Talk:Terms of use/Archives/2011-12

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Chat about this

Online chat "office hour" scheduled:

Day Date Time Location With Topic(s)
Friday 2011-12-02 18:00 UTC until : UTC Geoff Brigham (WMF General Counsel) Introducing Geoff (it's his first office hours) and his work, focusing on his broad legal strategy for 2011-12.

Just a heads up that we've scheduled an IRC office hours on November 10 to discuss this and to introduce Geoff (it'll be his first office hours). Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 20:18, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Just wanted to add that even if you don't want to discuss this, you might want to come anyway. Geoff is planning to talk about the Wikimedia Legal Strategy 2011-12. The "terms of use" are only a part of that overall strategy. --Mdennis (WMF) 15:56, 20 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
FYI, I find IRC really chaotic and difficult to use for substantial questions. This is particularly applicable to legal issues, where a good query might require several sentences for context. And it may not be fair to have a lawyer trying to answer such a question off the top of his or her head. I don't have a good solution, but I thought I should mention the problem. -- Seth Finkelstein 12:26, 21 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Seth, I think each communication medium has pros and cons. The benefit of IRC is that it will be possible to interactively discuss the Terms of Use rewrite in the context of its broader goals ad the broader strategy. There are many community members who are comfortable with this medium, in addition to those who are not. There have already been mailing list announcements and blog posts, as well as the extensive on-wiki discussion here; I don't get the sense that IRC chat is intended to substitute for any of that, so much as supplement it. -Pete F 15:46, 21 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I agree that IRC office hours can be chaotic and difficult at the best of times, though the least unsatisfactory one I've attended so far was a legal one. But it would be a fairly weak way to introduce any document longer than a text message. Assuming that the legal strategy will be long, and it might wind up covering forking, relations with chapters, volunteers representing the movement in real life, bans and persistent vandals, wouldn't it be better to publish a draft on Wiki so that it can be read first and then discussed on IRC? WereSpielChequers 10:02, 26 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Note: I'm changing the dates and times above to "TBA", per Steven's edit to IRC Office Hours indicating that this will need to be rescheduled. -Pete F 00:29, 2 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

My apologies for this rescheduling. It turns out that I will be traveling during this time and there are some conflicts that make this time difficult. I unfortunately may be on the road until the end of November. I therefore hope to do the office hours during the first week of December with my legal team in San Francisco. We will keep this discussion going until then. I appreciate your understanding. Geoffbrigham 01:14, 3 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Updated with the new time. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 18:28, 4 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Major problem with the new terms of use

Yes check.svg Resolved.

tl;dr - too much text, no one will really read it except the diehard EULA readers. AzaToth 00:41, 27 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

True. But I don't think that the main purpose of these terms of use is to be read. More important seems to be the possibility to tell potential complainants: "We told you so from the beginning in the ToS, but you didn't read them/follow them!". --Tinz 10:24, 27 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Then perhaps it should be stated clearly that the text isn't meant to be read and understood by normal folks but only to make legal department happy. AzaToth 20:44, 27 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Actually a couple of folks expressed the same concern about the length. These proposed TOS are shorter than most terms of service for other websites. And, since this feedback, we have shortened in some places and clarified the language in others. I actually believe that many people will read the terms of use. (OK, maybe I'm an overly optimistic lawyer.) And the terms of use will serve as a reference point in the future to help a user or community understand the scope of appropriate behavior (Sec. 4), for example. You may wish to read my explanations in support of a TOS at the beginning of this discussion: That said, I acknowledge that ideally I should shorten the terms more, and I will look for opportunities to do so. Geoffbrigham 21:33, 27 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That is what I was trying to address with my suggestion that the TOU be reorganised with sections devoted to articles related to readers, editors, republishers etc. so you can find the bit relevant to you more easily. See Terms of Use/Remixed. No one else seemed interested so I guess that's not happening.--Filceolaire 23:58, 27 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think the issue with trying to carve up a terms of use into sections for readers, editors, etc. is that it's difficult to define who falls in each group. If I'm an editor who also reads Wikipedia and who donates $25 once a year, what sections apply to me? If it's all of them, then what's the point of remixing the terms in a form that most sites don't use? In any case, the remix doesn't seem significantly shorter... in fact a rough word count says it's currently a few hundred words longer. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 00:11, 28 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Let me share a real-life example use. A vandal valdalises, that's her job, and we go and complain at the ISP. ISP says "okay but on what basis should we kick his sorry ass?". They usually have a provision for "violating the terms of service of the website (service)" as a forbidden act. So we point at the ToS, section N sub M, and they nod and start kicking butts. --grin 09:29, 28 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Yes. It includes eery word from the other TOU rearranged, with some extra introductory text for each section.
The advantage of having different sections is you can find the bit that applies to what you are doing today more easily and skip the sections that don't apply.Filceolaire 12:51, 28 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
My advice: let's take the Creative Commons strategy and post an informal summary of the Terms of Use, clearly marked as being non-binding and linking to the full terms. CC whimsically calls these the "human-readable summary." These summaries will be posted on local projects and owned and maintained by the community on those projects. By making the document community-editable, local communities can develop it over time and emphasize the portions they consider most pertinent (certainly, some portions will matter more on some projects than on others). The "terms of use" link on local projects would link directly to their informal summary, which links to the full document for further information. (Come to think of it, there's nothing the WMF can do to stop local communities from doing just this if they'd like to, but far better to actively encourage it). I would be happy to help draft such a summary myself for enwiki and for Commons, and watchlist it and participate in discussions regarding it. Dcoetzee 02:54, 29 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
+1 These TOS are too long to be read by almost anyone, and maybe too short to do good job from legal viewpoint. Making them just for the possibility to tell potential complainants: "We told you so from the beginning in the ToS, but you didn't read them/follow them!" is essentially cheating the editor, and this is maybe the worst idea around. An informal summary nicely solves this problem. -- Григор Гачев 01:07, 30 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
This indeed may be a nice solution. The "Overview" section was intended to provide a summary of the TOS, and I think it still serves an important purpose. That said, a micro-summary that is more visual and integrated as part of the agreement (like the Creative Commons license) could work well from a legal perspective. The links that we provide to the TOS however would have to be to a fully integrated agreement with the micro-summary at top and incorporated as part of the agreement (as opposed to a link first to the micro-summary and then to the TOS). For that reason, like the Creative Commons license, I would prefer that we work on a single, uniform summary that is micro-short and integrated as part of the TOS. If there is agreement and someone would like to try a draft, we could integrate it in the proposed TOS. This is an excellent sugestion. Many thanks. Geoffbrigham 12:13, 1 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
How about separate micro summary sections for Readers, Editors/contributors, Reusers? Filceolaire 07:33, 10 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

tl;dr -- Jtneill - Talk 11:33, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Just want people to know that I'm working on this. It will be real simple summary based on the CC deed, with single lines that address readers, editors/contributors, and reusers. Hope to post it in the next couple of days for comments. Geoffbrigham 09:59, 18 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Try the wiki process. Put up your draft and let people edit it. Filceolaire 10:39, 18 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 17:40, 28 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]


The use of bold in the first half of the document helps to highlight key points and facilitates skim reading. The second half doesn't contain bolded phrases. I'm not sure if this is because these points are less critical - otherwise, perhaps some bold could be useful. Sincerely, James -- Jtneill - Talk 20:41, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

@Jtneill: I did put in bold the subtitles in Section 4. I have read through the last parts of the TOS a couple of times with the idea of trying to find themes to put in bold, but, to be honest, it seems a bit difficult. I think the reason is that most of the final provisions touch on legal issues that do not easily fall into subgroups. I would suggest the numbered titles for those provisions are sufficient to give the reader some high-level guidance. Unless you think otherwise, I plan to leave it as is (with the bolding in Section 4). Feel free to let me know if I have it wrong. Thanks. Geoffbrigham 09:39, 18 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The latter clauses are all about how the TOU can or may be enforced; who can go to law and when. Theses may be integral parts of the TOU as far as a lawyer is concerned and for anyone looking for a way to sneak past the requirements. For people who just want to know what is required they are pretty much irrelevant. If you comply with the TOU then you aren't much interested in what happens to people who don't. Filceolaire 10:36, 18 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 17:42, 28 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

educational and informational

The TOS currently has one reference to our remit being "educational" and one to "educational and informational services" and two to "informational". This is an inconsistency and possibly more than a semantic difference; some of us have a much broader understanding of the word educational than others. However for some there is an important distinction, and this has at times been contentious. Commons I believe resolves it quite neatly by defining educational according to its broad meaning of “providing knowledge; instructional or informative. May I suggest something similar? WereSpielChequers 18:01, 7 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I support consistency on this. WMF bylaws state: The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is 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. WMF articles of incorporation, as amended, make reference to religious, charitable, literary, scientific and educational purposes as recognized under the U.S. tax code for tax-exempt status (Art. III), but then says that its specific purpose is to "create and freely distribute freely licensed encyclopedias, textbooks, reference works, and other literary, scientific, and educational information in all the languages of the world" (Art. III).
I like the Commons definition but, in my opinion, it is too long. In light of the above, can we agree to consistently say: "educational and informative"? If not, I'm open to suggestions for a shorthand method of referring to our services/purpose that are consistent with our articles of incorporation and bylaws as well as the tax-exempt purposes under the U.S. tax code for tax-exempt status. Geoffbrigham 15:32, 8 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Ok provided it is clear that we offer both not things that are both. Otherwise we will have people trying to delete things as informative but not educational WereSpielChequers 00:23, 15 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@WereSpielChequers. OK I think I made all the relevant changes, per your request. I kept only the word "informational" in Section 3, because there the context is different (providing a disclaimer on the quality of the information). Otherwise I found 2-3 places where the change was appropriate. Many thanks. Geoffbrigham 09:56, 18 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]


I appreciate this is written in American English, and I gather that terminate is a nonloaded term there for ending things which is widely used for employment contracts and other agreements. But it is in my view a rather more loaded term when used in the UK, and not entirely accurate vis a vis what we do in practice. Would you be OK using phrases such as "close your account", "suspend your account" or better still "Stop your account from editing". One thing we sometimes forget is that there are account features such as the watchlist, skin, language preferences, link display and other display options that may be of use to readers even if they never edit (and yes if in future there is an image filter we are very unlikely to ever ban anyone from using it); There is an important and easily forgotten philosophical difference here; Whilst we have blocked millions from editing our sites I'm not aware of any occasion other than the recent Italian Wikipedia incident when we have deliberately restricted readership of a WMF external wiki. WereSpielChequers 18:29, 7 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

WereSpielChequers, thanks for the comment. A number of folks have made this comment to me, and, until now, I have resisted it. Under the DMCA (Sec. 512(i)(1)(A)), we are required to provide for "termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider's system or network who are repeat infringers." However, a number of people have felt the language as too strong: it sounds like we are executing repeat infringers when we are actually only terminating the services. So today, thanks to you, I am experiencing a reformation. I have replaced the word "termination" in Sections 10 and 12 with new phraseology, with the understanding that this language captures the meaning of "termination" for purposes of Section 512(i)(1)(A). In the section on the DMCA, Section 8, I stuck with the original language of the statute to avoid any legal confusion. I hope this adequately addresses your point. Geoffbrigham 14:43, 8 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Don't we occasionally block users from reading, at least when the 'reader' is an automated process that's sucking up far more than its fair share of resources? I remember hearing someone say a while ago that Amazon (the bookseller) got blocked this way while it was trying to fork WhatamIdoing 17:08, 8 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It certainly has been discussed, and I raised the point previously that there is no need to have a ToS clause for that. It's an operational decision, we have not undertaken to make the pages available to such connections, therefore we do not need an escape clause. Rich Farmbrough 01:05 17 November 2011 (GMT).

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 17:44, 28 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Meaning of 'community' and 'service'

Note This is a continuation of Talk:Terms of use/Archives/2011-10-11#Meaning of 'community' and 'service'; please see that conversation for full context.

I don't see that the problem with speaking of a so-called "Wikimedia community" has been addressed so far. The wording of the last sentence from the introductory "Our Terms of Use"-section is the same as quoted in the now archived threat linked above. But the point is, there is no such thing as a "Wikimedia community". For example, the proposed Global bans policy is using the term "community" in a very different way, where is says:

"Global bans are exclusively applied where multiple independent communities have previously elected to ban a user for a pattern of abuse."

So according to the Global bans draft, each Wikimedia project is run by a local community, and these local communities are independent from each other. Of course this is what you would expect from any publication, say an encyclopaedia: that those who create the content, and write it and edit it are those who create policys for their publication, and control their own project.

So my impression is, that this non-existing "Wikimedia community" would only be invented through this terms of use in the first place, Greetings --Rosenkohl 23:12, 12 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

You're addressing a general concern regarding the use of the word "community" in English. It's quite a vague word that is thrown around very often (just like the "international community", who's that?). I'd rather it be taken out entirely. Seb az86556 00:19, 13 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
This document wouldn't be inventing the "Wikimedia community"; the Wikimedia Foundation has a whole department dedicated to it: wmf:Staff_and_contractors#Community. :) It is a very flexible word. Each project has its own community, and there are communities within those projects: the community of administrators, checkusers, etc. OTRS is its own community, with members who simultaneously hold membership in one or more other communities. All communities come together to form one: "the network of users who are constantly building and using the various sites or Projects" (per the TOU). Can you think of a better word to express that concept in a way that can be easily understood by both established users, cross-project users and newcomers? --Mdennis (WMF) 20:35, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Sorry but Wikimedia does not exist for the sake of doing administration, checkusers, OTRS etc., but first of all it exists because of the content. The content is created and published not by a Wikimedia community, but by the single projects. Each project is to a large degree independent from the other projects as far as the content ist concerned, and has ist own rules and principles. The same applys for a reading user: I can't read in "the Wikimedia", because Wikimedia itself is not a publication, but I'm able to read say in "en.wikipedia" or in any other of the projects. Of course, users can participate in several projects at the same time. But what they do in one project usually has no impact on what they do on another project.

Basically, Wikimedia is organized in a federal way. If we want to make sense of the term "Wikimedia community", then it can't be the group of all individual Wikimedia users, but the Wikimedia community is first of all formed by the single projects.

So instead of:

"The community - the network of users who are constantly building and using the various sites or Projects - are the principal means through which the goals of the mission are achieved"

we could say:

"The community - the network of projects which are constantly building and using the various sites - is the principal means through which the goals of the mission are achieved."

--Rosenkohl 16:56, 25 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"The Projects" are neither people nor formal organizations, so they can't actually publish anything. Who exactly publishes the content is something of a mystery to me. However, the options are only two: either I personally and individually publish my comments, or the WMF does. "Meta" is an inanimate website and therefore cannot publish my comments here. WhatamIdoing 19:48, 25 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

So maybe we could say:

"The communities - the networks of users who are constantly building and using the various sites or Projects - are the principal means through which the goals of the mission are achieved" Filceolaire 21:47, 25 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 17:44, 28 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Translation in french language - harassment

I think that the translation of the word « harassment » in french is bad. Actually, it's written « harassement » in the french version. The word « harcèlement » would be best. We have the same question with « harasser » which should be replaced by « harceler ». - Bzh-99 14:39, 19 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

OK I fix it, just something forgotten... verdy_p 14:15, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yes check.svg Done verdy_p 14:17, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 17:41, 28 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Translation of Wikimedia Foundation

Is it acceptable to translate the name "Wikimedia Foundation" into something like "Wikimedia Xxxxx", where X is the counterpart of the word foundation in the target language, or do you prefer to keep the name intact? Or can the problem be solved in the beginning of the translated TOS by adding the X to the definition: "Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. ("we", "us", "Wikimedia Xxxxx") is..." --Pxos 19:29, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

@Pxox. Good question. I like your last suggestion: the problem be solved in the beginning of the translated TOS by adding the X to the definition: "Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. ("we", "us", "Wikimedia Xxxxx") is..." Thanks for raising this. Geoffbrigham 19:47, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 17:41, 28 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Right to Fork

The TOU talks a lot about what the WMF can, will or may do. The main response open to the editors, if they disagree with the WMF, is the right to fork, i.e. the right to take the content and set up a rival version of a project. WMF devotes some resources to creating database dumps of projects to facilitate and if there ever were a change in policy to stop doing this I believe it should get serious consultation first. I think I firmal mention here is justified.

The software publishing efforts of the WMF are not mentioned either. They should at least get a sentence and a link to a page with more info. --Filceolaire 13:05, 15 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I would like a commitment from the WMF that they will continue to provide and improve the data necessary to fork. Maybe it already exists? Is there a resolution from the Board of Trustees about this? The WMF have definitely done a good job of providing dumps, however currently the media files are not easily copied. John Vandenberg 23:05, 16 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I agree this is an important aspect of fulfilling the Wikimedia mission; but is the Terms of Use document an appropriate place to make the commitment? Is there precedent for mission-driven non-profit org making such a commitment via its Terms of Use? -Pete F 23:30, 16 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The "terms of use" typically cover "no warranties" for readers and "we reserve the right to terminate your account" for contributors. In our case, Wikimedia provides one right to readers and contributors: a complete dump of the content and the right to fork, which is IMO an underlying principle in many of our policies. I think this document is less interested in information for "readers"/"reusers", but it would not hurt to mention the right to fork, if that right has been provided by a board of trustees resolution. John Vandenberg 23:47, 16 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Perhaps the WMF and its projects should have charters filled with user rights similar to the one Citizendium has. --Michaeldsuarez 02:48, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Citizendium does have an interesting agreement, and thank you Michaeldsuarez for bringing it to my attention. I saw the user rights in Article 3 (non-discrimination) and Article 7 (equality), but did not see other significant "user rights" that would make sense for our TOS. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) I could see borrowing some language from Article 3; not sure if the language in Article 7 is how we express the same idea on the Wikimedia projects. I'm open to some positive rights expressed, but those rights need to be universal and well recognized by the community before I would suggest including them into the TOS. Otherwise, I think it should be left to the individual Projects to develop these ideas over time. Geoffbrigham 18:19, 19 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@John Vandenberg: Images are probably not included in data dumps in order to avoid having non-free, fair use images included in those dumps. I'm not sure if a dump of free images exists. Since there's a chance that copyrighted, non-free image may be labeled incorrectly as free, creating such a dump may be problematic. Fortunately, you could configure any MediaWiki installation to use the shared image repository at Commons – see mw:Manual:$wgUseInstantCommons. --Michaeldsuarez 23:36, 16 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
A dump of Commons media is what is missing. All free media on the Wikipedia projects should be migrated to Commons in due course. InstantCommons does not help the right to fork (enwp). John Vandenberg 23:50, 16 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
To any WMF employee considering creating those dumps: Be sure to includes upload logs, file histories, page histories, licensing information, and anything else needed for attribution and reuse. --Michaeldsuarez 00:52, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I have been working on such a dump independently myself, but it is a daunting task due to the sheer size of the dump, measuring in terabytes. Media is large and is already compressed. Even just the thumbnails of the images on enwiki I estimated at being roughly 50 GB. To make such dumps useful, useful subsets will have to be defined and made available, such as thumbnail sets, all works used by a single project, and all works in certain category trees. In all likelihood, the assistance of the developers will be needed to set up suitable dump servers, and dumps will have to be constructed and downloaded using a custom client/server model in order to share space between them (one good way to do this is with symlinks and rsync). As for the argument that Commons may contain mislabelled images - the same is true of the many textual copyright violations that have not yet been discovered. We should be clear that we don't provide any guarantees, but nevertheless be diligent. As a side note, I do believe it is legal for us to make fair use media available if it is distributed alongside the articles it is intended to illustrate, and this is relatively easy because they are all low-resolution and so small in filesize. Dcoetzee 02:46, 29 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

FYI, it's an open question as to whether forking of Wikipedia is really possible in a practical sense. If Google kills any fork immediately in search rankings for being "duplicate content", then it's a hollow right. I used to think that Google-death would be a certainty for any fork, but these days I'm not so sure. The real threat is not so much forking, but abandonment. -- Seth Finkelstein 01:40, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

John, I'm concerned about the unintended consequences. You are, for example, asking the WMF to commit to always existing (because non-existent entities cannot provide anything to anyone) and to always having the resources to provide copies of everything (even if they're going bankrupt or dramatically change their approach).
I do not believe that the right to fork was ever approved by any Board resolution. It is (as I understand it) only the natural consequence of the licensing agreement. WhatamIdoing 02:43, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
You have a serious logic problem. If the WMF resolves to always provide dumps that allow the projects to survive it, its last acts should be to ensure those dumps are available, up to date and handed over to an organisation which survives it. It is common for organisations to have very specific rules about winding up. John Vandenberg 08:35, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think you have thought through the request you made: "a commitment from the WMF that they will continue to provide and improve the data necessary to fork."
Imagine that the WMF goes away. How can the WMF "continue to provide and improve the data necessary to fork" if they do not exist? You have not requested that "the WMF do their best to ensure that the data necessary to fork is available somehow"; you have requested that the WMF do it themselves. WhatamIdoing 15:37, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The data necessary to fork should be maintained while the WMF exists. The WMF is already undertaking this, which is good management, however it would be nice to point to a winding down clause which makes it mandatory. If the data to fork is not complete when the WMF is heading towards "going away" status, their Board of Trustees would be required to undertake whatever measures are necessary to ensure it is brought up to date and handed to an organisation which will survive them. If, heaven forbid, the WMF does turn off the lights, their role in maintaining it would stop once they had handed the data to someone else. Winding down clauses are thought about and written into charters in advance, to prevent an organisation running itself into the ground or selling off its assets in order to 'survive'. Boards overseeing a dying organisation usually make shithouse decisions if they are not constrained. Anything can be 'justified' in order to save the organisation. John Vandenberg 12:32, 18 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think this is a very interesting and useful suggestion. It doesn't have to be expressed in terms of things the WMF must do, however. The point is, the WMF should agree not to refuse to make CC-licensed data in its databases available, provided it is technically possible to do so, and any actual costs are paid -- in other words, a FOIA for WMF. Wnt 23:49, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Except that gives people the right to demand stuff. I'd rather leave it up to the WMF to decide how to fulfill this requirement.Filceolaire 12:53, 18 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Interesting and informative discussion. Of course, the TOS (sec. 7) requires free licensing, which would help ensure that the content may be used for a fork or new project. As pointed out above, WMF does a pretty good job in practice with consistent data dumps. I think people have the natural right to fork today, and nobody contests it. I hesistate however putting it into the TOS for a few reasons, not the least of which is that it is hard to predict legally how hypothetical future events could play out. I realize this is only my opinion. My suggestion is that, if there is a strong consensus in the community and a belief that this needs to be considered at the highest level, the community petition the Board to address this individually by resolution. Put another way, I believe this issue requires a larger community and WMF discussion before acknowledging a formal "right" to data dumps in the context of unknown future events, if any. Under the TOS (sec. 11), a properly worded Board resolution would be mandatory and so recognized by the TOS. A separate Board resolution also would be more effective to ensure that proper resources and planning take this community concern into account. I know it sounds like I'm punting a bit, but I think this issue should stand on its own in a resolution proposal if indeed that is the community consensus. Geoffbrigham 18:19, 19 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I agree that this needs a BoT level decision for allocation of resources. However I have just re-read the GFDL and it requires that publishers provide a machine-readable Transparent copy if they distribute more than 100 Opaque copies. The HTML pages of Wikimedia projects are machine generated, so a machine readable dump is required. Further to this, where it gets interesting is that the license requires that someone can download a complete Transparent copy for one year after the last Opaque copy is distributed. As a result, I believe the BoT needs to ensure that the dumps are available and that they can be available for one year after WMF turns of the lights on the core servers (it allows 'agents' to provide this service). As Wikipedia contains images, the images are required to be included. This is similar to the GPL language for “Corresponding Source”, which requires that everything required to rebuild identical object code must be made available (which meant UNIX vendors needed to republish their optimisations to w:Makefiles, any prettier bitmaps they wanted end-users to see, etc.) In order to comply with this, I think there needs to be a way to reconstruct the GFDL component of the projects from dumps. I think the currently provided dumps fail this because there isnt an easy way to obtain the images needed. John Vandenberg 02:46, 20 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The GFDL was originally make for free software documentation, and Wikipedia was created before the Creative Commons licenses existed. This was a part of the reason for the license change. When Wikipedia was using the UseMod software, it used a simple filesystem instead of MySQL. Wikipedia basically outgrew the GFDL. Perhaps the WMF should've switched to using solely the CC-BY-SA license instead of encumbering itself with complex duel-licensing. Since the window the GNU allotted for switching licenses has passed a long time ago, it's too late to fix any of that now. I hope that copyrighted images may be excluded from such a dump. Otherwise, I recommend that the English Wikipedia follows the example of other Wikipedia's and use only free images. --Michaeldsuarez 15:39, 20 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
John, if it's already "required", then there's no need to mention it here. The TOS isn't meant to be a summary of every single thing associated with the WMF projects. WhatamIdoing 17:41, 20 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
In light of the above discussion, I do not plan to include explicitly the right to fork in the TOS with the understanding that the community can seek an independent resolution from the Board on the subject. I will forward exerpts of the above discussion to the folks at WMF charged with the data dumps. Thanks. Geoffbrigham 22:22, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't see how you can justify to not include the right to fork in the TOS. You have stated yourself "I think people have the natural right to fork today, and nobody contests it." The only reason you give for not including this are "unknown future events". This is not a valid reason, all of the TOS is written for unknown future events! This amounts to a disfranchisement of the users. This view is shared in the german Wikipedia community: de:Wikipedia_Diskussion:Wikipedia-Fork#Angesichts.... I request that you explain what you mean with "unknown future events". In what context is the right to fork no longer upheld? --Atlasowa 21:52, 29 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I'll give you an "unknown future event" as an example: The WMF has accumulated staff and contractors at a considerable pace of growth (2005 - 2 employees; October 2006 - 5 paid employees; August 2007 - 12 staff&contractors; August 2008 - 20 staff; August 2009 - 30 staff; August 2010 - 49 staff; April 2011 - 63 staff; Oktober 2011 - 96 staff&contractors). They may grow more staff than can be supported by donations in the future. Jimbo Wales has said this year that in case of need he would consider both cost-cutting measures and advertisement on Wikipedia. He also alluded to advertisement in the 2010 donation campaign, "To do this without resorting to advertising, we need you." The community does not have a right to decide against advertisement, the WMF decides. Many wikipedians would want to fork in this hypothetical case (advertisement on Wikipedia). The WMF would probably not prioritize to provide data dumps for a fork in this situation, so we clearly need this TOS provision now, before unknown future events. This is a question of checks and balances. --Atlasowa 22:25, 29 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
+1 --Angel54 5 23:25, 29 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
+1 It's not so much up to the letter of a license, GFDL or other, as up to the spirit of the free content idea. If Wikipedia cannot be forked, it is not (anymore) free content, and almost all of its editors are cheated. Guess the result.
Also, the right to fork is moot without a readily available way to have all the latest content. The typical months-old dumps you can get now don't qualify; schemes like "send us a kind request, and we will service it when we like" - too. Such a technical opportunity is a must, its lack is a call for trouble. (I've seen charitable organizations being "privatized" from inside or outside, often in strikingly inventive ways. A readily available way for a quick complete-content fork is a good defense against such attempts.) Providing it is going to be hard: info volumes are huge (and I'd love to help thinking of a way). But this must be written as a commitment in the TOS, I think: TOS is the "contract" between WMF and the editors / readers, and if the obligations of the editors / readers should be there, then the obligations of WMF should also be there. -- Григор Гачев 00:51, 30 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
+1. Seen in the light of the recent controversy about the image filter and the discussions in de:wp, resulting in plans of a German fork, the decision to exclude a right to fork shows again no sign of empathy on the side of the Foundation. The right to fork is one of the most needed basic principles on which people here are participating. It's the only security they have, that their work after "unknown future events" still can be used in the spirit of this project. In denying this, you have (again) gone far far away from your editors. Greetings --Magiers 08:13, 30 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
+1. Remember that the right to Fork is something like an insurance, it protects WMF from people who want to influence Wikipedia and the Foundation. -- Andreas Werle 09:04, 30 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
+1. By the way, the rigt to fork is not a "every single thing associated with the WMF projects", but a profound problem. -jkb- 09:47, 30 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Here's another "+1"... Certainly "unknown future events" can and do take place, and I think anyone would show sympathy for a failure to provide data dumps in the event of a nuclear apocalypse over Florida or the summary execution of all WMF employees by some despot... or whathaveyou. Other than that, "unknown future events" cannot be an excuse. Seb az86556 11:27, 30 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for these comments. I think you have convincingly pointed out that a TOS is written for future events (and my language there could have been cleaner). So, if I have it right, what we are talking about is not the right to fork (which the community has always had as defined by the free licenses), but the obligations on WMF in the future to allow for a fork. That said, I'm honestly not so sure there is consensus about such obligations. We could agree that WMF should "seek" to maintain accessible copies "within technological, financial, and resource constraints," but the above discussion suggests that something more is wanted. Of course, some obligations might be already covered in the agreement: there probably would be a requirement that WMF seek to host freely licensed content, and that is included in the TOS. But there could be other requrements imposed, such as implementing a system of daily, up-to-date, easily accessible, and complete data dumps for years to come, which, as I understand, is presently not the case. There would be a need to invest in personnel and technology resources to make this happen (which would require a reallocation of donor funds).
For these reasons, from my viewpoint, if the community sees this as a priority, it should seek a board resolution. A board resolution - which has binding force with WMF and the community - would validate the employment of the resources, taking into account competing values and demands on resources. A resolution could also set out in more detail the requirements, obligations, and limitations. And, before such a resolution, there could be a healthy community discussion focused on whether this is an appropriate use of resources. As noted above, a mandatory Board resolution becomes binding under the TOS. Sec. 11. Geoffbrigham 14:26, 30 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I notice that you did not elaborate on what would be the "unknown future events" that keep you from including the right to fork in the TOS. Nor did you comment on my example, what would be the impact of the TOS on this situation. So, please explain what you mean with "unknown future events". In what context is the right to fork no longer upheld?
I believe reasonable minds can disagree on this, and I'm definitely listening on this issue, but I see the right to fork as defined by the free licenses. The above discussion however suggests that, for a fork to be effective, the WMF needs to take on other obligations (for which, in my mind, the details need stronger community consensus). I don't see the above hypothetical as realistic, but a real future event may be that WMF donations take a dip and we don't have the resources to meet those obligations. There may be ways to ensure against that, but we need a bigger discussion on that through the board resolution process. Geoffbrigham
As far as I know, a resolution of the WMF Board of Trustees binds the WMF until the Board decides otherwise (another resolution) (WMF Bylaws Section 11. Reserved Powers: "The Board of Trustees shall be empowered to make any and all regulations, rules, policies, user agreements, terms of use, and other such decisions as may be necessary for the continued functioning of the Foundation not inconsistent with these bylaws."). And the Board resolution becomes binding to the users under the TOS. Sec. 11, without the user's further consent. The only time that a user really has to consent, is to the TOS, so this is an appropriate place for both obligations and rights of users and WMF.
Fair (and well thought out) point. But the Board resolution could involve an amendment to the TOS (with a reference to the details in the resolution). This ensures that priorities and resources are set and spent per the resolution after time for an appropriate community discussion. Geoffbrigham 01:35, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
You said you were not so sure there is consensus about such obligations on WMF in the future to allow for a fork. Erik Moeller recently wrote on foundation-l: "I think it's good that people are seriously discussing what it would mean to fork and how it would be done. Forking the project if WMF policies or decisions are considered unacceptable is one of the fundamental ways in which Wikimedia projects are different from most of the web; it's a key freedom, one which should be exercised judiciously but which should be preserved and protected nonetheless." I agree. --Atlasowa
I hear you, but, frankly, I don't see the contradition. We are not talking about the ability to fork. We are talking about whether WMF has specific contractual obligations in that respect. I don't feel there is consensus on this issue, and, for that reason, a board resolution with community input makes sense to me (which could result in an amendment to the TOS). Geoffbrigham 01:35, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Not having consensus in WMF and/or the Board about the right to fork, including the up-to-date, easily accessible and complete content access, is a HUGE red light for me - and probably for other editors, too. I couldn't think of a better argument on how desperately and urgently this access is needed. Very much hope I've misunderstood you.
Some ways to provide really useful data dumps will indeed require a lot of WMF resources. Others, however, may even save resources/expenses to WMF. To date, often WMF has saved resources at the price of limiting content backup availability, instead of trying (incl. calling for a community discussion) to save resources while/by preserving and improving the backup availability. This approach, however, essentially limits the freedom of the Wikipedia content, which is the centerpiece of the editors motivation. Unless the approach is changed quickly and radically, and organizational measures are taken to never repeat this mistake, we will see a gradual but irreversible decline of the editors motivation, and an increase of the forking calls. Guess where this leads eventually. -- Григор Гачев 01:47, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Let me see if I can simplify what Geoff is telling you all. Where the right to fork is concerned, we can have two possible results:

  1. A really strong right to fork, with teeth in it and resources behind it, that actually results in these data dumps being created.
  2. A sentence in the TOS saying that there's a right to fork, which will give you the pleasant illusion of a promise, but zero action to make it happen in practice.

