[Foundation-l] RfC: License update proposal

phoebe ayers phoebe.wiki at gmail.com
Mon Feb 2 06:07:41 UTC 2009

On Wed, Jan 21, 2009 at 4:36 PM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com> wrote:
> 2009/1/22 Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org>:
>> Because I don't think it's good to discuss attribution as an abstract
>> principle, just as an example, the author attribution for the article
>> [[France]] is below, excluding IP addresses. According to the view
>> that attribution needs to be given to each pseudonym, this entire
>> history would have to be included with every copy of the article.
>> Needless to say, in a print product, this would occupy a very
>> significant amount of space. Needless to say, equally, it's a
>> significant obligation for a re-user. And, of course, Wikipedia keeps
>> growing and so do its attribution records.
> Well, the attribution list is about 1/6 the length of the article (in
> terms of bytes). Given that it can be in significantly smaller font
> size, doesn't have lots of whitespace and has no images, it's going to
> take up far less than 1/6 as much space on the page. It will be a
> significant amount of space, but not an impractical one (to the extent
> that copying and pasting into Word gives meaningful results, the
> article takes up 35 pages, the attribution list takes up 2).

Which is fine if you're reprinting the whole article, but what if
you're just reprinting the lede, or some other section of an article?
Should a reuser still be required to reprint 2 pages of credits for a
paragraph of article? That seems onerous. Note that just reprinting a
*section* of an article is how many print reuse cases have worked to
date (the German encyclopedia and our CafePress bumperstickers come to
mind), and this case is not something that we've discussed much so

And having just actually done this, with a real book and a real
publisher, in "How Wikipedia Works," I can attest that it's a
non-trivial amount of work to get author lists for articles --
removing duplication, IPs, formatting, etc is all a good deal of work
-- and I like to think I understand how histories work. It would be a
much bigger task for someone who didn't understand histories or the

The Wikiblame tool, if it were made widely accessible and prominently
integrated into the site, seems like a promising solution. In the
meantime, I think we ought to consider what "proper credit" is for
just reusing a part of an article, versus the whole thing.

-- phoebe

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