Question for Wikipedians out there: is Wikipedia available for use under CC-by-sa yet? I haven’t heard anything about this. If it hasn’t been decided, why not? Will this ever be declared? Surely we should expect it to be, given the triumphant announcement Lessig and Wales last December. Right?
I have to say I’m not so happy that Wikipedia might be using original Citizendium articles without the licenses really being interoperable. In short, if they want to release our articles under the GFDL, we should be able to release theirs under CC-by-sa.
For immediate release
The Citizendium encyclopedia project picks a Creative Commons license
“Our gift to the world: CC-by-sa”
December 21, 2007 – In a much-awaited move, the non-profit Citizendium (http://www.citizendium.org/) encyclopedia project announced that it has adopted the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-by-sa) as the license for its own original collaborative content. The license permits anyone to copy and redevelop the thousands of articles that the Citizendium has created within its successful first year.
Suppose we grow to Wikipedian size. This is possible, however probable you think it might be.
Suppose, also, that, because we are of that size, we have the participation of a sizable portion of all the leading intellectuals of the world, in every field–and so, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of approved articles. These are all long, complete with many links, bibliography, etc., etc.–all the subpage stuff. It’s reference utopia. Far better than Wikipedia has any hope of becoming.
Here’s the question, then. If we use a license that permits commercial reuse–CC-by-sa or GFDL–then every major media company in the world could, and probably would, use CZ content. Do you favor a license that allows CBS, Fox, the New York Times, English tabloids, Chinese propaganda sheets, Yahoo!, Google, and all sorts of giant new media companies to come, to use our content? Without compensation? That’s a very interesting question, isn’t it?
What do you think?
Citizens can discuss here. Non-citizens, feel free to discuss below.
Our deadline for essay-length comments – before the Citizendium begins the process of actually choosing a license for articles that we ourselves have created – is October 20. We have seven essays so far (and will have at least eight, as I intend to write one). You’re welcome to weigh in!
A few days ago I said on the project mailing list that we would be deciding very soon about the license, and that I was leaning toward using CC-by-nc for our own original articles, and the GFDL for all Wikipdia-sourced articles. This was reflected in the comparison between CZ and WP that I posted yesterday.
Well, this has created some strong reactions–finally–and perhaps now the CZ community is ready to have a debate it has badly needed to have. The license issue is important, because it will determine whether Wikipedia can use content that we create, because it might help set us up in an interesting new open content business model, and quite frankly because a lot of people just care a lot about this stuff. One person has even said that he would delete all his edits from the wiki if we were to use a certain license.
Anyway, while the discussion is hot and heavy on the forums (between project participants–because forums are restricted to participants), I hope I can motivate people to use the wiki to sum up and standardize the arguments on the question: “Should we permit or disallow commercial use of CZ-originated articles?“
How is the Citizendium similar to Wikipedia? In quite a few ways. In enough ways that you might make you wonder why we’ve started another project. Consider:
- We aim to create a giant free general encyclopedia.
- We’re managed by a nonprofit.
- We use MediaWiki software.
- We use wiki methods of strong collaboration. We don’t sign articles or even have lead authors; we strongly encourage everybody to “be bold” and mix it up.
- No credentials are needed to participate (as an author).
- We still rely on “soft security” to a great extent. We mostly trust people and solve what few behavioral problems we’ve seen as they arise.
- We are committed to a neutral, unbiased presentation of information.
- We have similar naming conventions, and some other similar conventions.
- Quite a few of our articles came from Wikipedia.
- The community and project has been organized by the same person who organized Wikipedia.
Quite similar, it seems. But…
Yep, some unsigned-in person over on Wikipedia went to Wikipedia’s “Biology” article and basically replaced it with the first paragraph of the Citizendium’s “Biology” article (our first approved article), posted here (PDF, 735K). And they didn’t give us credit, as they are required to do by the GFDL!
Of course, we are still working on the software that will allow contributors to check or uncheck a box to indicate whether any of the content of an article came from Wikipedia, so some of CZ’s articles, copied over by hand, have no automatic link-back to the Wikipedia article. We feel very very sorry about this. ;) So neither project is in total compliance!
I’m sure everyone means well and all such problems will be fixed in time.