If you want the first result, we need a much bigger, much stronger, separate process: we need a full discussion with the Board that produces a solid, specialized, and detailed Board resolution, plus directions to employees to do this and a budget for achieving it. A sentence in the TOS cannot achieve this.

If you want the second result, then that is very easy to achieve. The only required action is for Geoff to type one sentence into the TOS. Nothing else will happen after that sentence is typed, except that a few very inexperienced people will say "See! I have the right to fork, right there in black and white!" (The WMF can claim that your "right" is automatically fulfilled by the current system, because you are capable of individually loading and copying every single page that you want to fork.)

Now: Which of these two results do you want? And if you actually want the first result—a practicable, workable, robust system for forking—are you going to listen to what Geoff is telling you about how you can actually get that result, or are you going to persist in the belief that taking Action #2 will magically produce Results #1? WhatamIdoing 02:34, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

So let me get what you are saying - The second point is a hollow statement in TOS to appease now and the first, is actually abiding by it. You are saying to get #1 we need the board but #2 can be added as just a hollow line, and I was under the assumption that licensing terms and the ideals of the mission meant that a hollow statement in TOS would be backed without a resolution. This is veering into an interesting legal territory where it might go down to the moral and ethical obligation to respect certain founding principles of open-source and free software. And here I thought we could just AGF, which incidentally, was a legal term (Implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing) before it was used in the community. Theo10011 03:05, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
WhatAmIDoing is constructing a false dichotomy. It's not either #1 or #2. There should be both a strong commitment to provide data dumps for forking in the TOS (#2) and Board resolutions that provide specific directions to employees to do this and a budget for achieving "a practicable, workable, robust system for forking" (#1). Regarding hollow sentences in the TOS: There are detailed provisions under section 15 for limiting liability of WMF ("In no event shall our liability exceed one thousand U.S. dollars (USD 1000.00) in aggregate.") Interesting. --Atlasowa 11:06, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Goeff and Whatamidoing: Thanks for your answers and excuse my bad english. I hope that I am not living with an illusion. But I always thought that wikipedia is something similar to linux: free software, free content. I think, it should be so, and therefore I want to have two things: information and access. I want to have information about procedures and access to sources in order to build a fork. Let me assure you that I do not want to fork. I want to have the realisitic possibility to easily clone wikipedia, because this means that I have control about content and software of wikipedia. And if this is true to me, it is true to everybody. For me this is the difference between Linux and wikipedia on the one hand and Microsoft and Elsevier/Springer etc on the other hand. Now Geoff, please tell me: do we as community have this control? Greetings -- Andreas Werle 19:50, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Andreas, I believe you do. I added some comments below, but Wikimedia projects are freely licensed, and you are free to copy anything within the terms of those licenses. That can be done today without WMF assistance. The question is how much more material assistance is WMF required to give to make the process easier. I don't think we have resolved that question, though I proposed some language and asked some questions below. Cheers. Geoffbrigham 15:09, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Sue-ability or whatever

I'll make this a subsection. While I am all for the "right to fork" to be in the TOU, I'd like to ask those who absolutely insist on it what exactly they think they'll be able to do with it when "push comes to y'know" — sue WMF? And who's gonna sue? You, personally? And for what? Money? And who's gonna get the money? You? Some other foundation you just founded?
I guess what I want to get smarter on is some scenario — Geoff says "unforeseen future events". Give me your "foreseen future events".
Seb az86556 05:12, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Let me be clear on that: I don't want to fork, I certainly don't want to sue the WMF and I don't want to be rude/uncivil/unpolite to Geoff Brigham (and since I am not a native english speaker, I do worry about this last point). I gave a scenario about advertisement on Wikipedia, I think other "red lines" for the community would be disregard of WP:notcensored and WP:NPOV (see image filter discussion). The WMF Board can decide resolutions on anything it wants, with or without community "consultation" and anytime it wants (hiring or cutting back on staff, advertisement, moving its headquarter, developing and implementing new tools on Wikipedia, ban tools, ban users, ...). If the Board wants to modify the TOS, it has to abide to sec 15 TOS "we will provide this Agreement, as well as any substantial future revisions of this Agreement, to the community for comment at least thirty (30) days before it goes into effect. If future revisions are substantial, we will provide an additional 30 days to allow for translations. For changes for legal or administrative reasons, to correct an inaccurate statement, or changes in response to community comments, we will provide at least three (3) days' notice." --Atlasowa 11:06, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That's all good and nice, but not quite what I meant. Let's take your first scenario: advertisement. Somebody doesn't like that and decides to fork. The person asks WMF for the data dumps. WMF says "no." Then what? Seb az86556 11:36, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Then it is clear that the freedom of the WMF content does not exist, and all editors have been lied to. After this, some editors will probably sue WMF for all the data (and, since WMF has many times stated that this content is free as in freedom, will probably win). Most editors, even those that would accept ads, will probably refuse to work anymore for the WMF projects, and will either stop contributing to the free content, or will go supporting a fork. Eventually, we will have most projects up and running again, under a different organization, but at the cost of nasty disturbances and a huge public image damage.
The point, however, is not what to do if WMF says "this is not really free". The point is how to never come to such a situation. Geoff wrote above that there is no consensus in WMF whether they have an obligation to support the right to fork (if I have understood him correctly - if not, please accept my apologies). However, the right to fork is the fundament of the freedom of any information project. If it is not present, the freedom of this content is a lie. It could still be free as in free beer, but not as in freedom. And if the Board indeed has no consensus, essentially, whether the WMF projects content is free as in freedom, then this must be clarified ASAP.
The new TOS should best be approved by the Board anyway, to avoid doubts about their validity. So, it is the perfect moment to have a confirmation (again, if I have understood Geoff correctly - if not, please Geoff and all others, accept my apologies) that the Board has a consensus that the WMF content is free as in freedom. And this cannot be without an easily available fork ability. If the Board declines to declare this, then I'd suggest to expect soon forks and maybe even lawsuits. I'd go to great lengths to avoid this development; actually, this is what I'm trying to do right now.
As for the resources needed: some ways to provide fork ability might indeed be resource-consuming, but some might be resource-saving. And all we know how much WMF needs resources. This is a wonderful win-win opportunity, it is unwise to miss it. Also, WMF denying the content freedom is probably the only thing ever that can make a fork call succeed - there is no reason to be afraid of disruptive fork calls once the technical ability is in place. -- Григор Гачев 21:53, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think I see what the problem/crux is:
Question 1 is "Do users have the right to fork, to use content freely, and redistribute it?". Answer is "yes".
Question 2 is "Does WMF have the obligation to help users fork, to use content freely, and redistribute it?" Answer is...?
Seb az86556 22:05, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think the WMF have a moral obligation to help users fork and I think that they should acknowledge this moral obligation in the TOU. I think, however, that making this a legal obligation would be a mistake and the TOU should be worded so as to make it clear that the courts are not the appropriate route to enforcing this. Григор Гачев above explains how the editors can enforce this policy - by withdrawing their free labour without which there would be no projects.
Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons are among the largest free culture projects; let us set a high standard for how free culture projects should operate. Other organisations will be influenced for years to come by what we do here today.Filceolaire 00:59, 1 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Not exactly. Editors may enforce some freedom by an abrupt withdrawing because of a drastic Board decision, but such a decision is not likely. (Unless the Board indeed has no consensus over the right of fork, ie. the content freedom.) More likely is, however, that the Board will have to take measures for keeping expenses under control, gradually sacrificing (unwillingly) the content freedom. The editors will feel the freedom limitation and will start withdrawing and giving more support to fork proposals. However, the process will be very gradual, and will probably not get enough attention until it's too late, and a lot of damage is done. This scenario seems to me plausible.
Otherwise, I agree that the fork help should be moral, but not legal obligation of WMF, and that they should acknowledge it in the TOU, or in a document linked there. -- Григор Гачев 20:15, 1 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I think some users are confusing a "terms of use" argument with a contract / charter / constitution. WMF obligations to its users would belong in a contract / charter / constitution, not the terms of use. A terms of use concerns user obligations, not WMF ones. @Geoff: I think that want users in this thread actually want is a charter / constitution; they need more assurance than what a unwritten social contract and licensing agreements can provide. --Michaeldsuarez 14:57, 1 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The idea of TOU is similar to the typical proprietary "all rights reserved by us, you have only obligations" license. That is why TOU is expected by most users to be "a kind of license". And since TOU is most often the only usage-related stuff the users see, a lot may assume that Wikipedia is as closed and proprietary as most sites. This can be partially solved by providing in TOU a link to the license, and possibly to a social contract. (It would be a good idea to have one written.) -- Григор Гачев 20:15, 1 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Seb's got the questions right, and the answer to #2 is "no". The WMF does not have a legal obligation to help you fork the content. Their only legal obligation is to not actively take steps to prevent you from forking all by yourself.
If we want the WMF to undertake such a commitment, then we can advocate for that—but the TOU isn't going to achieve that. A sentence claiming something like that in the TOU is unenforceable in practice. If we want this, then we need staff time and a budget for making it happen. A sentence in the TOU does not produce action from the devs. An order from the Board, and a budget allocation by the Board, does produce action.
It's my guess that the Board would be willing to issue such an order—assuming that someone here decided that he wanted concrete action instead of empty words, and therefore went to the trouble to ask them to make those actions happen. WhatamIdoing 17:47, 2 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
+1 to WhatamIdoing -- very well said. -Pete F 18:04, 2 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Eg, if WMF decides to block overuse, by API or browser (of course, just to keep the traffic within budget), this is not an active step to prevent a fork, but makes it impossible in practice. So, if Seb's #2 is 'no', then WMF content is NOT free, editors have been and are being lied to, and the rock is already rolling downhill towards suing and forks. And, as I already said above, providing fork help might be done in ways that save more staff time and budget than they require. Want examples (in a more appropriate place)?
A written fork help obligation in TOU, or a document linked in it, will show the new users what "content freedom" really means, and will help prevent inadvertent sliding towards denying the content freedom in practice. (If bound to provide it, WMF will quickly find ways that decrease its expenses instead of increasing them.) And the lack of such an obligation may ease this sliding. Bad things rarely happen by the order of bad people - far more often they happen when good people underestimate the side effects from doing other good things. That's why I consider such a mention in TOU or a linked document important. -- Григор Гачев 20:56, 2 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think they should have some freedom as to how they make the project forkable. Having a massive data dump file and a copy of the server software available to download is the way they seem to have been going till now. If that is available then I have no problem with them blocking people from trying to download the whole site page by page.Filceolaire 23:19, 2 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Definitely yes; that is why I believe this should be defined as moral rather than as a legal obligation. However, the dump must be recent enough to allow for a real fork: months old dumps are non-starter. Other technologies, eg. rsync, should be available to supplement what one can get on some media (exports will be old anyway, and transferring the entire Commons over the Net will indeed burden the WMF resources). To decrease the burden further, WMF can limit the rsync right to eg. ten mirrorers who take the obligation to allow everyone to mirror them (or each to allow 10 more and to pass the obligation down). Some mirrorers will be willing to webserve files for WMF pages, thus relieving WMF from between 50 and 80% of the browsing traffic. And the amount of backups made by WMF may decrease (eg. if they have now 2 full backups, after getting 10 full mirrors they can cut down to 1 full backup, and still be better backed up than now). Giving mirroring help is essentially giving fork help, and may save a lot of expenses instead of making new ones. I can't find plausible argument for refusing this... Hence, taking moral obligation to support forking actually saves a lot of expenses to WMF instead of creating expenses. -- Григор Гачев 11:37, 3 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Perhaps we have different definitions of "free". I've got a cassette tape somewhere that is a GFDL "free" recording of a local musician (CC didn't exist then). Is it your belief that if you want a copy of the music, that the artist must pay to make the copy and deliver it to you? Or is it your job to buy the blank media, to obtain the equipment necessary to copy it, to find a mutually convenient time to borrow a master, and to punch the 'copy' button on the equipment? WhatamIdoing 17:11, 3 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Is this cassette tape GFDL free, and is actually created by you under the promise that it will be free for everybody, but the musician keeps it in his house, plays it from there in a non-recordable way and does not feel obliged to allow you copy it? If yes, and you still insist it is free, then we perhaps indeed have different definitions of "free".
All the discussion shows very clearly that the topic is not who will provide the cost - it was said twice that providing mirror / fork help will actually save expenses to WMF. It is about whether WMF should be morally obliged to provide fork help. I am at loss why you are trying to beat this strawman. -- Григор Гачев 00:22, 5 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It isn't hidden; you are insisting that you must have the right to go into the musician's house and get the original tape. Seb az86556 00:33, 5 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
WhatamIdoing: the WMF isn't the musician. It doesn't create the content. We create the content and we allow the WMF to put this content on it's web site subject to certain conditions that limit what the WMF can do with the our content.
A musician who announces that his works are GFDL or CC free but then never gets around to doing anything is within his rights because he created the stuff, he owns it and he can do what he wants with it.
A recording studio that takes his works and puts out a CD doesn't own the works so their use of the content must be in accordance with the license - If they don't comply with the license then they don't have the right to do anything with the work.
Wiki editors are like the musician. We promise to make all this cool stuff and sometimes it take us a while to get round to it. The WMF is like the record company. They can cajole and encourage us but they aren't paying so they can't come round our house and take it. Once we do send them the music they can put it on the web but only so long as they do it the way they promised when we gave them our words. Filceolaire 09:07, 5 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
So? I'm not the musician on the tape, either. My role with respect to this tape is exactly the same as the WMF's: I have a copy of GFDL-licensed material that I did not create myself. In fact, at the time I was given a copy, the musician was dead. Does me possession of one copy of GFDL-licensed music recording, made by someone else, mean that Григор Гачев can barge into my home whenever he wants and demand that I buy a blank cassette and a machine that can copy it, so he can have his own copy?
And if GFDL doesn't compel me to supply Григор Гачев with a copy of this content entirely at my expense, then why should it compel the WMF to supply Григор Гачев with a copy of the other content entirely at the WMF's expense? WhatamIdoing 15:48, 7 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It can be understood (hopefully incorrectly) that some of the statements here come to say that WMF is not really committed to its freedom promise under which the editors contribute their work. For example, by not having consensus over whether it will allow a real fork of this work, or by not having a moral (if not legal) commitment to provide fork help (once again: not the fork expenses). To avoid more people misunderstanding that this is possible, a strong statement to the opposite is needed. I believe that TOU is an appropriate place for a short form of this statement, or for a link to this statement, because it provides an appropriate visibility for it. (The already present misunderstanding is to a large part due to the lack of visibility for such a statement.) -- Григор Гачев 01:05, 7 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
There is no material difference between "fork help" and "fork expense". The WMF cannot reliably do anything except through ordering its paid staff to do it, and the paid staff cannot do anything—not even walk from one office to the other—without the WMF paying for their time. "Fork help" is never going to be gratuit ("free as in beer"), and it is very likely that "fork help" is not even going to be cheap. It is likely to be expensive, as in, producing the very nice system proposed by John earlier is likely to cost the WMF somewhere between tens and hundreds of thousands of US dollars in staff time, hardware, and communications resources. WhatamIdoing 15:55, 7 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
There is a huge material difference between "fork help" and "fork expense", because whoever goes with a fork will be prepared to pay the expenses. Let's be specific. What WMF staff has to do to provide fork help is to allow the contents to be copied. For example, to have an employee tell the forkers how they can connect a storage to the WMF servers, and what to copy. From my experience with copying large data, the WMF cost for this help is going to be between several dozens and several hundreds of US dollars. Any reasonable fork will be glad to pay it. Since when zero cost to WMF became expensive?
Moreover, I explicitly stated twice that a way to give fork help is to allow mirrors, which is going to save WMF millions, maybe tens of millions of US dollars in staff time, hardware and communications resources, as through the system proposed by me (see above). Please do hear already. And please do feel invited to reply. I'm curious - are there reasons for which the cash-strapped and expense-conscious WMF will refuse to save millions?
And more. I also explicitly stated 4 times that this fork help is not expected to cover fork expenses; other editors explained it, too. Despite that, you continue to insist that the expenses are an unsurmountable obstacle, because of which WMF should not be bound to provide fork help. Pardon me, but I start to ask myself questions that until recently would consider unbelievable. And I start seeing the need to write a WMF obligation to help forks in the TOU (or a linked document) as an absolute must. -- Григор Гачев 21:23, 7 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
You're not getting it: The content to be copied does not currently exist in any form that can be copied. It's not a matter of saying "connect your storage to the WMF servers and copy 'this'", because there is no 'this' to copy. The current forms of the projects cannot be copied completely. Did you not pay any attention at all to John V's description of the large gap between what we have today and what would be needed for someone to be able to conveniently download all 10 million images at Commons in practice? WhatamIdoing 16:56, 8 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I want to thank everyone for this informative and helpful conversation. I have read it through a couple of times, and I'm still thinking about it. I just don't want people to think I'm ignoring the issue. (Also, in response to an above comment, let me say that nobody should worry about offending me, especially folks who are communicating in English as a second language. To the contrary, I'm grateful that you are expressing yourself.) Geoffbrigham 02:05, 10 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This all reminds me of the copyright law debate as to whether "fair use" is a mere rather technical legal defense, or whether it has a deep First Amendment status with overall implications. Anyway, maybe there could be a compromise here by including a sentence that blocks/bans/terminations etc will not affect any "right to fork". Before anyone jumps and rushes to say the obvious, the point is that it's a compromise which is not onerous for the Wikimedia Foundation but does mention the topic in a reasonable way in the terms-of-use. -- Seth Finkelstein 03:20, 10 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
We blocked Amazon in the very act of them attempting to fork the English Wikipedia, because their method of forking was slamming the servers. We do take actions that very directly "affect any 'right to fork'", because occasionally we must choose between blocking someone and having a non-functional system for the rest of the world. WhatamIdoing 16:01, 10 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
commons:Commons:Village_pump/Archive/2011/01#Backing_up – I think that Григор Гачев is asking for more freedom for bots and scrapers. --Michaeldsuarez 17:31, 10 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@WhatamIdoing: Any information can be copied, and if what you have is good for you, it should be good for the forkers, too. Some methods will surely overload WMF, but others will not. For this reason, denying the right to fork in principle is NOT a defense of the WMF budget: it is a violation of the freedom promise, and the spirit of the GFDL and CC-BY-SA licenses. For the record: I did paid attention to John V's description (and have a lot of info he omitted for brevity's sake). My proposal of methods for mirroring takes into account these details, and allows seamless evolution to different structures without breaking the mirroring process. Did you paid any attention to it, instead of accusing me in not paying attention?
I agree to blocking entities that try forking in a way that overloads WMF (and telling them how they should do it instead). Amazon should be allowed to make their fork if they do not overload the WMF infrastructure; also, if they burden WMF with a noticeable cost, they must pay this cost. This is not a violation of the right to fork, much like stopping you from taking a plane without a ticket is not a violation of your right to travel. If you revoke people's right to travel just because some of them might try it without tickets, and there were ones that even tried to, you will be rightly accused of groundlessly violating basic freedoms. Same here. If you try to deny people's right to fork just because some will try it the wrong way, you will be rightly accused of violating the WMF promise and the spirit of the licenses used. And such an accusation is the very last thing WMF needs. If anything can destroy the WMF projects and its stated goal, that's it.
@Michaeldsuares: The two topics are completely different. Scrapers already have more freedom than they really need, in my opinion: see what Amazon tried to do, in the paragraph above by WhatamIdoing. Bots could get good use from a little more freedom. Mirroring and forking, however, are completely different thing, and should be considered separately. From the discussion you pointed to: for a small project, eg. :bg, a bot will still be the most selective and thus the most economical way for WMF to mirror the files used (they are < 0.01% of the Commons). Transferring the entire Commons on a storage instead will burden WMF far more. However, mirroring all the Commons is completely different thing.
From my experiments (I have several MediaWikis on my servers), the best way to mirror the Commons files would probably be initial transferring the file collection through a specialized storage, and then making daily (or hourly, etc) "snapshots" of the new files (at me, most effective proved directories with symlinks to the appropriate files), which can be rsynced. Removed / renamed files info can be derived from the MediaWiki logs / recentchanges, which can be obtained most selectively through a bot. Pages and revisions are also obtained best through a bot, because of the selectivity. The traffic generated by maintaining eg. ten mirrors through this mechanism should be a tiny part of the Commons traffic.
In the beginning, WMF could allow several mirrors (eg. ten), on the condition that each of them will allow 10 more, passing this obligation down. Many companies and organizations will benefit (and profit) from having a local mirror of the Commons, so there should be enough of candidates. The passed obligation will ensure that everyone who wants their mirror will find a mirror source. And WMF will save on this, too. Some mirrors will agree to webserve files to WMF pages, thus potentially relieving WMF from over a half of its traffic (which, I am told, gobbles most of the WMF expenses). A provision that mirrors should provide contents back to WMF on request will decrease also the hardware and maintenance expenses: eg. it will allow to decrease the Commons backups from 2 to 1, and it will still be backed up better than now. Last but not least, this mirroring mechanism will also grant the right of fork. A win-win.
I understand that some people at WMF are scared by the opportunity of many forks who dissolve the efforts of the volunteers. However, forks will nave a chance to attract significant number of editors only if WMF fails it mission - for example, if it fails its content freedom promise. And denying the right of fork is the principal way to deny the content freedom. I have the feeling (hopefully wrong) that there are people at WMF who don't understand this. So, putting a promise for fork help (again, not funding) in a very prominent place becomes a needed safeguard against this mission-critical mistake. That is why I demanded it to be included or linked in the TOU. -- Григор Гачев 23:44, 10 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
WhatamIdoing, I'm trying to figure out a way to "split the difference" between two problems at different extremes. Obviously, nobody wants to permit a server overload under the justification of right-to-fork. But on the other hand, I can conceive of a situation I call "Go Fork Yourselves!", where a group gets into a dispute with the WMF, wants to fork, and WMF says that since these people are blocked/banned/terminated, their actions to download material to fork are in violation of the terms of use, as "unauthorized access". That is, server issues which could be handled amicably if the WMF wanted to do so, would be intentionally used as a way of hindering the dissent group's efforts. There's been accusations of foot-dragging with "Wikia", a commercial wiki-farm company, when digital sharecropper communities have done escapes from its electronic plantation. So it's not as if there no reason to think this couldn't happen with Wikipedia. Thus, appropriate language is the goal, even if it may be difficult to come up with concise phrasing. -- Seth Finkelstein 01:19, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Many thanks to all for this discussion, which I find fascinating and quite humbling. It is a needed reminder that our community of editors has created Wikipedia and its sister projects, that free content means just that, and that no entity has a monopoly over general knowledge. Here are some thoughts or questions:
1. The Foundation believes in free content obviously, as articulated in Sec. 7 of the proposed TOS. The Foundation also believes that, pursuant to the terms of the free licenses, people have the right to copy the free content from its projects and use that content to support another (contrary) site (assuming all proper attributions and other license requirements are fulfilled).
2. For most of the reasons articulated above, however, I remain unconvinced that the TOS is the best place to address a so-called "right to help" without a more thorough Board review and study of the question. But, if we were to include language today, what should it say? For discussion purposes, taking into the present constraints, one proposal might read like this:
The Foundation recognizes that others may copy the free content on its Projects for use on other sites pursuant to the applicable licenses and that, as a desirable but nonbinding goal, the Foundation should seek to facilitate such copying within the constraints of its budget, resources, and other priorities.
3. Can anybody find TOS language from another free content site that guarantees a right for assistance during a fork? My guess is that this is somewhat novel to Wikimedia projects.
4. During the Spanish Fork in Wikipedia's early history, was there any assistance from the Foundation vis-a-vis the fork?
Thanks. Geoffbrigham 14:56, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Geoff, when the spanish fork happened in 2002, the WMF did not yet exist. Actually, without the fork, the WMF probably wouldn't have been founded (in 2003) but a private business company based on advertisement similar to wikia (founded by Wales in 2004 in Florida and re-incorporated in Delaware as Wikia, Inc. in January 2006). Further background: For reasons that I don't understand, the WMF wanted to move its headquarters from Florida in 2007 - and moved to expensive San Francisco, which helped Wales consolidate his business interests since Wikia was then based in San Mateo. --Atlasowa 15:32, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Geoff: Thank you for the nice words. As for the points you brought:
1) The right to copy the content is moot without the opportunity to do this. If WMF acknowledges your right to copy its content, but denies you the technical opportunity to do it, you are effectively denied the right to copy content. (Or if the info you are provided is not good for a fork, eg, if it is months old.) I agree this copying should be done in a way that does not unreasonably burden WMF, but believe that we need a commitment on its side to not deny the opportunity (see the next paragraph).
2) The proposal addresses the problem in a way different from what some people here, incl. me, would mean. It does not bind WMF to provide fork assistance (which I think should be provided), and appears to me to bind WMF to provide what assistance it gives on its own expenses (I think these should be covered by the entity that does the fork). An example: if someone comes to WMF and wants to fork eg. the German-language Wikipedia, WMF should be bound to give him the technical opportunity to copy the relevant content, incl. to tell him what he needs to copy, etc. However, WMF should not be bound to cover his expenses on buying a storage on which to copy the content etc, and if the copying process puts noticeable expenses on WMF (Internet traffic, admin time or whatever), WMF should be able to ask the forker to cover these expenses too. Unhappily, my English is way below the level needed to propose a legal text to this sense.
3) Typically, no TOS / TOU I am aware of includes such a grant. However, most free projects do not accept people who would doubt whether they should permit a fork, while WMF appears to have such people onboard. Also, most free projects have no record of blocking fork attempts, while WMF has it (and probably cannot avoid having it). For this reason, I believe WMF TOU should include or link to such a grant.
There is one more aspect that is important: what one needs for a fork. Let me give an example with the free software. If you take the compiled binaries, this is not forking, but redistributing: you can't for a project by them. For a fork, you need the source. In our context, this will mean that the right to fork covers the wikitext and the original images, but not the generated HTML and thumbs (their freedom might be covered by another content freedom aspects, but I don't discuss these here). Let's make the difference. -- Григор Гачев 19:01, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Seth, I've got a lot of sympathy for what you're trying to do, but the fact remains that saying "the WMF will never" when the WMF not only does, but must, is dishonest. Although I don't actually object to Geoff's latest proposal, I think it's ultimately too complicated an issue to be addressed here. WhatamIdoing 19:13, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Григор Гачев says: the best way to mirror the Commons files would probably be initial transferring the file collection through a specialized storage, and then making daily (or hourly, etc) "snapshots" of the new files (at me, most effective proved directories with symlinks to the appropriate files), which can be rsynced.
And here's what I want to know: How exactly are you going to create that "specialized storage" with zero money, zero new hardware, and zero staff time? Wave a magic wand? Wish on a falling star?
Or do you think we can finally agree that creating "specialized storage" to enable this mirror will actually cost the WMF some real money? WhatamIdoing 17:30, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
"Specialized storage" in the context of copying large amount of information usually means a specialized storage hardware, eg. a big NAS. Of course it should be provided by the side that makes the fork. (If this is not a fork, but a mirroring according to the scheme I described above, it may be provided by WMF to facilitate the mirrors it will benefit from. However, this is NOT a case related to the right of fork we discuss here.)
This is probably the fifth time I am explaining that fork expenses are not expected to be covered by WMF. Please tell me how many more times I should repeat it to get it understood, in order to finally be able to proceed with the topic on hand. -- Григор Гачев 19:01, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
And the big NAS will be installed by magic fairies, so that it will require none of the networking staff's time? It will use no electricity? It will not increase their bandwidth expenses?
You're not getting it: there is no way to do anything in the WMF's server farm that does not ultimately cost the WMF cold, hard cash. You are here proposing essentially a "right" to pay the WMF to make a copy of the Projects for you, at whatever they declare the going price to be. In my opinion, this is not the sort of thing that needs to be done in the TOU. If that's what you want, you can have it right now: you just need to send them a proposal, a standard fee-for-service contract, and a fairly large check. WhatamIdoing 19:11, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
A NAS will not increase the bandwidth expenses, as it is connected locally. Connecting it to a server farm will require a power plug, a LAN socket and 10 mins staff time to show these to the forker. At the standard consumption of a NAS (about 300W/h), the week needed to make a full Commons (the largest WMF project) copy will consume about 50 KWh power, costing about 10 USD. (Assuming a price of USD 0.2 / kWh; please adjust if the price is different.) Another 10 USD will cover the increased power consumption of the WMF servers during the copying. And the 10 mins of staff time will cost about 20 USD, at a rate of 120 USD / hour. In total, your fairly large check is going to be about 40 USD. (Unless WMF tries to make a huge profit by effectively selling the data we created under a freedom promise by it, in which case most people will bring it to the court and the media immediately. This is the development I am trying to avoid, by requiring measures that will decrease its probability. What are you trying to do?)
This is the sixth time I explain that fork expenses should be paid. You didn't answered me how many more times I should do it to finally get us on a constructive track. And, pardon me, you appear to be arguing in circles in order to avoid WMF having to take a prominent obligation to allow mirroring and forking. The reason I find so important to have such an obligation in the TOU is exactly this stance. You are demonstrating it, and the need for such an obligation, better than I could. -- Григор Гачев 12:12, 12 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Would you let anyone at all have full physical access to your machine room, with only ten minutes of supervision? I certainly wouldn't. Not only that, I'd very probably fire anyone who thought it would be acceptable.
Even if every WMF manager was an idiot, and every WMF tech thought that letting unknown people do whatever they wanted in the server farm was a fine thing (and if you're not directly supervising the work, that is exactly what you are actually permitting), the fact is that it would take more than ten minutes just to make the initial appointment. WhatamIdoing 17:45, 12 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Please tell me, and everybody else, that you really expect the forker to be let into the machine room, and to stay there during the copying, eg. one week, day and night. We desperately need additional basis to evaluate how good your judgment is. What you gave through this talk by now is not enough.
In the reality, 5 minutes will be needed by a staff member to take the storage from the forker outside the machine room, move it in, connect it and get out. The other 5 mins will be used to move the storage out after the copying and give it back to the forker. Additional 1 second will be needed to run a simple copying script. At the company I work in, making an appointment takes about 1 minute. Does WMF spend on such a task hours, paid by the donations? And if the fork help was taking even 10 hours instead of 10 minutes, would the expenses be large enough to assume that the forkers will not pay them, and to deny fork requests on this basis?
I already don't doubt that you will fire anyone who will think it is acceptable to make a fork of the WMF content, and will keep inventing even less plausible reasons to deny it. However, I don't have infinite time to waste. With your help, the case is demonstrated convincingly enough. There are people who will deny the right to fork with baseless arguments, will get WMF sued by a hell lot of people (and convicted), will destroy the public image of its projects, and will teach everyone around that who helps a noble cause gets cheated. For this reason, the WMF TOU desperately need to include or link to a clear statement from WMF that they will support morally the right of fork. The knowledge that everyone knows WMF can be forked on need is the only deterrent for such people I am aware of. -- Григор Гачев 15:55, 13 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

WhatamIdoing wrote "We blocked Amazon in the very act of them attempting to fork the English Wikipedia, because their method of forking was slamming the servers." Actually WMF did not "block the very act of attempting to fork" and Amazon's Shopping-enabled Wikipedia pages are still up: . See also w:Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2010-12-06/In the news#Amazon adds "shopping-enabled" Wikipedia pages. This is a (commercial) mirror, not a fork, and it apparently did Remote loading, which was blocked. --Atlasowa 10:14, 12 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Apparently, one of their efforts to create this mirror slammed the servers, and they got blocked. I've heard that everything got worked out in the end, but that doesn't change the fact that they did actually get blocked (once) during the very act of trying to copy the files. WhatamIdoing 17:45, 12 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Right to fork - New Section

