Re: Draft Blog Post on Attribution

Hi, folks-

One last revision tonight. I stripped away as much extra verbiage as I 
could while still keeping the main points, in response to Alex's 
suggestion on brevity, while hopefully still keeping to the gist of 
Chris' comments.

I kept the separation between the fame-and-blame section and the 
motivation section, as I see a distinction. Fame-and-blame is about how 
others use the provenance, while motivation is about how attribution 
affects the contributor's behavior.

I don't think this post is poetry, or perfect, but I think it's probably 
good enough to get the point across. Let me know if you disagree.

(I don't note the links here, but they occur throughout.)

== Credit Where Credit is Due: Content Attribution and Community ==

One of Web Platform Docs’ core tenets is attribution. Attribution is as 
central to our mission as our founding principles, the three pillars of 
Pragmatism, Inclusion, and Consensus.

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 or MSDN, we explicitly note 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 
a couple of exceptions to this.

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 reading, learning from, or reusing the 
content; 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 possible bias on the part of the original contributor, as 
well as identifying contributors who need guidance (and spammers). 
Provenance is a powerful and versatile 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. 
In addition to altruism, part of what motivates these contributors is 
that well-deserved fame. 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; potential 
contributors may be either encouraged or discouraged by seeing how 
contributions and attributions are handled.

For existing resources, of course, attribution itself is not enough; 
they must be willing to contribute their content to Web Platform Docs. 
Where the source material isn’t already available under a compatible 
license, we need  to seek an agreement with the owners to reuse it under 
our license. Even where licenses are compatible, such as on a site that 
uses CC-BY, we want to ask that source to use their material first, so 
we maintain our reputation as a good citizen of the web documentation 

So, we encourage all of our contributors to always get permission and 
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. For more detail, you can read our guidelines on external attribution.


Received on Thursday, 24 January 2013 04:09:17 UTC