[Wikimedia-l] RfC: Should we support MP4 Video on our sites?

Mark delirium at hackish.org
Sat Jan 18 15:53:35 UTC 2014

On 1/18/14, 2:56 PM, Fæ wrote:
> For example, a simple yes/no RFC on adding an ingestion process for
> MP4 video upload might now be successful. The legal aspect can be as
> simple as "WMF legal has determine this poses no risk to the WMF,
> uploaders or reusers, refer to <essay>" and the technical aspect could
> be "See <essay> for an explanation of optimized transcoding, workflow
> processes and test examples". There's nothing new in keeping it
> simple.
That comes a *little* close to presupposing some consensus though, which 
the RFC is in theory supposed to be actually looking for, not declaring 
to have already happened. The RFC you're contemplating sounds like a 
somewhat different way of saying: "A consensus has emerged that MP4 
video uploading can be enabled on Wikimedia Commons without major legal 
or technical problems (see [here] for details). Do you therefore agree 
that it should be enabled?"

If true, that makes sense, but is there such a consensus already? I 
worry that these kinds of short-and-snappy RFCs lose the 
request-for-comments aspect, which is supposed to be about people 
developing an understanding of a situation (including its details!) and 
a consensus emerging... not just a vote, especially not a vote set up in 
a way to make it easy for people to glance at a page and cast a vote 
without participating in discussion or familiarizing themselves with the 
details of the issues under consideration.

I guess this is more of a meta-complaint, because I don't have any 
particular objection to MP4 uploading. But I worry about RFCs as 
"ratification votes", especially those that seem to draw 
"get-out-the-vote" efforts from third-party sites, where you get an 
influx of yes/no votes from people who came in via a post on Slashdot or 
elsewhere, rather than a discussion/consensus process.


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