I agree with WhatamIdoing that facilitating a fork will cost money. Configuring the software to produce a usable data file will cost money. Storing this file will cost money. Every time someone downloads this file it will use bandwidth which costs money.
I also agree with Григор Гачев. This is worth doing for it's own sake just like it is worth providing the information for free download page by page and all the other things WMF does to support it's mission.
I also believe doing this will have certain other benefits which will mitigate the cost - notably that it will let others help us keep security backups - and that we can probably find others who are prepared to donate storage space and bandwidth to host copies of the data dump because they support our mission, especially if someone comes up with a way to do this in a distributed way so they can store a part of the file.Filceolaire 08:53, 12 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I agree that it should be done. But the way to make that happen is to develop a detailed plan, a budget, and a list of staff members responsible for doing it. Saying "You have the right to fork this content from the WMF servers" will be interpreted by certain site scrapers as "you have an unlimited right to fork no matter how you choose to go about it", which is not true. Putting such an irresponsibly unqualified statement into the TOU could result in one of them suing the WMF for "breach of contract" when they get blocked for slamming the servers. Even having such a lawsuit threatened costs the WMF real money, even if we all believe that they're going to lose.
Again: good idea, but bad method. WhatamIdoing 17:51, 12 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
If an unqualified "right to fork" is a bad idea then I guess we should qualify this right - for example by requiring the WMF to make appropriate arrangements and requiring those wishing to create a fork to cooperate with those arrangements.
Without this kind of agreed procedure, as you noted above, there can be problems, but, as you noted above, these problems can be (and have been in the past) resolved with a little cooperation.
It may even be that if you want a copy of the data you have to buy a hard drive, loaded with the data, from WMF - price as listed on the download page, similar to the retail price of the drive plus shipping. That would meet my expectations. Filceolaire 19:12, 12 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I believe this has been an extremely useful conversation for the reasons I stated above, and I have been impressed with the strength of the arguments. Although I do not intend to cut off further discussion, as previously noted, I honestly don't see the WMF moving much on this without a larger community discussion and review by the Board. Now, to be clear, WMF is maintaining a strong commitment to keeping all information in our projects freely available and re-usable, free of charge, in perpetuity, as per our mission statement. (And I suppose we can say that in the user agreement if we want.) As noted, WMF recognizes the right to copy our content and re-use it on other sites. It is easy to copy the text of all revisions from; images and other media files can be manually slurped over time. But, without a more formal directive, we are not in a postion today to make a commitment to provide additional technical assistance or support, especially give our constrained budgets and priorities. Thanks to all for your views on this, which have been quite helpful. Geoffbrigham 01:09, 13 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@WhatamIdoing: Filceolaire expressed it nicely. The best way to avoid being sued by scrappers etc. is to have a developed procedure for forking that ensures content quality and completeness, is not overpriced, does not make one wait beyond what is technically necessary, is easy to follow, and its description is readily available. If so, I am unable to find an argument that a scrapper will be able to defend in a court. And there is one more benefit: the procedure will be effectively the same as for mirroring, and WMF has a lot to gain from mirroring. (In fact, mirrors and forks are interchangeable to a degree: I don't see a strong reason to differentiate between them, as long as the procedure is concerned.)
The procedure might be different for different-sized projects. Mirroring the smallest Wikipedias by a bot will probably constitute under a megabyte of traffic per year - this is negligible. For larger projects a bot will still be the cheapest approach, once there is agreement who will pay the traffic. For the largest projects bot-only might not be an option: even if the mirrorers agrees to pay the traffic, slurping too much per time may slam the WMF servers. But this talk already belongs to the procedure development.
As for the scrappers depending on the statement to sue WMF: a scrapper would have a hard time to convince a court that WMF simply owes him the money that pay for their work. However, a scrapper will have absolutely no problem to sue WMF for not keeping to their explicit written promise and the spirit of the licenses they receive the content under. Given the current situation with the content, a lot of judges will easily decide on the scrapper side, and the scrapper might not only get all at WMF expense, but to even litigate a compensation from WMF - that is, the scrapper has the incentive to go for it. Including or linking this statement in the TOU will nudge some people at WMF to finally take measures to prevent this far bigger and present now danger.
@Geoff: The dumps are typically months old - a scrapper can convincingly argue in court that they do not really fulfill the right to copy. And the talk is not about providing technical assistance beyond the copying, neither it is expected to be done on WMF expenses. For this reason, the budget has nothing to do here. And keeping to the spirit of the licenses and the promises should be expected to be very high in the WMF priorities. In fact, to have been very high since a lot of time - and this raises some unpleasant questions. Given all this, I believe that it would be irresponsible to not have such a commitment included or linked in the TOU. -- Григор Гачев 16:46, 13 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Григор Гачев. I hear you and understand your position. As I've said, I believe this requires more discussion and review before turning it into a contractual obligation. I have been quite impressed by your advocacy, which shows an admirable dedication to open source philosophy. What I can promise you is that I will hightlight to the Board that this was a strongly debated issue (if we decide to submit the TOS to the Board for approval). And the Board will have access to this discussion for its own consideration. There are times when I have strong respect for a position, but cannot incorporate it immediately because of practical considerations. This is one of those times. Geoffbrigham 23:57, 13 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Geoff, you're being slightly sloppy: It's not the WMF's content. The WMF doesn't hold the copyright on my contributions. I do. So it's not "the right to copy our content and re-use it"; it's "the right to copy content that we're hosting and re-use it"—a right that the contributor, not the WMF, granted to both the WMF and the rest of the world.
Yep. You are right to put me in check on this. Thanks. Geoffbrigham 13:40, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Григор Гачев, the WMF cannot be sued successfully for refusing to allow someone to copy my content from their servers. The WMF has zero legal obligation to provide you, or any site scraper, with the content that is owned by someone else (the contributors). The WMF has made zero "explicit written promise" to guarantee site scrapers the ability to conveniently copy everything at the WMF's expense, or even at the scraper's own expense. It's equally true that the folks who print up articles on paper have no duty to provide you with convenient methods of copying the work from their books. Perhaps your "knowledge" of this promise is based on rumors and hearsay, rather than reading and understanding the formal documents? WhatamIdoing 00:01, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Geoffbrigham - again, I believe this issue can at least be mentioned in terms-of-use by focusing on terms of use issues, and it can be incorporated as a matter of a promise not to have to any disputes resulting in blocks/bans/terminations override any right-to-fork. That is a reasonable terms of use matter. Right now, that scenario is not a hot topic, as there isn't a dissident faction. However, just for an example, given the tensions of e.g. the image filter, and some of the politics around possibility imposing it on unwilling projects, it's not hard to see a potential dispute. This of course leaves open the specifics of any such obligations. But that shouldn't be a show-stopper. After all, the "Global Ban" so-called policy isn't fully written yet, and the terms of use had no problem making a legally binding reference to a policy that didn't exist, and wasn't clear what it would be if/when it did exist! Note to WhatamIdoing, in terms of calling-out-numbers argument, I understand your objections, so you need not repeat them. -- Seth Finkelstein 00:18, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
A draft version of the Global Ban policy is now ready for review; you should be able to link to it from the agreement. Understand it is not final, so I hear your point. I'm open to proposed language for consideration, but, for the reasons already stated, I don't see us resolving this issue substantively on this round. Geoffbrigham 13:40, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
//@ Geoffbrigham, with some ec's// OK. First, you should know that I fully accept and support the need of something like a central organisation (German: Dachorganisation), in our case the WMF/Board (I just simplify and make no difference in this posting of mine). I fully understand that you cannot do certain steps immediatelly but you must consult some other participants. OK. But I would like go back to the roots (as you can see I am registered here since 2004) and I give you some question: 1. whan was the Wikipedia created, 2 whan was the WMF/Board (and chapters) created, 3. who created whom and why, 4. what are then the principial goals of this two parts of one whole, 5. who is earnig the money for the technical suppost (the WMF/Board or the authors here?), 6. should both parts of this whole participate and cooperate on the WP in the future, and last but not least 7. what is the best sort of a cooperation in this case. I know these problems from other situations and I really know it is sometimes quite difficult. But sometimes possible. so here we are. Regards -jkb- 00:22, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
If you are looking for answers then the Wikipedia articles on the WMF in various languages have most of them. Or did you mean that the Terms of Use page should include the answers to these questions? 07:59, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@jkb. Your experience on projects (since 2004!) is quite impressive, and, if I understand your point correctly, you are reminding us never to forget that the editors and contributors have made Wikimedia. I can't agree more. I do believe there is a role for collaboration or cooperation with WMF, but maybe you can explain a little more your thoughts expressed above. Thanks. Geoffbrigham 13:40, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Your last statement is laudable, but not complete: We - the contributors - did not just made Wikimedia, we own all the content. WMF just owns the servers and the trademark. The copyrights are ours and while anyone including the WMF may use our content under the free license provided, we can take our content anywhere else under the same license, including a full or partial fork. --h-stt !? 14:40, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, and fundamentally the question is this:
I have personally granted Григор Гачев the right to copy my contributions (with certain small restrictions, as outlined in the licenses) through unspecified means.
Does the fact that I, an individual human, have granted Григор Гачев this right mean that Григор Гачев has the legal right to copy my contributions specifically from the WMF servers, even if there is some reason why the WMF does not want their server used that way (say, because Григор Гачев is slamming the server, or only wants to copy during peak traffic times, or wants to have physical access to the server to make the copy)? Or does it just mean that he has the right to make a copy somehow, possibly in ways completely unrelated to the WMF?
There's another question: Does Григор Гачев have the right to do the same thing for any copy of my contributions, or is he singling out the WMF as having some (mythical) special rights to my contributions? There's a mirror at Facebook, and my contributions are present there under exactly the same license terms as they are present on the WMF servers. Does the fact that my contributions are present at Facebook mean that Григор Гачев can demand that Facebook let him physically install a NAS in their server farm (his preferred method) and download all of our contributions from Facebook? And once he's done so, can we all go to his home and demand physical access to his copy? Or is it only the WMF that he believes should be forced to make special allowances for his desire to copy the files?
It seems to me that my choice to grant a right to copy my contributions does not impose any special burden on the WMF to make it easy or convenient for someone else to make those copies. In fact, it seems to me that my choice legally cannot impose any special burden on the WMF, because I don't own or control the WMF. WhatamIdoing 20:08, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think per the calling-out-numbers joke, it's time to assign this argument a number, which should be "1201" (in-joke, from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). That is, "Can a licensing right be de facto nullified by an access restriction?". Having gone through this in the real world, I can say it's intensely disputed, and I believe unsettled. The answer to your question in specific, is yes, by the WMF *soliciting contributions*, and possibly making some sort of implicit or explicit promises on their reuse (colloquially called the right-to-fork), it's arguable that the WMF has to live up to those promises and not turn around and break them because by definition keeping such promises would be more effort than not. At least, that's what one side would argue in a legal dispute. Now, to save going around again, please recognize that while you may not consider it the correct answer, it is indeed a well-grounded answer to the question you raised. -- Seth Finkelstein 09:49, 19 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Right to Fork - Legal benefits?

I was wondering if making the "Right to Fork" the ultimate sanction in the TOU could be used to weaken the right to sue to enforce the TOU.

Editors and contributors can certainly sue to enforce their rights under copyright if the use of their contributions doesn't comply with the licenses. The rights and duties under the TOU are a bit different and we would really rather disputes over how the terms of the TOU are implemented should be handled under our own internal procedures, rather than in court.

If the TOU make the Board the court of final appeal and the right to fork the ultimate sanction for anyone dissatisfied by the response of the Board would that make it more difficult for others to go to court if they disagreed with our implementation/ interpretation/ enforcement of the TOU? i.e. would it make courts more likely to refuse to hear such cases or make it easier for WMF to win such cases? -Filceolaire 12:10, 18 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Filceolaire ... this is an interesting idea. I think the answer is that, if we expressly make the Board the court of last resort, it may create some arguments militating against outside law suits. It is not unlike compulsory arbitration clauses in contracts where the parties agree to take their dispute to a certified arbitrator as opposed to a court. There is always the risk that some who disagree with a Board's decision will nevertheless try to sue, claiming some lack of due process or other grounds, but we would urge against that position. From a practical standpoint, however, the Board probably should not be asked to be the final decision-maker because, simply put, the Board is too busy to take on that kind of day-to-day arbitration role; the Board's role is to look at the big picture in terms of strategy for the WMF. I would submit that they have little time for more day-to-day administrative functions. Also the right to fork as a remedy may not always work for every violation of the agreement; for example, if someone downloads malware on the site and receives an adverse Board decision, should the WMF have to support that person in a fork effort? I would suggest not. Geoffbrigham 17:01, 5 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Right to Fork - WMF benefits?

Much of the debate about the right to fork has been conducted in a somewhat confrontational way as if the Foundation could keep groups of volunteers and prevent forks simply by making them difficult, or people suspect that the WMF seeks to do that. I'd like to suggest that the Foundation approach this from the opposite angle. The Right to Fork is a great reassurance to editors in times of controversy, but measures to enable it are also a potential reassurance to our partners and potential partners in the GLAM community.

Proper full backups and a practical way to make efficient copies are needed for the right to fork to be meaningful for large projects, and also some have argued are needed for the Foundation to honour its license commitments to the volunteers who contribute content and the compatibly licensed content that we import from elsewhere. It would also be a much more user friendly response to people who want to legitimately copy the data if we said how they could conveniently copy as much data as they wanted when we tell them not to do it in a way that looks like denial of service attack. A digital archive that could survive even if the Foundation closes would be a great reassurance to some editors and potential GLAM partners. We are competing with commercial organisations to be the place that museums and other institutions choose to upload files to. We are currently losing that competition because our software is difficult to use and loading images to Commons is much harder than doing so to Flickr, and it is easier to then display a Flikr page on the museum's own website. What uploads we do get are partly because we are a fellow not for profit, but one of the questions we face is digital archiving - what guarantee can we make that the information released via us will continue to be available? We should also remember that the most popular proposal in the Strategy wiki was Strategy:Proposal:Keep the servers running and this is reflected in one of the five themes of the current WMF strategy. So a plan from the WMF showing how the data entrusted to it will remain fully available would be a very positive move, and I would suggest in keeping with its published strategy and license commitments.

This could be achieved in the short term by making a clear simple commitment such as "A complete copy can be taken in the following manner give us x days notice then visit our servers with the following equipment and the knowledge of how to use it". More realistically and for the medium term it should be quite straightforward for the Foundation to pay an IT provider to maintain a full backup of the Public data (if this was done outside the US it could result in dramatically improved access speeds in whatever part of the Globe the mirror was located). Maintaining longterm digital archives is a fairly new area and it would be interesting to see what responses and publicity the WMF would receive if it invited bids for "A digital repository that would be available for the longterm" including at a minimum a 100 year archive.

Among the risks of making it inconvenient for large projects to fork are:

  1. Those projects which are small enough to do so anyway may be more tempted to go.
  2. Editors who feel trapped could be demotivated.
  3. Projects to fork may take longer to bring to fruition, but in the process they could acquire their own inertia and be difficult to reevaluate - even if Foundation relations with the community have improved during their gestation period.

I appreciate that enshrining the right to fork in the TOU and making it more practical would require a substantial rethink at the WMF. But I would suggest it is in the true interest of both the WMF and the community. WereSpielChequers 11:44, 27 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Referral of Discussion to the Board

Thank you for this discussion, which I have found quite educational and important. For reasons already set out above, WMF obviously agrees that people have the right to copy content under the applicable free licenses (see Sec. 7) and reuse on a new site (the "right to fork"). Although not always perfect, the state of today's world allows anyone to copy text from and manually slurp images and other media files. If the community feels that WMF should do more (such as actively allocating resources to support a fork, maintaining better archives, or ensuring access), I personally believe that a conversation independent from the TOS is necessary since any final decision would impact WMF priorities, budget, resources, etc. For these reasons, I do not intend to add additional language to the TOS, but, in transferring the final TOS for review, discussion, and decision, I will highlight this issue and conversation to the Board for its consideration. Geoffbrigham 18:45, 5 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Hah, saw this before he even had a chance to refer it. I've read the discussions. I think that the ability to fork is important, and something WMF has already had an am implicit principle--many other decisions have been made that take it into account, even if the principle has never set down anywhere. It's difficult to write proper language that captures the idea of what we want to do--to not hold a monopoly over the ability to reproduce the content and host a community around it--without making guarantees that are impractical or inappropriate. But I'll start drafting something that I think would be appropriate to set down as a board-level resolution and then send it to the lists for discussion. Kat Walsh (spill your mind?) 20:30, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 15:16, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Ensuring prior notice is provided

The Terms of Use are only enforceable because the edit box includes above it "By clicking the "Save Page" button, you agree to the Terms of Use" or the local equivalent. However, this leaves us powerless against clever vandals who avoid the editing function and rely on a means of disruption that does not involving clicking that button, such as: editing via the Mediawiki API, page moving, compromising administrator accounts and using them to perform non-editing admin actions like delete, protect, and block, distributed denial of service attacks (e.g. rendering a preview page containing images of many different sizes), and so on. In some cases (such as page moves) this is relatively easy to fix, while in others it may not be. How can we ensure to the greatest extent possible that all users of the site are given notice of the terms of use before they have the opportunity to violate them? Dcoetzee 03:26, 29 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

We intend to include page footers throughout the projects that say the following: "By using this site, you agree to abide by the terms of use." In specific cases, we could employ language tailored to the specific tool that would condition the use of that tool on the acceptance of the terms of use. Geoffbrigham 09:03, 29 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Is this really a realistic concern? Do you think any judge in the country will buy into the equivalent of "Yes, your Honor, I have the right to continue throwing bricks into any window that doesn't have the note 'it is illegal to destroy me' on it."? Seb az86556 21:42, 29 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It really depends on the issue. The user agreement, of course, addresses questions beyond the "bricks into any window," so I think it is wise to add the additional language, even if not totally necessary for all issues. Geoffbrigham 08:07, 30 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The point here is that the examples given above show that someone who puts in the necessary effort of deliberately circumventing the terms of use notice will darn well know s/he's doing something wrong, e.g. the only motivation for avoiding the save-button is maliciousness. No? Seb az86556 09:33, 30 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Geoff: I think the footers will be unhelpful, ref Specht v. Netscape Communications Corp.. I do think it would helpful if all actions which write the database (move, delete, etc.), which already have confirmation pages anyway, include a "By clicking the button below" notice. Similarly, we could change "By clicking the "Save Page" button" to "By clicking any button" to encompass most forms of DDoS. I'm not sure what to do about the Mediawiki API, however - this is currently accessible to anyone, very powerful, and they can easily produce their own tools to use it, so a EULA on API-based tools would be powerless. Dcoetzee 05:13, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks much Dcoetzee for your thoughts here. As I see it, the footers may still be helpful despite Specht since their main purpose is to provide notice to our readers (which is factually different from the purpose in Specht). Furthermore, we could present the link to the TOS elsewhere on the page, such as in the left-hand toolbar. And, as courts have suggested, the rationale of Specht will depend on the specific facts of the case at hand. See, e.g., Cario v. Crossmedia Services, Inc., 2005 WL 756610 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 1, 2005)(agreement upheld where the language "By continuing past this page and/or using this site, you agree to abide by the Terms of Use for this site" was displayed on every page of the website and user repeatedly accessed the site); Pollstar v. Gigmania, Letd., 170 F. Supp. 2d 974 (E.D. Cal. 2000)(finding that dismissal of breach of contract claim is inappropriate, even though visitors to plantiff's website were presumably "not aware that the license agreement is linked to the homepage" and "the user is not immediately confronted with the notice of the license agreement"); Molnar v., Inc., 2008 WL 4772125 *7 (C.D. Cal. 2008)("a party's use of a website may be sufficient to give rise to an inference of asset to the Terms of Use contained therein."). In short, I see no harm in including the footers. Once we figure out the TOS, we can figure out how to present it on the Mediawiki API. With the help of the community, I'm pretty sure we can find a solution. Geoffbrigham 00:15, 1 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Interesting point, Dcoetzee. There's one specific case that should be considered -- shouldn't users have to explicitly agree to the TOU (and maybe the Privacy Policy as well) upon creating an account? Because there's no mention of them on that page currently. -Pete F 19:34, 3 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I had thought of that Pete, but, of course, we have many unregistered users. That is why, for contributions, our present placement of langauge above the edit summary makes sense in my mind. Geoffbrigham 16:20, 4 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, I am not suggesting that it should be removed from the edit summary -- merely that it be added to the account creation page as yet another way to make them visible. From an end-user perspective, it seems if someone were ever inclined to look for the Terms of Use, it would be at the time when he/she takes a strong step toward joining the community. It seems important to have a link on the account-creation page, in addition to the edit submission window. -Pete F 19:25, 4 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
OK. There is really no legal reason against it. But, as a user experience issue, it may not be ideal. Someone who registers as a user (and then agrees to the TOS) will likely make edits immediately afterwards, at which time that user will be asked to agree to the TOS ... again. If asked, I would vote against including on the registration page, but my reasons are more cosmetic than legal. Geoffbrigham 15:58, 8 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That doesn't strike me as a huge problem -- in my opinion, a little duplication is a small price to pay for having the TOU linked in the place where, in my opinion, it is most likely to be noticed and read. However, maybe there's a happy compromise available? I suspect it would be simple, on a technical level, to have the TOU linked from the edit screen when a user is not logged in, but absent when editing from a registered account. If you think that would be a good idea, I'd be happy to ask some developers if that's an easy change to make. -Pete F 17:27, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That would work except for the fact that, when we have a revision, we need to redeliver the TOS for agreement. We would need to think that out. Geoffbrigham 20:38, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Ah, I see. That makes sense. Would either of the following approaches work?
  • TOU on account creation is linked with text along the lines of, "I agree to the current Terms of Use, and understand that when I make any future edits, I will abide by the then-current TOU, which will be visible in the edit screen"
  • or: A new technical feature which, when there are new TOU, interrupts the normal user login process with a text box and an "Accept" button
The second one seems to me to be pretty standard practice elsewhere on the web and in the software world. -Pete F 02:08, 17 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Two problems with the second option: Most edits are made by people who don't login (ever), so there's no login process to interrupt, and most people who login do so only infrequently (as little as once every 30 days), so it would take a month to deliver all of these notices even to people who edit every single day. WhatamIdoing 15:07, 17 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Whatamidoing: the first isn't an issue here (I'm not proposing any changes to how the TOU are delivered by non-logged-in users).
The second one: good point, but that seems like a small technical hurdle that could likely be easily overcome. The interruption could come to a user while logged in -- as soon as they click the "edit" button, they are presented with the new TOU. Maybe it comes up as an optional/dismissable box several days before going into effect, and then turns into a mandatory box on the date it goes into effect. Regardless -- if the general approach is approved, I think this sort of issue could easily be handled offline as part of a software design process. -Pete F 01:34, 24 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Maybe the wording on the edit screen could be changed to tell you when the Terms of Use were last changed? That way if it was 2 years since you last edited and you see the Terms Of Use were last changed 18 months ago you know. Filceolaire 07:34, 24 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 14:57, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Falsification of content

There's a discussion going on at Talk:Global bans#Clarification please about administrators who deliberately insert false information into pages (and then lock them). There is a clause in the proposed Terms of Use which says (no. 4) that such behaviour is forbidden if done "with the intent to deceive." What is the point of that qualification? It seems to be saying that blatant falsehoods are OK because nobody would be deceived by them. Other websites just say that you can't put in false information full stop.

I would suggest Wikipedia does likewise (if you haven't checked whether your edit is factually correct don't make it). Alternatively, there could be a get - out for people who who are misled by reliable sources which later turn out to be wrong (it does happen). The prohibition could then be on

  • intentionally or knowingly posting content that is false or inaccurate. 18:34, 28 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Good question -- please take a look at this discussion: Talk:Terms_of_use/Archives/2011-11-08#Prohibited_activities
In my view, a situation like the one you describe is the community's responsibility to resolve, not something that should be expressly prohibited in the TOU. It's very common for somebody to post false information in the course of good faith editing -- either out of his/her own ignorance, etc., or (as on Wikisource) by transcribing something was inaccurate, or (as on Wikibooks) something that is fictional, etc. I believe community processes are sufficient to deal with those cases that need to be addressed. -Pete F 19:16, 28 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Perhaps the prohibition could be

(4) ... These activities include: ...

  • Representing as true something which you know or believe to be false ...

This would protect someone writing "Creationists say that evolution is a myth" but not someone writing "The sun goes round the earth". That way, you avoid having to make a value judgment on whether someone intended to deceive, which is notoriously difficult to do. 15:57, 29 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Interesting point, and I appreciate the comment. In the end, after thinking about it, I propose leaving the language as is. It is a close call, but I believe Pete F makes a good point that community processes are sufficient to deal with these cases. The TOS could definitely be more comprehensive to include the above, but I need to weigh other feedback that we don't want the TOS to be too long, complicated, overbearing, etc. Many thanks for the discussion (which raised a legitimate point). Geoffbrigham 22:54, 5 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"entire Agreement"

When you say "please read the entire Agreement" in Overview, do you expect that readers will learn that this (new) terms of use is an authoritative contract which supersedes previous negotiations? Or, would it be nothing more than that you want readers to continue reading until the end? Clarification would be much appreciated, as it would enable us to make better translations. --whym 00:12, 25 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks Whym (and thanks to all the translators for the excellent work they are doing). I simply want readers to read until the end. I will try to clarify the language. Tx. Geoffbrigham 09:38, 25 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I see, thank you! --whym 11:52, 25 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]


This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 14:43, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Broken HTML structures in "Refraining from Certain Activities"

In Terms of use#4. Refraining from Certain Activities, there are broken HTML structures on the list of disallowed activities. This caused by unnecessary and extra spaces between each items. Now the text is

:Harassing and Abusing Others

::* Engaging in harassment, threats, stalking, spamming, or vandalism; and
::* Transmitting chain mail, junk mail, or spam to other users.

:Violating the Privacy of Others

::* Infringing the privacy rights of others under the laws of the United States or other applicable laws (which may include the laws where you live or where you view or edit content);

but should be

:Harassing and Abusing Others
::* Engaging in harassment, threats, stalking, spamming, or vandalism; and
::* Transmitting chain mail, junk mail, or spam to other users.
:Violating the Privacy of Others
::* Infringing the privacy rights of others under the laws of the United States or other applicable laws (which may include the laws where you live or where you view or edit content);

to correct the HTML output.

Or I suggest you to use HTML tags instead of Wiki Markup like below.

<dt>Harassing and Abusing Others</dt>
<li>Engaging in harassment, threats, stalking, spamming, or vandalism; and</li>
<li>Transmitting chain mail, junk mail, or spam to other users.</li>
<dt>Violating the Privacy of Others</dt>
<li>Infringing the privacy rights of others under the laws of the United States or other applicable laws (which may include the laws where you live or where you view or edit content);</li>
<li>Transmitting chain mail, junk mail, or spam to other users.</li>

Anyhow, the current text is clearly wrong and should be fixed.--aokomoriuta 22:45, 13 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Hi. :) I'm looking into your concerns here. The current markup and your recommended change seem to render the same in both Chrome and Firefox. Can you tell me what browser you're using? It would be helpful to see how this is rendering for you. --Mdennis (WMF) 16:15, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Just wanted to add that I tried implementing your version 3, but I'm afraid that it appears to be incompatible with some hidden markup being used by the translation team, as it gave me an error "Multiple section markers for one section" and refused to save. Only if I wiped out the translation team's markup would it save, and we obviously don't want to do anything to hamper their work. If we can figure out the display issues with the existing, we may be able to implement your first proposed alternative provided that there are no compatibility issues. --Mdennis (WMF) 18:31, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I checked your try but it seems wrong format for a tranalation page. How about below?

Harassing and Abusing Others</dt>
Engaging in harassment, threats, stalking, spamming, or vandalism; and</li>
Transmitting chain mail, junk mail, or spam to other users.</li>
Violating the Privacy of Others</dt>
Infringing the privacy rights of others under the laws of the United States or other applicable laws (which may include the laws where you live or where you view or edit content);</li>
Transmitting chain mail, junk mail, or spam to other users.</li>

I referred to the source of Terms of use#3. Content We Host, and the documentation. But since I'm just a translator, so that I have never managed tanslation pages, I don't make sure above is correct. User:Siebrand knows well so we might need his help. --aokomoriuta 18:25, 15 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

That wasn't my actual try; my try didn't save. :) That was me checking to see if it would work if the tags were removed (it would). I'll ask Siebrand to take a look. --Mdennis (WMF) 21:18, 15 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It is true that the definition list is broken after each bold header (dd) and each itemized sublist (ul, which should be part of a dt).
Given that bold has been added with apostrophes markup for each item, it should have just been marked using the ";" to make it a true defined term.
So the layout should be:
A paragraph...
; Harassing and Abusing Others
:* Engaging in harassment, threats, stalking, spamming, or vandalism; and
:* Transmitting chain mail, junk mail, or spam to other users.
; Violating the Privacy of Others
:* Infringing the privacy rights of others under the laws of the United States or other applicable laws (which may include the laws where you live or where you view or edit content);
; [snip]
: ...
Another paragraph...
which gives the correct result:

A paragraph...

Harassing and Abusing Others
  • Engaging in harassment, threats, stalking, spamming, or vandalism; and
  • Transmitting chain mail, junk mail, or spam to other users.
Violating the Privacy of Others
  • Infringing the privacy rights of others under the laws of the United States or other applicable laws (which may include the laws where you live or where you view or edit content);

Another paragraph...

However, even if it's better and logically correct (at the Mediawiki markup level), each defined term (dt) and its definition data (dd, containing here the unordered bulleted list ul) appears in a separate list (dl), and these successive dl are not merged. For an unknown reason, MediaWiki, closes the current definition list (dl) for immediately reopening it in the generated HTML, if a defined term or definition contains any block element (here an unordered bulleted list ul). That's something to be fixed in HTML Tidy, because it can cause extra margins or borders (caused by CSS stylesheets) between each definition list. Mediawiki should only close a definition list (dl) and reopening a new one if there's at least an empty line between them to explicitly mark their separation. verdy_p 14:43, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The alternative is to use a div element, but it does not exhibit the semantic of a block quote.
And if we use ";" and ":" to create blockquotes (standard in MediaWiki, too late to chage it), MEdiaWiki should really convert blocks of lines starting by ";" or ":" into either:
  • a blockquote element, if the first line only starts by ":" — because it is logically incorrect to use a definition list (dl) containing definitions (dd) without prior defined term (dt)— up to but excluding the first line that starts by a ";"
  • a definition list element (dl), for generating all the other lines starting by a ";"-line; in this definition list, all ";"-lines will become a defined term (dt), and all ":"-lines will become a definition data (dd)
instead if generating definition lists always (notably for threaded discussions like here). If this was used, we could even avoid using the "blockquote" element explicitly in the markup, to use the all-wiki markup like:
A paragraph...
:; Harassing and Abusing Others
::* Engaging in harassment, threats, stalking, spamming, or vandalism; and
::* Transmitting chain mail, junk mail, or spam to other users.
:; Violating the Privacy of Others
::* Infringing the privacy rights of others under the laws of the United States or other applicable laws (which may include the laws where you live or where you view or edit content);
:; [snip]
:: ...
Another paragraph...
which gives the similar visible result (but still without the blockquote semantic, and still with multiple unmerged successive 'dl' elements like above):

A paragraph...

Harassing and Abusing Others
  • Engaging in harassment, threats, stalking, spamming, or vandalism; and
  • Transmitting chain mail, junk mail, or spam to other users.
Violating the Privacy of Others
  • Infringing the privacy rights of others under the laws of the United States or other applicable laws (which may include the laws where you live or where you view or edit content);

Another paragraph...

verdy_p 15:03, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 14:56, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Is there a reason why "insulting" is not listed?

