Wikiversity:Colloquium/archives/September 2011

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Syntax highlighting

Currently, when I use the syntaxhighlight tag (as in this shameless plug), the output appears in small text with no box surrounding it and no background colour, like so (Python code):

fl = 123
abc = 456
print fl, abc

This isn't how it looks on other MediaWiki projects. Is this intentional or a bug/missing feature?

(Also, why is fl highlighted in this code? The only reference I can find for it in the Python documentation is a deprecated, Irix-only library.)

Rf 06:13, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Some Wikimedia projects added border, background, and font styling for syntaxhighlight. AFAIK syntaxhighlight intentionally does not add that styling by default. I think there has been no local discussion about changing the default styling, which is why the styling differs here. The fl module is deprecated for removal from Python 3, though as the link you supplied shows, the current version is not considered Python 3 yet. My guess this is something the GeSHi library developers decided to support and is outside of what the developer of the syntaxhighlight extension wishes to mess with. -- darklama  12:07, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
I've updated our Mediawiki:Geshi.css with the latest from enwiki, if only to pull updates - ours was originally copied from enwiki in 2007. We haven't had any local discussion on styling, but Rf's point seems logical and I don't see a problem with tracking enwiki's version for consistency. If anyone objects, feel free to revert. --Draicone (talk) 16:38, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Much better, though text size is still smaller than normal. I found this fix on MediaWiki, though it might be desirable to find out how enwiki fixes it and update that stylesheet:

/* Fix so <source> tags, and .css and .js pages, get normal text size 
   also in some versions of Firefox, Safari, Konqueror, Chrome etc. */ div,
pre {
	font-family: monospace, "Courier New" !important;

Rf 22:35, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Can we decide on a wiki to track and keep our Geshi.css up to date with theirs? I'd rather not start forking our own CSS. --Draicone (talk) 06:17, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Apparently Wikipedia has the fix in common.css (just search for "geshi", it's the only hit). From their geshi.css history comments, it seems the fix has to go in common.css rather than geshi.css due to its precedence. -- Rf 08:46, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
I've updated our common.css. I don't see any issue with forking our own CSS, that was already the case anyways. -- darklama  14:30, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
The issue with forking is difficulty of maintenance. If there is forking, I'd suggest, the differences should be carefully documented. --Abd 15:46, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
In my experience keeping track of whatever Wikipedia does, whether it is useful elsewhere, and what all the dependencies are is more difficult to maintain than forking is. Documenting differences would require frequently tracking and researching what all the differences are in any given period of time. Wikipedia makes many changes in any given day. Any attempt to carefully document differences would be probably be outdated quicker than it could be documented. -- darklama  20:55, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Arabic on Wikiversity

Hello all, I wanted to explain why User:Ahmed Almrhoon is using Arabic on his Userpage, and soon to be on the subpage that is his essay for the Business, politics and sport unit. Initially he was going to write the essay on his Arabic Wikiversity userpage, but because I am uncertain of the status of the project, and because the rest of the class is working here in En, he will instead write the essay in Arabic on his English WV User space, with a view to copying it to Arabic WV when the BPS2011 unit is complete. I hope no one objects to this interim use of en.WV, it is simply a management work around for us, for now. --Leighblackall 04:51, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

Not a problem, thanks for letting us know. --Draicone (talk) 15:00, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Admin not warning users or notifying them as to why they were blocked

According to this, a certain admin has been making many blocks without any warning, without any notification to why they were blocked, or anything like that. That same admin says here that such actions are necessary and that not warning someone or telling them why they were blocked was abuse of adminship. Other admin have blocked "spammers" for a month, and I notified those individuals of our policies and practices at Wikiversity through the welcome template. The admin in question says that such a thing is inappropriate and proceeded to lecture me on "welcoming", even though I've been welcoming users since 2008 and performed most of the Welcoming. Even IPs are blocked without any notification about spamming or vandalism. This is highly disruptive and causes far more problems for Wikiversity in the long run. Ottava Rima (talk) 03:19, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

