Grants talk:PEG/WikiSym Initiative/2014 OpenSym Conference

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Link to previous edition[edit]

I missed these links, I'm thinking they should be visibly displayed somewhere in the proposal:

--Solstag (talk) 19:12, 21 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks Solstag. Very helpful to have these links easily accessible! Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 19:18, 21 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Baby steps...[edit]


Hi Dirk, happy 2014!

I feel quite ambiguous about this proposal.

You're taking baby steps towards something that was agreed upon 2 years ago. It's slow, but it's moving forward.

It's very good that now you're offering researchers the possibility to retain the rights to their work, which means they can self publish under an open license even if ACM refuses to do so itself.

Yet, looking back at our understanding from last year, I could only expect that you'd be more active on this issue and more considerate of our position.

You don't seem prone to accepting any requirement that people publish under an open license, although that has been a clear conditional from us with solid reasons: we'd like the outputs of our donor's investments to be coherent with our principles and usable in our projects.

Under the terms you present, you don't even position yourself on whether those, who under ACM terms choose to pay and retain their rights, would be required to release their work under a free license. If anything you sound like you'd position yourself against that.

Though perhaps an exaggeration, it does seem that nothing has changed from you, it was only ACM that decided to modestly change their ways, and you followed along.

Perhaps you don't feel inclined to put any energy or take any risks to offer respect to our position. We, however, do not indulge the same attitude towards our donors.

Last year, one strong suggestion I did not think controversial was for you to have a conversation with us before you set your mind on terms and close a deal with a specific publisher. This suggestion had two reasons.

First, the negative and lesser reason, so that you wouldn't come to us with this convenient puzzle where we're left solely with the options of either approving your terms or letting you down. That's just demanding respect.

Second, the positive and most important reason, because we're here to collaborate with potential grantees to find solutions that better fulfill the needs of everybody than each would find by themselves. That's not a lot to ask, it's collaboration.

Should I remind you that we're a collaborative community, and by requesting our donor's money you become a part of it? We work in collaboration with all other grantees of this program. With good reason, we make people turn down weeks of planning, postpone events and take upon themselves extra work just to ensure this collaboration is happening.

Your proposal doesn't even seem to acknowledge that suggestion. Your revision of our discussion from last year is a statement of your own reasons for your final judgment this year.

(Never mind that your reasons are not even accurate, just for one, ACM charges higher open-access fees than some journals from commercial publishers, we even corrected you regarding Springer's values last year.)

Failing to engage in collaboration after being explicitly invited and requested to do so does not fit into our strategy, nor does it lead to the advancement of our mission. We can't single you out among our other grantees.

There are other issues with your proposal, but this recurring attitude makes me feel you're looking at the wrong sponsor for your event.

I'm a bit sad to say that, but it's hopefully for the best.

You should also remember this is no more than advice from an advisory committee member, and no less as well.

Take care,

--Solstag (talk) 20:46, 21 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Best possible solution[edit]

Hello everyone, and thank you for your thoughtful comments. Sorry for the late response, somehow I didn't get a notification.

Let me answer in steps.

  1. I believe that we found the best possible solution
  2. I consider it not baby steps but major progress
  3. OpenSym is exemplary for its transparency in comparison
  4. We have spent considerable time looking for solutions
  5. Assumptions about my intentions

To effectively explain my points above, let me first describe what we did.

  1. We asked and pushed for an open access policy by the ACM (email). We can't claim that it came about because of us, but I like to believe that we contributed.
  2. We asked our community about their opinions, what they'd like, etc.
  3. I did additional work, see below

Re 1, best possible solution. There simply is no better publisher than the ACM for now. Not because I'm lazy or ill-intentioned, but simply because there is none: With the help of my university library, I looked at variouos options, using various services (,,, DOAJ) but I did not find any publisher in the computer science space that would be recognized by our community. Journals? Plenty, but that's where the publishers of open access journals are making a lot of money. Conference proceedings, not so much.