I consider the atmosphere of regular offenses as anti-productive. A group of people considering themselves as the upper circle is using insults to keep the base of cooperative authors decreasing. Some years ago there was few money but a lot of work to do. Now the work is quit done and there is too much money. There are too many people in a waiting loop for jobs at Wikimedia and its chapters. Those who do not have a paid job but would like to have one are acting most aggressive sometimes. Wikipedia is facing social closing. It would be a benefit for the project to ban insulting, offenses and scatology as we have it in Germany Wikipedia. -- Simplicius 22:28, 18 November 2011 (UTC) PS Please see Note by user Widescreen, now blocked user[reply]

Define "insult". Seb az86556 03:13, 19 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
But how is that enforced? It's a longstanding point of mine that in the Wiki[mp]edia community, high-status members can quite freely be insulting to low-status members, with quite intense personal attacks permitted, even possibly encouraged for group approval, on those at the bottom of the status hierarchy. This happens basically because of the politics being that nobody wants to go against a high-status person on behalf of a low-status person (the full dynamic has a few exceptions, so don't jump on this, that's the one-line version for the overall case). If Germany Wikipedia has a good way to address this problem, it'd be interesting to hear about it. Note simply making a rule is very limited, as violations must be interpreted and sanctions administered. -- Seth Finkelstein 09:22, 19 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Simplicius. I think you raise interesting points that require reflection. We did have a significant discussion on politeness and civility and came up with this language in Section 4: We expect you to be civil and polite in your interactions with others in the community, to act in good faith, and to make edits and contributions aimed at furthering the mission of the shared Project. One issue we encountered is the difficulty of defining exactly what is civil and politie, but, by at least stating an "expectation," we hoped we communicated how we wish our interactions would play out. Hopefully that addresses your concern in part. Geoffbrigham 09:35, 19 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Well, Geoffbrigham, this expecting behaviour that is obviously contradictory to custom (esp. in German Wikipedia) shows that the people at WMF (or whom so ever) don't see the problem. I wouldn't assume that you don't want to see it but we should have made better efforts before to inform about the problematic social situation in German Wikipedia.
What nourish expectations that anyone obey real life standards in behaviour while worst insults are common, sometimes even tolerated by German admins and at the same time substantial not insulting critics, reviewing of articels and so on, are banned as beeing insulting? Looks like we still have to talk about situation of community and to define the problem. The problem is not "what is said" but "who is saying." Defining a rule to be reckoned against incivil behaviour would mean that either half of the German admins (and of course some other users, too) will have to leave the project or alter their attitude towards their own power and aggression. That's why I don't expect a rule like that by the WM. --Brummfuss 10:35, 19 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think you've got a translation challenge here. "Expect" means two things in English. One is about the probability of something happening: "I expect that the Sun will rise in the East tomorrow morning", which is the equivalent of "I believe it very likely that the Sun will rise in the East tomorrow morning".
Geoff is using it here in the second sense, which is more like hope or want. It is like a parent saying to his or her child, "I expect you to be kind and helpful and well-behaved at all times". The parent honestly does not believe that the child will be kind and helpful and well-behaved at all times. The parent honestly believes it very likely that sometimes the child will be mean and unhelpful and badly behaved. But the parent is setting a goal or an ideal for the child's behavior, not trying to describe the facts. WhatamIdoing 20:41, 19 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think there's a translation problem. It's the philosophical question whether or not the WMF can be compared to a parent. Seb az86556 00:38, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Would changing it to "We expect you, regardless of your role or status within the community, [...]" be satisfactory? As the guy who started the "politeness and civility" thread, I would of course prefer excluding any mention of civility from the TOU. --Michaeldsuarez 04:24, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Seb:I don't see any philosophical question at all. The Terms of Use are exactly to tell users how they should and should not behave. That is why they are here. Telling people how they should behave is acting like a parent. This is the WMF telling the projects "Don't make me come in there".Filceolaire 07:18, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Not really. This is a legal document. "Expect" means one thing. "Demand" is another. "You must" would be even clearer if that's what's meant. A stop-sign says "stop" not "it would be nice if you stopped". Seb az86556 10:07, 21 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Seth, Bummfuss: If you believe these alleged actions by Wikipedia DE are wrong then I would have thought you would want the TOU to ban these actions. Your post above almost sounds as if you are saying rudeness by high status german editors is common so the TOU should allow it! Can we get back to the point. Do you have any suggestions for improvements to the wording of the TOU. Do you have any suggestions for enforcement of the TOU? Filceolaire 07:18, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Filceolaire, from my perspective, a selectively-enforced civility standard is worse than none at all. Because in practice it means that high-status people can violate it since it's not enforced against them, but low-status people can't flame back since it will be enforced against them. This is one area where the abusiveness is so blatant, from the highest levels, that I don't even bother about formalism. Regarding the wording, I'll "!vote" for what Michaeldsuarez said above. For enforcement suggestions, I wish I knew, it's a very old problem (and a big topic in itself). -- Seth Finkelstein 08:45, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Enforcement is indeed a problem, and that's where the parent-metaphor fails. Parents are two persons, and they have to agree on enforcement which isn't always the case, but mostly. The WMF is at best 100 odd laizer-faire part-time parents who want their children to be completely independent and won't speak with one voice, especially when they cannot even understand what's supposed to be enforced. German civility might be easier because they'll be a few who understand it, but how do you enforce sanctions against insults in Azeri or Mongolian? The bottom line is that if the culture at German wikipedia is really what it's claimed to be, then there's noting the WMF can do short of an invasion, e.g. stripping the project of its independence. Seb az86556 10:18, 21 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I'm not very enthusiastic about mentioning this (for all of the reasons given), but I'll add another: figuring out whether something is insulting is very difficult. What you think is friendly, informal language might be my idea of a deliberate insult. Honest mistakes might be taken as insults: you might refer to a female editor as "he" rather than "she" in a discussion, or offer a virtual beer to people whose religion forbids alcohol. People sometimes act insulted when they discover that the standard rules apply to them, e.g., that even famous professors have to produce sources to back up their statements.
By the way, I don't think that the German Wikipedia has any legitimate claim to fame for insulting editors. The English Wikipedia spent too much of last month talking about why some "special" editors get to use profanity freely, while newbies are blocked for much smaller transgressions. WhatamIdoing 16:55, 21 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 14:56, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"Terms of use – You adhere to the Terms of use and policies for each project."

I don't get the reference to terms of use here in what is supposed to be a summary of the terms of use; I suppose the idea is to have project-specific Terms? In which case, is this mostly a reference to policies?

[Disclaimer: I query this only on the back of giving the terms a quick glance. But then, that's the whole point of the human readable summary...!] 14:52, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

I think it means "you adhere to (the Terms of Use) and to (the policies for each project)", rather than "you adhere to (the Terms of use and policies) for each project". The addition of the extra preposition to (as I did in my first example) might make it clearer. WhatamIdoing 00:34, 8 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks. I will make the change in my proposal in the above discussion on the terms of use summary. Geoffbrigham 12:31, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 12:02, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Section 4

"Certain activities, whether legal or illegal, may be harmful to other users and violate our rules, and they may also subject you to liability."

Is it just me, or does that sound completely contradictory? How can something that is not illegal hold you legally liable? I'm very confident in the draft to hold people who post child pornography, post viruses, malware, worms, etc. (all illegal activities) to legal liability. However, how can you possibly enforce vandalism and posting websites considered spam to the same extent as an illegal activity? Every couple of minutes on the English Wikipedia, we would have to report someone for terms of use violation. It's one thing to deactivate someones account (or block in the case of Wikipedia websites), it's another to say we are going to actively pursue you for legal liability if you vandalize Wikipedia. — Moe ε 01:00, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I'm not sure that means that WE will pursue them for legal liability. I read it as "be careful, because your government or an injured party might seek relief". But I'm sure Geoff will fill us both in. Philippe (WMF) 01:49, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Moe, good point. Philippe is right, but I could have been clearer in the drafting as well. How about if we say the following: "Certain activites, whether legal or illegal, may be harmful to other users and violate our rules, and some activities may also subject you to liability." This implies less that a "legal" activity will subject you to liability. Does this work? Geoffbrigham 18:12, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That sounds like a good change to me, but the discussion made me think of the recent efforts to get a Good Samaritan law in China. Apparently doing something perfectly legal (helping an accident victim reach the hospital) did subject an innocent bystander to legal liability. WhatamIdoing 22:48, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That seems to be a better wording, thanks Geoff. — Moe ε 02:48, 14 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for the suggestion. I have made the change. Geoffbrigham 00:36, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 15:01, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Minor wording change in the summary

"you generally must license your edits and contributions to our sites or Projects under a free and open license (unless your contribution is in the public domain)."

I'd like to see this changed to "you generally must license your edits and contributions to our sites or Projects under a free and open license, or you may release your contribution into the public domain." It wouldn't change the meaning, but it would be more natural English. Nyttend 18:16, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I'm not sure it doesn't change the meaning, for several reasons.
First, content may be in the public domain, for example if it lacks the requisite creativity for copyright protection to attach. If I add a "complete works cited" list to an author article, it is in the public domain. It is a list without creativity.
But that is not the same as releasing the contribution into public domain. I think Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Granting work into the public domain (page is out of date!) is also worth considering here, particularly in the email sent to User:Dcoetzee from the US copyright office indicating that "Please be advised that one may not grant their work into the public domain. However, a copyright owner may release all of their rights to their work by stating the work may be freely reproduced, distributed, etc." I believe this is why Creative Commons devised CC-0.
Beyond that, I'm not sure we would encourage people to release their content into public domain even if we (and they) could. :) The current release when we click save says, with respect to text, "you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 License and the GFDL. You agree that a hyperlink or URL is sufficient attribution under the Creative Commons license"; it doesn't offer the option of "public domain." I was certainly not here for the licensing discussions at the dawn of time, as it were, but as I understand one of the reasons for the license chosen was to help ensure that content remained free. If our works were released under CC-0 or were in public domain, while the originals would always remain freely reusable, derivatives could be sewed up tight. We have no right to require copyleft license for derivatives. The license (now licenses) we went for mandate that.
For those reasons, I think that the change could actually be substantial.
(Of course, I am also User:Mdennis (WMF), but I want to make clear that I'm speaking in my volunteer capacity here, not in any way on behalf of the Foundation. This is purely my opinion.) --Moonriddengirl 20:13, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with Moonriddengirl. I prefer the original wording. If you want to dedicate your edits to the public domain (i.e. license them under CC-0) then there is a template you can add to your user page which does this. Filceolaire 00:09, 7 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I frankly can go either way. I do note that we address the public domain issue in Section 7(g), which states:
Public domain content: Content that is in the public domain is welcome! It is important however that you confirm its public domain status in the United States of America and any other countries as required on the local Project. When you contribute content that is in the public domain, you warrant that the material is actually in the public domain, and you agree to label it appropriately.

When we say "you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under CC-BY-SA 3.0 License," we mean "original" contribution. It is not intended to cover works in the public domain.
Unless I hear strong opposition, I will keep the terms as they are, but I think Nyttend raises a fair point. Geoffbrigham 00:01, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Maggie Dennis (WMF) 20:23, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]


"No harm" is missing the word "to". Beyond My Ken 03:08, 7 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Also, both "Terms" and "Use" should be capitalized in the title and in the "Terms of use" line, i.e. "Terms of use – You adhere to the Terms of Use and policies for each project." Beyond My Ken 03:10, 7 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Hi, Ken. :) The words "No harm" are only used that I can see in the summary.
No Harm – You do not harm our technology infrastructure
I'm not sure why they would take a to? We are a bit inconsistent with Terms of Use and the title case. I've converted the summary. I'd be scared myself to try to move this document, though, as there is some tricky translation markup going on that I don't even begin to understand. If Geoff things we should move it, I'll ask User:Siebrand for input. :) --Mdennis (WMF) 11:18, 7 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Given the heading it is very easy to misread You do not harm our technology infrastructure as You do no harm [to] our technology infrastructure. I'd view the constructions as exact equivalents and don't have any opinion on a rewrite. Eluchil404 20:05, 9 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
But clearly both constructions are inherently ambiguous, and could be interpreted either as a plain statement of fact as in "Nothing you do can harm our technology", or as an exhortation: "You must not harm our technology". Malleus Fatuorum 16:20, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think people prefer "Terms of use" as opposed to "Terms of Use." I suggest we consistently use the phrase "Terms of use" since some have expressed a preference in not capitalizing "use."
In light of the above discussion, I have changed the phrase to read: "You must not harm our technology infrastructure ..." Thanks for the input from everyone. Geoffbrigham 00:09, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Maggie Dennis (WMF) 20:18, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Maybe a silly comment but...

I feel "United States" should be "United States of America". I'm using that on Terms of use/es because «United States» in Spanish means "Estados Unidos". México's official name is, for example, "Estados Unidos Mexicanos". I suggest this change to avoid confusion. Thanks. —Marco Aurelio (Nihil Prius Fide) 21:14, 9 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Seconded. ;-) It's better to use the official name in such a document. Nemo 20:38, 10 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Makes sense to me. I will make the change. Thanks! Geoffbrigham 12:23, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
This is a fairly excellent example of the wiki process failing. Why couldn't such a change be made directly? How much money (in time) has been spent paying Geoff to make these changes? And will his services be available on the content projects? --MZMcBride 16:08, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 13:34, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Definitions, examples, and critiques

Thanks to those who addressed my concerns about community review above. We still need specific definitions of "especially problematic users" and "significant Project disturbance or dangerous behavior" with examples, if those terms are not to be applied subjectively. We also need need to exempt critiques of Foundation or community actions, staff, publications, and practices from the definition of "significant Project disturbance or dangerous behavior." Dualus 15:02, 14 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Do we need these definitions and examples to be permanently carved in stone (that is, in the TOS itself), or do you just want to know what the answers are for your own purposes? WhatamIdoing 15:12, 14 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
How do you think these terms are likely to be applied over time if they are not defined in advance? I think the Terms should include both definitions and examples for clarity. Are there any reasons that they should not? Dualus 15:43, 14 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Examples, in particular, tend to produce needless disputes from sea-lawyers. For example, if the rule is "Do not kill people" and you give an example of "Do not shove people in front of moving trains so that they die", someone who is in trouble for killing someone will invariably say that he didn't know that tossing an unconscious person into a river was covered by the rule, because it doesn't involve either shoving people or moving trains.
Undefined words in agreements are interpreted according to their dictionary definitions and common sense. There are hundreds of undefined words in this agreement. I see no more need to define "disturbance" than I see to define "servers" or "traffic". WhatamIdoing 20:21, 15 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Ah, but for a rule of "Do not kill people", what about - war? self-defense? death-penalty? abortion? risky medical operations? - there's obvious difficulties, which create a whole legal code distinguishing murder from justifiable homicide from accident. Regretfully, the practice for Wikimedia is more along the lines of being interpreted according to the politics of power. I would strongly agree that particularly broad and vague terms like "especially problematic" and "significant Project disturbance" need to be restricted. I can't find the link now, but if I recall correctly, Larry Sanger was blocked on Wikipedia after making his FBI report, with a block reason I think of "disruptive". In my view, that was an example of such spectacularly bad judgment on multiple levels that the blocking administrator should have been immediately desysopped. But since it was a popular action against an unpopular person, nothing was done. To put it simply the difference between "disturbance" versus "servers" and "traffic" is that the latter are technical while the former is social. -- Seth Finkelstein 21:36, 15 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Here are some links:
--Michaeldsuarez 00:34, 16 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for those links. I see I was not far off, the reason given was "Disruptive editing". With the new terms-of-service taking this sort of issue to an even higher level (by making it into Foundation and legal material), I submit it's extremely important to guard against possible abuse. -- Seth Finkelstein 05:06, 16 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Maybe a requirement for the admins to Assume Good Faith is the solution here. I think that is the main fault on the part of RodHullandEmu - he did not give LS the benefit of the doubt.--Filceolaire 10:48, 16 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
My attention was called here...anyway, I'll bite: suppose RodHullandEmu had "given me the benefit of the doubt." What does that mean? Does that mean that he would assume that I was, say, not criticizing Wikipedia? After all, of course, I was criticizing Wikipedia. That is within the rules, I believe. "Assume good faith" is nonsense, I say. I was the originator of many of Wikipedia's rules--but not that one. --Larry Sanger 12:54, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Filceolaire, unfortunately, there's a logical problem in that the issue is exactly the casting of critical actions as punishment-worthy offenses - i.e. you're asking them to assume something they've already rejected basically by definition. This is one of the dark sides of Wikipedia culture, where in one block discussion above, the admin literally says "You're either with us or against us". While you can say that admins should not have this attitude, it's clear that some do. So again, I think it important that the phrasing of the terms of service do as much as possible to avoid feeding into that sort of power abuse. -- Seth Finkelstein 20:46, 16 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Seth, if one wishes to permit killing people, then one should not have a rule that says nothing more than "Do not kill people". But if the rule is actually "do not kill people, no matter what", as it is in many pacifist traditions, then specific examples are not useful, because no illustration is necessary for correct understanding, and no example would limit the rule in the way that you wish to see the WMF voluntarily limit itself.
As for LS's block, that was authorized by the English Wikipedia's official guidelines, which several users have demanded be officially supported by this TOS. No possible change to the TOS would have made en:WP:DE not be an excuse for an admin to block anyone the admin wants, whenever said admin deems it appropriate. WhatamIdoing 02:38, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Hmm? When you say "no example would limit the rule in the way that you wish to see ...", I'm merely agreeing with Dualus that "We also need need to exempt critiques of Foundation or community actions, staff, publications, and practices from the definition of "significant Project disturbance or dangerous behavior."" . And giving a notorious example. Now, "As for LS's block, that was authorized by the English Wikipedia's official guidelines" - was it? Now, at least one admin thought so. I contend it was an evident abuse. Who is correct? Perhaps that's exactly why it would help to be clear who is correct, and not rely on "common sense", which seems to give no undisputed answer here. Of course no admin can be stopped from calling something "disruptive", in a trivial sense. But it certainly can be made more evident if that admin is engaging in an abuse of power (tedious clarification: This doesn't say all cases can be solved, which would be an absurd claim. The point is that policies can be better verses worse in terms of limiting arbitrary and capricious interpretations) -- Seth Finkelstein 06:51, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Seth, the rules at—for better or worse—are that any admin may block any user whom the individual admin believes is disruptive. Are we agreed thus far?
Some admin decided LS was "disruptive" and blocked his account. That action is exactly what's authorized in the official guidelines and policies. Whether that admin's judgment was appallingly bad is actually irrelevant: the rules in place at explicitly permit this action on that basis. The admin broke no rules in making that block.
Furthermore, you're looking at the wrong actor. Saying "The WMF (staff) will not do this" (what the TOS would say) has zero restrictive effect on the non-WMF admin who actually did this, and the hundreds of non-WMF admins who are still explicitly authorized by the community to use their judgment to block any users that they personally believe are disruptive. Tying the WMF's hands isn't going to solve the problem you see.
And if after all these talks about how the WMF needs to officially bow and scrape before the almighty community in the TOS, you think we have even a snowball's chance of getting the TOS to gut the long-standing policies and guidelines on blocking disruptive users, then I don't believe we have a rational basis for discussion any longer. Free speech is a lovely thing, but the community is never going to accept the WMF shoving a "you may not block users whose disruption can't be classified as 'free speech', especially 'free speech that hates on you'" rule down their throats. WhatamIdoing 15:54, 17 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The language at issue is this: The community has primary responsibility to address violations of Project policy and other similar issues. At the Wikimedia Foundation, we rarely intervene in community decisions about policy and its enforcement. In an unusual case, the need may arise or the community may ask us to address an especially problematic user because of significant Project disturbance or dangerous behavior. The purpose of this language is to underscore that the community has the primary responsibilty in enforcement, not WMF. It is intended to be descriptive in nature, and often such language in an agreement is not subject to further definitions. Even if it were, I think inserting such definitions would render the document too complicated (since if we do it here, we would arguably need to do it in other places), and, to be honest, I'm not quite sure how we could define these terms, given how the circumstances vary in each case. On a positive note, this language does appear in the proposed TOS (unlike the present TOS), and it therefore would have weight in community/WMF arguments/discussions if the community believed that WMF overstepped its bounds (which is not the case with the present TOS). In short, I propose not including definitions; however, if people feel they have better descriptive language, I am open to discussion. Cheers. Geoffbrigham 22:16, 19 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Yes, I understand your intent there. However, this connects to the upcoming global ban policy. I am concerned there's an ongoing factional effort by certain people to put in place broad, project-wide, blocking powers for themselves. They may have the best of intentions. However, the history of some past incidents shows that while these powers may be only invoked in "an unusual case" (in a statistical sense), there is substantial evidence to be very wary of the political implications of those cases. Now, philosophically, this is the enumerated-powers vs. Bill-of-Rights argument. While I've become very cynical, I'm still enough of a formalist to believe that there's some value in protective statements. I don't think a sentence of so to guard against abuse would be undue complexity. Something along the lines of "We will not construe extensive criticism or policy disputes as matters for Foundation intervention". This is theoretically what you would want, keeping the Foundation itself from being used in political arguments. -- Seth Finkelstein 01:26, 20 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The problem is distinguishing between Criticism (allowed) and Disruption (not allowed).--Filceolaire 06:29, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Two points:
  • Nobody is "put[ting] in place broad, project-wide, blocking powers for themselves"; the WMF already has these powers. The only difference is that the fact that these powers exist will be mentioned in the TOS rather than elsewhere. This creates fair warning to the user, not a new power for the WMF.
  • The WMF might legitimately construe "extensive criticism or policy disputes as matters for Foundation intervention" if that criticism or dispute results in significant disruption. The Berkeley city council might decide that destroying public property is "free speech about our parking meter ordinance" rather than "criminal behavior that people go to jail over", but I don't think that we need to follow their example. I see this as having no positive effect in ordinary disputes and as being a gift to people who want to abuse the WMF projects advocate for their political causes. The WMF might very legitimately intervene in a "policy dispute" about whether pedophiles and pedophilia activists should be tolerated on WMF projects, as it has in the past (by adopting a policy that blocks all identified pedophiles). In fact, depending on your definition, many Board resolutions, such as the change to the licenses a couple of years ago, constitute "intervening" in a "policy dispute". The Board has a positive legal duty to oversee policy matters, which includes intervening in policies as often as necessary. WhatamIdoing 17:37, 20 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Actually, I disagree with you empirically about who now has "broad, project-wide, blocking powers for themselves". One of the weak constraints that currently keeps certain people in check, is that in fact it's not at all clear if they're operating in a sanctioned way. And they're getting substantial push-back on the matter. I think terms-of-service level push-back is important in this process. Regarding construal, again, we're going around making the perfect the enemy of the good. It's like objecting to freedom of religion on the basis of, what if someone argues that taking illegal drugs is part of their religion? Or that not getting medical care for sick children is part of their religion? Then one would could conclude that since in some cases, the government has a positive duty to act against against freedom of religion, therefore a provision for freedom of religion is "a gift to people who want to abuse". I don't want to be hyperbolic, but the "abuse" argument is perilous close to claiming civil-liberties are only for bad characters. -- Seth Finkelstein 12:04, 21 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
You believe that the WMF does not currently have the actual power to block anyone it wants? On what basis?
Do you believe that the staff members' block buttons are broken, so that only volunteers are capable of blocking someone? Do you believe that the people who control the entire website are incapable of giving themselves whatever privs are necessary to block someone, if that's what they wanted to do? Do you think the devs are incapable of writing whatever code is necessary to make it possible for them to block people, if that's what they wanted to do? Do you think that if the WMF's board passed a resolution declaring that someone was banned, that the staff would wring their hands and say, "Oh, if only there were a way for the staff to block that account"?
I'm not talking about whether the WMF "should" do this. I'm talking about whether they have the ability (=power) to do this. They've got physical access to the servers: they can do anything they want to the WMF websites. WhatamIdoing 15:35, 21 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
This is a bit like arguing "You believe that the police do not have the actual power to shoot anyone "dangerous"? Do their guns not work, so only vigilantes can shoot people?". We have been going around and around formalism vs pragmatism. Every time I say I believe that moderate formalism empirically has some value (some - not dispositive, not conclusive, not philosophically unassailable - but some value), you respond by arguing extreme pragmatism. At this point, it's been asked and answered. If you look at the actual global ban discussion, the social process is much more complex than merely who has the guns (servers). -- Seth Finkelstein 03:05, 22 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
There's a significant distinction: The WMF websites are the WMF's property, and it is their legal and moral right to do whatever they want with them. The law enforcement officer's weapons are not the officer's property, and "we the people" gave those weapons to our officer solely on the strict condition that he (or she) do nothing with our weapons except what we have authorized (through the law). The two situations are not at all comparable. WhatamIdoing 16:37, 22 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
All analogies have points of similarity and points of dissimilarity. In this case, the detail analogy might be that it's sometimes not clear when a specific person is acting with and within the authority of the WMF, and attempts to perhaps arrogate that authority. You're also retreating from pragmatism into formalism in talk of "have authorized" - that's an appeal to procedure, and somewhat infamous in terms of reviews of use of deadly force (i.e. the charge that very little is needed pragmatically). If it required a formal WMF Board resolution to global ban someone, rather than one person possibly lashing out in irritation, I wouldn't be nearly as concerned with the potential for abuse -- Seth Finkelstein 01:24, 23 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
If the staff member is not acting within the authority of the WMF, then the decision will be overturned. If a WMF staff member bans you, and that staff member's supervisor (or anyone else in that chain of command, going all the way up to the Board) decides it was a mistake, then the decision will be overturned and you would be un-banned. Unlike killing someone, banning is a reversible process. If the staff member bans you again, or if the WMF decided the staff member used bad judgment in the first place, then the WMF can (and would) fire the staff member.
So where's the problem? Wanting a resolution from the full board for every single decision is both wasteful and leaves the person with no possibility of appeal. Would you have every single legal case decided by the Supreme Court? Isn't one magistrate usually sufficient for run-of-the-mill cases? WhatamIdoing 04:24, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
So the TOS needs to put a duty on the WMF to have an appeals procedure? The TOS doesn't need to define this. The TOS should also state that the Board is the court of final appeal - we don't want people trying to get the law involved in resolving disputes. The appeals process could be something like:
  • staff action
  • staff action is reviewed by board member appointed for that sort of thing (everyone has this right?)
  • final appeal to a Board sub-committee who can (like the U.S.A. supreme court) decide for themselves if they will or will not consider any appeal.
There is probably scope for community actions to be appealed to the board too - is the project / branch acting in accordance with their contract with the WMF? This procedure should probably be spelled out in those contracts, not here. Ultimate sanction for project - stop new contributions but allow a fork. Ultimate sanction for branch - withdraw permission to use the trademarks.Filceolaire 06:29, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I agree that it's unnecessary for the TOS to outline any appeal process.
I think the fundamental problem is that Seth believes he has some sort of human right to use the WMF's private website. In actual practice, Seth's rights to the WMF's website are exactly the same as Seth's rights to my equally private living room: he can use it only when the owner says so, and only in the ways the owner says so, and only so long as the owner continues to say so. The owner has an absolute legal and moral right to revoke that permission, at any time, for any reason or no reason at all. WhatamIdoing 15:42, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think the fundamental problem is that "WhatamIdoing" is knocking down silly strawmen. I said nothing of the sort, and Libertarian-type knee-jerking like the above is showing there's no more point in this exchange :-(. -- Seth Finkelstein 18:54, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
WhatamIdoing: The Wikimedia Foundation is a registered charity working to achieve certain charitable ends. It has invited us to work with them to help achieve those ends. To encourage us to help with this WMF makes certain undertaking to us as to how we will be treated and as to how our contributions will be used. These undertakings are described in the Terms of Use. There are lots of things the system admins could do which the WMF promise (in the TOU) not to do. If they do those things then that is a breach of the TOU and then we have a situation which is not covered by the TOU. As it's not covered by the TOU therefore there is not much point discussing it here. This page only deals with things that are covered by the TOU. Filceolaire 21:49, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Like the "right to fork," I think the appeal procedure is something for the community to figure out and present to the Board as a proposed resolution. If the Board agrees, this TOS would recognize its authority. Sec. 11. I agree with WhatamIdoing on the power of the community to keep the Foundation in check, and I frankly don't see a need to modify the proposed language. Indeed, in some important ways, Section 10 enables the community more than in the past: with the global ban policy, the community will be able to amend and define the reasons why the community can and cannot ban someone globally, which is a good, community-oriented process. Geoffbrigham 18:23, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The problem in the chain of reasoning above is that the people most affected by the new policy cannot plead their case, so it ends up concentrating the flaws of the social process of groupthink. Remember, civil-libertarian ideas are anti-majoritarian. -- Seth Finkelstein 18:54, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Geoff: I disagree. A discussion on rewriting the TOU (i.e. this page) is exactly the right context for discussing these issues with the Community and the Board. A discussion is better than a proposal from one side with the other side left to approve or disapprove.
Seth: I'm not sure I understand what you are getting at. To put it in concrete terms - what is your proposal for wording to be added to / changed in the TOU to address this?Filceolaire 21:49, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Filceolaire, above I suggested "We will not construe extensive criticism or policy disputes as matters for Foundation intervention". Please note also I was agreeing with Dualus at the very top of the subsection about "... not to be applied subjectively. We also need need to exempt critiques of Foundation or community actions, staff, publications, and practices from the definition of "significant Project disturbance or dangerous behavior.". This extremely mild and moderate view (IMHO) seems to have dragged me into a requirement to develop a complete moral theory of governance and to prove it against talk-radio style objections. It just doesn't strike me as so difficult (or at least, it shouldn't be). I hope I don't have to go around again that I don't believe this would solve everything, and I don't propose to nationalize Wikimedia and have it run as a subdepartment of the People's Ministry of Culture. What I'm getting at, is that there's *factions* of the "community" that apply broad and vague views of what constitutes "disturbance", and it would be a good idea to make sure from the start that they don't read the new terms-of-use as a tool for their efforts (even though, sigh, I presume the drafter does not intend to enable them, but I think it would be helpful to make that as clear as possible). -- Seth Finkelstein 12:09, 25 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Seth, I'm still not getting a useful response to the problem with your proposal. What if the WMF is faced with a user who is simultaneously, through a single action:

  1. "extensively criticizing" the WMF and
  2. disrupting the project to the extent that no one else is able to use it?

Should the WMF volunteer to "not construe" this extensive criticism as something it needs to deal with? Should the WMF sit idly by while everyone else is locked out of a project because the act of locking everyone was, itself, criticism of the WMF?

