Hi Erik,

More good points here.

On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 7:01 AM, Erik Moeller <eloque...@gmail.com> wrote:

> With regard to the issue of citations, it's worth noting that it's
> already possible to _conditionally_ load data from Wikidata, excluding
> information that is unsourced or only sourced circularly (i.e. to
> Wikipedia itself). [1] Template invocations can also override values
> provided by Wikidata, for example, if there is a source, but it is not
> considered reliable by the standards of a specific project.

That is useful.

> > If a digital voice assistant propagates a Wikimedia mistake without
> telling
> > users where it got its information from, then there is not even a
> feedback
> > form. Editability is of no help at all if people can't find the source.
> I'm in favor of always indicating at least provenance (something like
> "Here's a quote from Wikipedia:"), even for short excerpts, and I
> certainly think WMF and chapters can advocate for this practice.
> However, where short excerpts are concerned, it's not at all clear
> that there is a _legal_ issue here, and that full compliance with all
> requirements of the license is a reasonable "ask".

I think it would be good to do some legal work to gain that clarity. The
Amazon Echo issue, with the Echo potentially using millions of words from
Wikipedia without any kind of attribution and indication of provenance at
all, was raised on this list in July for example.

We were promised an update here on this list months ago, but no such update
has come to date. If CC-BY-SA is not enforced, Wikipedia will stealthily
shift to CC-0 in practice. I don't think that's desirable.

> Bing's search result page manages a decent compromise, I think: it
> shows excerpts from Wikipedia clearly labeled as such, and it links to
> the CC-BY-SA license if you expand the excerpt, e.g.:
> https://www.bing.com/search?q=france

I agree: Bing's solution is excellent. It provides attribution and
indicates provenance, in a manner that is reasonable based on the medium,
means and context in which the licensed material is shared, which is
literally all the licence requires.

> I know that over the years, many efforts have been undertaken to
> document best practices for re-use, ranging from local
> community-created pages to chapter guides and tools like the
> "Lizenzhinweisgenerator". I don't know what the best-available of
> these is nowadays, but if none exists, it might be a good idea to
> develop a new, comprehensive guide that takes into account voice
> applications, tabular data, and so on.
> Such a guide would ideally not just be written from a license
> compliance perspective, but also include recommendations, e.g., on how
> to best indicate provenance, distinguishing "here's what you must do"
> from "here's what we recommend".

Agreed. Ideally this should be complemented by a public list indicating
which providers are following the recommendations.

> There is an important distinction between "lookup" and "learning"; the
> former is a transactional activity ("Is this country part of the Euro
> zone?") and the latter an immersive one ("How did the EU come
> about?"). Where we now get instant answers from home assistants or
> search engines, we may have previously skimmed, or performed our own
> highly optimized search in the local knowledge repository called a
> "bookshelf".

An interesting question to me is whether, with the explosion of information
available, people will spend so much time with transactional queries across
a large number of diverse topics that there is little time left for
immersive, in-depth learning of any one of them, and how that might
gradually change the type of knowledge people possess (information

Even today, political commentators are deploring that people are making
decisions on the basis of gut reactions and snippets – isolated bits of
information that have an emotional hook, but are stripped of wider context.
There seems to be fairly wide agreement that there is at least a potential
for negative consequences, as well as positive ones.

The growth in digital assistants could conceivably have a large impact
here, because a digital assistant can only answer the questions people ask
– and sometimes more background knowledge is needed to actually know what
questions to ask.

All of these effects are hard to predict, but it seems safe to say that, as
with any other structural change of this sort, there will be upsides and

> In other words, even if some instant answers lead to a drop in
> Wikipedia views, it would be unreasonable to assume that those views
> were "reads" rather than "skims". When you're on a purely
> transactional journey, you appreciate almost anything that shortens
> it.

Absolutely true, and judging by myself – most of my own journeys on
Wikipedia.org are transactional – the number of page views corresponding to
someone actually reading a Wikipedia article from beginning to end is
probably tiny. (Oddly enough, I am more likely to read a Wikipedia article
from beginning to end if I'm looking something up on the Kindle, while I'm
reading a book.)

