[Wikipedia-l] Stamps, wiki and copyright

Stan Shebs shebs at apple.com
Sun Aug 29 00:58:11 UTC 2004

Yann Forget wrote:

>Hi all,
>In the discussion Wikispecies, there were a few mentions of the possibility to 
>enlarge Wikipedia with coverage on postage stamps.
>While some articles on famous stamps may easily find their place in an 
>encyclopedia, an extensive coverage of stamps seems outside of the scope of 
>Wikipedia. So I would like to know what people think about that.
Don't tease me! :-) I have a database currently describing 146,336
types to varying degrees of detail, all personally typed in by me
and copyright-clean, made possible by some special C software that
handles defaults and integrity checking. This is about half of all
types in existence. I use it to track my collection, which is an
unknown size above 68,557 types, since many are in the "other half"
not yet entered - WP editing has severely cut into my stamp db
time. :-( The software also lets me do things like download into
a Palm, so it's handy when I'm out shopping.

Certainly I've thought about how to publish this database, and
have steered clear of the various obstacles (no use of existing
catalog numbers for instance) in expectation of being able to make
it available some day. A wiki project could be a great way to
finish filling it out, and I even brought it up a while back as
something that needs a database-editing mode.

There are some technical problems to solve; for instance, I don't
want to upload data about my personal collection, but if people
add to the type data, I want to be able to download it and merge
in - but what if some idiot deleted the record describing one of
my stamps? I've also started separating the English-language bits
from the generic data, in the hope of making it multi-lingual.

I'm of two minds about whether it's "encyclopedia data" - certainly
there are "encyclopedias of postage stamps", with coverage ranging
from one paragraph to multiple pages per stamp. (When you get into
designers, the politics, the varieties, etc, it adds up.) On the
other hand, I've been seeding WP with overview-type philatelic
accounts for various countries, about two dozen articles so far,
plus a pile of illustrations, but they haven't generated much
interest - glaring typos have sat in some of them for months.
So it doesn't feel like there's a groundswell of demand for
something even lengthier and more detailed.

But if people like, I could create a meta page with more info about
my existing data and how it might be usefully wikified, and we can
continue thinking about it there.


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