Has it ever occurred to you that the "extensive criticism" you (nobly) want to protect could be performed in an project-destroying disruptive manner? WhatamIdoing 20:24, 25 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

WhatamIdoing: if the user is doing both of these things then the user can be banned for the disruption. The fact that they are also "extensively criticizing" does not give them a free pass to disrupt the project.
Seth: I agree with you that users should not be banned for criticising the project where this is done to try and make the project better. I also see someone could confuse "trying to change how the project operates" with "disrupting how the project operates". The Terms of Use need to establish the principles but I'm not sure how to phrase this.Filceolaire 22:45, 25 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
WhatamIdoing, that issue has been asked and answered already, above, where I noted that analogously, freedom of religion can involve conflicts over illegal acts. Again, we have reached a point where there's no point. Yes indeed, I want to protect e.g. Larry Sanger's right (sigh - tedious defense against strawman, this word is used in an internal, not government, sense) to make an issue over sexual material (without endorsing his views _per se_). And, repeating myself, being deemed blockable "disruptive editing" and outright told "You're either with us or against us" makes it easy to see the potential for abuse at the terms-of-use level.
Filceolaire, sadly, if the idea itself has been rejected, better phrasing is academic. -- Seth Finkelstein 09:38, 26 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
And yet your proposed text actually says, in effect, that all criticism of the WMF, regardless of time, place, or manner, is never to be punished, even if that criticism is communicated in severely disruptive manners. That's what the words you wrote mean: "we will not construe criticism", with no qualifiers, means the WMF will not do this, full stop, no exceptions. If you mean "we will not normally construe criticism unless it significantly disrupts the projects", then you have to actually say all of that. WhatamIdoing 18:46, 27 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Sorry, Seth, I'm not letting this die so quietly - neither sadly nor academically. You struck my free expression nerve. Just for discussion purposes, one idea - only an idea - is to insert the following sentence in Section 10: "We would never construe good faith criticism or policy disputes by themselves to constitute grounds for a global ban." I know it is qualified ("good faith") and limited ("by themselves" & "global ban"). But it does indicate that simple free speech against Wikipedia is not grounds for a global ban. Now the counter-argument is that we are restricting the community in how they would like to justify a global ban. So I would need to be convinced that we could get consensus with this language. Geoffbrigham 00:11, 27 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think that you want the word never to appear in that sentence. Not is probably sufficient. WhatamIdoing 18:46, 27 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for having a free expression nerve :-). Regarding "restricting the community in how they would like to justify a global ban", I think there's a definition issue. As in, if some faction wants a new broad and vague offense in the terms-of-use that they can wield against critics, and you try to make it clear that isn't the intended meaning, sure, it's a restriction in some sense of the world. But that's true of everything which doesn't give those people arbitrary power. Note I'm not advocating the new terms-of-use impose new guarantees on existing projects. Rather, I'm attempting to guard against the new terms-of-use becoming another tool to go after criticism (which, to re-iterate a tedious point, I know cannot be solved completely, but I merely think that some helpful measure can be taken). In your phrasing, the words "good faith" probably don't have the effect you're thinking (I suspect you're drawing on legal phrasing there). However, it is an unfortunate article of faith (pun unintended) by too many that no criticism of Wiki[p|m]edia done by someone who isn't part of the tribe is ever in good faith. The attributions are typically of malice of some sort, which allows the faithful to dismiss the point immediately, and rationalizes a personally attack in retaliation. The blocking of Larry Sanger is full of this - "Vandalism is broadly construed, and in my view extends outside merely Article space. However, that is somewhat irrelevant given your continued anti-campaign against Wikipedia.". Again, without endorsing Sanger's accusations in themselves, I think it should be clear to anyone who examines his voluminous writings on the matter that he does sincerely believe what he says. So I'd say an inferred state of mind aspect is not a good idea. -- Seth Finkelstein 12:58, 28 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Seth, personally I think the terms of use is the wrong instrument to use if you want to protect critics. The point of the terms is not to try and shape the very large, diverse Wikimedia community into something that protects the kind of critics you care about. There's nothing the WMF can or should put into its legal documents that forces the community to put up with critical voices if it doesn't want to. That's not our job, and ultimately, we are incapable of making any Wikimedia community put up with people it doesn't think are productive contributors to the projects. You're barking up the wrong tree here. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 17:58, 28 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Ahem - what I did just write? Note I'm not advocating the new terms-of-use impose new guarantees on existing projects. For heaven's sake, I could understand missing or forgetting this if it were many pages above. BUT IT'S IN THE COMMENT YOU'RE REPLYING TO! You're knee-jerking an accusation which I already disavowed! Another stock strawman that seems utterly disconnected to what I wrote. Do I have to create a FAQ for this, and like the old joke, just call out the numbers? Instead of going around it all again, let me point out, this is why I think as much guarding against abuse as possible is a good thing. Because given the incredible distortions seen even in this minor discussion, there can be no confidence that phrases like "especially problematic user" isn't going to be attempted to be interpreted by some as "annoyed someone in a position of power, e.g. at WMF". -- Seth Finkelstein 23:41, 28 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Well, Steven's kind of got a point: Imagine a perfectly civil, totally non-disruptive person who says something critical. (Oh, maybe the Arabic Wikipedia bans images of the prophet, and someone says he disagrees with the ban, or some kid at posts a brief note complaining about the annual fundraising campaign.) Imagine a (dysfunctional, IMO) community that has decided they don't want to hear even the tiniest bit of criticism on whatever point the speaker is making. If we give (non-disruptive) "criticism" or "policy disputes" a special exemption, then it's possible that we'd be unintentionally undermining the communities' self-governance (i.e., in meaning to restrict only the WMF, we might undermine a community's choice to refuse to hear any criticism).
I personally don't think this is a serious risk, especially in our mature projects, and I read the text strictly as applying only to WMF-controlled bans rather than community bans, but others might not hold the same views, and it is no stretch to believe that the banned person would feel like the community ought to hold itself to the same standards as the "office". WhatamIdoing 16:56, 29 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
If such a situation need to be addressed, I think phrasing along the lines of "WMF bans will not ..." covers it, as that is distinct from local bans. Note I don't expect perfect formalism, and in return, don't regard lack of perfect formalism as a killer argument (number x, some phrasing helps, not solves everything). Bluntly, such a hypothetical strikes me as of little concern given the existing actual reverse case of WMF global ban proposed policy being driven by local projects refusing to ban users when a WMF person believes that they should. That is, the concern for imposition and self-governance rings a little hollow when there's such effort going into "shoving a ... rule down their throats" that all projects will ban the users that a WMF person wants banned. -- Seth Finkelstein 20:27, 29 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  1. Who decides whether someone is an "especially problematic user"? Is the Foundation required to have the same opinion as the Community? Is the Community required to have the same opinion as the Foundation?
  2. Can "significant Project disturbance or dangerous behavior" include critiques, as Steven Walling suggests above? I hope not.
  3. Should we exempt critiques of Foundation or community actions, staff, publications, and practices from the definition of "significant Project disturbance or dangerous behavior"? I am certain that we should. James Salsman 07:35, 2 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Great discussion with some strong points on both side. I hear the position that WMF should have some limit on its ability to ban, but I also see the reasoning that we cannot constrain the discretion of the community. Although this is a close call for me, I would be willing to insert (and have done so) the following language in Section 10:
"Without limiting the authority of the community, the Wikimedia Foundation itself will not ban a user or block an account solely because of good faith criticism."
This is definitely not perfect: it is a compromise. I don't mean to terminate the discussion, and folks can feel free to say so if the above does not work. But, honestly, I don't see WMF going much further. The alternative - and maybe my preferred approach - is to say nothing at all. That said, I do want to respond to concerns that WMF will not use its powers to suppress legitimate criticism, which is of course not our practice nor our mission. Geoffbrigham 14:38, 10 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I still believe that the TOU is the wrong place to be dealing with this level of detail. Saying nothing at all here and dealing with it all in the staff policies and procedures and/or the Global ban policy would be preferable. Dealing with it elsewhere gives us scope to define terms and explain issues in much greater detail. WhatamIdoing 15:58, 10 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you. I'll take it, as a compromise. As I've said, there's only so far one can go with formalism. Just as a note of commentary "which is of course not our practice nor our mission" - mission, no, practice, again, there's been some disturbing incidents in the past. I'm sure WMF would disavow any official approval. But once more without going into specifics, the arbcom-l leaks had some problematic material. -- Seth Finkelstein 01:02, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It always worries me when WhatamIdoing is disagreeing with me, especially given WhatamIdoing's deep experience on the Projects. In those cases, I need to ask myself if I'm not seeing something that I should have seen from a community viewpoint. I asked two other community members at WMF, and there does seem to be a concern about this phraseology. Here is an example: Say a board resolution passes and User X disapproves. Suppose he begins replacing images on Commons with a template expressing his disapproval, starts adding his disapproval into articles about the Wikimedia Foundation, begins mailing letters expressing his disapproval to members of the board, their friends, their families.... At what point does he cross the line from "solely expressing good faith criticism" to disruption/harassment? All of this may be done in good faith, depending on one's definition--in fact, it could be strictly a matter of conscience and firmly believed best for the movement from his viewpoint to systematically replace every article we have with his criticism. Would our language allow WMF to block him? Would it make it better to extend it a bit to add "solely because of good faith criticism that does not result in actions that would otherwise violate this Agreement or community policies"? Geoffbrigham 19:38, 14 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Let's put it this way - there's a strong element on this topic of "Where you stand depends on where you sit". Some people are concerned that bona-fide vandals are going to cry free-speech. And they will. Just like actual Mafia members claim to be victims of anti-Italian prejudice. But on the other side, there's plenty of Wiki[pm]edia examples of power-holders accusing someone who may be merely irritating them for one reason or another, of "disruption/harassment". It goes back to my point that I don't expect formalism to solve everything. However, I have a hard time thinking anyone is going to *seriously* be able to "systematically replace every article we have with his criticism" and maintain they can't be blocked for it. That would be like the joke about robbing a bank for money to fund a political cause and when imprisoned for it then claiming to be a political prisoner. What I'm trying to do is give the hypothetical WMF power-abuser as little legalistic grounds as possible (knowing full well one often can't eforce anything against them anyway). Something like "violate ... community policies" is to me *in context here* a loophole one can drive a truck through, because some sort of violation of e.g. "civility" can always be found. I think "solely" is already the loophole, but "solely" + "community policies" effectively communicates "This is meaningless because what you want to do is find some violation and that'll be enough of a pretext". I expect that's going to happen in practice anyway, but I see in the loophole a sort of seal of approval. -- Seth Finkelstein 12:47, 15 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
OK, in light of WhatamIdoing's feedback and Seth's point that a qualified statement has little practical meaning, I'm going to leave out my own formulation and defer instead to the community to set the standards through the Global Ban Policy or otherwise. My apologies for waffling here, but I found the discussion quite helpful for thinking this through. Geoffbrigham 16:34, 5 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]


Section moved for clarity and to avoid forking the discussion

Geoff, didn't you agree that there would be an explicit exemption of good faith criticism from e.g. "engaging in harassment"? 22:22, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Harassment is when it actually goes beyond simple policy notices to simply being obnoxious. A definition should be included.Jasper Deng 23:34, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
There is a real distinction between good faith criticism and harassment but it is hard to put down in a definition without opening us up to endless wikilawyering so I am against including a definition here. Without a definition we are left to depend on the discretion of whoever is administering the enforcement of the ban on harassment. I think this is the way to go so long as all such decisions are made in the open and available for anyone to review. --Filceolaire 00:06, 7 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I just realized that this discussion is not in the archives as I thought it was, but is still above on this page (#Definitions, examples, and critiques.) I think the proposed statement, "Without limiting the authority of the community, the Wikimedia Foundation itself will not ban a user or block an account solely because of good faith criticism" is a very good idea because it would not, for example, permit project admins to globally block or ban Larry Sanger for off-wiki criticism as happened in the past, and because of the motivation that clearer rules are easier to defend. I'm sorry I duplicated this section and I guess I should move it back up there. Filceolaire, is there any reason that statement would lead to wikilawyering? 02:15, 7 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

First of all, this document would not prevent "project admins" from banning anyone they want, for any reason at all. It only affects what paid WMF employees would do. The whole point of the line about "Without limiting the authority of the community" is that the project admins would still be perfectly free to block people for off-wiki criticism. (Sanger was never the subject of a global block, only a local one.)
Second, the reason that we can reasonably expect it to lead to wikilawyering is that every single other "we won't ban you if..." exemption has resulted in wikilawyering. People do not like being blocked or banned. Even if their behavior is clearly reprehensible, many people will say just about anything to get unblocked or unbanned—especially if they don't believe that their behavior was truly bad (e.g., because they believe that editors ought to support their efforts to save the world by highjacking articles or re-writing content policies to promote a particular viewpoint). I don't want to add "But it was criticism, and you promised you'd never block for criticism" to their list of excuses. WhatamIdoing 00:52, 8 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Do you think people being blocked or banned for legitimate criticism has been a problem? There are several examples above. How would you address it? Do you think allowing people to say that a good faith critique is actionable harassment is good for the projects or the Foundation? 14:27, 8 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't see a single instance of any person ever being blocked or banned by the WMF employees for anything that could be described as criticism, legitimate or otherwise. The proposed phrase would apply to the WMF's actions (i.e., what it's paid, professional employees do, not what the volunteers do) and therefore not place even the smallest restriction on the volunteers (i.e., the people who made these mistakes in the past).
Let's try this as an example:
  • Volunteer Johnny issues a bad block.
  • You write a rule that says "Employee Emily may not issue that kind of block, but volunteers can do whatever they want."
  • Do you think that rule will change Volunteer Johnny's bad behavior? WhatamIdoing 17:05, 8 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

As I said just above, replying to this argument: "One of the weak constraints that currently keeps certain people in check, is that in fact it's not at all clear if they're operating in a sanctioned way. And they're getting substantial push-back on the matter. I think terms-of-service level push-back is important in this process. Regarding construal, again, we're going around making the perfect the enemy of the good. It's like objecting to freedom of religion on the basis of, what if someone argues that taking illegal drugs is part of their religion? Or that not getting medical care for sick children is part of their religion? Then one would could conclude that since in some cases, the government has a positive duty to act against against freedom of religion, therefore a provision for freedom of religion is "a gift to people who want to abuse". I don't want to be hyperbolic, but the "abuse" argument is perilous close to claiming civil-liberties are only for bad characters." (let me point out again so we don't go into the loop that this is an analogy, a way of expressing a concept - it does not claim that the Wikimedia Foundation is in fact subject to the Bill of Rights, etc). In fact, looking at the preceding discussion, I've made all the points, and I'm doubtful that repeating them all again is going to help. There's a limit to how far formalism matters, and I think I've reached it for the time required to "discuss" it all again :-( -- Seth Finkelstein 06:21, 9 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

A terms-of-service level push-back might be (slightly) helpful in restraining the occasional, overly enthusiastic blocks if it applied to the people who actually issued those blocks, but one that explicitly exempts 100% of the people who are issuing the bad blocks and explicitly applies only to the tiny number of employees who have never done such a thing, doesn't seem even remotely helpful to me. It's like trying to reduce traffic fatalities by writing a law that says, "Drunk driving is banned, except by people who have been drinking alcoholic beverages." Telling all the lifelong teetotalers not to drive drunk, while permitting drunken sots to keep doing it, will not reduce traffic fatalities. If you want these community-issued bad blocks to stop, you need a rule that applies to the communities, not to the employees. WhatamIdoing 17:33, 9 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
WhatamIdoing, to assume good faith, you appear to be misunderstanding the point. The concern is that a certain new class of people, WMF staff, will take the terms of service as a justification to act in the same abusive and capricious manner that has previous been seen in ill-considered actions by admins on the project level. I now must tediously say again that I don't expect formalism to be the whole solution, but do think it can be a help. This is a perfectly reasonable argument, essentially when discussing a "Federal" law pointing out previous problems in "State" enforcement (again, sigh, these are analogies, not meant to be taken literally, but illustrative of the concept). Say what you want about civil-liberties vs police power (another analogy), the basic dispute should be clear. -- Seth Finkelstein 17:54, 9 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Well, you're right: the overworked WMF employees might suddenly turn into raving loons and go on blocking sprees just because they can. But (1) they can already do that, and they never have, and (2) we have no rational reason to expect that they're going to change their behavior.
I'm not sure that point (1) is apparent to you: They could do that today. They could have issued bad blocks at any point during the last ten years. Some of them could probably even have issued blocks without mere mortals (like me) knowing what they were up to. I fully believe that the devs could, if they really wanted to, re-write the MediaWiki code so that an irritating person was blocked in practice, but so that the block didn't appear in the logs and couldn't be reversed by anyone except the devs themselves. That's reality: what's protecting you from bad blocks by the staff is the professionalism and integrity of the employees, and the fear of being fired if they got caught doing something truly horrific. It's not because they're unable to block anyone they want, whenever they want, under the current system.
Right now, there is no ban on WMF employees blocking people. They even do it on occasion (e.g., for slamming the servers), although they haven't chosen to issue blocks for criticizing the WMF. We have a ten-year track record on that point. Having the new TOS say exactly what the old TOS says about issuing politically motivated blocks (which is nothing) should not change the employees' behavior. WhatamIdoing 18:02, 10 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I'd put it as "The WMF employees who have done hot-headed or ill-advised actions might engage in further such behavior if they feel they have an opportunity to contend that they are now enforcing a new policy". That's quite a rational prediction. Then you go around formalism vs pragmatism yet one more tiring time. Repeat - "Every time I say I believe that moderate formalism empirically has some value (some - not dispositive, not conclusive, not philosophically unassailable - but some value), you respond by arguing extreme pragmatism.". Again, this has been answered and answered and answered, to the point where your constantly ignoring that the argument has been addressed is tedious and worse. -- Seth Finkelstein 23:26, 10 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Once again, you refer to "The WMF employees who have done hot-headed or ill-advised actions", and I ask, once again, for proof that this serious insult is even remotely deserved by any WMF employee. Perhaps it's "extreme pragmatism" on my part, but your continued disrespectfulness towards the WMF staff, and your zero-evidence insistence that they've taken such actions in the past, is not persuasive to me. WhatamIdoing 22:33, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I refer you to the arbcom-l leaks for several case studies. The general proposition should not be a matter of debate. I don't want to get into specifics, because it will be extremely inflammatory and contentious. Plus the best examples would possibly involve some vicious nastiness that might be worth enduring in the right context, but it sure isn't worth it for a formalistic sentence that seems a lost cause anyway. Respect has to be earned, not assumed from a haughty stance of superordination. And bluntly but concisely, I have earned the right for my views quite directly, that someone insulated behind a pseudonym does not have the moral gravitas to presume to upbraid me. -- Seth Finkelstein 00:59, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • I note that a lot of water has since passed under the bridge since I blocked LS for disruption when I was an Admin. At that time, I was aware that there was a certain animus between LS and Wikipedia that remains unresolved, as I see it, to this day. Maybe my perception was wrong, but my modus operandi as an admin was always to protect Wikipedia from unconstructive influences, and given that there had previously been a lengthy discussion about hosting "suspect" images, involving Jimbo on Commons, no less, I saw LS's actions in reporting to the FBI (and I do note that no legal action was forthcoming) as a naked attempt to cause unnecessary problems for WP, and therefore saw no reason why his privilege to edit WP should continue, considering that he had taken no steps whatsoever to resolve the problem within Wikipedia. That's the policy I adopted with regard to numerous other editors, whose very few early edits showed absolutely no wish to improve what was then "our" encyclopedia, and blocked them I did. With great respect, in the circumstances, I see little if any, distinction. What bothers me slightly more these days is that although I am no longer able to improve WP (and, God knows, it still needs it!), I am working away on Commons, I have not been given any opportunity to comment on my actions here, and only arrived here by accident. I am not a WMF whore, so it shouldn't be assumed that I will see anything and everything that is said about me on any page within WMF projects whatsoever and I resent the lack of courtesy in failing to inform me of this thread. I may be dead as far as WP is concerned, but not otherwise. Yet. Thanks. Rodhullandemu 03:15, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Regrets for not notifying you on my part - I couldn't know in advance how you would take it (i.e., remember, if I guess wrong, I get flamed). Glad to see you commenting here, really. I completely accept the sincerity of your stated views as to why you blocked Larry Sanger. Which are exactly my point, and an empirical reply to some of WhatamIdoing's objections. Though of course you are not a WMF employee, it is no great leap to believe a WMF employee could have exactly the same thought processes about "protect Wikipedia from unconstructive influences" and "a naked attempt to cause unnecessary problems". Moreover, in terms of WhatamIdoing's talk of "fear of being fired", it noteworthy that you were not sanctioned in any way for blocking Larry Sanger, and personal attacks on critics usually result in social approval for the attacker. Thus I rate a potential WMF level version of that incident as a far more serious problem than a bona-fide malicious person making frivolous free-speech arguments. Now, disclaimer, in terms of limits of formalism, this might all be just a waste of time, I know that too, so no need to re-iterate those points - take it as given. -- Seth Finkelstein 09:24, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Boy, you guys really make my job hard.  ;- Good arguments on both sides. I'm splitting the baby and including this language: Without limiting the authority of the community, the Wikimedia Foundation itself will not ban a user or block an account solely because of good faith criticism that does not result in actions otherwise violating this Agreement or community policies. I know that Seth will not be happy because he thinks there are too many lawyer words. WhatamIdoing will not be happy because the whole provision is unnecessary given the history of WMF and its restraint. Yet somehow I feel that we should recognize the importance of independence in good faith criticism. But, as I think about that, I think about people who have or could cross the line by stalking or harassing employees, users, etc. I don't want to spend lots of time wikilawyering that behavior, thus the reference to compliance with the Agreement and community policies.
I don't pretend this debate is over and am always open to listening. But that is what I propose for now, and will include that language in the draft for final discussion. Geoffbrigham 01:18, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Maggie Dennis (WMF) 20:14, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Modification of ToU

Current terms of use explicitly state "These site terms are not to be modified". I don't understand why the terms should be completely revised even violating current Terms of Use. Best regards. – Kwj2772 (msg) 12:38, 10 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

That phrase is unfortunately so short that it has confused several people. Its actual meaning is "Attention, all you editors over at each language's Wikipedia or other project: These terms were written by the foundations' lawyers, not the community, and unlike all the other pages on the project, you do not get to change it yourselves. The exact same terms of service are going to be used on 100% of the WMF's websites, even if you think that your particular project needs 'special' terms." WhatamIdoing 18:08, 10 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Mdennis (WMF) 13:34, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Protection of TOS Draft

MZMcBride makes a good point that we should unfreeze the draft TOS page. I do believe that is normally part of our tradition and appreciate his argument. With a legal document like the Terms of use, however, I prefer that we keep the page protected and that we suggest edits in the discussion page for review and debate. I can then make edits based on the feedback. As noted, the TOS draft is a legal document, so, for me, it is important that we keep its integrity. The language needs to be crafted also from a legal perspective, which I believe I'm able to do. In addition, this procedure helps facilitate the translation process. I have tried to be responsive to all those in the discussion, which has resulted in numerous edits, both substantively and otherwise. Indeed, some are telling me that this is one of the most open discussions on a Terms of use that they can recall. In my opinion, this process has worked well for us over the last 3 1/2 months and I propose keeping it until the end of the comment period this month. Geoffbrigham 22:50, 10 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Most irregular indeed. It appears you are applying an ad-hoc process; can you provide documentation? --Kim Bruning 23:32, 10 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It's not a legal document. It's a draft of a page that may or may not one day become the terms of use for Wikimedia wikis. That seems like something that should most certainly be open to editing. I asked Maggie this, but you'd probably know the answer better: was there an open editing period? I thought it was going on now, but I may have missed it.
Speaking generally, the General Counsel has never and does not currently own the terms of use, as far as I understand it. You're displaying a fair amount of ownership over the page, but I wonder where you get the idea that this was/is ever appropriate.
"Again, if there are problematic changes legally, Geoff should and must step in. But if there are disagreements about philosophical issues or aesthetic issues or stylistic issues, Geoff, you, and I are all in the same position: boldly edit, revert as necessary, and discuss on the talk page throughout the process. That's the wiki way."
I might go a bit further to say that if you can't understand, appreciate, and respect the wiki way, it may be a good idea to consider another site/project/&c. This is Meta-Wiki, after all. You're in the heart of wikidom.
I think everyone here values your opinion and expertise, Geoff, but I don't think there's any reason to bar open editing here. As for the translation process, that should almost certainly wait until the Board approves a version to reduce redundant effort, but I'm not as concerned with that. --MZMcBride 04:53, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks MZMcBride for your comments, and I appreciate the remarks about the wiki way. In my defense, what I'm trying to find is a balance that allows a potential legal document - to which WMF is a party - be subject to strong community input and change without losing the integrity of the document. When we started this process, this approach seemed to be acceptable to folks. Indeed, in the past, legal-like documents were not given the opportunity for community input as we see here. See, e.g., the access to non-public data policy, the data retention policy, the conflict of interest policy, the gift policy, and the trademark policy. I'm trying to change that here by having strong community participation, resulting in strong discussion and numerous edits to accomodate community concerns. The past discussion also makes clear that simultaneous translation of the proposed terms of use is important to the international community, and I'm trying to accomodate that need as well. This seems to have worked well the last 3 1/2 months, and I suggest we use the same approach until the end of the comment period. That said, I'm open to suggestions on how to do this differently in the future. Geoffbrigham 06:27, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I'm sorry MZ but your 'small' comment is completely out of line. This is a relatively complicated legal document and Geoff is trying to find a good way to allow an EXTREMELY open discussion (and has drastically rewritten it because of the comments here). Anywhere else and this would be cause for newspaper articles and newscasts (but here it is just business as usual which is why I love the projects and community). I would say he has actually succeeded in almost everything he set out to do here and continues to do so. He is the one who has to sign off on this document as legally sound before it goes to the board and the foundation is one of the main parties it is binding so it makes total sense to restrict completely open editing especially when we have this page and is in now way against our values or morals. The community has NOT typically had a say in board polices before they are written and approved and we should be happy that we are finally seeing a change in that. James (T C) 06:51, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't see how "but we've done worse in the past" is a reasonable argument for current or future situations.
The question is whether there should be open editing on this document. Seeing as it's a draft and has absolutely no legal weight or authority, I see no reason to put aside standard wiki practices and allow open editing. I've never heard Wikimedia Foundation staff make the argument that editing (of any page) should be restricted to preserve the "integrity of the document" (whatever that means).
It'd be helpful to me if someone could lay out (without using the word "integrity") what the actual issue with open editing here is. Why is this draft so vitally important and complex that it can't be subject to the same editing standards found elsewhere? If someone went through and copy-edited it (which it most certainly needs), what exactly would happen to ruin the draft? This seems like a lot of hysterics and paternalism on the part of a few Wikimedia Foundation employees/contractors. --MZMcBride 15:48, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This idea that I'm the first person to raise any objections to the lack of open editing in this process (after 3.5 months) is a nice one, but has no basis in reality. Looking above on this page, several users (Rich Farmbrough, Kusma) brought this point up in September and were quite simply ignored. I'm inclined to unprotect this page in short order. There is no basis in policy or precedent for the page protection of a draft like this. --MZMcBride 16:15, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I favor the current process and agree with Geoff's reasoning. There are some things the wiki process simply doesn't work for, including source code, mathematical proofs, and legal documents. What these all have in common is that a single small change by a user who had an honest misunderstanding about the content can have catastrophic effects on its validity. Such fragility makes authoring by a trusted, skilled person or a small trusted group with a thorough review process absolutely necessary. The amount of transparency and open participation going into this process is unprecedented, and unlike a Wikipedia article with few interested editors, I don't think anyone's suggestions will be overlooked if they just mention them here on the talk page. I think it's misleading to suggest it's "just a draft" and, having no legal force, should be editable, as it is gradually undergoing the process of editing from a draft into the final version, and I want that editing process to be visible to the public as it happens.
However, what I do favor is placing translated copies of the human-readable summary on each local project, and making them editable by the community, who can choose what parts of the TOU to emphasise and fine-tune the wording based on their needs. The summary will never be a legal document, but will be what everyone reads first (and in many cases last), so I think the efforts of concerned editors are better spent on that. Dcoetzee 16:52, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Also, disruptive editing on this page confuses the translation process which is already underway.
As a compromise, if the project timeline allows for this, I'd suggest making a copy at Terms of Use/Unstable and continually merging acceptable changes back into the stable copy.--Eloquence 21:50, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

MZ, this is a solution in search of a problem, and on top of that, obnoxious.

This is a document for which Geoff has primary responsibility, but that requires substantial community input. He designed a process, with considerable input, that worked for him, and that offered substantial opportunity for engagement and discussion. Is it the process we're used to seeing? No, not exactly. Has it been working? Yes. This is very much in the spirit of "be bold."

Erik's suggestion, to start an "unstable" version that is not protected, is a useful one; and as an experienced wiki user, you really shouldn't need somebody to suggest it.

This process has been working well for several months; if you're worried that people like Rich and Kusma have been aggrieved in some significant way, maybe you should suggest they speak up for themselves. But what I've seen over the months is an evolving system with regular engagement by Geoff and other WMF staff that fully respects and incorporates a variety of perspectives. If page protection is one of the components of that functioning system, I can't see what would be gained by disrupting it now. -Pete F 22:31, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

What happened to Wikimedia's values? What happened to open editing? You're sitting here trying to justify full page protection of a draft of an agreement between the Wikimedia community and the Wikimedia Foundation. It'd be simply crazy if the community were allowed to edit such a document, wouldn't it....
I think it's rather disheartening that nearly everyone who has commented here is past or present Wikimedia Foundation staff. The idea that full page protection would ever be appropriate is simply insane and is completely contrary to Wikimedia's values. But according to this group, Wikimedia's values no longer include community engagement, input, or editing. --MZMcBride 13:24, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The process started in a completely dysfunctional way with changes being agreed on this talkpage but not actioned until the next version was coming out, and in the meantime people re-raising the same points. We managed to get a concession to the current system with points being changed on the main page once they are agreed on this talkpage. But that was always a compromise between the way the community works and the way the Foundation wanted to run this page. It would certainly be fair to say that once we started getting agreed changes made the process became functional. But I wouldn't describe it as working well, OK perhaps, but not well. However a mostly functional compromise between the way the WMF works and the way the community works hasn't been such a commonplace in recent months.WereSpielChequers 14:33, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I agree to what was said. There was an enormous pressure from the WMF to accept what was drafted and btw. to accept is a human right, not to the same. But its certainly all in favor or the institution, not the contributors. If the board signs this, so be it. But it has to be aware, that this are "authoritarian" tendencies. I cant agree - cause theres nothing for the community in it (simply look for one single word). The community is YOU. Without that nothing gained and everything lost.--Angel54 5 17:15, 12 December 2011 (UTC) I would agree, if some of the community based people would be allowed to make proposals and changes - but this procedure is in deep undemocratic. The WMF holds its hands upon this.--Angel54 5 17:28, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
And btw. I would trust PeteF and WereSpielChequers to make some changes the concerning the role of the community - they are contributing much helpful stuff as far as I can see.--Angel54 5 17:32, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I do not understand why you believe that you are not allowed to make proposals. The whole point of the discussions on this talk page is for you to make proposals. In fact, you personally have made proposals, e.g., that the German Wikipedia should no longer be permitted to display your IP address on a page about banned editors. So given that you have made proposals, why do you say that you are not allowed to make proposals? WhatamIdoing 22:45, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I recognize that this isn't the "normal" way to handle a page, but I think in this instance that it's been a functional method. For one thing, rapid changes make discussions difficult and translations nearly impossible. WhatamIdoing 22:45, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Im not the community - just an innocent bystander - and btw. thanks for the "banned editor" - u dont even know how fast that is happening if u r argumenting with influential people about the facts (12 days). Dont talk about sth. u dont know anything about. But what I learned in this process is that kicking downwards and being a bootlicker upwards is a "normal" behaviour. Thats why I think this document is ordered from above. Who wants it, who needs it? Who is taking care of the contributors, the community? Noone.--Angel54 5 22:35, 13 December 2011 (UTC) PS.: The "Cui bono" principle - ever heard?[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Maggie Dennis (WMF) 20:22, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Yes check.svg Resolved.

Given this statement in the Logo section:

it is important that, at the Wikimedia Foundation, we protect our trademark rights so that we can protect our users from fraudulent impersonators.

and this statement:

You can find a nonexhaustive list of our trademarks here

Wouldn't it be most appropriate, for the purpose of ensuring that users are using the correct website, to direct users to a list of all current trademarks used across the Wikiprojects, rather than a limited set? Wouldn't it be relatively simple to make a page listing all currently used trademarks? I Jethrobot 17:00, 10 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The answer to your last question is "no": Trademarks change over time, and promises about complete lists have a nasty way of causing problems later, usually from tendentious people who say things that amount to, "I checked your complete list back in 1973, and this wasn't on it, so why are you complaining about my trademark abuse last week?" For a large organization, maintaining a complete list can be quite difficult. (The list of registered trademarks is easy, but the list of non-registered trademarks is hard.) Although many people actually provide complete lists (as best they can, at least), basically nobody promises an exhaustive list any longer.
Anyway, because the answer to the second question is no, then the answer to the first question is also no. WhatamIdoing 18:14, 10 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Always speaking as though u r the Board, arent u? Not just a member - but the Board in one person. Congrats? When can we look further to ur election? I simply need such a naysayer--Angel54 5 18:05, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Chill out Angel. There is no call to talk to WhatamIdoing like that. She provided good info on why one form of words is normally used rather than another in this type of legal agreement. Filceolaire 20:15, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Jethrobot. Your question is a good one, but WhatamIdoing is corect (on a quite sophisticated level). We are constantly considering new trademarks, registered and unregistered. We want to avoid a situation where someone tries to play legal tricks by claiming ownership to a trademark simply because it is not listed. That is not the law, and we don't want to facilitate that game-playing by having absolute terms in the TOS. Many thanks for raising the issue. Geoffbrigham 01:32, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Well, it just seems difficult to know whether someone is infringing on a trademark used by Wikipedia or other projects if they have no idea it actually exists. Whether the trademark is registered or not is one matter, and I can understand why proposed / trademarks under consideration may not be listed. But whether the trademark is in use is another. It doesn't seem difficult to maintain a list currently used trademarks on a central page for this kind of referencing. Are the ones listed above comprehensive in terms of logos that are currently in use? I Jethrobot 03:01, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, it's difficult. Nobody's saying that it's anything other than complicated for the average person to sort out. That's why there are professionals who specialize in the field, and why Geoff's not pretending that it's possible to produce a guaranteed list of currently used trademarks.
But I want to say that it really is difficult. The WMF is not trying to make things harder than necessary. They're actually trying to assemble and maintain as comprehensive a list of trademarks as humanly possible, because having that list makes their jobs easier.
The problem is that not all currently used trademarks are actually known to the people maintaining the list. Trademarks often grow organically or accidentally. Unless you've explicitly been hired to create a corporate logo or similar collateral, you don't normally sit down and say, "Today I'm going to create a trademark." A trademark might start as a pithy comment or a one-off image and seem completely unimportant at the time of its first use. Consider, for example, a tag line that you add to a fundraising ad: you don't mean for it to be anything other than a bit of text that you hope will encourage donations. But if it starts taking on a life of its own, or if it becomes the slogan for future fundraising campaigns, then it might become a valid trademark. Then you have a situation in which a now-trademark has actually been used, sometimes for years, without anyone saying, "Hey, people are using that to identify us now. We need to figure out whether that's really a trademark." And if you decide that it is a valid trademark, then you look back and realize that your "currently used trademarks list" has been incomplete since the day you first used that slogan—not out of malice, but because you didn't actually realize that this really was a trademark until much later.
So they're already giving you the best list that they can, but the fact is that for a group of this size and complexity, the "best possible" list is probably (but not certainly) incomplete.
As a bonus, I'll give you an example: "WikiProject" might be a WMF trademark. It's a characteristic name for a characteristic type of group on WMF websites. If you see a reference to a WikiProject anywhere on the web or in print (e.g., PMID 21282098), your mind immediately assumes that it refers to the WMF websites. It's been in use for years. Nobody sat down and said "I think I'll come up with a special, trademarkable name for this type of group". It's not on the list. But it might be a valid trademark. (And now poor Geoff has another item to add to his task list.) WhatamIdoing 17:57, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Spreading the word about these discussions

en:MediaWiki_talk:Sitenotice#Wikimedia.27s_new_Terms_of_Use – Time is short, and I would like to see more activity in these discussions. Do the users here feel that a Sitenotice message would be appropriate? --Michaeldsuarez 19:13, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Do we really need "more activity"? We've had half a million bytes and substantially more than 100 unique commenters so far. What makes you think that increasing the volume of activity will actually result in a better final product, rather than just more time and energy wasted achieving the same end? An infinite number of cooks in the kitchen does not produce an infinitely better soup. WhatamIdoing 23:01, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't believe that it's right for only a small percentage of Wikipedians to know about the proposed changed. I don't believe it's right for them to miss their chances to speak out. I care more about right and wrong than I do about efficiency. @Geoff and WMF employees: Can you please look into what Steven Walling suggested and create a blog post or something like that. --Michaeldsuarez 00:33, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
(ec) Agree w/ wmidoing, not a good idea; anybody and everybody who's interested in this is already here. Seb az86556 00:34, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I would absolutely love to see a blog post from Geoff. But I don't think a broad call for participation is what's needed here. There has been a great deal of processing here; what's ultimately important is less "did enough people get to speak up" than "were the important issues addressed." We've had a lot of smart, thoughtful people putting in long hours on the ToU, and I'm pretty confident that for the most part the important issues have been raised and dealt with. Reporting that a long and in-depth process is coming to a close makes sense; requesting that a lot of people try to find new issues that haven't already been deliberated, I don't think that would be helpful this late in the game. -Pete F 00:40, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Geoff will see this and may be able to make a blog post, but, for what it's worth, we've been making broad appeals. :) In October, I sent this message to all of the pages listed here. A week or so later, it was sent out again, to this list. There have also been multiple announcements made in mailing lists, AIR, although I'm not sure the details there. Geoff also did an Office Hours, where this was part of the conversation. --Mdennis (WMF) 11:46, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Agreed -- Maggie, you have certainly been doing a great job getting the word out (and I thought so even before I saw this list of venues!) -Pete F 01:45, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I agree that Maggie has done a great job here getting the word out. I will think about doing a blog post, though time is a little tight with the holidays and SOPA ongoing. I wonder if an IRC chat on the TOS would be useful? If there is a strong vote for a blog, I will find time to write it.  :) Geoffbrigham 02:05, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Maggie Dennis (WMF) 20:17, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Closing of Discussion: December 31?

