[Wikipedia-l] Proposal: commons.wikimedia.org

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Fri Mar 19 10:47:12 UTC 2004

Erik Moeller wrote:

>I propose that the current Project Sourceberg is integrated into a larger  
>"Wikimedia Commons".
I fail to see the purpose for this.

>Said "Wikimedia Commons" should reside at commons.wikimedia.org and be a  
>repository for
>- images
>- public domain texts
>- otherwise freely licensed documents
>- music, artistic works (but see below)
Public domain texts are doing just fine at Wikisource.

>All material in the commons would have to be licensed under one of several  
>licenses, not necessarily the FDL, but all allowing at the very least free  
>distribution and commercial use. 
No problem with this

>For texts, modification rights would also  
>be a requirement. 
There is no legal restriction to modifying public domain texts, but it 
would be good to have a reasonably stable semi-protected version of a 
text so that the reader could rely on its accuracy.  I believe in a more 
editable parallel edit box which could contain annotations and commentary.

>There would be NO fair use material on  
That's an extremist position.

>Material would be eligible for inclusion in the Commons if it is useful to  
>at least ONE Wikimedia project. This includes plausible *future*  
>The Commons Community would apply commons sense .. excuse me, common  
>sense, to determine which files are eligible for inclusion, i.e. if a band  
>is notable enough to have an article in Wikipedia, and their MP3s are  
>freely licensed, they can be deposited; 
Common sense is not as common as you think.  The arguments will continue 
to be endless.

>if a file is highly referenced  
>from the outside and causes unbearable bandwith costs, it can be removed.  
>The larger and more popular a file, the more pressing needs to be its  
>rationale for inclusion.
This seems like a self-defeating approach

>I propose that we shall build an interface between the files residing in  
>the Wikimedia Commons, and other Wikipedia projects, so that it will be  
>possible to easily reference a file in the commons, like so:
>[[Image:co:Airplane.jpg|200 px|A very nice airplane]]
>This would not create a copy of the file or auto-generated thumbnails on  
>the local server (e.g. en:). However, [[Image:Airplane.jpg]] could be used  
>to describe the file in the local language and context (we should probably  
>rename the Image: namespace to File: in the long term, because it is also  
>used for other description pages.)
I don't mind this, but before this can work effectively we need to have 
the unified log-in issue solved.

>All new uploads would automatically go to the commons unless the uploader  
>explicitly chooses not to send them there (e.g. for material which is  
>clearly only relevant to one project, only allowed under certain  
>jurisdictions ..).
Sometimes it's difficult to know whether illustrations may be used in 
one project only.  The recent Wikisource contribution "Advanced 
Automation for Space Missions" includes many illustrations that came 
with the original publication.  It's conceivable that some of these 
could be used to illustrate other articles.

>The commons wiki itself should of course be multilingual as Project  
>Sourceberg and Meta are. There are some features which we should enter  
>into our software development roadmap to facilitate the transition to  
>using the commons:
>- user interface languages can be set in the preferences
>- automatic import of source information from the commons to the  
>description page of the local wiki
>- better interlanguage handling in a single wiki installation
>- friendly user interfaces for multi file uploading, automatic addition of  
>uploaded files to a category etc. - things that make life easier for  
>people not familiar with Wikipedia
>- automatic gallery generation for multiple images of one category
These are all fine, but we still don't have a functioning system for 
categorization, so that should be developed first to the point where 
people are comfortable using it in at least one live project.

>What are the advantages of this system?
>- Central place to resolve licensing issues
>- Less time wasted on locating relevant files
>- Less time wasted on re-uploading files
>- A place for things like image galleries that go beyond the needs of a  
>single article (e.g. 10 different pictures of the same airplane)
>- We can actively solicit contributions specifically to the commons from  
>people who are not interested in contributing on a regular basis
>- We can provide the largest such respoitory of freely licensed material,  
>with a quality control mechanism that other such projects lack (the  
>- We further establish our name beyond being merely the largest, greatest   
>encyclopedia ever
>- We benefit from the positive connotations of the term "commons" and  
>appeal more directly to altruism, which will be beneficial when we ask for  
>- We create a very real consciousness for the copyleft idea which so far  
>is missing especially for images, where many people simply upload whatever  
>they find on the net.
>- We can use this platform to become more politically relevant in the  
>ongoing discourses about copyright law.
These are potentially all true.

>What are the downsides?
>- The user interface is likely to be a bit clunky at first. We can fix  
>- This project can exceed Wikipedia in costs if it is successful. I  
>believe prominent fundraisers will cover us, if not, we can fix this by  
>limiting the scope of the commons.
>- People will upload all sorts of things which we don't want. We can fix  
>that the same way we deal with Wikipedia articles we don't want.
Smaller projects tend to do this better, and with less animosity.

>- Changes to the software will be very specific to our needs, other  
>MediaWiki sites will probably be unable to interface directly with the  
>commons. Maybe we can authorize other projects on an individual basis to  
>interface with us.
This need not be a downside.

>I believe that we should not work on a temporary fix to the licensing  
>(tagging) problem, but address this issue in one fell swoop instead. More  
>generally, if we want to do this, I would suggest for Jimbo to authorize  
>me to set up a roadmap on Meta for the implementation. That roadmap would  
>also be a place for volunteers to list themselves for specific tasks that  
>need to be completed. This will have to be a community effort among  
>developers, sourcebergers, wikibookers, wikipedians etc.
>I believe we can launch the Wikimedia Commons within about 3 months, maybe  
>less, if we work together. Let me know your thoughts and possible  
>improvements to this concept.
I suppose that if people want to work on this project they should do so. 
 For those of us involved in other projects such as Wikisource, we 
should just wait and see how it goes before we agree to merge with this.

Eric also added a number of paragraphs in the Wikisource Scriptorium. 
 Many of the arguments there extend what he has said above.  I will only 
quote one section.

> "We have worked hard to build this community, we shouldn't have to 
> give it up."
> Abandoning what has been done so far will not be necessary. The name 
> change can be largely automated, and let's face it, "Project 
> Sourceberg" is not a killer brandname. Beyond the software changes, 
> what would effectively happen is that things like the Main Page would 
> have to be redesigned to accommodate different media, but current 
> content could in many cases simply be moved to new locations. Compared 
> with, say, the change of the Italian Wikipedia from UsemodWiki to 
> Phase III, the changes would be mostly cosmetic, especially thanks to 
> the great internationalization work you have already done here.

Whether "Project Sourceberg" is a killer brand name doesn't matter since 
it isn't being used.  That was a suggested working name before it became 
a reality, as was the actual name "Wikisource".  "Wikisource" won on an 
early vote.  Insisting on using "Project Sourceberg" seems to be 
somewhat of a slight.

The big advantage of smaller projects is that they can develop their own 
ways of dealing with problems.  Yes we have copyright issues at 
Wikisource, but none of those involve pictures.  Internationalization, 
as you have observed, is important to us, but it would be seriously 
damaged if we had to deal with all these other issues about licensing 
pictures..  Our Main Page is just fine, and we certainly don't need any 
automated name changes.  We don't need to accomodate different media, 
and we don't need to move current content.  

So yes, go ahead and do what you want to develop the Wikimedia Commons, 
but don't use that as an excuse to mount a hostile takeover of Wikisource.


More information about the Wikipedia-l mailing list