[uf-discuss] Discussion of public domain declaration template usage

Tantek Ç elik tantek at cs.stanford.edu
Wed Jul 25 17:52:02 PDT 2007

On 7/25/07 4:21 PM, "Andy Mabbett" <andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk> wrote:

> In message <C2CCF51F.927A7%tantek at cs.stanford.edu>, Tantek Çelik
> <tantek at cs.stanford.edu> writes
>> On 7/25/07 2:29 AM, "Andy Mabbett" <andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk> wrote:
>>> I made this edit in the light of Manu's well- intentioned, but misguided,
>>> request that changes be made to the template:
>>> <http://microformats.org/discuss/mail/microformats-discuss/2007-July/01
>>> 0238.ht
>>> ml>
>> To be clear, such changes are NOT going to be made to the template.
> I'm not prepared to take your word for that; not least because you might
> not be here at some point in the intermediate future.

Then you may take it as a word from the admins who will carry on even if I
am not here.

>> Here's why:
>> The text of the template was taken from Wikipedia, deliberately, as-is in
>> order to be clearly consistent with the Public Domain Declaration there.
>> That's the safest thing to do for a number of reasons (consistency, not
>> introducing unintended changes etc.).
> Copying a template from Wikipedia is no guarantee that it won't change.
> The wording on the Wikipedia template could be - and has been - changed
> at any point.

Given history, it is unlikely, yet the possibility of Wikipedia changing it
was addressed further in my message.

> Not only that, but if you read Wikipedia's copyright statements, I think
> you'll find that you have no right to put a page containing a template,
> lifted wholesale from Wikipedia, into the public domain; you'd be
> breaching the copyright belong to the original author(s) if you didn't
> attach a GDFL licence.

Except in the case of the Public Domain Declaration itself which does both
refer to and cover itself and therefore put itself in the public domain.
Rohit and I looked quite closely at this.

>> We are essentially saying we believe that Wikipedia has done the right thing
>> with respect to their public domain declaration and are joining that in that
>> respect.
> Legally, that's meaningless.

AFAIK, you are not a lawyer, therefore, with all due respect, your use of
the "Legally, ..." qualifier does not add any semantics.

As far as whether the public domain declaration is meaningless, I, Rohit,
and everyone else who has included the public domain template clearly do not
think it is meaningless.  If you do think that's meaningless, that's your
opinion.  We'll just have to choose to disagree.

>> Anybody wanting to change that should take it up upstream as it were, take
>> the debate to the Wikipedia's public domain declaration.
> That would have no bearing on rights over material on this 'wiki'.

As admins we're saying we have no need to reinvent the public domain
declaration language on Wikipedia that *numerous* Wikipedia users/authors
have already signed up for, and that such debates should occur there, not
here.  As you seem to prefer the discussion forums on Wikipedia, I would
think you would find this preferable as well.

>> We don't want the
>> debate about public domain wording here.  Any further issue with that can be
>> taken up with Rohit per the instructions on his user page.
> That experiment with open governance was short-lived; it's just five
> days since Rohit opened discussion on the matter, on this list.

Rohit opened discussion with the usage yes.  Nitpicking the wording, which
came from Wikipedia, is inappropriate for this forum.  If you want to
discuss Wikipedia's public domain declaration wording, do so in the proper
forums there.

>> This is also a REALLY BAD IDEA due to the fact that if any subtle changes of
>> wording of public domain declaration occur across people's user pages, then
>> it becomes much harder to determine if they are consistent or not to place
>> pages which people have jointly edited into the public domain.
> So changes might be made to the template, after all?

See above about typos, etc. and updates from Wikipedia.  Just this morning I
made a non-wording markup-only change just to remove a few invalid
attributes but which did not change the wording.  That sort of thing.

>> It is best for the community for everyone to use *one* public domain
>> declaration, period.
> That assertion is completely without foundation or justification.

Actually your assertion that "That assertion is completely without
foundation or justification." is itself without foundation or justification,
as you don't and can't know from what foundation or justification I could be

If you don't know the foundation or justification for someone's statement,
don't assume it doesn't exist, rather, ask for it, e.g.

"What is the foundation or justification for that assertion?"

in this particular case, I am basing the assertion on attending a Creative
Commons meetup on November 3rd, 2005 and listening to Lawrence Lessig [1]
(who is a lawyer) discuss the problems of "open content" on the web using
the many different and often only slightly incompatible licenses, including
but not limited to GFDL, Creative Commons etc., and that he himself is
working on a license interoperability initiative [2] to address this

Using a *single* public domain declaration avoids all those *known* problems
with *different* (even slightly differing) licenses.  If you don't want to
take my word for it, feel free to talk to other folks present at Lawrence
Lessig's talk such as Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia [3], or Rohit Khare [4].

[1] http://flickr.com/photos/tantek/85610373/
[2] http://flickr.com/photos/tantek/85610373/
[3] http://flickr.com/photos/tantek/85608932/
[4] http://flickr.com/photos/tantek/85610370/

>>> rather than calling template which may be changed in future, to a form of
>>> wording with which they do not agree;
>> See the above.  Such changes, of *any form* from what the text said in
>> Wikipedia is undesirable for any reason, whether everyone agrees or not.
> If *any form* of change is undesirable, then hard-coding the text onto
> individual user pages should present no problem.

Not true.  Per DRY[5], one of our microformats principles Related Principles
we re-use from other design paradigms[6], copying information into multiple
locations "leads to opportunities for inconsistency" which is the exact
problem we are trying to avoid.

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don´t_repeat_yourself
[6] http://microformats.org/wiki/microformats#the_microformats_principles

>>> Tantek's justification for the edit was that he was reverting to the form
>>> of wording used by Wikipedia. As has become clear, Wikipedia and this
>>> 'wiki' are run on very different lines, with the former having far more
>>> openness and accountability. Wikipedia uses "subst"  on other templates;
>>> and anyone who chooses may "subst" thir PD template.
>> Wikipedia uses the direct template inclusion on the Public Domain
>> Declaration {{ }} and thus we will recommend that as well.  We're not using
>> other templates from Wikipedia at this point so what they do on other
>> templates is irrelevant.
> What they do with *this* template is to allow *either* transclusion or
> SUBSTitiution. They also have other, alternative PD templates.

See above for why it is preferred to have a single public domain declaration
template.  The examples I have seen on Wikipedia, e.g. as Rohit cited on the
Category page itself[7], all used transclusion with this template.  If you
know of other Wikipedia instructions for use of the PD template on
Wikipedia, please cite them.

[7] http://microformats.org/wiki/Category:public_domain_license

> You may wish to again dismiss my concerns, out of hand, as mere
> argumentativeness, but if they're not addressed now, they will be back
> to bite the community later.

I do believe the majority of your concerns stated above to be without merit,
yet I have tried to address them in the hopes that they are not simply
reiterated and thus create noise on the mailing list.

A few of your points were mere argumentativeness yes, or other logical
flaws, which I've taken the time to document[8] as well in the hopes that
future instances of such logical flaws can be avoided[9], and when they
occur, be refuted by anyone in the community by citing the respective
logical flaw [10].

[8] http://microformats.org/wiki/logical-flaws
[9] http://microformats.org/wiki/mailing-lists#Avoid_logical_flaws
[10] http://microformats.org/wiki/mailing-lists#Point_out_logical_flaws

As it did feel to me like the majority of your message was argumentative
and/or consisted of logical flaws, I am going to lower the priority of
replying to any responses you make to this message.


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