Given that community comments and suggestions are slowing, I would like to propose that we close our discussion on the proposed terms of use on December 31. This will have allowed us approximately 4 months to discuss and revise the proposed TOS. Given the number of translations, my hope is that we are giving our international community sufficient time to provide feedback as well. I frankly feel the proposed TOS is a stronger document because we took the time to review and revise based on your response, suggestions, and revisions. If people see strong reasons not to close on December 31, I would be most appreciative in your letting me know. Geoffbrigham 01:40, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I've decided to spread the word about the possible conclusion of these discussions on enwiki: [3], [4], [5]. If anyone can do the same for non-English wikis, then please do so. Hopefully, everyone will have a chance to say something before these discussions end. --Michaeldsuarez 14:12, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

shopping online

I'm not sure what the commercial speech originally added here [6] was supposed to prove. Perhaps it was a response to my comment immediately above. In any case, I think it does show the need to limit ads and commercial speech in Wikipedia. Smallbones 14:31, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Previous litigation

To justify these terms of service, please list all litigation in which the Foundation has been involved. Is there an actual problem, or is this simply some lawyer getting carried away? What other non-profit web sites have been involved in litigation and have benefited from EULA terms? -- 16:58, 15 December 2011 (UTC) (This is User:Nagle on Wikipedia. For some reason I'm not logged in on Meta today.)[reply]

You may be interested in the section #Reasons for the New Terms of Use above. -Pete F 21:42, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Hi Nagle. As Pete points out, I have detailed the reasons for the terms of use above. We are involved in significant litigation worldwide and of course we will have more litigation in the future. When I worked at another major Internet company, we constantly quoted from our terms of use to support litigation arguments such as: (1) we are only a hosting service; (2) we are not liable for content; (3) we take no responsibility as to accuracy; etc. In addition, as I explain above, a solid TOS deters legal threats and allows us to explain to lawyers who want to sue us as to why they should not. Read my section above, and, if you have more questions, I'm happy to respond. Geoffbrigham 00:28, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I believe the scope of this document transcends what is required to safeguard the Foundation in legal situations. It looks to me that it has grown to the size of something that is not necessary if the intent is only to protect the Foundation during litigation. Cptnono 23:35, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Is legal protection the sole valid reason for having terms spelled out? Don't you think it's reasonable to provide a little education to users, like saying that we have a "goal of providing free information to the widest possible audience" or that "We happily welcome your participation in this community"? That's probably not necessary to protect the WMF during litigation, but it doesn't seem to be harmful. WhatamIdoing 00:53, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
As I pointed out at the top of the talk page, there are numerous reasons for a TOS. (I specify 11 reasons after my intial message.) Also I have deleted significant amount of text (including text that is arguably protective of the Foundation) to respond to the community concerns. And, when we talk about what is really necessary, I submit that it is appropriate to look to the user agreements of like-minded organizations. When we do that, we see for example at Mozilla and Creative Commons that their TOS' are no less complicated than ours, even though one might argue that the legal risks are arguably lower for those organizations. I definitely hear Cptnono's point, but, in light of the above, IMHO, I think this TOS feels about right when we talk about education of the community and additional legal management. Geoffbrigham 18:56, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Maggie Dennis (WMF) 20:16, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"Management of websites" section

An editor is interpreting the existing language as implying that the ultimate appeal of community sanctions/ArbCom bans etc may be made to the WMF. The editor has concluded this by the following route: the draft terms of use states "The community has primary responsibility to address violations of Project policy and other similar issues. At the Wikimedia Foundation, we rarely intervene in community decisions about policy and its enforcement." This implies that the WMF may intervene and overrule anything the community does if necessary. I think this interpretation is a stretch but perhaps if the intention of the draft text is to appoint the WMF as the forum of last resort for all disputes perhaps it could be expressed more explicitly?  Roger Davies talk 13:56, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I hope Geoff will forgive me for stepping on his turf for a moment, but I am pretty darn certain that the very last thing the Foundation would want is to become the final appeal for decisions made on individual projects: not only do they not have the resources for handling something that scales very poorly, but they historically do not want to get involved in day to day governance of the various projects.
What this statement says to me is that they [the WMF] may occasionally intervene of their own impetus in cases where legal or foundation issues may impact a project, not that issues internal to the projects may percolate back to their level. — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 18:37, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I agree that the WMF does not want to waste their limited resources on such things, but the fact is that they have the legal and moral right to do so if they choose to. In the case of a truly egregious problem (I dunno: a group of men at some small project decided to ban all women?), then I suspect that they would do so.
I'd be surprised if people hadn't already attempted to make the WMF overturn such decisions. Perhaps there's already a boilerplate response sent to such people. WhatamIdoing 18:57, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It is conceivable that a rogue group could take control of a small project and in those circumstances I would expect the WMF board to intervene to correct that situation. In TOS terms this would mean the WMF board is the court of final appeal. Anyone can petition the board to intervene. They would however, like the US Supreme court, have the right to refuse such a petition. This, like the right to fork discussed previously, is something that the board may consider adding to the TOS in the future, through a formal board resolution, but have not done yet. Personally I think they should. Filceolaire 20:56, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It's not a stretch, of course they overrule anything. They own the place. Seb az86556 22:10, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
They own the place and they have root access to the servers so they can do anything however the continued success of the project depends on the cooperation of editors, who they don't employ or control, and the trust of readers, who can easily go elsewhere for information, and donors who can choose not to donate. Being seen to be fair in how they operate the site helps achieve that cooperation and trust and having a clear set of principals set out in the Terms of Use is part of that. Filceolaire 23:17, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
True; I was simply making the above comments plain and simple. As for trust — if some clique of weirdoes comes to the consensus to turn a wikimedia project into a site that sells groceries online, I expect the foundation to pull the plug. And I trust they'll do it. Seb az86556 07:33, 17 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Roger Davies. Even if the Foundation has the right to overrule local consensus that doesn't mean that every banned user has the right to appeal to the Foundation. In most countries you appeal to the Supreme court, not the head of state. WereSpielChequers 01:02, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Every banned user has the right to appeal to the WMF (you can't stop people sending emails) but the WMF has the right to refuse to hear their appeal (e.g. if they fail to even allege a suitable case). There are lots of places where, until recently, you would petition the King for redress if you felt you had been badly treated. In the UK the prosecution still represents the Crown and until very recently a subcommittee of the House of Lords (i.e. the Law Lords) was the court of final appeal in the UK so having the legislature or executive be the court of final appeal is not unheard of.Filceolaire 02:13, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

For perspective, we get appeals of this type fairly frequently. I can't recall a single time that we've stepped in to overturn a legitimate decision of a community body on a matter like this. There have been a handful of times where a local community is tiny and we've gone in and mediated a compromise or something, and I can think of one time where a local community was unable to stop someone from violating some significant rules (who was also just about the only active admin) and we've gotten involved there. But as a general rule, if a community is at "critical mass", we don't get involved. And yes... I have a boilerplate response for that.  :) Philippe (WMF) 02:52, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

So the current system is that such appeals are routed to Philippe (WMF staff) and he deals with them with minimal oversight by anyone else, calling on others for help on an ad hoc basis. This works well because Philippe does a good job. If at some stage in the future the WMF board or the community decide to create a more formal system then the TOU can be ammended to refer to this. --Filceolaire 13:36, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for this discussion. I appreciate Roger's point, but, if I read this thread correctly, we presently do not see a need to change the language. If I have that wrong, please let me know. (As a sidenote, this process with the TOS has been so interesting for me. It is requiring us to bring our group understanding on process, protocol, and practice together. I have learned so much and I'm quite appreciative to those who have participated.) Geoffbrigham 19:13, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Maggie Dennis (WMF) 20:15, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

How about a redline?

... or at least a diff? Svanslyck

Of what? The diff tools work fine for that page... Philippe (WMF) 02:46, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
If you mean a comparison to the existing one, then practically every word outside the ==7. Licensing of Content== section is new, and practically everything in that section has been either re-phrased or re-organized. WhatamIdoing 01:08, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Maggie Dennis (WMF) 20:15, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Criminal liability for breaching the TOU

There have, I believe, been a number of cases where poeple have faced criminal prosecution for breaching the terms of use of a website. Wikipedia and the other WMF sites operate around the world including countries where governments seek to control the information circulated about them and might wish to use such prosecutions to harass editors.

Is there a form of words we could include in the TOU to make clear that, for instance, using a sockpuppet is not cracking even if it is accessing our site in an unapproved manner.

Do we want to include a form of words that mean that, even if you hack into our servers and bring the entire system down it should be treated as a technical rather than a criminal problem? What about if you hack into our donor database and use it to steal money? --Filceolaire 13:35, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Pardon me, but why should it be considered that a technical problem? I don't agree at all that bringing the entire system down should have no repercussion. Quite the contrary, and I think the WMF would be irresponsible to include such a statement. Snowolf How can I help? 13:44, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I agree but that leaves us with the problem of where to draw the line between that and having a sock puppet and the bigger problem of how to find a form of word which can apply to a rogue prosecutor determined to enforce our Terms of Use in the courts while still leaving open the possibility of criminal sanctions for more serious attacks. Any one have any ideas? Filceolaire 17:29, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This appears to have been largely solved by the US courts already (and the US law is all that the TOS can realistically address); see, e.g., this summary. Additionally, it would be pretty difficult for a rogue prosecutor to bring a trivial case (your sockpuppet example) with the WMF publicly denouncing him for overreaching, which is the realistic outcome of any such effort. As a result, I'm not convinced that we need to say anything. Saying nothing would probably have the best outcome, allowing the WMF to denounce idiotic prosecutions and to support prosecutions for serious crimes (your theft example). WhatamIdoing 01:15, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks WAID. That makes sense. Filceolaire 13:09, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Maggie Dennis (WMF) 20:14, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]


In section "7. Licensing of Content", now the sentence:

"(Re-users may comply with either license.)"

has been added. As far as I remember, "either" can have the meaning of "all of them" or the meaning of "one of them", depending on the context. So at least for me, this sentence in brackets is not a real clarification.

--Rosenkohl 13:26, 21 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"Either" in this context means that you have three choices:

  • comply with the GFDL,
  • comply with CC-BY-SA, or
  • comply with both. WhatamIdoing 15:36, 21 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks Rosenkohl. I have reworded as follows: (Re-users may comply with either license or both.) Does that help? Geoffbrigham 17:09, 21 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Ok, now the content page has been changed into:

>>Re-users may comply with either license or both<<,

thank you Geoffbrigham. This is quite similar to the clause on the current

>>Re-users can choose the license(s) they wish to comply with.<<

However I now notice that in my opinion this is more than a language problem, since i don't understand how can be correct. At the moment, can't see from where this old policy has been discussed before, and am not aware if is clause has been discussed on this page Talk:Terms of use or in the talk archives so far (I just did a quick full text search with "re-use" which gave me no sufficient result).

Suppose someone wants to re-use content which has been published on Wikimedia under GFDL or under CC BY-SA, or both. Both licences require that the re-user is complying with the particular license, that means that he publishes the re-used content under the particular license. That means, content which is under GFDL must be republished under GFDL, and content which is under CC BY-SA must be published under CC BY-SA.

But this clause "re-users can choose the license(s) they wish to comply with seems" (or: "re-users may comply with either license or both") seems to allow to choose one of these licences, and simply leave away the other, or even to re-use content which was first published on Wikimedia under one of these licences under the other license. This means that a re-user could take content published under GFDL on Wikimedia and re-publish it outside Wikimedia under CC BY-SA, or he could take content published under CC BY-SA on Wikimedia and re-publish it outside Wikimedia under GFDL. But this would violate the particular licences it seems.

--Rosenkohl 10:25, 22 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Rosenkohl, I greatly appreciate your close reading and feedback here. Under the present user agreement under the subtitle of "Information for text contributors to Wikimedia projects," we state:
Therefore, for any text you hold the copyright to, by submitting it, you agree to license it under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. For compatibility reasons, you are also required to license it under the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts). Re-users can choose the license(s) they wish to comply with.
So I don't think we are doing anything new here. The text at issue in the proposed TOS says (Sec. 7(a)):
When you submit text to which you hold the copyright, you agree to license it under:
* Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (“CC BY-SA”), and
* GNU Free Documentation License (“GFDL”) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).
(Re-users may comply with either license or both.)'''
I believe it is clear from this language that, if someone licenses text under CC BY SA and GFDL, the subsequent re-use of that text may be under either CC BY SA or GFDL (or both). This provision on re-use only applies to text that is previously licensed under both licenses. Does this clarify things for you or am I missing something? Cheers. Geoffbrigham 22:49, 24 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Hello Geoffbrigham, thanks for your patient answers. In fact, I'm not very familiar with licensing issues of Wikipedia, so am trying to read up now on old policy, talk or frequently asked question pages, some of which I can only find by using google or other full text searches.

a) I do understand that the new draft ("(Re-users may comply with either license or both") is taking a version of the the old statement ("Re-users can choose the license(s) they wish to comply with") from the hitherto Terms of Use, without changing the meaning of this statement. However, I'm not convinced that even the old Terms of User are not without any problem.

To my understanding, for the re-user, GFDL generally is (to some extenxt) more restricitive than CC BY-SA, e.g. since under GFDL the re-user has to fullfill more, or more difficult requirements, including attribution requirements.

Now the proposal says under "7. h. Re-Use":

"In addition, please be aware that text that originated from external sources and was imported into a Project may be under a license that attaches additional attribution requirements."

Suppose someone is reading this statement, who wants to take content which is on Wikimedia under both CC BY-SA and GFDL, and intends to republish it outside Wikimedia under CC BY-SA. Then they must believe, that GFDL is a kind of "license that attaches additional attribution requirements" (because GFDL is the more restrictive license). And consequently, they must think that the Terms of Use require them to publish the content under both licenses, CC BY-SA and GFDL. But I think this would be a misunderstanding, and seems to run against the original intention, why double licensing had been introduced into Wikimedia in 2008?!

I'm definitely welcome expert advice on this, because I believe you raise an interesting point Rosenkohl. Let me tell you what I think. I believe when a document is licensed under both CC BY SA and GFDL, there is not a requirement that you must relicense under both. See . With respect to your reuse, you can choose between which license you want to apply to the reuse. Section 7(h) does not refer to the situation where a work was previously licensed under both licenses; I believe it refers to other free licenses (Sec. 7(c)) that attached to the imported text, which are compatible with CC BY SA but which require attributions beyond those enumerated in Section 7(h). Again, if there is anybody who wants to help us figure this out, please chime in. Geoffbrigham 23:55, 27 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

b) The old Terms of Use, and new proposal both contain the expression:

"* GNU Free Documentation License (“GFDL”) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts)."

The four attributes in brackets "unversioned", "with no invariant sections", "front-cover texts", "back-cover texts" are not explained anywhere in the Wikimedia-Terms of Use. It is not clear to what these attributes are meant to apply, to the text of the contributed content, or to the text of the GFDL. The terms "invariant section", "front-cover text" and "back cover-texts" are explained to some extent on, but there it is no mentioning and explanation of what "unversioned" means.

So it is not clear at all for the reader what is meant with this bracket "(unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts)" in the context of Wikimedia Terms of Use. Perhaps it could be helpfull to explain it in full sentences?

I'm open to hearing from better experts than I on this. I believe that "unversioned" embraces the present and future versions of the license, like "GFDL 1.3 and beyond." If someone has a link that explains this better, that would be great. Geoffbrigham 00:53, 28 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Wikimedia projects never included any front-cover text, back-cover text or invariant sections as the GFDL defined them, so we never addressed what they were--all of the text is considered the main body of the work. (If you know that the GFDL was developed initially for the GNU manuals, this makes more sense--basically, the only GFDL-licensed works that really used these sections are the GNU manuals.) My interpretation of "unversioned" is the same as Geoff's. Kat Walsh (spill your mind?) 20:11, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

c) The old Terms of Use in their chapter "Information for re-users" are starting to advise their reader in the section "Re-use of text" to re-use Wikimedia content with CC BY-SA. Then, only in a kind of addendum, "Additional availability of text under the GNU Free Documentation License" is mentioned. But the explanation there of how to re-use under GFDL is not as extensive as the explanation of how to re-use under CC BY-SA.

However, in the new proposed Terms of Use, parts of the explanation of how to re-use under CC BY SA seem to have been transfered into the section "7. i. Modifications or additions to material that you re-use". Section 7. i. says:

"When modifying or making additions to text that you have obtained from Project website, you agree to license the modified or added content under CC BY-SA 3.0 or later (or, as explained above, another license when exceptionally required by the local Project or feature)."

But now this reads as if when you make modification or additions to material under the new Terms of Use, the section 7. i. would require you to apply CC BY-SA in any event, and doesn't allow to apply GFDL instead anylonger.

I don't understand this restriction, and it seems to violate the GFDL.

So when you reuse the original text, you may do so under CC BY SA or GFDL. But when you modify that text, you are limited to relicensing under CC BY SA. This is what the present terms of use says: "Each copy or modified version that you distribute must include a licensing notice stating that the work is released under CC-BY-SA . . . ." Geoffbrigham 00:53, 28 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Well, that quote starts with: "each copy or modified version", so it does not distinguish between plain copys of an original text and a modification of the text. I think it follows from the context on, that this quote means that if you want to re-use text under CC-BY-SA, then your distribution must include a licensing notice stating that the work is released under CC-BY-SA.
In fact, also says: "For compatibility reasons, any page which does not incorporate text that is exclusively available under CC-BY-SA or a CC-BY-SA-compatible license is also available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License." But GFDL (of course) allows modifications, see, chapter 4.MODIFICATIONS. Obviously, the term "re-user" in "Re-users can choose the license(s) they wish to comply with" of the hitherto Terms of Use encompasses both ways of re-use, to make plain copys of a document or to make own modifications. I think any new proposed version of Wikimedia Terms of Use must avoid to prohibit re-users from publishing modified versions under GFDL of double-licensed texts from Wikimedia, which I think has been possible so far.
--Rosenkohl 20:41, 28 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

--Rosenkohl 11:22, 26 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Rosenkohl - you raise a number of good points. I would welcome experienced experts in GFDL and CC BY SA to read Section 7 and ensure we have it right. Many thanks. Geoffbrigham 00:53, 28 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I'm not an expert but I remember the old discussions about this. I think that the point here is that re-users are not re-using content thanks to an agreement with the WMF: their "license agreement" is directly with the authors; the WMF requires a license but that's a license to the general public; the WMF gives only some information to re-users, i.e. that all text is (or should be) available under a certain license.
The key difference between GFDL and CC-BY-SA in Wikimedia projects is that GFDL is not mandatory any longer: if authors have provided text under GFDL, re-users can use it in compliance with the GFDL, but the WMF requires only the CC-BY-SA for text (in general), and that's the only license it can say to be always attached to the text. Still, this has to be properly worded, because the WMF is not promising or ensuring anything here, and if re-users include content that in the end is discovered to be under a different license or even a copyright violation (to be reverted or deleted on the wikis), that's their own risk. Nemo 15:03, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think it's probably best to remove the "Re-users can choose the license(s) they wish to comply with." sentence since not all content is GFDL licensed anymore. -- WOSlinker 23:21, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Nemo & WOSlinker. Appreciate your comments. Under the present user agreement, we are dual licensing. Specifically, the present user agreement says:
Therefore, for any text you hold the copyright to, by submitting it, you agree to license it under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. For compatibility reasons, you are also required to license it under the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts). Re-users can choose the license(s) they wish to comply with.
Therefore, it makes sense that, in this limited context for reusers, we allow an election of license. The proposed TOS says nothing different:
Text to which you hold the copyright: When you submit text to which you hold the copyright, you agree to license it under:
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (“CC BY-SA”), and GNU Free Documentation License (“GFDL”) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).
(Re-users may comply with either license or both.)
So, for consistency, I would not recommend changing. Please let me know if I have this wrong.
Geoffbrigham 19:09, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]


Going in circles; some people just don't get it. Seb az86556 00:04, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Revoke License - Just a question here... I read under TOS that "any text you hold the copyright to, by submitting it, you agree to license it..." Is there a clause where one can revoke this license if user decides not to license it anymore to WP? Is this a perpetual license until user request deletion of username from WP? GalingPinas 07:41, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • Your contributions are irrevocably licensed. You cannot revoke the license, no matter what you decide in the future. That's what item "f" is about: "No revocation of license:"
      You can also not get your account deleted. (You can get your account renamed, but not deleted.) WhatamIdoing 18:10, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • There are termination clauses under these licenses which terminate the license under breach of terms. The legal code of CCPL CC-BY-SA license states in part "Notwithstanding the above, Licensor reserves the right to release the Work under different license terms or to stop distributing the Work at any time". Should this need to be mentioned/included in TOS? This should give copyright holders assurance that it can "pull the plug" at any time. GalingPinas 21:12, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
        It doesn't apply. The first bit ("releasing the Work under different license terms") does not revoke the old terms on previous releases; it merely gives you the option of using different terms for future releases. In the second bit ("stop distributing the Work"), the Licensor isn't doing the distribution (the WMF is). The WMF makes this very clear: every editing page says "you irrevocably agree to release your contribution". WhatamIdoing 21:31, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • WMF is not the Licensor in this scenario--the contributor is. The Licensor (contributor) can distribute his/her Work (ie posted contributed edits) in Google or in any other website beside Wikepidia using the same CCPL license. In Wikepedia, WMF (the licensee) can re-license the original Work under a different license agreement, but that doesn't prevent the original Licensor (ie, contributor) from stoping the distribution of his/her own Work at any time, provided that the original license grant stays and is not breached. Please read the original termination clause in the license agreement and substitute Licensor with the name "WhatamIdoing". "Irrevocably" only means the duration of the copyright of the Work . This doesn't mean forever. GalingPinas 22:45, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Er No. The licensor (WMF) cannot re-license items licensed to them under the CC-BY-SA license (the SA bit says they can only publish under the same CC-BY-SA license). The CC-BY-SA does however prevent the licensor from stopping WMF from distributing under the CC-BY-SA because the license can only be revoked if WMF acts in breach of the license. Legally "irrevocable" is not limited to the duration of copyright but in practice the CC-BY-SA license lets you do things to the items which would be forbidden by copyright. Once the items are out of copyright you no longer need a license to do those things.Filceolaire 00:27, 14 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Just to make sure we're talking about the same thing here. CC-BY-SA license defines "LICENSOR" as "users contributing ("offer") content ("Work") to the Projects. "LICENSEE" means anyone else who cares to re-use that content, subject to CC-BY-SA terms. The new TOS section 7f is onerous because it doesn't give a right to Licensor to withdraw content, even after termination of use of services. Whereas CC-BY-SA license gives one that right through breach of terms. Maybe the new TOS 7f should be re-worded to show this flexibility--ie, Licensee's breach of terms of CC-BY-SA license are grounds enough to withdraw content or terminate granted license to that specific user. GalingPinas 02:00, 14 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    Yes, I'm the licensor under that agreement. However, on the WMF websites, I'm not the distributor. I don't own the WMF website. So it reads, "WhatamIdoing reserves the right to release the Work under different license terms or to stop distributing the Work herself at any time", but it does not read "WhatamIdoing reserves the right to force the WMF to stop distributing the Work at any time".
    This means: I can put my licensed content up on my own website. You can copy that content to your own website (if you follow the terms of the license I have granted you). I can delete my own website whenever I want. But I cannot delete your website, just because I've decided to delete my website. I can stop distributing the content myself; I cannot stop you from distributing the licensed content yourself. WhatamIdoing 20:34, 14 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • The word "herself" (or himself or itself) is not in the CC-BY-SA license. You inserted that. And that changes the meaning of the license. It only clearly states that distribution of Work can be stopped at any time and stoppage terminates further future distribution of the Work but retains previous license to you (unless you break the license). That is why WMF in its new TOS specifically ask everyone to agree to this new 7f rule, which originally is not covered by CC-BY-SA license. WMF is now asking us (contributors/licensors) to agree to this supposed new license term of not terminating it unilateraly or seek invalidation, because under the current terms licensors can invalidate licenses and can terminate, unilateraly. Also, what prevents a current paying licensee from circumventing his/her not-free license and use the free licenses provided by CC-BY-SA, other than including termination clause. GalingPinas 22:10, 14 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • The above editor says "[the licence] only clearly states that distribution of Work can be stopped at any time ..." It doesn't. What it says is "Licensor reserves the right to release the Work under different license terms or to stop distributing the Work at any time." The only way to stop someone else from distributing the work under the licence which the Licensor gave to them is if that person is not acting in accordance with the licence which the Licensor gave to them. While they are observing the terms of that licence the Licensor has agreed not to interfere. 11:54, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • I agree with "anonymous". It will not stop the use of that licensed material already licensed to someone who is observing the terms of that license. However, when licensor exercises his/her right to stop distributing the work under this license, that work is no longer available for licensing, and any future unauthorized distribution violates copyright provisions. That's what CC-BA-SA license simply says. It has this termination clause. Now, what WMF wants on this new 7f TOS is for copyright holders to "not terminate, unilateraly" this CC-BA-SA license or not "to seek for invalidation" of the license, effectively blocking/circumventing the termination clause of the CC-BA-SA license. I could only surmise that it may be a preemptive action on WMF's part due to the recent Congressional work on SOPA/PIPA, which according to EFF could effectively shutdown websites such as youtube or perhaps WP. To holders of a copyright material, termination clauses are very important. To circumvent it or to deny copyright holders the ability to stop distribution of their work after they have freely exercise that right run smack against copyright provisions. Once holder of copyright material exercise the right to termination, WMF, as a hosting company, is under obligation by law to prevent future distribution of copyrighted material previously disseminated/hosted on their website, ie, block/delete licensed work for future use. It is not asking it to delete anyone's website. The proposed TOS 7f needs to be reworded to allow for free exercise of termination clause of CC-BA-SA License. GalingPinas 16:25, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • The part about the WMF is plain nonsense. When you submitted something (anything) to wikipedia, you agreed to do so irrevocably. The part that says you can stop distributing it simply covers your ass so no-one will come to you and claim you must provide the work to them whenever they demand it. Seb az86556 16:34, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • The claim that someone coming to you to provide them the Work because they demand it is inconsistent and is not within the terms of the License. Anything submitted to WP is irrevocable, true, until terminated by a new license or invalidated due to breach of license, both of which is at the option of the licensor. Once licensor exercise this right of termination, materials submitted to WMF ought to be stopped/deleted/block to prevent further use of terminated free-license. However, the new TOS 7f circumvents this termination clause. It would be difficult to agree to this new TOS without invalidating existing CC-BA-SA license. Maybe someone at the legal department of WMF can comment on this question? GalingPinas 21:41, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Galing, I think you're just wrong.

It may help you to think about this in a simpler context. I make some photocopies of a drawing I made. I decide to give you one photocopy. I give you a written license that says:

  • you are permitted to display this photocopy publicly, and
  • you are permitted to make and give away 100 photocopies during your lifetime, and
  • that you can't charge people for the photocopies.

You make a copy and post it on a bulletin board in a university hallway. You have the right to make another 99 copies during your life.

Next week, I decide that I don't like those terms. I tell the next person that they can only make five photocopies, rather than the 100 free copies that I'm letting you make. I tell them that the copies cannot be displayed in public. I have thereby "changed the license terms". I give one copy to Alice under these new terms. Alice takes the copy home and puts it in a scrapbook so she can look at it whenever she wants.

Did your agreement with me change? Are you subject to the new restrictions? Do you have to go back to the university hallway and remove the publicly displayed copy? Did your right to make 99 more copies just get shrunk to the right to make just 4 more copies?

Or do you believe that the new, more restrictive agreement only applies to Alice (and subsequent licensees)—since, unlike you, they actually agreed to those specific terms? WhatamIdoing 22:14, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Galing, I think it's pretty simple actually -- the clause "Except as consistent with your license" that begins 7f seems to acknowledge the license terms as the ultimate authority on the matter. Of course it would be ideal if Geoff clarifies, but that's my understanding. -Pete F 01:43, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • And can Geoff also explain the rest of that clause in 7f? The way i understand it, it restricts current CC-BA-SA license.
  • WhatamIdoing-i understand your scenario 100% but in the electronic world, termination means simply that, no more copying, no more distribution, any existing work are effectively block/deleted so noone else without a license can make use of that work in the future. And that's being circumvented by this new TOS, especially 7f. Also, explain the seeming contradiction in 7f and the current termination clause of CC-BA-SA license?. or maybe Geoff can do that? GalingPinas 03:32, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Galing, you said
Anything submitted to WP is irrevocable, true, until terminated by a new license
or invalidated due to breach of license, both of which is at the option of the
This is wrong. In fact the license is irrevokable until the licensee breaches the license so that is pretty much at option of the licensee. If the licensee does not breach the license then the licensor does not have the right to revoke the license. You are correct that this is a significant reduction in the licensors rights under copyright. That is the point of the CC licenses - they are a way for copyright owners to give up some but not all of their rights under copyright. One of the rights the give up is the right to revoke a license. This makes it possible for licensees to use the content and incorporate it in other new works without the danger that the licensor will come back later and stop the entire new work from being distributed.Filceolaire 12:26, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think that Galing is highlighting a situation where the break clause in CC-BY-SA has been invoked so that, for people who have yet to make use of this licence, there is no longer any licence to make use of. However, when uploading to Wikipedia, the Licensor also irrevocably granted a GFDL, and that one doesn't have a break clause. 15:25, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think so. For one thing, Galing seems to believe that he (or she) can force the WMF on "Tuesday" to remove the material from the WMF's websites (not just from subsequent re-users) that Galing directly and validly licensed to the WMF on "Monday". Secondly, the "SA" provision means that any person in possession of a validly licensed copy of the material is authorized to pass that material and that license along to the next user on behalf of Galing. In effect, by choosing to license the material under SA, Galing is deputizing every single recipient of the material to issue future CC-SA licenses on Galing's behalf to anyone they want. WhatamIdoing 18:28, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Galing, you're just wrong when you say, "in the electronic world, termination means simply that, no more copying, no more distribution," etc. US contract law does not have special electronic-world-only rules. If you and I create a contract that lets me use your work, then you can't come back next week and say "Oops, I've changed my mind, and that license ends now. I know that yesterday I promised to let you use it forever, but I'm a big, fat liar."
I can't explain the "seeming contradiction" because I can't figure out what confuses you about it. It's not that hard. If you license something to me on Monday, then CC allows you to use a different license to a different person on Tuesday, or to license it to no one else ever again, if that's what you want. Your future choices do not change your past contractual obligations. CC-BY-SA does not let you decide on Tuesday that the valid, legally enforceable contract that you made on Monday is null and void. WhatamIdoing 18:22, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Galing, if you insist that your interpretation of the license is correct, then you should immediately cease contributing here. I have some pictures on my hard drive, but I am not uploading them 'cause I know once I do that, they're "gone". That's simply the way it is. Seb az86556 19:04, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Galing, you said
in the electronic world, termination means simply that, no more copying, no more
distribution, any existing work are effectively block/deleted so noone else without
a license can make use of that work in the future. 
In fact the revocation of the license only applies to the licensee who acted in breach of the license. You have no right, under the CC-BY-SA license, to revoke the license of other licensees who are complying with your license. Even if those other licensees got the licensed work off the licensee whose license was subsequently revoked, they still have a valid license which they have not breached and which you cannot revoke. Filceolaire 20:30, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • OK I understand everyone's opinion. We're not talking about revoking a license whose user is within terms. What i'm focused on is between licensor (lets say me, GalingPinas) and WMF as a distributor of this license. Let's say today's Monday, I agree and upload a copyright material to WMF for WMF to host. Today, let's say WhatamIdoing took that material and agreed on my license to use that material. WhatamIdoing is now bound to use that material within license terms. If she breaks the terms, she lose the license. Now, it's Tuesday, and I decided to terminate or not license anymore material. The license agreement that WhatamIdoing still stand. However, if I notified WMF and say that the copyrighted material I upload yesterday is now terminated and future distribution is also terminated, future licensing is also terminated and hosting should be block/hidden/deleted,etc however its implemented. Termination of license should mean that when Seb connects to WMF on Tuesday, he shouldn't be able see the material I uploaded on Monday to make use of it. He can go to me directly and negotiate a new license with me, but as far as WMF is concerned, he should not be able to get that material from WMF because WMF is just hosting it. WMF does not own the right to the material and the previously license agreement given to WhatamIdoing, is NOT given to WMF. They just host. However, this new TOS 7f, is preventing me from terminating the Monday license, unilateraly, or seek invalidation of the Monday license. Which in effect, WMF, can still continue to host my copyright material despite my termination of any of my licenses, Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday, etc.
That's the disconnect that needs to be clarified by lawyers of WMF today, before we agree on this new TOS.GalingPinas 01:32, 17 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Suppose you were right (you're not, but let's assume). You have it deleted. WhatamIdoing uploads it again. I use it. *shugs*
Or even easier: You make a request to have it deleted. The administrator deletes it, and goes to yesterday's backup files and immediately re-uploads it. What's your point? Seb az86556 07:39, 17 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Of course I'm always right! hahaha..kiddin. In seriousness, both of them will be in violation of the license and their license terminates. WMF only host material. They are not the licensee. Also, you'll be in violation of the license too if you download because you got from someone who violated the license. GalingPinas 07:04, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Galing you said:
WMF does not own the right to the material and the previously license agreement
given to WhatamIdoing, is NOT given to WMF. They just host.
I'm afraid you are mistaken here. Every single contribution to Wikipedia is licensed by you to the WMF under the CC-BY-SA license. It says so just above the (Save Page) button - "You irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 License". The WMF can license your contributions to others such as WhatamIdoing because that's allowed in the license.
An alternative explanation is that the WMF hosts Wikipedia and other projects and you are licensing your contributions to these projects, which are hosted by the WMF, and it is the projects which are relicensing your contributions to WhatamIdoing.
Either way the license is irrevocable. If it was not irrevocable then we could not use your contributions to build an encyclopedia - how can you build anything on a foundation which could disappear at any moment. Filceolaire 21:10, 17 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Not sure I agree, WMF or any of their projects are not licensees. They do not acquire licenses. They're just a hosting company. just like Youtube. They're subject to the Takedown requests of the DCMA act and the copyright act. Maybe the lawyers of WMF can confirm this? GalingPinas 07:04, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • You don't get it: You license it to anyone and everyone. Anywhere. On the whole planet. And the moon. Seb az86556 08:31, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Galing, By clicking the (Save page) button you have already agreed. If you are not sure you agree then you must not click on that button and may not post on this site. Filceolaire 12:38, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, the WMF is a licensee, and no, you cannot revoke their license (assuming the terms are being complied with). You are licensing your contributions to everyone, including the WMF, not just to people who receive the materal from the WMF. (If you weren't licensing it to the WMF, then the WMF could not legally share your licensed material with those other people.) The only thing you can do is to choose to stop personally creating even more licenses in the future. WhatamIdoing 17:20, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Wow ... another great discussion, which I followed with keen interest. I want to thank GalingPinas for raising the issue and forcing us to think about it and all others who participated in this discussion.

