[Foundation-l] Free culture?

Laura Hale laura at fanhistory.com
Tue Oct 19 20:56:36 UTC 2010

On Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 7:07 AM, Fred Bauder <fredbaud at fairpoint.net> wrote:

> > Just to point out...saying "it's a content issue, not a Foundation issue"
> > means absolutely *nothing* to the vast majority of people out there.
> >
> > -Chad
> Yes, definitely Inside Baseball:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_baseball_%28metaphor%29 Common sense
> tells anyone that an organization that publishes an encyclopedia is
> responsible for the accuracy, completeness, and appropriateness of its
> content.
> A disclaimer, however legally adequate, that few are likely to read:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:General_disclaimer has little
> purchase.

The problem is that, the person making the criticisms, does know.  As some
one with minimal knowledge of the applicable American case law, my
understanding is that the Foundation cannot be too involved in the actual
editing of content.  At the moment, they are treated legally as a host and
are not responsible for the content that it put up because they do not
provide that content: Users do.  Given that the person making these
criticisms is aware of this distinction (I could be wrong.  Perhaps his
whole argument premises on the point that the WMF should be a content
provider, rather than a host), his continual attacks on the content don't
appear to consistent and give the appearance (to me based on my view) of
attacking the WMF because he has a personal axe to grind.

I can't see that reality changing: WMF is not a content provider.  It won't
change.  Posting long screeds attacking the content providing nature while
ignoring the fact that WMF is legally a host?  This doesn't appear to me to
be a productive method for encouraging positive change.

I also see Wikipedia as being dually defined: It isn't just AN
encyclopedia.  It is a wiki and an encylopedia.  Given the name, I'd put the
emphasis on the wiki part over the encyclopediaic part.  The arguments
regarding content seem to ignore the issue of the fact that anyone can
theoretically edit and improve the content that is problematic.  See a
problem?  Fix the problem.  That's the do-acracy that's a wiki.  See a
problem?  Don't think it is fixable? Vote with your feet and fork.  A number
of other projects have started because of their issues with Wikipedia.
Conservapedia is one example of that.  My own project is another.

A lot of the issues that appear to be brought up look to me to be specific
cases where they could be taken care of in the wiki community by commenting
on the appropriate talk pages or editing the article.  More of them seem
like they could be fixed by contributing to the community to specifically
address those cases.  Continually railing on and on about these cases of
pornography, plagiarism and libel just are ignoring.  He doesn't feel like
he's addressing systematic problems with the user created culture but
attacking to attack.  And if he's faulting the community (which it feels
like) for not dealing with these problems on specific pages, then he's
attacking your average contributor.  It feels like he's not attacking .the
WMF but the base of people like you and me.

Personally, I'm tired of that sort of thing.  I've dealt with it in my own
project.  There are ways to enact positive change.  There are ways to get
your own needs and goals positively fulfilled. And if some one can't try to
make positive change and some one won't fork, and some one gives the
appearance of trying to take down a project, then the you just don't work
with them.

twitter: purplepopple
blog: ozziesport.com

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