Founding Agreement comments by Jon Rosebaugh on 1-20-2005 at 1:51 CST
My response to DavidW's comments
Information wants to be free, the saying goes. But somebody's got to pay the bills. It's 1 AM, and I may not be entirely coherent, but I think I want to respond to this while at least some of my thoughts are still clear in my head. Therefore, in an entirely haphazard order:
Ownership: Dave says that he doesn't own IFwiki. Yet, he is actively promoting it, and trying to guide it. Do these conflict? I'm not sure. I think that it would be laughable if we required him to not try to help build IFwiki, just to make sure he wasn't in a position to claim ownership of it, especially since he currently pays the hosting bills. The wiki hasn't hit critical mass yet, whatever that may be; we're unlikely to see people taking an interest in it the way they do with Wikipedia. Once there's active community interest, I could see asking Dave to not take so much responsibility, but then, once there's active community interest, such a request probably wouldn't be necessary. I can imagine a system whereby anyone who wanted to could download a server executable and run a mirror. The wiki would give it copies of the most-accessed articles, up to the disk space the user was willing to devote to it, and the whole thing could be run with a load-balancing scheme, thus freeing Dave of any particular responsibility with server costs. At present, the wiki does not even approach the kind of situation that would make the effort involved in setting this up worthwhile, though it does fulfill some of my Gibson-inspired daydreams. I guess what I'm saying is, in a perfect world, Dave wouldn't take ownership, because there would be no need for it. This world isn't perfect, though.
Copyright and information: As I understand it, the classic legal example of this situation involves a dispute between phone companies over telephone book information. The thing is, telephone numbers have very little to do with prose writing. It is well enough to say that "So Far is a game written by Andrew Plotkin in 1996. It is written in Inform, compiled for the Z-Machine, and won four XYZZY awards in 1996." This is all information, quite clearly copyright-free. But it tells you very little about the game. It's part of a taxonomy, not an actual description. Baf's guide says that So Far is "haunting and dreamlike". That's description. That's useful for the person who wants to know a bit more about the game. Baf's description of the game is also copyrighted, I think, because this is actual prose writing about what kind of game So Far is, and what the player can expect from it. If I have caught the vision of IFwiki properly, there will be far more description on the wiki than there will be taxonomy, so the concerns about attributing names to informational lists seem a little overplayed.
Two licenses?: To the extent that some of the material available on IFwiki is purely informational, I do not think it ought to be covered by a license at all; indeed, the judicial decision I referenced above may make it impossible to do so. At the same time, original material, including those essays that DavidW derided, can be copyrighted, and these are a valid target for a license. It seems to me that the history mechanism in the wiki provides a valid reference for individual contributions to articles, so that it would be appropriate to have them attributed generally to IFwiki. The difficulty there is that IFwiki is not a person, and cannot own a copyright or license content, or so my understanding goes. Perhaps we need a IFwiki foundation (which also might hold the domain name and help manage the complicated mirroring scheme I mentioned above), but that is probably something for the future.
Attribution: I don't see why it is wrong to have attribution for genuinely creative content on the wiki. If we really want to be a resource for people, then when people see an article reproduced elsewhere, they should be able to follow a link to IFwiki and find more material of interest to them. Of course, tables of information, like the 2004 games for XYZZY awards, need not be attributed; Eileen's perfectly capable of saying whatever needs to be said about the source of that collected information on her own.
Okay, no solid conclusion here, but I think I said what I wanted to say. I know I'm not around for much of the discussions, which is part of why I'm putting this here. Feel free to remove it or move it elsewhere, should that be appropriate. --Jon 01:51, 20 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)