I personally do not believe that the Creative Commons license is revocable in the sense that a licensor may ask Wikipedia to take down text, for example, if we are complying with the terms of the license. If you look at Section 7(b) of the CC-BY-SA 3.0, it states:

Notwithstanding the above, Licensor reserves the right to release the Work under different license terms or to stop distributing the Work at any time; provided, however that any such election will not serve to withdraw this License (or any other license that has been, or is required to be, granted under the terms of this License), and this License will continue in full force and effect unless terminated as stated above.

I think the language in bold indicates that you cannot withdraw a license that remains in compliance with the license terms. Otherwise, it would be chaos on Wikipedia. Any editor could withdraw his or her license and force the community to remove previous edits. This would be terribly disruptive of the creative process and contrary to the underlying principles of the Creative Commons license.

Other sources seem to support my view. The Creative Commons FAQ states the following:

What if I change my mind?
CC licenses are not revocable. Once a work is published under a CC license, licensees may continue using the work according to the license terms for the duration of copyright protection. Notwithstanding, CC licenses do not prohibit licensors from ceasing distribution of their works at any time. Additionally, CC licenses provide a mechanism for licensors and authors to ask that others using their work remove the credit to them that is otherwise required by the license. You should think carefully before choosing a Creative Commons license.

Elsewhere Creative Commons explains:

What if I change my mind?
This is an extremely important point for you to consider. Creative Commons licenses are non-revocable. This means that you cannot stop someone, who has obtained your work under a Creative Commons license, from using the work according to that license. You can stop offering your work under a Creative Commons license at any time you wish; but this will not affect the rights associated with any copies of your work already in circulation under a Creative Commons license. So you need to think carefully when choosing a Creative Commons license to make sure that you are happy for people to be using your work consistent with the terms of the license, even if you later stop distributing your work.
For some creators and/or licensors, this is not an important issue. And most educators who put their their educational resources online do so with the idea that they will be widely shared. But if you depend on controlling the copyrights in your resources for your livelihood, you should think carefully before giving away commercial rights to your creative work. For example, many musicians have discovered that offering work for noncommercial use can be quite rewarding. But anything beyond that requires careful consideration. We all admire generous souls. But if you want to be generous, we want you to think carefully about it before you are.

With respect to other licenses, we are explicit in Section 7(g) that the mandate does not apply "[e]xcept as consistent with your license . . . ." In addition, in Section 17, we state:

Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in this Agreement, we (the Wikimedia Foundation) and you do not intend to modify the applicable terms and requirements of any free license that is employed on the Projects when such free license is authorized by this Agreement.

So, in short, I don't believe the provisions in Section 7(f) can be construed as violating the Creative Commons license or any other approved free license. Again, thanks for the interesting discussion. Geoffbrigham 20:02, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

  • Geoffbrigham, thank you for your clarifying responses. Could you also please clarify the concern above on whether WMF is not a licensee per CC code but is only a hosting company per Section 3 where it says "Content We HOST" and in section 8 of the new TOS agreement wherein it says: "The Wikimedia Foundation wants to ensure that the content that we host can be re-used by other users..." How could WMF or its projects be considered a licensee when it doesn't exercise grant rights under that license but only HOST the licensed work?
And as a host, when I, as a licensor, upload my own copyright Work into WMF website for only WMF to host, the takedown provisions of DMCA and copyright apply isn't it? I do agree that existing CC license remains effective to those licensees who are in compliance even when licensor changes existing license to a different license terms (not affecting current terms) or when distribution of Work is stopped at licensor's option as indicated by the CC FAQ which says "You can stop offering your work under a Creative Commons license at any time you wish" or "Notwithstanding, CC licenses do not prohibit licensors from ceasing distribution of their works at any time." However, when licensor excercises that right (not just changing its mind) to stop distributing the Work in WMF, how does 7f works to prevent unlicensed users from further acquiring the Work from WMF when it seems that 7f is preventing the license from being revoked, unilateraly or invalidated, therefore having the Work still hosted under WMF. Please see the example above about licensing the Work on Monday and stopping the distribution of the same Work on Tuesday. Will WMF help in stopping the distribution of Work by taking it down per DCMA provisions if licensor chooses it to be stopped?
Also, why the seeming redundancy of 7f if CC licenses cannot ultimately never be terminated or revoked at all, according to some view here? Does the words "license you have grant under this agreement" of 7f different from the cc license grant?
And last but not the least, does the word "You" in the new TOS include copyright holders, licensors? Coz it doesn't seem to be listed. It only shows editors, authors, etc who may not necessarily be copyright holders per se. GalingPinas 02:28, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Oh man... "ad nauseum", anyone? Are you now hung up on the word "host"? Say you go to a party at someone's house where everyone brings free food to share; are you gonna go to the person who owns the house and say "No you can't eat anything, you're only the host"...? If you bring free food for everyone, of course the person who's the host is also going to be eating some of the food. Has it occurred to you that the WMF deploys user-generated content in its operations? They have as much right as everyone else to use the pictures you upload in their promotional material (or wherever else) as everyone else. Therefore, they are not only the host, they are the licensee, just like everyone else. Seb az86556 02:49, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Seb.. you're not getting it. Read Section 1 where it says "we act only as host". WMF is not a licensee per Section 1. They only host. 21:17, 27 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Is that you Galing?You are wrong again of course. WMF can only host content because they have a license to do so from whoever posted it. This is true for every hosting site on the internet. The detail of the license are given in the Terms of use of the website. I have heard there are a few websites that work as you described - where you have the right to remove content - but most of the ones whose terms I have looked at are more restrictive. Some insist you transfer ownership of the copyrights! I think that exhausts this subject. If you come up with anything new you should start a new thread.Filceolaire 01:16, 28 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Galing, let's pretend that you receive a license for text. I tell you that you may use this comment right here under CC-BY-SA terms. I'm the person issuing the license. You are the person receiving the license. Right?
Now let's pretend that you post the licensed material on your own personal website. You are now also the host of the licensed material. This is not an either-or proposition: you are both the licensee and the host of the material. So it is with all user-submitted content on WMF websites: the WMF is both a licensee and a host.
On your other issue, you don't seem to have grasped the purpose of the "SA" provision. That means "share-alike". Once I issue you an SA license, I have given up the right to stop you from sharing my material. "SA" means I am granting you the perpetual right to pass the material and a license for using it along to other people. That's what "under the same terms" means. Every person receiving that license is permitted to pass it along to even more people. As long as the terms remain the same (the "alike" in "share alike") and are being complied with, I cannot legally stop any person in possession of a valid license from sharing my work with other would-be licensees. In issuing the license, I have made a contractual agreement to permit them to share the material and its license with all other people (so long as they abide by the terms). I can stop issuing new licenses myself. I can stop hosting the material on my website. But I cannot stop other people from complying with the terms of the license I already gave them, and those terms allow them to share the material and its license with as many people as they want. I cannot legally go back to those people and say "well, I said 'share alike', but I meant 'share alike until I change my mind'." WhatamIdoing 17:25, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • I don't know how WAID can misconstrue Section 1 to mean that WMF is also a licensee when it only says "...we (ie, WMF) act only as a hosting service..." It's pretty clear on Section 1 what the role of WMF is, which is not a licensee. Therefore as a hosting company, WMF is subject to the "take down" provisions of the copyright act. Geoffbrigham can clarify this further. Merry Christmas everyone!! GP 21:24, 25 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
and under the takedown provisions of the DMCA it must take down content if requested by the copyright owner unless the copyright owner has licensed the content to be used by, for instance, clicking on a (Save page) button with the following text above it "By clicking the “Save Page” button .... you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 License"
You are right that this text does not specify who you are licensing this to. It may make you feel better to think of the edits being licensed to the Project with the WMF merely hosting the Project. Either way you have given up your rights under the DMCA by clicking the (Save page) button.
If you read the Terms of use for many other social media and content hosting sites you will see that many of these have the right to keep stuff you posted on the site even if you ask them to take it down. The same goes for mail list and bulletin board archives. You give up some rights when you post on line. The Terms of use spell out which ones. Filceolaire 23:48, 25 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned) vs GFDL 1.2 or any later

There is a mistake in the Terms of Use: untill the licence update all Wikpedian text content got GDFL 1.2+ (see old English Wikipedia:Copyright and German de:Wikipedia:Lizenzbestimmungen/alt_GFDL) but in this draft it is GFDL (unversioned). GFDL 1.0 isn't compatible with GDFL 1.2+. Syrcro 06:38, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Thank you Syrcro for looking at this. It is important to note that we did not intend to change anything from the original terms of use with respect to licensing. Today, for example, we are saying in the present terms of use: "For compatibility reasons, you are also required to license it under the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts)." Maybe somebody can explain to us what we meant when we referred to the "unversioned" GFDL license in the original terms of use. Geoffbrigham 15:03, 31 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It basically means "whatever appears on", AFAIK: otherwise we would link etc. This is explained by the GFDL itself: «If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation». Nemo 14:48, 11 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The Wikipedia did specify a version of the GNU Free Documentation License: GFDL 1.2. ~ 1.2 or any later version, not 1.0. The draft includes all versions. Syrcro 13:54, 20 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
When was "1.2 or later version" specified? It isn't, in the current terms of use. Nemo 19:10, 29 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
English WP: 2003-06-19; German WP 2004-04-03. Syrcro 09:21, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Syrcro. I see your citations to policy, which I find quite interesting. I guess I'm confused why the original terms of use did not specify version 1.2. And I'm a little concerned about changing the licensing terms from the original terms of use. Is there someone in the community who is a known expert on free licenses who could read this over (as well as Section 7) for us and give us a recommendation? I understand this domain well, but I would like to have someone who lives and breathes this stuff to advise us. Geoffbrigham 20:19, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. (Geoff found somebody to review the content to advise; acting according to that advice.) Maggie Dennis (WMF) 13:36, 27 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Terms of use/summary

The informal summary recommended by User:Dcoetzee has been drafted by the legal team and is now placed in the article. Please don't change the text of this summary directly, but discuss alterations here first. While it is not a legal document itself and alterations to it do not change the Terms of Use, it is meant to be an accurate summary of the document to avoid misleading contributors. --Mdennis (WMF) 13:45, 22 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

My rewrite

This summary is not a part of the Terms of use and is not a legal document. It is simply a handy reference for understanding the full terms. Think of it as the user-friendly interface to the legal language of our Terms of use – You must still adhere to the Terms of use and policies for each project.
Part of mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to:

  • Empower and Engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content and either publish it under a free license or donate it to the public domain.
  • Disseminate this content effectively and globally, free of charge.
  • You are free to Read our articles and other media free of charge.
  • No Professional Advice – the content of articles and other projects is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.
  • You are free to Save or print our articles to read later
  • You are free to Share our articles with others, as many copies as you like, provided you give credit to the authors and let your readers share too.
  • No Harm – You do no harm our technology infrastructure


  • You are free to contribute content, photos, recordings you have created to be added to our projects.
  • You are free to edit the content contributed by others on our various sites or Projects.
  • Free Licenses - You agree to your contributions and edits being shared and reused and edited by others under the various Free and open source licenses used on our projects. This also applies to editted versions of our content which are not not posted on our sites.
  • Civility – You support a civil environment and do not harass other users
  • Responsibility – You take responsibility for your the accuracy and legality of your edits and contributions (since we only host your content).
  • Lawful and Proper Behavior – You do not violate copyright laws or engage in other inappropriate behavior.

Filceolaire 00:15, 27 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Filceolaire - thanks for taking time to reflect on this and to propose concrete suggestions. I like many of your ideas, which I have incorporated below. I might suggest that the additional bullet points and their grouping in your version make it a tad harder to read, so I tried to incorporate some of your concepts a little more concisely. In my personal opinion, I like the original format since it roughly copies the Creative Commons format and breaks up the bullet points into three easier-to-read groups (but, of course, if I hear more community opposition I'm willing to modify the text and order with the understanding that I'm just wrong there). That said, as I said, there were a number of concepts in your proposal that I liked. Below is a rewrite based on your input (with my italics indicating the significant changes). Does this work for you?

This is a human-readable summary of the Terms of use.


This summary is not a part of the Terms of use and is not a legal document. It is simply a handy reference for understanding the full terms. Think of it as the user-friendly interface to the legal language of our Terms of use.

Part of our mission is to:

  • Empower and Engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content and either publish it under a free license or donate it to the public domain.
  • Disseminate this content effectively and globally, free of charge.
    [Note from Geoff: I noticed that you deleted this summary of our mission, but I think it is useful, especially for new readers.]

You are free to:

  • Read and Print our articles and other media free of charge.
  • Share and Reuse our articles and other media under free and open licenses.
  • Contribute and Edit content and contribute photographs and images to our various sites or Projects

Under the following conditions:

  • Responsibility – You take responsibility for your edits (since we only host your content)
  • Civility – You support a civil environment and do not harass other users
  • Lawful and Proper Behavior – You do not violate copyright laws or engage in other inappropriate behavior.
  • No Harm – You do not harm our technology infrastructure
  • Terms of use – You adhere to the Terms of Use and to the policies for each project.
    [Note from Geoff: I noticed that you included this last point in the introductory text, but, in my humble opinion, I think it makes that text a little too heavy.]

With the understanding that:

  • You License Freely Your Contributions – you generally must license your contributions and edits to our sites or Projects under a free and open license (unless your contribution is in the public domain).
  • No Professional Advice – the content of articles and other projects is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.

Geoffbrigham 20:05, 5 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I think the expression "(since we only host your content)" should be emphasized as "(since we only host your content)" or make this clear otherwise. I first read the sentence with emphasis on "your" then on "content". All of them make sense but are not what we mean. --PaterMcFly 22:19, 8 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Made the change above. For now I simply followed your suggestion to put in italics. If there is a more eloquant way to express this right, I'm open to suggestions. Geoffbrigham 12:36, 11 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Not hearing further objection, I will ask Maggie to modify as suggested above. Thanks all for your contributions, especially Filceolaire. Geoffbrigham 00:43, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Hey, you might want to take a closer look at the section you headed "Lawful and Proper Behavior": This could be easily construed as a requirement that Wikipedia be censored. I don't thank that's what you mean. - Lord Vargonius 22:28, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

A few nitpicks here. (I like this addition very much, by the way!)

  • I know what a free license is, but I'm not sure what a free and open license is. Are we inventing a new term here? Why not just "free license?"
  • The current text includes: "Contribute to and edit our various sites or Projects under free and open licenses." This is redundant of the later assertion that: "You freely license your contributions — you generally must license your edits and contributions to our sites or Projects under a free and open license (unless your contribution is in the public domain)." I think the first line should be shortened to simply: "Contribute to and edit our various sites or Projects"
  • This line seems strange to me: "Lawful and proper behavior — You do not violate copyright laws or engage in other inappropriate behavior." "Inappropriate" seems (at least mostly) covered by the previous bullet point. As for the law, copyright is one of several kinds of law that constrain behavior. This item could maybe be changed to "Intellectual property" or else it could be written more broadly as "The law", mentioning other legal aspects. I'm not sure what the best solution is, but it seems problematic as written.

-Pete F 01:59, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

OK - In light of the above feedback, here is my proposal (which I will ask Maggie to incorporate):

This is a human-readable summary of the Terms of use.


This summary is not a part of the Terms of use and is not a legal document. It is simply a handy reference for understanding the full terms. Think of it as the user-friendly interface to the legal language of our Terms of use.

Part of our mission is to:

  • Empower and Engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content and either publish it under a free license or donate it to the public domain.
  • Disseminate this content effectively and globally, free of charge.

You are free to:

  • Read and Print our articles and other media free of charge.
  • Share and Reuse our articles and other media under free licenses.
  • Contribute to and Edit our various sites or Projects.

Under the following conditions:

  • Responsibility – You take responsibility for your edits (since we only host your content)
  • Civility – You support a civil environment and do not harass other users
  • Lawful Behavior – You do not violate copyright or other laws.
  • No Harm – You must not harm our technology infrastructure
  • Terms of use – You adhere to the Terms of use and to the policies for each project.

With the understanding that:

  • You License Freely Your Contributions – you generally must license your contributions and edits to our sites or Projects under a free and open license (unless your contribution is in the public domain).
  • No Professional Advice – the content of articles and other projects is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.

Geoffbrigham 22:18, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

   Any reader with a bio-brain should be offended by
"This is a human-readable summary..." may seem user-friendly, but the ridiculous implicit distinction between "human" and attorney (i.e., human and super-human -- or is the insinuation human and shark?) is a bad joke and too close to "this summary is here because too many stupid assertions and questions have been imposed on the discussion by those who obviously are incapable of making any meaningful use of the proposed ToU". I agree the summary is useful, but it would be better to trash it completely than to leave that (or any) ironic language in it.
   How about
The contents of this box summarizes, while minimizing use of legal terms of art, ...
-- hmm, or perhaps
...the technical language of judges and attorneys...
(I leave out legislators, since they either are attorneys, or hire attorneys to draft laws -- or both.)
--Jerzyt 04:30, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
@Jerzy.  :) I understand where you are coming from, but the previous discussion indicated that we wanted to follow the format of Creative Commons summary sheet. I like that since it is a format with which the community is familiar for complicated legal documents.
On another note, I would center the phrase: This is a human-readable summary of the Terms of Use. Also I would not put the word "Disclaimer" in bold, and I woud put the below language in a smaller font (all being centered):
This summary is not a part of the Terms of Use and is not a legal document. It is simply a handy reference for understanding the full terms. Think of it as the user-friendly interface to the legal language of our Terms of Use.
Unless there is strong objection, I will ask Maggie to make those changes. Geoffbrigham 18:24, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Geoff, you have addressed my concerns nicely, thanks. I do have a small additional concern -- sorry I didn't catch this before! This draft uses the phrase "donate…to the public domain". I notice that Creative Commons uses the term dedicate instead of donate. Might want to follow suit for the sake of simplicity/consistency? -Pete F 19:53, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
@Pete. Fine with me. I will ask Maggie to make the change. I will also ask her to make my suggested changes as set out above since I have heard no objections. Happy holidays all. Geoffbrigham 17:37, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This section has been reviewed. If there are new issues or outstanding concerns related to this, please start a new conversation. Maggie Dennis (WMF) 13:14, 27 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Password security and user accounts

I think a note here that storing password via a cookie. Something that addresses the auto-login option. IE, you are responsible for any action taken for an official account while you are logged in regardless of who is using the account.Jinnai 17:20, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I personally agree with you Jinnai, but this point was previously discussed, and the consensus was to avoid mention of collateral responsibility. For that reason, I intend to leave this provision as is. Thanks for your comment. Geoffbrigham 21:41, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Mention to WMF-chapter relationship

Quite a few people seem to mistakenly assume that the services of Wikimedia websites in a local area are operated by the local chapter there (if one exists). As related concerns have been noted, such misunderstandings can cause some extra costs to both WMF and chapters. Would it be possible to insert a short line saying something like this?

The Foundation have cooperating organizations known as local Wikimedia chapters, who are dedicated to supporting the Wikimedia movement in a certain area or country. However, a local chapter is not part of the Foundation; The Foundation, not a local chapter, is responsible for operating the Wikimedia project sites, in any area you may live in.

You might also want to (re-)assure that a user is not making an agreement with local chapters in the scope of this Terms of use. --whym 03:01, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Interesting idea. I orginally did not like it, but the more I think about it, the more it grows on me. I would like to hear the ideas of others, but, if we do this, maybe we could use text like this (building off your proposal, Whym):
For clarity, other organizations, such as chapters and other local associations, that may share in the same mission are nevertheless legally independent and separate from the Wikimedia Foundation and have no responsibility for the operations of the website or its content.
What do you think of that? Geoffbrigham 19:06, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I like it, Geoff. I agree that whym brings up a good point here; exclusively talking about WMF and individual users/volunteers would provide no insight whatsoever into the role of chapters, and as a document that is meant to inform the user, that doesn't seem ideal. Your proposed text seems like a good way to address this. I would suggest explicitly saying Wikimedia local chapters instead of merely chapters though. -Pete F 20:03, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Geoff, thank you for your refinement, it looks better to me. Another suggestion, in addition to what Pete F suggested, would be to replace the linked URL with, which is considered to be more formal and stable. --whym 12:00, 22 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Ok. Thanks. So this is what I will insert now:
For clarity, other organizations, such as local Wikimedia chapters and associations, that may share in the same mission are nevertheless legally independent and separate from the Wikimedia Foundation and have no responsibility for the operations of the website or its content.
Thanks for the suggestions. Geoffbrigham 21:47, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Port scanning by Wikipedia admins looking for open proxies etc.

This is probably just as illegal as the probing of WMF servers, yet they are conducted all the time by higher-up admins looking to enforce the No open proxies policy. Are these probes covered in the ToS? Something like "If you contribute to WMF projects, you agree to have your contributing IP addresses port scanned for the presence of proxy software." I searched for the word "proxy" in the ToS, and I didn't find anything. ASCIIn2Bme 17:03, 17 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

There is actually quite a bit of precedent that nmap et al. are normal network diagnostic tools and that port scanning to determine things like running services aren't attempts to "circumvent protection measures or gain illicit access". This was raised during the DMCA debacle.

Indeed, there are quite a few services on the 'net that will even portscan you systematically as you access them – many IRC networks do, for instance, and I've read that eBay does it under certain circumstances. — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 14:21, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks ASCIIn2Bme for your input. I will be interested in hearing more about this, but, as I see it, this is a good issue for the privacy policy. We may be taking a look at the privacy policy next year, and maybe we can address your concern there. Geoffbrigham 19:19, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Email for copyright infringement (section 8)

If you must include the email address for requesting informal removal of copyvios, please put it as info-en-c(_AT_) to send it to the right OTRS queue. You may also wish to include such verbiage as "other requests sent to this email address will not be processed promptly". Stifle 09:25, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks Stifle. I made the change to the email address. Much appreciated. Geoffbrigham 20:08, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Of course, that's the English language queue it points to. Hopefully as the TOU are translated this queue is something that gets changed according to the language! -Pete F 19:48, 23 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
And guys, not every language has an OTRS queue for that. I think it's a mistake to get it away from a generic address. Philippe (WMF) 21:12, 23 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
OK - I changed back to the original email address: info at Cheers. Geoffbrigham 22:24, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Credit Wikipedia

When you use stuff you find on Wikipedia in an online or offline publication, you should credit Wikipedia, and this is how you do it:

  • For online publications, you link back to the wikipedia page you used
  • For offline publications, you say "CC-by, Wikipedia" or something like that

Reading through the short version, it just seems like two things are being merged into one page:

  • Using Wikipedia for other media
  • Contributing to Wikipedia

There may be a a third thing, namely "creating interactive channels to Wikipedia" or something like that. In general, I think the short version is now way too long and needs to be split into re-use and contributions, and then for the re-use part the emphasis should be on attribution. Considering the fact that most of our cultural partners are afraid of losing attribution when they make a donation to Wikipedia, we should start with confirming our own need for attribution. Jane023 15:16, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

No, actually, you don't credit wikipedia, you credit individual contributors. Seb az86556 16:02, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
No actually I think it should be a link back to the actual page or it's url. The fact that we all have a different understanding of something so basic suggests that some guidance on attribution is needed - an FAQ for reusers perhaps. Filceolaire 22:38, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I believe that the license actually requires you to credit individual contributors, but that a link to the Wikipedia page (which does that) is considered a valid method of crediting those individual contributors. WhatamIdoing 17:40, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Perhaps replacing you should credit Wikipedia with you should credit Wikipedia's writers would resolve this. WereSpielChequers 00:06, 22 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
In my opinion, you should just credit the article, and preferably the original source of the material (the citations). Tracking down the original author of a useful piece of information in an article can be very difficult, since it could be from five years ago and heavily modified since then. Also, Wikipedia:Ownership of articles. Yes I can understand that the info on Wikipedia is summarized by individuals and that it can be a few (or one) person who puts the most work into an article, but tracking things down could be a really challenge. So, just cite the article as a thank you for collaborative work, or the citations themselves for their information. Citing Wikipedia in a publication is a bit of a red flag for the legitimacy of the publication's information, but that's beside the point. Jessemv 18:39, 22 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That's moving on to how one does it. I'm proposing a change to the first line at the top of this thread, so we make clear that you are crediting Wikipedias contributors and the way you do that is for example to link to the Wikipedia page. WereSpielChequers 19:24, 22 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It's interesting to read here that creditting Wikipedia is apparently not part of the Terms of Use simply because there is no way to do it in a reasonable way (I would agree that requiring re-users of Wikipedia information to list all editors of an article is not a good solution). I think including the article name would be fine, except the information behind one Wikipedia article for language A may differ for language B. In most cases the language cited will be the same as the language the publication is in. I disagree that we should only have re-users credit the writers. Wikipedia is the only media for most of the writers, since even well known writers on Wikipedia often edit under Wikipedia usernames which are not the same as their real names. We definitely need something easy so people can easily credit wikipedia in offline publications - isn't there an easy way to generate the article number (you see this in catscan)? Jane023 19:47, 23 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
When you click (Save page) you agree to agree that a hyperlink or URL is sufficient attribution - it's in the text just above this button. I believe the relevant URL is that for the page the information came from. As the URLs for all the WMF wikis are fairly short I don't think we need a url shortening service. Perhaps we shuld change the label for the 'View History' tab to 'Attribution' or 'Contributors to this page'. Filceolaire 20:23, 23 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Using the url to the Wikipedia page as a form of attribution is fine, and I have no problem with that for online publications. My point is that you can now read our terms of use and still not understand how to do this for offline publications. Neither is it required. Jane023 21:37, 23 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
My thinking (Geoffbrigham 22:37, 24 December 2011 (UTC)) was that the licenses should control the attribution requirements, and different free licenses (such as those used with Wikimedia Commons) may have different attribution requirements. It will be difficult to review all the different types of licenses and attribution methods in a high-level document like the TOS. This is especially so as licenses change (like the CC proposal for a CC-BY-SA 4.0). I frankly think a better way of handling this is for the community to prepare a policy on attribution.[reply]
I'm not sure you are right that different free licenses have different attribution requirements or that the WMF and the community would accept any license which has different attribution requirements. --Filceolaire 12:03, 25 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
To the extent it may be helpful for drafting such a policy, here is something that my legal department wrote for those responsible for WMF publications:

When the Wikimedia Foundation publishes hard-copy or online publications - such as outside presentations, pamphlets, annual reports, and posters - we must insert the terms of our Creative Commons license. With all such publications for outside consumption, please do the following:

1. Magic Words

Include this language in a visible location:
The content contained in this publication is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License v3.0 ( unless otherwise stated. The trademarks and logos of the Wikimedia Foundation and any other organization are not included under the terms of this Creative Commons license. The Wikimedia Foundation trademarks and logos are usually pending trademark registration or are registered trademarks of the Wikimedia Foundation. For more information, please see our Trademark Policy page, or contact

2. Attribution

Ensure that you give attribution and license credit for images as required by the applicable license. Some examples:
  • Include this language when publishing online:
This image, Snell’s law wavefronts, is in the public domain and may be reused freely.
  • Include this language when publishing in hard format:
This image, Snell’s law wavefronts available at, is in the public domain and may be reused freely.
  • Include this language when publishing online:
This image 1880 Barn, Podunk, East Brookfield MA is © 2010 John Phelan, published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.
  • Include this language when publishing in hard format:
This image, '1880 Barn, Podunk, East Brookfield MA' (,_Podunk,_East_Brookfield_MA.jpg), is © 2010 John Phelan, published under a CC BY-SA license (

3. Legal Review

With any outside or online publication, please run the final license language by the Legal Department for review before the publication.

Geoffbrigham 22:40, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I just downloaded an en:WP article as a pdf, using the option on the left side menu and then I downloaded an en:WP:BOOK as a pdf. These have fairly comprehensive attribution however it is different from what Geoff describes above.
For the article there was an Article sources and contributors section, listing the user names of the editors who worked on the page followed by a separate Image sources, licenses and contributors section listing each media file and it's details, including it's license and the copyright owner. This was followed by a link to the CC-BY-SA license. For the book the attribution details were similar.
Geoff, Can I suggest you review these as examples of best practice. We could even mention them in the TOU. "We try to ensure the documents produced from the Export option, on the left hand menu, comply with these licensing requirements, so that they can be freely copied and redistributed unchanged, however we are not your lawyer and you should seek independent legal advice." The last bit needs polishing. Filceolaire 01:51, 25 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Happy holidays, Filceolaire. :) Thanks for your comments. I took your suggestion and checked out the sourcing on "Export" You're right; I do like how the "Export" option credits. Of course, under CC-BY-SA 3.0, you need to adjust attributions according to the medium and reasonableness. So I think the "best practice" will depend on various factors. For that reason, I would prefer to use separate policies, not the TOS, to address this level of detail. For example, the disclaimer you suggested for the TOS might be better placed on the "Export" landing page. In the TOS, we do say the following in Section 7(b):
Attribution: Attribution is an important part of these licenses. We consider it giving credit where credit is due – to authors like yourself. When you contribute text, you agree to be attributed in any of the following fashions:
Through hyperlink (where possible) or URL to the article to which you contributed (since each article has a history page that lists all authors and editors);
Through hyperlink (where possible) or URL to an alternative, stable online copy that is freely accessible, which conforms with the license, and which provides credit to the authors in a manner equivalent to the credit given on the Project website; or
Through a list of all authors (but please note that any list of authors may be filtered to exclude very small or irrelevant contributions).
We then say in Section 7(c):
You agree that, if you import text under a CC BY-SA license that requires attribution, you must credit the author(s) in a reasonable fashion. Where such credit is commonly given through page histories (such as Wikimedia-internal copying), it is sufficient to give attribution in the edit summary, which is recorded in the page history, when importing the text. The attribution requirements are sometimes too intrusive for particular circumstances (regardless of the license), and there may be instances where the Wikimedia community decides that imported text cannot be used for that reason.

