[Wikimedia-l] WMF Policy and Political Affiliations Guideline

Andreas Kolbe jayen466 at gmail.com
Fri Aug 3 11:42:52 UTC 2012

I am afraid that is not how it feels at all. It's more like organising a
giant volunteer effort to provide a market stall handing out free sweets
and cakes for anyone who wants some. The stall is very popular, and many
people chip in, bringing in cakes they've baked and candy they've made. And
some bring in stuff they've stolen from factories and supermarkets.

Then someone suggests there should be a law against handing out stolen
goods, like apple pies that still have "Mr. Kipling's Exceedingly Good
Apple Pies" written on the wrapper. At that point, the popular market stall
says, "We couldn't possibly continue to hand out free sweets if you pass a
law like that. We'd have to shut down, because some of our sweets are
stolen. And just so you know what that would feel like, we're not opening
the stall today."

So now you assume that everyone who baked their own cakes and brought them
in is against laws that forbid stealing. And you're leveraging the goodwill
these people have created to enable theft. And you're misrepresenting what
the law would mean to the operation of the market stall: because all that
would be required is that if you see a Mr. Kipling label on a wrapper, you
don't hand that over to a visitor. And later it transpires that your market
stall has come to be funded by a very large organisation that stands to
profit from lax laws against theft, to the tune of tens of billions of
dollars ...

One clincher for me was Tim Starling's e-mail the other day, about how the
community were ... let's say "misinformed", to put it politely, about what
SOPA would have meant for Wikipedia:


Man, I wish this organisation had an annual budget of $2 million rather
than $20 million again, like it did five or six years ago. It had ethical
problems then, what with Essjay and Carolyn and so forth, but there was at
least a *plausible* semblance of innocence about the effort. That has well
and truly been lost.

On Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 3:00 AM, FT2 <ft2.wiki at gmail.com> wrote:

> There's a fallacy going on here - ie a term with two subtly different
> meanings.
> The community - who are the ones ultimately "making the gift" do so
> altruistically, in the sense of not seeking *compensation*, but that's not
> the same as not expecting *consideration*. We do expect consideration.
> Attribution (CC-by-SA/GFDL) is one form of consideration. The offer of this
> knowledge by editors has quite specific terms that we expect to be met in
> return by the world at large, which is the meaning of consideration.
> The offer of that knowledge, and its gifting, also doesn't imply *
> indifference*. This is more subtle, and arises because we aren't donating
> our time and effort into a void. We are donating as a result of, and often
> to benefit, things we believe in, such as helping others or free
> knowledge.  There is an implied expectation (by some, perhaps not by
> others) that it will be treated with respect and used to further humanity.
> This kind of expectation isn't contractual, but it's there anyway. It's the
> same kind of expectation that says you would probably be upset , if you
> spend a week trying to find something as a special gift for me, and I
> respond by flushing it down the toilet and saying "well you gave it to me
> so why are you upset what I do with my property?" It might be legally true,
> perhaps technically true, but it's certainly not socially and perhaps not
> morally true.
> We donate time, effort and sometimes money, and we are not indifferent to
> whether those are supporting things we believe in. We donate for free
> knowledge and humanity, and do so because we care about free knowledge and
> humanity. Sometimes we say *"Look, we care about these things enough that
> we put this effort in, you care enough to support and appreciate us putting
> this effort in, so please listen when we say that something is harming the
> ecosystem within which that effort is placed"*. That is completely ethical
> and appropriate; no less than a wildlife volunteer who cares for dolphins
> pointing out things that harm dolphins or any other ecosystem that one
> might care for and try to support by nurturing it over time. Very few
> people throw sustained effort or money into a vacuum without any care
> whether it grows or dies.
> FT2
> On Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 2:28 AM, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > For the record, I did not endorse the SOPA blackout, and I deeply resent
> my
> > work in Wikipedia being leveraged to that political end.
> >
> > And I deeply resent Jimbo's statements to the BBC today*, about how "We
> > gave you Wikipedia and we didn't have to, and so you might want to listen
> > to what we have to tell you".
> >
> > A gift is either made altruistically, without strings attached, or it
> > isn't. To claim selfless, altruistic purpose and then demand
> consideration
> > in return for what has been given is disgusting.
> >
> >
> > * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19104494
> >
> >
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