> I don't think Wikimedia should fight the gravity of a user's
> intentions out of its own pedagogical motives. Rather, it should make
> both lookup and learning as appealing as possible. Doing well in the
> "lookup" category is important to avoid handing too much control off
> to gatekeepers, and being good in the "learning" category holds the
> greatest promise for lasting positive impact.
> As for the larger social issue, at least in the US, the youngest (most
> googley) generation is the one that reads the most books, and
> income/education are very strong predictors of whether people do or
> not:
> http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/19/slightly-
> fewer-americans-are-reading-print-books-new-survey-finds/

Interesting. I'm wondering whether those are primarily fiction or
non-fiction – unfortunately, the report remains silent on that.

> While I think your proposal to ask Google to share access to resources
> it already has digitized or licensed is worth considering, I would
> suggest being very careful about the long term implications of any
> such agreements. Having a single corporation control volunteers'
> access to proprietary resources means that such access can also be
> used as leverage down the road, or abruptly be taken away for other
> reasons.
> I think it would be more interesting to spin off the existing
> "Wikipedia Library" into its own international organization (or home
> it with an existing one), tasked with giving free knowledge
> contributors (including potentially to other free knowledge projects
> like OSM) access to proprietary resources, and pursuing public and
> private funding of its own. The development of many relationships may
> take longer, but it is more sustainable in the long run. Moreover, it
> has the potential to lead to powerful collaborations with existing
> public/nonprofit digitization and preservation efforts.

I think that's a really excellent idea. I'd love to see that go further
than this mailing list discussion.

> > Publicise the fact that Google and others profit from volunteer work, and
> > give very little back. The world could do with more articles like this:
> >
> > https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/
> 2015/07/22/you-dont-know-it-but-youre-working-for-facebook-for-free/
> I have plenty of criticisms of Facebook, but the fact that users don't
> get paid for posting selfies isn't one of them.

While the headline focused on Facebook, a large part of the article was
about Wikipedia, and expressed a worthwhile perspective.

> My thoughts on how the
> free culture movement (not limited to Wikipedia) should interface with
> the for-profit sector are as follows, FWIW:
> 1) Demand appropriate levels of taxation on private profits, [2]
> sufficient investments in public education and cultural institutions,
> and "open licensing" requirements on government contracts with private
> corporations.
> 2) Require compliance with free licenses, first gently, then more
> firmly. This is a game of diminishing returns, and it's most useful to
> go after the most blatant and problematic cases. As noted above, "fair
> use" limits should be understood and taken into consideration.
> 3) Encourage corporations to be "good citizens" of the free culture
> world, whether it's through indicating provenance beyond what's
> legally required, or by contributing directly (open source
> development, knowledge/data donations, in-kind goods/services,
> financial contributions). The payoff for them is goodwill and a
> thriving (i.e. also profitable) open Internet that more people in more
> places use for more things.
> 4) Build community-driven, open, nonprofit alternatives to
> out-of-control corporate quasi-monopolies. As far as proprietary
> knowledge graphs are concerned, I will reiterate: open data is the
> solution, not the problem.

I entirely agree with points 1 to 3 – though getting the likes of Google to
pay more taxes may not be very realistic, as they have lots of money (a
good chunk of it earned through Wikimedia content ...) to spend on lobbying
against such changes.[1] For point 4 I would add the caveat that open data
can both be a solution and create its own specific kind of problems.

Since we last discussed this, I've come across a great research paper on
Meta, "Considering 2030: Future technology trends that will impact the
Wikimedia movement", prepared for WMF by independent consultants Dot
Connector Studio (Philadelphia) and Lutman & Associates (St Paul):


The sections "Things to keep in mind" and "Questions for the Wikimedia
movement to consider" most closely reflect my own concerns.

Unfortunately, little or none of that has made it into the Direction
statement, as risks to guard against. An attempt was made to include some
of these caveats in the Direction's Appendix (Pattern 19), but that work
wasn't completed, and the Appendix now seems to have been abandoned (it
hasn't been edited by WMF staff in months).

Is the Appendix even still part of the Direction?



> [1] See the getValue function in
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Module:WikidataIB , specifically its
> "onlysourced" parameter. The module also adds a convenient "Edit this
> on Wikidata" link to each claim included from there.
> [2] As far as Wikimedia organizations are concerned, specific tax
> policy will likely always be out of scope of political advocacy, but
> the other points need not be.
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