We have similar language in Section 7(h). For me this is sufficient. Again you're points are well taken, but I would rather see the more detailed explanations in separate policies that are directly applicable to the tool or project at issue. Geoffbrigham 14:20, 25 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for this, Geoff! I forgot how many flavors of licenses there are on Wikimedia Commons. I have complained in the past that the attribution to the original uploaders on Wikimedia Commons (in many cases our cultural partners) consists merely of the clickable link on the image in a Wikipedia article, while many people never click on the picture or see that the picture is even clickable. I guess in the TOS you could link to some extra page with the "magic words/attribution/legal review" from the WMF as a working example. Jane023 18:01, 25 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks Jane. Yes, once the community drafts a strong policy on attribution that provides good examples, we can include a link in the TOS. It might require Board approval, but that probably should be easy to get. Enjoy your holidays. Geoffbrigham 22:55, 26 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Discussion about purpose of the page


As Geoff states above, your comments and questions are definitely desired here, and we'll do our best to answer in a timely fashion. Thanks, Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 21:24, 8 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I have been impressed by and grateful for the feedback and comments to date. Many comments - albeit challenging - have been quite constructive. I firmly believe that we must have a document that works for the Community, so I believe that, in putting together the next draft, we need to be flexible. Geoffbrigham 17:54, 20 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
"In the legal department at the Wikimedia Foundation, we have been examining for some time whether, as the 5th largest website in the world, we need a new terms of use agreement." In keeping with the new WMF policy of making all the decisions, we decided we do, and are now going to consult the community about the detail only.
Has nothing been learned from the image filter fiasco? Rich Farmbrough 13:24 10 September 2011 (GMT).
"Be Bold" ? :-) -- Seth Finkelstein 10:43, 11 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I hear your points, but, to be honest, it is hard to have a discussion about a user agreement without proposing a draft. This version - as hard as it may be to believe - is actually not as legalistic as other user agreements, though I now see room for improvements based on the comments. I may be wrong but I also see the draft as serving as a tool to facilitate the discussion about a number of points. We may decide to delete certain provisions because they are too controversial or not right for now, but I still think that the discussion they engender is useful for thinking about the issues. Geoffbrigham 17:54, 20 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That leaving real legal work to a bunch of teenagers and wikilawyers is a bad idea? WhatamIdoing 01:05, 12 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Undoubtedly. I expect the Encyclopedia Judeica used professionals when they put the prohibition about "cancelbots" in their ToS. Face-smile.svg
But certainly there is no harm in having a qualified professional produce the actual document, and advise as to the content. However the community (or "teenagers and wikilawyers" as you so charmingly call us - I regret I am not the former and I hope I am not the latter) should be capable of producing the requirements spec. If anyone can tell me the practical use of :
  • "Using the Services in a manner that is inconsistent with any and all applicable laws and regulations."
I would be most interested. It is basically like a card game that has a rule saying "no cheating". If that rule is needed then there is another one needed saying "No breaking the rule about no cheating". And so forth. Really we need to decide what the purpose or purposes of the ToS are and build them on that basis, not just put in as many clauses as we can that look good. Rich Farmbrough 01:27 14 September 2011 (GMT).
I think this is a fair point, but here is my view: A list of prohibitions in one spot can be helpful. Many users have not thought through all the possible legal ramifications of their actions, so users may see listed improper conduct - like copyright infringement - and think twice about what they are doing. A cut-and-paste of the list may also be helpful in educating users who ask questions about behavior on the site. Finally, the list of prohibitions in the agreement is helpful legally in making clear to others - including law enforcement, rights owners, regulators, etc. - that we do not support certain activity on our site. Geoffbrigham 17:54, 20 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It looks like a basic catch-all: We will ban you if you break the law, even if the specific example of lawbreaking isn't mentioned above. To give two examples, I see nothing here about prohibiting behaviors that break the insider trading laws or prohibiting you from looking at pictures on Commons while a court has banned you from using the Internet at all, but either of these behaviors might result in the WMF blocking your access to the site. WhatamIdoing 17:44, 14 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Why should leaving real legal work to a bunch of teenagers and wikilawyers be a bad idea? After all, what the WMF should be about is letting a bunch of random people, including teenagers and wikilawyers, write an encyclopedia, a dictionary and a bunch of other things. As everybody knows (remember Nupedia or Citizendium?) it is better to leave this to the experts, and using an open wiki model can't possibly work. Kusma 19:54, 14 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I actually agree with this. I think the Community understands the site better than anyone. Hopefully this is an effort to get the expertise of the "teenagers and wikilawyers." One thing I have learned since joining Wikimedia: The Community is a pretty amazing law firm - really smart people. Geoffbrigham 17:54, 20 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Having some experiences with contributions to Wikipedia articles I am convinced that we need new terms of use - and I have no problems with Geoff's intentions.--Fox1942 16:47, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Details from Section 10

Hey all, per the fact that Section 10 refers to a Global Ban Policy where the community gets to lay out how it wants things to work, I've kicked off a draft for comment and editing. There was previously a combined draft at "Global blocks and bans", but since there is technically no current ability to globally block an account, I have separated them out into two drafts for discussion. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 22:12, 27 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Dispute Resolution Bodies

I have been asked to consider adding the below language to the proposed TOS. I am supportive of this language since it describes our reality, and, accordingly, I wish to put it forward for discussion.

You agree to comply with the final decisions of dispute resolution bodies that are established by the community on specific projects (such as arbitration committees). These decisions may include sanctions, such as your ban as a user, the closing of your account, or other prohibitions or restrictions on your contribution activity.

Geoffbrigham 01:40, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I think this correctly matches existing practice, and provides the necessary support to community process without imposing a specific method to projects. Disclaimer: I am currently an arbitrator on the English Wikipedia, and this proposal results from a discussion with Foundation staff in which I have participated. — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 03:06, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I like it, but a few quibbles... Technically we can't "close" accounts as in deleting them. We can lock them so you're unable to log in, but that's really a hack due to the fact that we don't have global blocking. Also, a ban can mean no editing under any alias, so that should be specified. I suggest the following edit: "... These decisions may include sanctions, such as blocking of your account, a ban on editing under any account, or other prohibitions or restrictions on your activity." Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 06:36, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
"Close" may be good enough; I'm not convinced that people will interpret "close" as meaning "permanently delete". "Suspend" is another possible word. Probably any of them are good enough. WhatamIdoing 16:03, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yeah, I was a little iffy about "close" at first, but the common meaning of "close your account" is clearly "make it no longer available for use", which fits.

True, there is the occasional request to "delete my account" that clearly expect it going away from histories and user lists, but we clearly cannot do that. — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 19:57, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

When we ban people we ban them from editing the site. we don't allow them to edit as IPs. So I'd be uncomfortable with the "a ban on editing under any account" suggestion. But I'm also uncomfortable with "your ban as a user" - as we never ban people from reading, we block some forms of automated reading and hides some diffs, but we don't ban people from using Wikipedia or our other products. When we ban people we ban them from editing our sites, not from using them (and I appreciate that not every site uses the Wikipedia term "editor", but I can't think of a better one). This may seem a subtle point, but it actually goes to the heart of what we are doing here. We really are making this information available to everyone, and that includes all the millions we have blocked or banned from editing. WereSpielChequers 22:30, 6 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Have we really blocked or banned millions of people? What a colossal waste of time. A few days ago, WereSpielChequers advocated breaking the rules by reverting the edits of banned users without reading them. See Talk:Global bans#Clarification please. Now he objects to the phrase "a ban on editing under any account." I think people should be discouraged from spending time examining the edits of IPs which remove inaccuracies with a view to reverting them should it be decided that the IP is a banned user. The time could be better spent examining the edits of banned users so that those which remove inaccuracies are not reverted.
The amendment of the global banning policy to give a right of reply to blocked editors put up for global banning is a step in the right direction. This right should be extended to blocked editors put up for community ban. On English Wikipedia administrators routinely institute community ban discussions without giving the requisite notice beforehand. The recipient of this unwanted attention, the "target" in adminspeak, has already been blocked and had talk page access cut off on a pretext and will probably only find out after the ban has been enacted. Should he happen upon the proceedings he will see a succession of involved administrators telling lies during the course of a unanimous !vote in favour. This not only looks illegal, it is - the policy says

"the community may engage in a discussion to site ban, topic ban, or place an interaction ban or editing restriction via a consensus of editors who are not involved in the underlying dispute."

The proposed phrase

"You agree to comply with the final decisions of dispute resolution bodies that are established by the community on specific projects (such as arbitration committees)"

could be construed as limiting the right of appeal to the community. The relevant policy states

"Administrators are prohibited from reversing or overturning (explicitly or in substance) any action taken by another administrator pursuant to the terms of an active arbitration remedy, and explicitly noted as being taken to enforce said remedy, except:

(a) with the written authorization of the Committee; or
(b) following a clear, substantial, and active community consensus to do so." 12:29, 7 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I don't fully understand the proposal: what happens to such decisions taken by the community without a specific "dispute resolution body", for instance by consensus, vote, formal vote, administrator decision? The proposal seems to give undue relevance to such bodies; «Authorized members of the Wikimedia community may also take action according to the community policies of individual Projects», as currently stated, seems enough. Nemo 20:48, 10 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think it's intended to replace that provision; the intent behind this is to empower whatever the system the communities put in place (many wikis that do not have an Abitration Committee have other, just as legitimate, systems of dispute resolutions). — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 16:28, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Who are "authorised members" and what are "authorised acts"?

The discussion in this section uses the terms "your ban as a user", "the closing of your account", and "a ban on editing under any account." I think the meanings are perfectly clear, but in the past administrators have de facto banned people who only have the one account for "abuse of multiple accounts." Can someone in authority confirm that this is illegal both under the Terms of use as they are at present and as they will be in future? 19:18, 14 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

No, it's not "illegal", and it won't ever be. As it says, "Authorized members of the Wikimedia community may also take action according to the community policies of individual Projects, including but not limited to investigating, blocking, or banning users who violate those policies."
This means that admins (="authorized members of the Wikimedia community") may issue bans for any number of reasons, "according to the community policies of individual Projects". As far as I can tell, no Project's community policies listed "abuse of multiple accounts" as the sole legitimate justification for bans. WhatamIdoing 20:41, 14 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

In the example given, it was not suggested that the power of authorised personnel to ban was limited to cases of "abuse of multiple accounts." The issue here is whether they can ban people who keep to the rules and only register one account for "abuse of multiple accounts." To put it another way, if the only capital offence is murder, can a judge sentence to hang someone who has been convicted of stealing a banana? Incidentally, on English Wikipedia no individual has authority to ban. 11:18, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

A de facto ban (the type you specified in your original question) on is an indefinite block issued by a single administrator that no other admin chooses to overturn. A de facto ban can therefore be described as the action of a single individual.
The terms of service does not require the blocking administrator to provide any reason at all, much less an accurate reason, for issuing a block. Consequently, it is "legal" for an authorized person to block someone and to give an erroneous or mistaken reason for it. (If you are blocking someone for Problem A, I don't recommend saying that you are blocking them for Problem B, but if the person deserved to be block for any reason, then the account should and will remain banned.) WhatamIdoing 22:23, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Hi all. I am enjoying reading this discussion but feel you guys have the expertise here. So I will just wait for proposed language from you. If that doesn't make sense, let me know. Geoffbrigham 01:30, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I think that what's in the draft Terms of use now is adequate.

"Authorised members of the Wikimedia community may also take action according to the community policies of individual Projects"

means, as WhatamIdoing points out, that if there is no reason to block an editor the de facto ban is invalid. As the software cannot distinguish between legal and illegal blocks the editor is fully within his rights to continue editing as an IP until such time as the blocking administrator comes to his senses and lifts the block.

Banning someone and giving a spurious reason for doing it is gaming the system - it means that the administrator is aware that a ban can never be achieved by legal means because there is no evidence to put before the Community. As to the administrator's motive in behaving in this fashion, this is revealed by what follows: he deletes all pages created by the "banned" user under

"G5: Creation by a banned user in violation of ban."

This practice is expressly forbidden by the banning policy. 15:25, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I'm not sure I see your point, here, you seem to be arguing about defects in how individual administrators apply policy; this proposed section is strictly about final decision from dispute resolution bodies. Perhaps there is a valid discussion to be had about standard of evidence for individual administrator actions, but this doesn't seem to be the right place for it. — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 18:27, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
(Oh, and no, "[a blocked editor] is fully within his rights to continue editing as an IP until such time as the blocking administrator comes to his senses and lifts the block" is clearly incorrect on its face. Block evasion is (quite correctly) already against the rules on every project I am aware of. There are methods to get a block reviewed or appealed, and the correct thing to do if you feel you have been unjustly blocked is to avail yourself of those processes – not compound the issue by adding block evasion on top of it.) — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 18:31, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Well, I'd guess that the unregistered user's first point is "I thought that every single one of the hundreds of WMF projects had banning policies exactly identical to the one I got banned under on the English Wikipedia."
The second point appears to be "I thought that the English Wikipedia cares more about the words used in the original block log than in reality".
The third point appears to be, "I believe that deliberate, policy-violating block evasion is a valid method of appealing a block that I personally believe is unjust".
The fourth point appears to be, "Block evasion—which is defined as using multiple accounts or IP addresses to edit in violation of the community policies—shouldn't count as using multiple accounts or IP addresses to edit in violation of the community policies".
So what we apparently have here is a self-confessed sockpuppet, who doesn't believe that's socking policies apply to him merely because the original reason for abusing multiple accounts or IP addresses to edit in violation of the community policies wasn't socking. WhatamIdoing 18:37, 16 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Happy Christmas, everyone. I have to admit to playing devil's advocate here - would the scenario presented elicit comment on the lines of "The block was indefensible...the editor must be unblocked can I help", etc." (The editor was actually unblocked following a review of the evidence). What actually happened, as can be seen above, was very different, although Coren did helpfully point to appeal procedures. So my conclusion is that it is unsafe to water down or dismantle existing safeguards.

I hope that Coren now sees the point of my post. He is, as disclosed, a member of the Arbitration Committee of the English Wikipedia, and another member, Kirill Lokshin, has submitted the following proposal for their consideration:

"The community has no obligation to demonstrate that the editor to be restricted violated any rules, deliberately or otherwise; or that the restrictions to be imposed are necessary to prevent a violation of any rules".

There is no corresponding provision relating to the acts of "authorised personnel" so it would seem that they are required to justify their actions, contrary to what WhatamIdoing claims above. The clause under discussion has been quoted in full above: it reads (with emphasis)

"Authorized members of the Wikipedia community may also take action according to the community policies of individual Projects including but not limited to investigating, blocking, or banning users who violate these policies."

The one reinforces the other - an administrator cannot de facto ban an editor without giving a reason, and if the reason is spurious then the innocent editor is able to argue that he cannot be banned because he hasn't violated policy.

This is why I feel that the existing clause in the draft should be retained.

I wish all of you, sincerely, a very peaceful New Year. 15:16, 17 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

You are operating from a logical fallacy: an explicit authorization to block "users who violate these policies" does not mean that there are no other circumstances under which a user may be blocked. "You may eat the red apple" does not automatically mean "You may not eat anything except the red apple".
There are important situations in which "demonstrating that the user violated the rules" is a very bad idea. Imagine someone who appears to be sexually soliciting children on a WMF website: the policy is to block now and ask questions later. The policy is specifically and explicitly to provide zero public reason for such blocks, because we are rightly horrified by the possibility of publicly accusing an innocent person.
Your personal belief that the reason for your block is "spurious" is completely irrelevant. It's not your website. You actually have no right to participate. The WMF can throw you out of its website for any reason at all, exactly like I could throw you out of my home. Every single person's participation is solely at the discretion of the WMF—and, because of the way they choose to operate, therefore at the discretion of the project admins. Just like you don't have to "violate a policy" for me to say, "Your visit is over, go away" when you visit my house, you don't have to "violate a policy" (or believe you did: it's amazing how many serious and persistent policy violaters believe that their actions are somehow not really, truly policy violations) for an admin to show you the door at a WMF website. WhatamIdoing 17:33, 18 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

WhatamIdoing, you gave the argument away in your second sentence. "You may not eat anything except the red apple" is the same as "You may eat nothing other than the red apple", so your proposition may be phrased as

"You may eat the red apple" does not automatically mean "You may only eat the red apple and nothing else."

I agree. In Wikipedia, anything not specifically forbidden is allowed unless it conflicts with the law. The observation "The WMF can throw you out of its website for any reason at all" is actually too restrictive - the WMF can throw you out of its website for any reason or no reason, as it pleases. The reason why it does not is because it is a charity with educational objectives. It is bad for such an organisation to say "You are banned for a reason and we are not disclosing the reason" and it is worse for it to say "You are banned because the moon is made of green cheese". In that case the user may simply assume that an error has been made and continue to use it.

WMF has devolved wide powers of exclusion to the Community (which should use them responsibly and avoid doing anything which might embarrass WMF) while reserving the power of gratuitous exclusion to itself. This is why Kirill Lokshin's proposition is wrong and the person who described it as "batshit insane" is right. WhatamIdoing is barking up the wrong tree when she says that WMF has granted these powers to anyone who can get past RfA. Look at some of the people who have (en:Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Darwinbish)! In reality, what an administrator can or cannot do is carefully set out on appointment, and banning people who have not violated policy is not included. Remember, a ban is something you go for when all else has failed.

WhatamIdoing apparently also believes that the maxim "Better that a hundred guilty people go free than that one innocent person be convicted" is less applicable in Wikipedia, a community that derives its strength from its fairness, than in society generally. Also, a lot of her argument seems to be wishful thinking. A legislature can pass any laws it wants, but only laws it actually has passed are effective. The enforcement arm (the executive) is not given unlimited powers (even in a dictatorship) but each individual law enforcement officer must act within the specific limits to his power which are imposed when he is appointed. In the example given, the judge who signs the death warrant of the person convicted of stealing a banana is acting ultra vires ("beyond the powers") because he is limited to only sentencing to death people who have been convicted of murder. Now let us suppose that the person convicted had actually obtained the banana by killing the person in possession of it. Her argument that the person can be executed because he killed someone but was not convicted of it is obviously wrong. Suppose that a hungry burglar sets out with refreshment in his toolkit in the form of a banana. The householder confronts him and a fight breaks out in which the householder kills the burglar in self defence. To calm himself he picks up the banana and begins eating it. All this is witnessed through the window by the police who arrive, alerted by neighbours, just too late to see the killing. It may be that the householder is detained on a "holding charge" of theft while the police investigate, but to suggest that he can be executed for it is ludicrous.

Some other places where I think that WhatamIdoing's argument fails to stand up - it is wrong to claim that "Block evasion ... is defined as using multiple accounts or IP addresses to edit in violation of the community policies." Actually, block evasion is editing in defiance of the terms of a block. The fact that an editor is blocked does not necessarily mean that all subsequent editing is "block evasion". For example, if a username is blocked because it is inappropriate, it is not "abuse of multiple accounts" to register a compliant username or edit anonymously. Again, an editor may be told to choose one account to edit from, whereupon all the others are blocked for "abuse of multiple accounts." Lastly, an editor may edit from "multiple ... IP addresses" because the IP address changes daily at the whim of the ISP. Such editing is not "abusing multiple ... IP addresses in violation of the community policies." 16:14, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

In that case the user may simply assume that an error has been made and continue to use it.
No, you may not. If you are actually banned from the WMF websites, you may not continue to use them. You have no more right to continue to use the WMF websites after being told to leave than you have to continue to sit in my home after being told to leave.
It happens that the English Wikipedia has established procedures that permit you to appeal blocks and bans that you believe are in error—just like if I order you out of my home, you might ask me to reconsider—but you may not continue editing just because you personally believe that the reason for your block or ban is invalid. WhatamIdoing 00:29, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"If you are actually banned from the WMF websites".

That is the $64,000 question.

The original block of the single - account editor for "abuse of multiple accounts", which was described as "infinite" rather than "indefinite" was recognised to be invalid, which was why a community discussion was listed to deal with the situation. The Community's powers are set out in en:WP:CBAN as follows:

"If an editor has proven to be repeatedly disruptive in one or more areas of Wikipedia, the community may engage in a discussion to site ban, topic ban, or place an interaction ban or editing restriction via a consensus of editors who are not involved in the underlying dispute.[1]When determining consensus, the closing administrator will assess the strength and quality of the arguments."

Elsewhere the rule says that for the discussion to be valid the editor must be told about it. That wasn't done. At no time was it suggested the edits were disruptive, comment and !voting came from administrators who were intimately involved and the closing administrator has just been voted onto the Arbitration Committee with maximum support!

"English Wikipedia has established procedures that permit you to appeal blocks and bans that you believe are in error."

Nobody has claimed that good edits from a single account prove repeated abuse of multiple accounts, so nobody has claimed that this ban has any validity which could give the Arbitration Committee jurisdiction to consider an appeal. 10:31, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

We don't need to claim that good edits from a single account prove repeated abuse of multiple accounts. We are claiming only that even if the block is a complete mistake, you are required to abide by the terms of that block unless and until you have gotten it overturned on appeal. WhatamIdoing 17:48, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

WhatamIdoing, you're not being logical. You accept the editor did not abuse multiple accounts. You accept the editor did nothing wrong. You accept the block was a complete mistake. The whole point of Section 10

Authorised members of the Wikimedia community may also take action according to the community policies of individual Projects, including but not limited to investigating, blocking, or banning users who violate these policies

(emphasis added) is to ensure they act judicially and stop them pursuing vendettas against people they don't like. Otherwise, what was the purpose of putting the clause in in the first place? Note also that en:wp and fr:wp for example are separate Projects. 18:58, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I make no claims either way about whether the editor (you, but with a new IP address today?) abused multiple accounts before being blocked. For all I know, the editor in question was a serious sockmaster. Even if he wasn't, he may have earned that block by violating other policies. Socking is not the only possible way to earn a block: he might have been a vandal, or engaged in libel, or doing any number of other bad things.
However, the editor confesses to continuing to edit after being blocked, and that certainly makes him guilty of "violating these policies" now. If you're wrongly blocked on the English Wikipedia, then according to "these policies", the only edits you are permitted to make during that block [clarified: on the English Wikipedia] are the ones in which you are directly engaged in appealing your block. There is no policy that says "if you personally decide that the block is unjust, then you can just ignore it and keep editing." WhatamIdoing 22:31, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I haven't read this whole long thread, and don't think I have the time to absorb it all. But this point jumped out at me. Not sure how important this point is to the broader discussion, but it's often overlooked that a "block" is generally a technical act restricting the use of an account or IP, while a "ban" is an action specifically intended to restrict a person's behavior. Blocks may include, for instance, accounts that violate pretty innocuous aspects of the account naming policy, or accounts whose passwords have been compromised; in such a case, there's no problem at all with the individual who owns the account continuing to edit from an IP or from a different account. They also have no bearing (along with bans) on access to other Wikimedia projects. So it would be a little dangerous, I think, to consider every blocked or banned user to have violated the TOU. A user banned on English Wikipedia is typically (apart from the new Global Ban Policy) free to edit other projects without restriction. (If this is all just repeating the obvious, please forgive my intrusion!) -Pete F 23:09, 21 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Deliberate block evasion normally results in a community-imposed ban, and the editor in question began with a specific question about a de facto ban, which is an indefinite block that no admin is willing to overturn. In essence, the block in question is also a ban.
But you are correct: it applies only at the English Wikipedia, and although the user's actions are a clear local policy violation, it is not necessarily a TOU violation. WhatamIdoing 03:17, 22 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Hi all. Thanks for the discussion. Here is one possible phrasing (which I will include in the TOS for now though I understand that the community may agree to remove it):
You also agree to comply with the final decisions of dispute resolution bodies that are established by the community on specific projects (such as arbitration committees); these decisions may include sanctions as set out by the local policy of each Project.
It would be understood that we keep the provision in Section 10: Authorized members of the Wikimedia community may also take action according to the community policies of individual Projects, including but not limited to investigating, blocking, or banning users who violate those policies.

Let me know if this works. Thanks. Geoffbrigham 22:39, 19 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Works for me, and it's probably for the best to avoid making an enumeration of what sanctions means in the TOS. — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 15:07, 20 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The purpose of the block is to stop the editor "abusing multiple accounts" and it's a physical impossibility for him to do that (he only has one account). So, per Pete above, there's no problem at all with the individual who owns the account continuing to edit from an IP. 19:06, 22 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

No. The IP address itself counts as an account, and editing as an IP while your only registered account is blocked is considered block evasion, which is prohibited by the blocking policy at the English Wikipedia. WhatamIdoing 16:50, 23 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Look at Pete's explanation again. He is dealing with exactly the situation where the one registered account is blocked. I think the confusion in your mind may be due to your belief that an IP is an account. Actually, it's not the same - IP editors can't watchlist, move, edit semi - protected pages, vote in RfA or RfB, elect candidates onto the Arbitration Committee or create pages outside userspace. 17:41, 23 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

WhatamIdoing is continuing the discussion elsewhere - I'm transcluding what has been added so far:

Meta's got a discussion going from a blocked user who makes the following claims:

  • He didn't actually commit the violation named in the block log (he was indef'd for socking), so the block is invalid/doesn't count/can be ignored.
  • It's perfectly okay for him to keep editing as an IP despite the block, because his IP address isn't "an account".

It might be worth expanding the section on block evasion to explain the concept so that even this user will be able to understand it. (I'm not watching this page.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:54, 23 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I only brought up username policy violations and password issues. There are lots of blocks (perhaps the vast majority) where, in my opinion, Whatamidoing's interpretation is the accurate one. If you are blocked for behavior, on en-wp at least (where I have the most policy and process familiarity), you are generally violating a block if you continue to edit under an IP. Failing to understand or observe that (I think) obvious point would be, in my opinion, good grounds for increasingly aggressive blocks. -Pete F 21:28, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I dunno. If Wikipedia is not therapy, policy most definitely isn't. I'm always wary of the practice of writing policy with the worst troublemakers in mind, instead of the good-faith new users who just want to learn and understand how we do things around here and why. I know where you're coming from but extensive experience in this area has left me utterly pessimistic about reforming bad behavior by bad editors through wording changes in policy. causa sui (talk) 17:47, 23 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Quick comment: "He was indeffed for socking" - a single registered account can't be a sock. 16:08, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I think you will find he was indeffed for editing while banned. Editting via an IP counts as editting so it is a breach of the ban. Accounts are blocked but editors are banned. There is a subtle distinction which could perhaps be made clearer in the TOU. Maybe Geoff should change
* Block a user's account or ban a user for actions violating this Agreement,
* Ban a user from editting and/or block a user's account for actions violating this Agreement,

Filceolaire 17:42, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

@Filceolaire - Good suggestion. I'm really deferring to you guys, who know the right terminology and technology better than I. If people are in agreement (and if I understand correctly), I will use this phrase: Ban a user from editing or contributing or block a user's account for actions violating this Agreement . . . . If I hear no objections, I will make this change throughout the TOS. Makes sense? Geoffbrigham 18:09, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]
OK, I made Filceolaire's recommended change in Section 10. Let me know if I didn't get it right (or need to make the edit elsewhere). Note: I don't want to make the change in Section 8 because that Section tracks the legislative language. Geoffbrigham 15:12, 27 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The editor Filceoclaire is talking about registered an account and was indeffed four days later although there was no suggestion that policy had been breached. The first mention of a ban came from the administrator who used the word as an excuse to delete all the pages the editor had created. The apparent reason for this was to hide the content so that other editors would be unable to secure its retention by opposing at MfD. 18:36, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

In Section 10, I propose "Authorized members of the Wikimedia community may also take action according to the community policies of individual Projects, including but not limited to investigating, blocking, or banning users who violate those policies. You also agree to comply with the final decisions of dispute resolution bodies that are established by the community on specific projects (such as arbitration committees); these decisions may include sanctions as set out by the local policy of each Project. Especially problematic Users who have had accounts blocked on multiple Projects may be subject to a ban from all of the Projects, in accordance with the Global Ban Policy. In contrast to Board resolutions or this Agreement, policies established by the community, which may cover a single Project or multiple Projects (like the Global Ban Policy), may be modified by the relevant community according to its own procedures. On English Wikipedia, administrators are not authorized to ban users"

If I'm reading this correctly, I think your only change is adding the last sentence. If so, I would suggest that this is better handled by community policy, which, in the terms of use, we recognize as limiting authority. Section 10 reads in part: Authorized members of the Wikimedia community may also take action according to the community policies of individual Projects. Also we are trying not to customize the Terms of Use too much to the English Wikipedia, given the other projects and languages. I hope you find this acceptable. Geoffbrigham 15:02, 27 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

but I would like a definition of "Authorized members of the Wikimedia community" because some people may claim they are authorised to do things when they are not.

I hear this point, but, without making the terms of use too complicated, I would prefer to avoid such a detailed explanatio. Indeed, in the end, it is a community decision as to who is authorized, so maybe we can say: "Users who are authorized by the Wikimedia community by written policy". Does that work? Geoffbrigham 15:02, 27 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

(Section 12) "In certain (hopefully unlikely) circumstances it may be necessary for either ourselves or authorized members of the Wikimedia community to terminate part or all of our services, terminate this Agreement, block your account, or ban you as a user."

Once again, "Authorized members" should be particularised and limits on their authority stated as indicated above. 19:44, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I would make the same suggestion as above, if that works for you. Geoffbrigham 15:02, 27 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Responding to Pete, it's a common misconception that editors are blocked "for" misbehaviour. They are blocked to prevent misbehaviour in the future, or, in the words of policy, blocks are preventative not punitive. So in the case of the editor who has not misbehaved, harmless use of the IP is acceptable, as was originally explained. There is no reason to behave increasingly aggressively to an editor who is editing to improve the 'pedia. 21:58, 24 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

We're talking about deliberate ban and block evasion here. The resulting blocks are "preventative" only in the sense that they are designed to provide a temporary technological barrier to stop editing by a person who is so screwed up that he thinks "you personally—a specific, individual human—are not permitted to edit the English Wikipedia ever again" means "please keep editing as much as you want, so long as you don't make those edits from a registered account".
The very act of editing while under a ban (de facto or otherwise) is itself a misbehavior. It is never acceptable for anyone to evade a block or ban. WhatamIdoing 02:03, 29 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Maybe we could get the point across that not all "authorized members" have all the powers listed by including a definition of "authorised acts". We could then have something like

"Authorized members of the Wikipedia community may also take action according to the community policies of individual Projects, including but not limited to investigating, blocking, or banning users who violate these policies. Authorized acts are those done by a member within the limit of his authority, in accordance with written policy as it applies to that member."

If we do this then the suggested modification to Section 12 becomes superfluous. 15:56, 27 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Which acts are authorized and who is authorized to do them will change over time. It is not helpful to specify them, and it would not change the reality that ban and block evasion, including editing as an IP after you have been banned, is still never permitted. WhatamIdoing 02:03, 29 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The reason why these clarifications have been proposed is to counterbalance the "retreat into pragmatism" that WhatamIdoing's arguments disclose. It is precisely because the "powers that be" come and go and the things they are permitted to do change over time that it is desirable to explain to the reader that it is by going to the written community policy that she can ascertain (a) whether the person is authorised to do anything and (b) if the answer is "yes", exactly what it is that he is authorised to do.

If the reader, thus alerted, goes to the written community policy she will discover that nobody (with the possible exception of Mr Wales) is authorised to say

"You personally - a specific, individual human - are not permitted to edit the English Wikipedia ever again."

On Wikipedia, as elsewhere in life, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. 11:01, 29 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

OK, how about this:
Section 10: Authorized members of the Wikimedia community may also take action according to the community policies of individual Projects, including but not limited to investigating, blocking, or banning users who violate those policies. Authorized members of the Wikimedia community are those users who have specific authorization to act, and must so act, within a defined scope of action pursuant to written community or Foundation policy.
Section 12: Though we hope you will stay and continue to contribute to the Projects, you can stop using our services any time. In certain (hopefully unlikely) circumstances it may be necessary for either ourselves or authorized members of the Wikimedia community (as defined in Section 10) to terminate part or all of our services, terminate this Agreement, block your account, or ban you as a user. We reserve the right to suspend or end the services at any time, with or without cause, and with or without notice.
If this works for people, I will so update the proposed terms of use. Thanks to all who participated in this discussion. Geoffbrigham 23:26, 29 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

A very clear and well - drafted amendment. 11:52, 30 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks. Edits made. Geoffbrigham 20:10, 30 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]