Abstract Wikipedia/Updates/2021-12-16

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Proposed summary of the licensing discussion. Welcome, Mariya! Office hour on Monday at 19:00 UTC

The discussion about how to license the different components of Abstract Wikipedia is ebbing down. Given the status of the discussion, we propose the following summary and decision:

  • All contributions to Wikifunctions and the wider Abstract Wikipedia projects will be published under free licenses.
  • Textual content on Wikifunctions will be published under CC BY-SA 3.0.
  • Function signatures and other structured content on Wikifunctions will be published under CC 0.
  • Code implementations in Wikifunctions will be published under the Apache 2 license.
  • Abstract Content for Abstract Wikipedia will be published under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The last point was a particular focus of the discussion. As you can see, we are proposing to adopt CC BY-SA. This was the most common !vote. We also found the arguments for having the same license for Abstract Content as we already have for Wikipedia convincing: this will allow us to use Wikipedia as an inspiration for creating content without having to worry about a set of rather complex legal and also moral issues. This is much more likely to set up the relationship between the existing Wikipedia communities and the community that will work on Abstract Wikipedia for a good start.

There were three main arguments raised by the supporters of CC 0:

  • First, it was said that knowledge should not have a copyright in the first place, and it should be as free as possible. And whereas I deeply sympathize with that stance, more than twenty years ago Wikipedia decided to use a copyleft license, and Wikipedia did rather well.
  • Second, in a similar vein, it was said that abstract content should never have copyright. There is not much legal precedent for copyrighting abstract content, and therefore our licensing decision might influence the wider perception on the copyright status of abstract content. Given that, their argument is that we should encourage fewer things being copyrightable.
  • Last but not least, it was said that a lot of the Abstract Content probably would not pass the threshold required to be copyrightable in the first place (which means that applying a license based on copyright would not work). In order to not overclaim copyright protection on content that has no copyright, we should just declare everything public domain. But note that there are some Wikipedia articles that are so short and simple they also might not meet the threshold for copyright. But most of our articles do. And we don’t differentiate between these two. I expect a similar situation for Abstract Wikipedia, and hope that over time it will be increasingly obvious that much of our content will pass the threshold required for copyright.

Regarding the license for Code implementations: once Wikifunctions is launched and has been around for a while, and a community has formed, we will re-consider the question whether we should allow for several licenses, similar to how Commons does it. At that point we will understand much better how the system works, who is forming the community, and what kind of contributions we are missing by not having the option to have several licenses. I am looking forward to that discussion.

Note: the proposal leaves the decision open about the license for Abstract Descriptions for Wikidata (which likely should be under CC 0, in order to keep the licensing of Wikidata consistent), or about Abstract Content for other Wikimedia projects. These questions will come up in the future, as we get a better understanding of how the components interact with each other and the world. Given the limited participation of the community in this discussion, we will likely use a more lightweight approach towards deciding these questions, now that the wide strokes of the licensing questions are decided.

We are putting this proposal up until Monday, December 20, 2021, for the office hour, where we will adopt this as a decision (see below). We feel that the decision above reflects the will of the community. If you disagree that this decision is a valid outcome of the discussion, please raise your concerns by Monday.

Thank you all for participating in this discussion! Your voices and opinions were read carefully and were very valuable to us.


We are happy to let you know that Mariya Shilova has joined the Wikimedia Foundation this week. She will share her time between the Abstract Wikipedia team and the Growth team. Let’s hear about her in her own words.

"I was born and raised in Saint Petersburg, Russia. I studied for four years at Saint Petersburg State University with a focus on Math and Computer Science. In 2008, I moved to the USA and transferred to Lehman College, CUNY. I graduated from Lehman College in 2011 with a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science.

"I bring nine years of experience as a Project Manager, Scrum Master, and Program Manager. I worked in both non-profit and private sectors and managed projects in a variety of industries, including e-commerce, health, education, and robotics. I am especially proud of my contributions as a Technical Project Manager for the organization called Vibrant Emotional Health, an NYC-based non-profit specializing in mental health innovation and suicide prevention. I worked at Vibrant for 2.5 years and led technical projects that impacted health, wellness, and suicide prevention for thousands of people nationwide.

"I have four professional certifications: PMP, CSM, PMI-ACP, and ITIL.

"I currently reside with my husband in Central New Jersey, USA. Outside of work, I enjoy traveling, spending time by the ocean (luckily I live by the shore), hiking, and baking things with all sorts of flours (buckwheat is my favorite one for savory goods)."

Let us all welcome Mariya to the team!


As mentioned above, on Monday, December 20, 2021, at 19:00 UTC, we will have our office hour. Like last time, the office hour will be in IRC and also bridged to Telegram. We will start by summarizing our work since the last office hour, and then be open for any questions. We will also use the office hour to close the licensing discussion and adopt the decision suggested above.