There appears to be a difference of opinion about the treatment of blatant vandals and spammers. I don't have the time at this point to respond extensively, and won't be at my computer again until Sunday, but I'll explain my actual practice. I extend welcome and tolerance to all users who show the remotest possibility of cooperative work here. I'll welcome a user for making a test edit to the Sandbox. From practice I indeed learned from Ottava, I don't welcome users upon registration. I've found, doing extensive Recent Changes patrolling, that it's valuable that a new user's talk page does not exist, because it calls attention to their first edits, through the redlinked Talk page. Spammers know this visibility issue, they will often register and immediately edit their Talk page precisely to suppress that redlink. (So I also look at contributions for any editor who immediately edits their Talk page, as distinct from their User page.) I'll look at contributions for new editors, and as soon as I see any positive sign, very liberally interpreted, I drop a welcome template. This, then, tends to suppress further notice of this user by me and I assume by many recent changes patrollers. We don't welcome IP users, either, because so many IPs are unstable. Occasionally I welcome and warn a user at the same time, and in that case I emphasize the welcome and practically apologize for the warning. Welcoming and blocking a user at the same time is one very weird behavior. How would you feel about that? Being blocked for obviously offensive behavior, nobody gets upset about that. And no-upset is what is the norm here. Yes, there are users being blocked, several a day, but where are the upset users? Where are the users asking to be unblocked? I haven't seen one for a long time. If I've missed any, let me know! I know they haven't used an unblock template, there are none outstanding.
Ottava's welcomes or warnings/block explanations of editors short-blocked by other custodians then, inhibit review of the edits of those editors should they return. It's highly unlikely that those editors will do anything but laugh at Ottava's text. We are only talking about blatant vandals and linkspammers. Not marginal cases. In some cases non-admins may not be able to tell what happened, because the offensive pages have been deleted. But any custodian can check, and I'll respond to specific requests for information.
If a user's first edit here is blatant linkspam or vandalism, they know what they are doing, they don't need warning. They will get the reason for the block from the block notice. Our block notice should describe what to do if blocked, I should check that, but I don't have time tonight; I normally leave Talk page and email access open, and will respond positively and encouragingly to any attempt by the user to communicate. If the edit is merely a link to some web site, not something like Cheap Rolex Watches!, I don't consider it linkspam at all, and what I do depends on the actual site and where the link was placed.
However, my expectation is that if a new account is created and the first edit is blatant vandalism or linkspam, they are not going to come back with that account, ever. There is nothing invested in it at all. What they will do, if they are interested in future participation (or future spam for that matter), is to register a new account. They would want that clean slate, and wouldn't you? Unless they repeat the same behavior, there will be no "pursuit" of them. Indef blocking that account does that user -- and us -- no harm at all. Indef blocking an account with serious attempt to improve Wikiversity or use it for educational purpose, that does harm. Incivility does harm. Calling something "spam," in fact, can do harm if the user believes it's not spam. I've seen this happen and have worked to remedy some of that. I often invite spammers (real spammers, as defined at the global blacklist, but where the spammer might represent some kind of expertise, some legitimate value other than just selling Viagra or the like) to register an account, disclose any conflict of interest, and make positive contributions here, and they will then be allowed to link to their own web site at least on their user page, and maybe other places as well, if appropriate. Just cooperate!
Ottava believes I'm violating some policy. I don't think so, but, in fact, most of these things have been left to admin discretion. I'd support the development of far clearer guidelines, carefully deliberated, with review of evidence. That, indeed, is what the Wikiversity:Assembly is intended to do. As is any user, Ottava is welcome to help clarify our policies and guidelines, by improving policy and guideline pages. It's possible, indeed, that I've violated some guideline or policy somewhere, but Ottava hasn't pointed to one, and he hasn't pointed to a specific alleged problem that could be discussed. It might be useful if he did, and we could then look at which is more correct, my practice or the existing guideline or policy. That's how wikis work, and how they grow and adapt. I really have no presumption either way. I make mistakes, and I try to learn from them. --Abd 05:32, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
"extend welcome and tolerance to all users who show the remotest possibility of cooperative work here." As can be seen by the "Welcomes", besides the 3 Welcomes that Abd does not agree with, he has been unable to explain why the other people were not welcomed by him, some who went unwelcome for days while Abd welcomed others. When he has welcomed those who were banned elsewhere - (Marshall) or (Abigor), he spent a lot of time. When they were not banned users, he didn't give them the same courtesy (S Larctia). A welcome is supposed to be neutral, friendly, and not with an agenda. I honestly cannot see Abd as being allowed to welcome, and should instead be banned completely from the practice. Ottava Rima (talk) 12:21, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
According to the union rules, I have to require payment in advance before I can get involved in this. --SB_Johnny talk 12:55, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Beyond the silliness (:P), this is a serious behavioral problem as you can see. He claims things like logging in is necessary to "save much time for many editors who are watching Recent Changes for vandalism" (it doesn't change anything, especially when you are supposed to read every diff anyway) or "which is now running maybe a thousand edits per day" (which has never been true). Recent changes is easy to read. 500 goes from 12:55 on 17 September to 18:25 16 September. That includes logs that don't need to be thoroughly checked (block log, user creation log). It has been about 400-500 a day for every day since I started. He has used the patrolling, which doesn't do what he claims to criticize others or force them to act in ways that we don't force users to do. Ottava Rima (talk) 13:07, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Abd response