The ACM provides open access to the papers, if the author pays. We provide access through our website without asking for any money. Using the common definition of open access the ACM is doing right by its users. You (Solstag) seem to have a particular license in mind, my personal preferences are CC licenses, but both our opinions don't matter: the ACM is proper open access now, as requested.

Re 2, baby steps. It is not baby steps, we have gone beyond what other comparable conferences do. Not only is there an open access option, we also provide our own indexed repository for easy download irrespective of whether the original author paid for open access or not. All papers are available: In addition we invented a variety of fine-tuned choice options for authors: - I have yet to find another conference that has gone so far.

Open access is for rich people, who can pay the $1000 - $2000 to have their paper published under an open access license. We provide an option using the green publishing rights through the ACM where the author does not have to pay anything, retains their rights, and still can be on our servers. I believe that authors should get options and not be forced into a particular license as a precondition for publishing. In particular, they should be allowed to chose a license of *their* choice and we enable that.

It may be true that some rabid commercial publishers are charging less right now for open access than the ACM but it is those publishers who will demand we take down our 10 year archive of WikiSym papers. The ACM is a green publisher and does not do that. When it comes to publishers, honestly, go with non-profits, not commercial publishers.

All these publishing options may sound confusing, because there are many now, but that's how it is, trying to accomdate multiple stakeholders while doing right by our authors.

Re 3, transparency. Here are examples of what we do/did:

Re 4, time spent on the open access issue:

I'd call this and above appropriate collaboration. I'm not sure an additional discussion the grants wiki would have helped.

In addition (see above) I personally led a search for alternatives.

Re 5, assumptions about my intentions:

If you read all that material above, it will become very clear that I'd love to have a best-in-breed open license, e.g. a CC license, but that there are (a) no viable options and (b) few in our community of researchers and practitioners who attend OpenSym (WikiSym) actually care. The reasons you can find above, but one more reason why folks don't worry about an open license so much is that you simply don't remix academic work: It is consider plagiarism if you do---beyond all legal issues, it would ruin anyones reputation. As to using it, fair use rights cover it under the ACM provisions, open access or not.

I hope this has clarified the situation.

Dirk Riehle (talk) 11:30, 8 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comments MADe[edit]

I support Solstag points above. En plus, the conference would be held in Berlin. They have a very good local chapter, Wikimania Deutschland, I think it's vital to collaborate with them on this project in order to have a good interaction with our movement.

WM DE can provide the necessary funding as well, or assist with it. As such, I would want you to clarify to made agreements with WM DE, and urge you to use them a first contact to get this funding. MADe (talk) 12:49, 23 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We have multiple WM Deutschland committee members on board; I'll ask them. Dirk Riehle (talk) 11:32, 8 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

MADe, what role exactly are you proposing for WMDE in this event? I'm also puzzled by your encouraging the applicant to seek funding from WMDE rather than this grants program, which has funded this conference in previous years. This being a global and general conference (not limited to either Germany or the German language), why would WMDE be a more appropriate funder? Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 21:44, 10 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comments Polimerek[edit]

