[Foundation-l] Attribution survey and licensing next steps

John at Darkstar vacuum at jeb.no
Sun Mar 8 14:38:27 UTC 2009

One person told me that attribution of a single article and a bigger
collection could be made different. That is, a single printed copy of an
article could use a credit of "Wikipedia" and a mirror on a website
could use a history link. We don't have to choose a "one scheme fits
all" -solution.


Erik Moeller skrev:
> The author attribution survey is now closed. We have 1017 complete
> responses.  I've posted results of the attribution data in the
> following report:
> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/File:Attribution_Survey_Results.pdf
> I've posted the raw data of the attribution survey here:
> Respondents from English Wikipedia:
> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/File:Attsurvey-en.ods
> Respondents from German Wikipedia:
> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/File:Attsurvey-de.ods
> Respondents from miscellaneous languages and projects:
> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/File:Attsurvey-misc.ods
> (The survey was linked via the WikimediaNotifier bot, so we got quite
> a bit of nicely dispersed traffic.)
> As the report shows, and as I indicated in my prior e-mail, there is
> wide support for simple attribution models, and fairly strong and
> visible opposition to full author attribution (as well as complete
> absence of any attribution). Full author attribution is the second
> least popular option, at 32.82%. Many comments pointed out the tension
> between free content and attribution, such as:
> * "While the whole point of Wikipedia is to provide access to
> information freely and easily, a balance must be struck between
> recognising authors' contributions and the constraints on utilising
> the information."  (User's preferred attribution model is link to the
> article.)
> * "Giving credit to all authors is ridiculous! I think the 'Wikipedia
> Community' is sufficient credit, this project is not about personal
> gratification, its about community collaboration."
> * "Full list of authors is terribly impractical."
> * "Including the full list of authors on a 'NOT online' resource would
> be a waste of resources, i.e. paper and ink, most of the time. But
> even for online use, who would read the version history? On the other
> hand, a link can't do much harm..."
> * "Establishing which editors to credit would cause enormous disagreement"
> * "Although requiring credit may sound noncontroversial, it actually
> is a pretty big can of worms in contexts of (a) editing
> wikipedia-sourced content into rather different things (for example,
> the way that some wikipedia articles grew out of 1911 Britannica
> articles), (b) what if the wikimedia foundation has some kind of
> meltdown and it is necessary to fork the project.  Therefore my
> recommendation is to not think in terms of 'requirements' but
> suggested practices."
> Some users commented on the fact that Wikipedia is primarily written
> by people under pseudonyms, and that being suddenly visibly attributed
> would actually come as a surprise:
> * "If any version of credit-sharing citing editors is made policy, all
> editors should be given notice and allowed to change their monikers to
> their choice. In my case, I choose a moniker I liked when I thought
> the community would remain anonymous forever. If my contributions went
> into print or were used similarly I would like to use my actual name."
> Community credit proved a quite popular option, second only to a
> direct link to the article. Many people viewed it as a simple method
> to credit their contribution both online and offline. (At least one
> user suggested linking to detailed histories online, and crediting the
> community collectively offline.)
> A few users felt very strongly about always giving author credit. The
> strongest example I found:
> "I won't accept nothing less than what I chosed above, and I'm ready
> to leave my sysop status and other wmf-related roles if WMF will
> underestimate the meaning of GFDL to our projects. GFDL is what we
> would have chosen if asked 8 years ago, and is what we will stand up
> for."
> Some users also pointed out that our options were constrained by the
> requirements set forth in the GFDL.
> I'd love to see deeper analysis of the survey. I want to restate my
> original intent in running it: it's intended to be a feeler survey, to
> get a rough impression of what attribution models are widely
> considered acceptable by contributors to our projects, and which ones
> aren't. It served this purpose, and I have no intent in running
> additional surveys; we're on an aggressive timeline and have to move
> forward. It's also not intended to dictate a solution.
> My preliminary conclusion is that a simple, manageable attribution
> model, while causing some short-term disruption, will widely be
> considered not only acceptable, but preferable to complex attribution
> models, in support of our mission to disseminate free information.
> That being said, we probably still have to find a compromise, as well
> as language that appropriate deals with single-author multimedia
> contributions. I imagine that if we a) have a more prominent "list of
> authors / list of people who contributed to this revision" credit link
> on article pages; b) require that a link must be given, and that the
> preferred linking format is to the revision that is being copied, c)
> explicitly state in our attribution terms that for images, sounds and
> videos that aren't the result of extensive collaboration, credit must
> be given to the creator, we're covering most cases.
> We then still have to resolve the issue of giving credit for content
> imported into our projects consistently, which is a bit of a can of
> worms. (We might want to set some limitations on what kinds of content
> we import, to prevent "attribution pollution".) But it's secondary to
> the main issue of a consistent attribution model within our projects.
> A model like the above is consistent with CC-BY-SA. There is a
> question as to whether it can be reconciled with our current
> practices. I believe it can, and I also think we can find mitigation
> strategies for contributors who vehemently disagree. I'll work on a
> revision to the currently proposed language, and will post that next
> week, alongside some further thoughts.
> In terms of our timeline, I don't believe we can wrap things up prior
> to the Board meeting in April, but I think we can still hit a timeline
> to make a migration decision by mid-to-late April. SPI has committed
> to help administer the vote as an independent third party. What still
> needs to be done:
> * We need to form a little workgroup/committee to help with the usual
> process of tallying the votes;
> * We need to translate all relevant text (including the vote
> announcements), once it's final, into as many languages as possible;
> * We need to implement a modified Special:Boardvote so it can be used
> for this decision.
> * We also want to allow sufficient time for the actual
> decision-making, ideally 3-4 weeks.
> We have a big all-staff meeting and an all-day tech meeting next week,
> which will hamper us a bit in moving this forward aggressively, but
> I'll see if I can move things along a bit before then. If someone
> wants to create draft pages for any of the above (workgroup,
> announcement, etc.), I'd be very grateful :-)
> More soon,
> Erik

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