[Foundation-l] Wikipedia Attribution and Relicensing

Sam Johnston samj at samj.net
Sat Jan 17 02:19:57 UTC 2009

On Sat, Jan 17, 2009 at 2:25 AM, Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> 2009/1/16 Sam Johnston <samj at samj.net>:
> > That is, you must at least reference Wikipedia and the article, but it
> may
> > be appropriate to additionally *or* alternatively refer to individual
> > contributor(s).
> Yes - I agree with this. The only question would be whether referring
> to the history or to the article are substantially different in terms
> of attribution.

I don't think so - they are intrinsically linked like the cover of a book
(where this stuff traditionally belongs), however it could be good to state
the obvious ala:

"All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation
License. (See Copyrights for details *and History for contribut[ions|ors])."

It would also be possible (but not necessarily sensible) to list everyone,
even for large contributor lists:

The following users have contributed to this article: X, Y, Z.

Finally, one could introduce a concept of article 'owners' or 'editors'
similar to open source projects, though that would be a significant
deviation from the status quo and would likely cause more problems than it
would fix.

In community-developed guidelines regarding GFDL
> re-use, both standards have existed; re-use recommendations in en.wp's
> Wikipedia:Copyrights refer to the article URL, for example.

That's fine for the Web but not so good elsewhere (like on t-shirts,
articles, books, prints, etc.). Short URLs (ala http://tinyurl.com/) may
help but better to avoid the problem altogether by being flexible. Brian's
Bushism example before was a good one.

> Let's broaden the question a bit:
> Provided that,
> - the site footer for articles is modified to name contributors if
> there are fewer than six;
> - the site footer also refers to the page history for credit -
> Are there participants in this discussion who would consider
> attribution-by-history-URL for pages with > 5 authors acceptable, but
> who would consider attribution-by-article-URL unacceptable? I think if we
> lower the requirements in this regard, it needs to be based on more than a
> discussion here, but it would be good to get some informal feedback on the
> question first.

Another important point to consider (aside from the fact that it would
require non-trivial changes and promote useless edits for 'credit whoring')
is that we're often not talking about 'Photo by Sam Johnston' but rather
having to credit the likes of:

   - Fükenwulf
   - Bastard Soap
   - Justjihad
   - AnarcistPig
   - Cheesypoo

And these are just some of the ones that were recently *allowed* on review.
Reality is that many (most?) Wikipedia usernames are not suitable for public
consumption and are often disassociated from real identities anyway.

For a real life example, an ex-partner of mine recently referenced the cloud
computing article in his blog, apparently without realising that I wrote it.
I don't particularly care but apparently he does because the link is now
nowhere to be found. There's a handful of people I wouldn't want to credit
either for whatever reason (competitors in company documents for example)
but that shouldn't preclude anyone from reusing Wikipedia content.


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