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Re: Draft Blog Post on Attribution (was: Important: Preserve Content Attribution)

From: Chris Mills <cmills@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2013 15:57:24 +0000
Cc: Alex Komoroske <komoroske@google.com>, Eliot Graff <Eliot.Graff@microsoft.com>, public-webplatform@w3.org
Message-Id: <EE639F44-3259-4CDA-AE37-9B97E5F68DAD@w3.org>
To: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>

On 23 Jan 2013, at 13:51, Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org> wrote:

> Hi, folks-
> On 1/22/13 10:27 AM, Alex Komoroske wrote:
>> On Sat, Jan 19, 2013 at 11:06 AM, Eliot Graffwrote:
>>> I also agree that a statement of our policy around licensing and
>>> attribution and the reasons that this encourages and protects
>>> content submission would make a fine blog post.
>> +1
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Chris Mills [mailto:cmills@opera.com <mailto:cmills@opera.com>]
>>> Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2013 1:16 AM
> ...
>>>> Nice overview Doug, this kind of information might be interesting
>>>> as blog post
>>>> ... hint hint ;-)
> I've taken a stab at a blog post on this topic, mostly reusing what I'd already written. I'm not completely satisfied that I've hit the right points, or struck quite the right tone, to interest a general audience, so I welcome feedback and suggestions.
> Regards-
> -Doug

I think this reads really well Doug. I've just got a few points below, which you are of course free to take or leave ;-).

> ========
> One of Web Platform Docs' core tenets is attribution. Attribution is as central to our mission as our founding principles, the Pillars. A recent minor snafu on our project resulted in some of the attribution being inadvertently removed; it was quickly replaced, but as part of the community discussion, we reemphasized the reasons for attribution, so we thought we'd share that here.
> So, just what is attribution? In our case, it is keeping track of who has contributed what, and sharing that information with our users. Web Platform Docs tracks attribution in two key ways: for content submissions by individuals, we log every edit by user name; for content contributed in bulk by organizations, or transferred over from another project like MDN, we explicitly set the original source.
> As an open collaborative project, attribution is critical from a legal, practical, and motivational perspective.
> On the legal side, our license is CC-BY, or Creative Commons Attribution. When users agree to the site license, we all agree to honor this. Failing to provide attribution, or removing past attribution, is a violation of the letter and spirit of this license. Note that there are two exception to this:
>    documents that only state facts, and not interpretation, are not protected by copyright, and are thus outside the bounds of licensing . But this line can be gray... a compilation of facts is protected by copyright if the selection and arrangement of the material is original; thus, it's safer to provide and preserve attribution;

But surely all (or most) compilations of facts are selected and arranged originally? So in what cases can this licensing waiver condition apply? I think perhaps this needs rewriting, or some examples adding, as currently it is not clear at all when this applies.

>    if all the original material from a particular source has been excised from the article, attribution for that source can optionally be removed; in practice, however, we are only using this to deliberately simplify the license the article is available under, e.g., if the original content was under CC-BY-SA (Attribution and Share Alike), we might remove all the old material so the replacement article can be reused under CC-BY.
> On the practical side, attribution is used for fame and blame. Fame is praising the original contributor for their content, so people know who to credit and thank when they are reusing the content.

or making use of it to learn, plus it also helps us to think about who to ask to do future work.

> Blame is the flip-side of the same coin... it helps users (and reusers) to evaluate any possibly bias on the part of the original contributor.

and to identify trolls, or those whose work needs some improvement. We are a friendly community that aims to value any positive contribution, even that of those who are not quite hitting the mark. In such cases we will help people to improve.

> Provenance is a powerful tool.
> On the motivational side, we are lucky enough to have many primary bulk content contributors (such as Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Opera), and we hope to have large numbers of community contributors over time. Part of what motivates those contributors is the aforementioned well-deserved fame…

on top of the change to contribute effectively to the web community, help others to learn, and help the web to evolve …. or some such thing?

> remove that attribution, and you undermine motivation, and the project suffers. Even people who don't want notoriety per se still have a sense of fairness, and may be discouraged if their contributions are not afforded equal treatment. This even affects people who are potential contributors... they see how contributions and attributions are handled, and that may affect their decision on whether they will start contributing.
> So, we encourage all of our contributors to always give credit when adding content, and only to remove existing attribution after community discussion. And we invite our users to feel free to reuse our content with confidence, knowing just where the material came from.
Received on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 15:57:42 UTC

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