds of
tracks), I'd like to also voice another objection: I strongly oppose
the use of the content I've created to promote patent encumbered

> > We already have had enough problems with Windows executibles being
> > renamed .ogg and uploaded, we really shouldn't make it worse by
> > actually permitting them.
> I don't understand - what does my suggestion have to do with Windows
> executables?

The RIFF wrapper used for most of the microsoft formats is a
multiformat wrapper (Just like OGG) and can happily be coerced into
containing executable code (unlike OGG).

> > So how long until the suggestion that our article text be distrubted
> > in encrypted dupliation locked ebook format?
> Neither MP3 nor MPEG-4 necessarily use DRM, and of course we wouldn't
> use or allow DRM for these formats, so I fail to see the slippery slope.
> We're talking about supporting the most widely used file formats for
> audio and video compression. That does not strike me as a radical blow
> against freedom.

Both are only available under obnoxious patent licenses which claim to
demand fees per download, and otherwise control the creators,
distributors, and users of the content.
(http://www.mp3licensing.com/royalty/emd.html, for example)

'Mode widely used' is a broken argument by itself. If we were going
for most widely used, for revision controlled text we'd be using
Microsoft Word rather than Wikitext.

More information about the foundation-l mailing list