[Foundation-l] Tendrl to Knowino

David Gerard dgerard at gmail.com
Mon Dec 20 20:59:38 UTC 2010

On 20 December 2010 19:47, Noein <pronoein at gmail.com> wrote:

> Is there a general consensus about achieving a monopoly as a good goal.
>  Is this part of some public strategy? Is this the position of WMF? Of
> chapters?
> I thought I heard some weeks ago on that mail list that diversity is
> good. That competitors are healthy. Could we have a clarification of
> positions about this?

I can't speak for anyone but myself - but I think, and I've seen many
others who express an opinion think, that competition would be good
and monopoly as *the* encyclopedia is not intrinsically a good thing.

The big win would be to make proper free content licenses - preferably
public domain, CC-by, CC-by-sa, as they're the most common - the
*normal* way to distribute educational and academic materials. Because
that would fulfill the Foundation mission statement -

"Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in
the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment."

- without us having to do every bit of it. And really, that mission
statement cannot be attained unless we make free content *normal and
expected*, and everyone else joins in.

Furthermore, being *the* encyclopedia is mostly a headache for us.
Wikipedia wasn't started with the aim of running a hugely popular
website, whose popularity has gone beyond merely "famous", beyond
merely "mainstream", to being part of the assumed background. We're an
institution now - part of the scenery. This has made every day for the
last eight years a very special "wtf" moment technically. It means we
can't run an encyclopedia out of Jimbo's spare change any more and
need to run fundraisers, to remind the world that this institution is
actually a rather small-to-medium-sized charity.

(I think reaching this state was predictable. I said a few years ago
that in ten years, the only encyclopedia would be Wikipedia or
something directly derived from Wikipedia. I think this is the case,
and I don't think it's necessarily a good thing.)

So I'd say, no - monopoly isn't a goal for us, it's something that's
happened. We need to encourage everyone else to take on the goal of
our mission with their own educational, scientific, academic etc
materials. We can't change the world all on our own.

The next question is what to do about this. Deliberately crippling
Wikipedia would be silly, of course. But encouraging the propagation
of proper free content licences - which is somewhat more restrictive
than what our most excellent friends at Creative Commons do, though
they're an ideal organisation to work with on it - directly helps our
mission, for example.

As I said, I can't speak for anyone else, but if anyone here disagrees
I'm open to correction on any of the above.

- d.

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