[Foundation-l] Mission/Vision Statement

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Sat Jan 6 23:35:48 UTC 2007

On 1/5/07, Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> On 1/6/07, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell at gmail.com> wrote:
> > What happens when webpages are replaced by GopherNG? ;)
> Well, we're not saying anything about the web, we're saying
> "Internet". In that respect, "multilingual wiki projects" is much more
> tech-centric. But either seems fine with me; if these solutions become
> outdated, we will simply update our mission statement, as we've done
> before. It's the vision statement which should be timeless.

Same argument applies. I don't see how the internet is important to
our mission. It's the best tool for the job today, sure, but it's not
our mission. Sure we can revise it.. but why bother mentioning it. Our
mission is providing effective support for the creation and
propagation of this free content. That we use the Internet is true
today, but it's not at all fundimental ... it simply adds length
without adding clarity.

> > In terms of "free licensing / free availability distinction" we're
> > also failing on that mark with the words "under a free license or in
> > the public domain" because "free license" is used to refer to both
> > Free Content licenses as well as "non-free content licenses which are
> > available for public use at no charge". I suspect the price or ability
> > to alter the license itself is immaterial to our goals ;).
> Hair splitting, but we can change it to "free content license".

I assume you are saying that the potential for misunderstanding "free
license" isn't large rather than saying that the distinction between
"licenses which are free" and "Free Content licenses" is
insignificant. If my assumption is wrong, please correct me.. because
if you believe the latter, we have much more to discuss. :)

I don't agree that the potential for misunderstanding "free licenses"
is small. For example, we often see the Creative Commons folks use
"free license" in this sense:

"We provide free licenses that mark creative work with the freedom the
creator wants it to carry, so others can share the work, or remix the
work, or both share and remix the work, as the author chooses."

The overwhelming majority of CC licenses uses are licenses which do
not meet the free content definition, nor would meet the typical
Wikimedian's definition of a free content license (-NC-NDs, Sampling,
etc).  As such we need to be careful to maintain clear separation
between our efforts to propagate information which is (largely)
unencumbered and the CreativeCommon's mission of making it easier
folks to use copyright to both grant and withhold rights.

I think that using "free content" is an improvement over "free
licenses", but I don't think that it is especially good.  As Tim
Starling likes to point out: Content can't have freedom, people can...
The words "Free Content" are effectively a domain specific jargon, and
I think our mission statement should be free of such jargon. I think
the best way to avoid the jargon is to just say what we mean.

We can offset the additional length by removing the free-beer aspects
of the current draft. I believe the free-beerness of Wikimedia itself
is a natural side effect of our mission of wide propagation but not in
and of itself a fundamental goal.

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