I also fully support Solstag POV. This is actually third year of this discussion - and 3 years ago it was made clear that OA policy must be applied if the conference is about to be supported. 2 years ago this condition was again repeated. We can play this game endlessly. It is not true that there are no OA journals which are based on licenses allowing remixing. Actually - according to Directory of OA Journals - there are over 3000 journals regarding computing which are CC-BY licensed. [1] And remixing is not plagiarism if it is done with proper attribution as demanded by license conditions. If the community of WikiSym tends to not understand the idea of OA and don't want to follow it - they should try to find other than WMF sponsors, as the WMF mission is to to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. and this is the goal for which people give their donations. Polimerek (talk) 11:43, 11 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Polimerik, thanks for your comments. A couple of answers:
  1. Our solution is open access
  2. The argument "there are plenty of CC-licensed journal publishers" does not help our situation because:
    1. We are a conference and need a conference proceedings publisher, not a journal publisher
      1. a journal takes between 5-15 papers, we are publishing 30-50 papers
      2. a journal has its own academic review structure not compatible with a conference
    2. I consider many of the open access CC licenses journals to be close-to-fraudulent and so do most other researchers. Why?
      1. they are commercial endeavors and will close their doors if they don't earn enough money, so much for a stable repository
      2. low prices are a bait to build capacity to gather research papers to have bulk to sell to university libraries
        1. expect prices to go up once these new journals established a strong position
My personal position, as mentioned above is: I clearly prefer a CC license and would have jumped for it if there was a viable solution. There just isn't.
One alternative which I hope will come around in the future is to have the Wikimedia foundation take the role of the publisher. I consider the current open access model where you pay >$1000 for an open access publication to be (a) a money making scheme for commercial publishers and (b) a way of the developed world to keep the developing world out of the loop. Cross that last sentence, that's my personal opinion, not relevant here. The first one about the WMF as a publisher stands, however:
A cross-subsidy is a better solution, where authors do not pay, but rather the provision of a repository AND THE PROVISION OF A PROPER EDITORIAL STRUCTURE is a public utility with a an open bureaucratice structure like Wikipedia. Please note that just Commons won't cut it for academic authors.
Dirk Riehle (talk) 14:16, 12 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Some comments[edit]

Thanks for the submission. I support this conference without asking any particular questions. Having a conference that gathers researchers about the Wikimieda movement on one place to discuss some issues and come up with suggestions from an academic perspective of view is of high value for our movement. Some may say that such conference are waste of money because the things are moving slowly, but this one and the Wiki Academies are exactly the kind of conferences that increase reputation and help enhance the sustainability of our movement. My only suggestion is to work out the budget a little bit to include more details on how some of the items were calculated. I'd also like to make a note that it's a big mistake not to mention the name of the city where the conference will take place anywhere on the grant application page. Best regards.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 13:37, 2 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for the comment. I added location to the grant proposal. Dirk Riehle (talk) 11:31, 8 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What's in a Conference?[edit]

WikiSym, now OpenSym, is a community conference, it entails the following:

  1. it is a community of mailing lists enabling year-round exchange
  2. it is a community with a website and appropriate exchange
  3. it is a community with a full 10 year archive of published papers and related materials
  4. it is a community that meets once a year to talk to each other in person, hedge new ideas, and carry ideas and discussions forth
  5. it is a community that nurtures the young and pays tribute to the old, in person, and on its website
  6. it is a community into which many people pour hard work without any compensation
  7. it is a channel to publish research work

When I write community above it is exactly those people who research the topics of interest to the Wikimedia community.

The whole discussion on this page is about one particular aspect, the details of access to the published research work.

Dirk Riehle (talk) 14:21, 12 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Notes on approval[edit]

Thank you, GAC members and Dr. Riehle, for engaging in this important conversation about Open Access once again. I have decided to support OpenSym again this year, despite the abiding frustration at the difficulty of getting the proceedings released under a free license.

On balance, I consider having the materials freely (gratis) available (on on the one hand, and supporting this important community of researchers (which is about more than the papers themselves, as Dr. Riehle helpfully notes immediate above this section), important enough to justify this investment of movement funds. I greatly respect the principled positions taken by Solstag and Polimerek (both practicing academics themselves) above, even as I make what may be a disappointing decision from their perspective. I thank them for standing up for these values.

I'd also like to commend Dr. Riehle's dedication in stewarding this initiative for several years now, and in engaging seriously in this discussion, and for his efforts (linked above) to get the researcher community OpenSym serves to find another suitable publisher that would not charge an arm and a leg to provide open access. Let us hope the world continues to evolve quickly on the OA front (as seems to be the case). Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 01:50, 15 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you very much for the continued support of OpenSym (WikiSym) and the thoughtful discussion that led up to it! Dirk Riehle (talk) 07:34, 20 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Note on funding[edit]

Grant funds will be paid in USD $20,880 since receiving bank is US based. -- Jtud (WMF) (talk) 19:00, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]