  • Ottava has been blocked for a week by SBJ. (block log) (Talk page notice and discussion).
  • Nevertheless, Ottava raises issues that he, an experienced user, thinks will resonate with users as objections to my activity. Thus he is expressing an opinion that I am erring, regardless of how he goes about it, or how he uses that. It's my responsibility as a custodian to be responsive to criticism. Each of the substantive issues raised will be addressed in the proper forum, as I have time. I will place links here as that is done. --Abd 18:41, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Welcoming committee, about welcoming practice. --Abd 19:38, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Blocking without warning. See the proposed WV:Blocking policy, which explicitly allows blocking without warning for blatant vandalism. (I just added blatant linkspam to that, it was an oversight that this wasn't listed. This would not apply to COI links, which may sometimes be considered linkspam elsewhere. It applies to links that any reasonable user would know are not appropriate at Wikiversity. Bottom line, we are only talking about the situation where a user's first edits are a problem. While, in theory, warning these users might be more "welcoming," it simply does not happen that these users respond in any way, other than sometimes by continuing the disruptive activity. That doesn't apply to users who merely create some inappropriate page. These will often respond to welcome and to thoughtful guidance.
  • Blocking without notice. page deletions show reasons, when a user tries to read the page, and the block notice that blocked users see shows the block reason (I believe), adequate for the extremely rare case that a new user blocked as described actually has some cooperative intent. --Abd 19:56, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Welcoming users banned elsewhere. Yes. I do that. I also welcome Wikipedia editors who show good-faith attempts to protect Wikiversity from these. I promptly welcomed User:S Larctia, and later warned the user about some possibly disruptive activity. That user has positively responded. Banned users may get some special attention, and may, indeed, need it, they've often been rather badly burned. This is not the place to evidence it, but I've intervened both to prevent these "banned users" from carrying on their other-wiki disputes here, but also to prevent users from other wikis from harassing them. Both happen, and both are disruptive. --Abd 20:04, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Supposed to read every diff. I certainly don't do this, and none of us are obligated to do this. It would be desirable, and we may create Wikiversity:Recent Changes patrol to accomplish it efficiently. I intend that, in fact. We have a number of users now helping review pages created in the past, there is a lot of chaff, and it's being cleaned up, and anyone may help with that. The first step, though, is to stop the creation of new chaff, so that our cleanup isn't at the expense of allowing new creation. That's a formula for rolling the boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down. --Abd 20:25, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Copyright and fair use

It seems that there was a concern with some material on Wikipedia that has since been moved here. The material was (correctly, I believe) deemed to be copyright violations on Wikipedia, because the articles concerned consisted of little other than direct quotes, which would fail the requirements of fair use. They've been moved here to be part of the dominant group research project: for example, Dominant group/Anthropology. Anyway, I'm aware that discussions on this topic were happening at User talk:Marshallsumter, but the general question of what counts as fair use of text on Wikiversity seems to be something that warrants a community discussion, so I'm bringing it here. (I note that we do have a policy regarding fair use of images, Wikiversity:Uploading files#Exemption Doctrine Policy).

Anyway, I was curious about what the fuss was about, which is what brought me to Dominant group/Anthropology. At the bottom of the page is the generic statement "Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details." That information is incorrect for that page, as it isn't available under CC, and according to the Terms of Use that page shouldn't exist, as it doesn't meet the requirements for importing text. However, for teaching or research purposes, it may be the case that material needs to be included here under fair use. So is it possible for copyrighted material to be used here, as the entirety of a page, and how can it be shown that individual cases are acceptable under fair use? I'm presuming that they would need commentary, to show that the material is needed for teaching, or to demonstrate that the copyrighted material is being used for research. In these cases, would it be best to include a tag on the pages showing the use of the material? And I guess the other question is whether or not the material in Dominant group, using the Anthropology example, would fall under this. - Bilby 00:57, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

The page in question appears to be a series of short quotations from cited texts, as a study of usage of the term "dominant group." There is no copyright violation there at all. There seems to be a misunderstanding of what constitutes copyright violation. Single sentence quotations almost never constitute copyright violation. If a page is compiled as a series of quotations from different sources, each one of which is not a copyright violation, standing alone, then even if the entire article is copied material, it is not a copyright violation. The issue would be whether or not the copying has a negative impact on the market for the original publication. This page obviously has no effect on that.
In other words, the claim that "direct quotes" are copyright violation is a myth, as to copyright law. It depends on the amount quoted. There is no fixed standard, but the sources I consulted indicated what I stated about single sentences never being a violation. As with any rule, there might be an exception, but nothing I've seen here even comes close. It looks like Wikipedia goofed.
Hence "fair use," which could allow longer quotations, is a red herring. I can quote a single sentence from any scientific journal, no violation. The exact boundary can be difficult to determine in advance of a court decision, but one sentence is not legally controversial. --Abd 04:03, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
The text in question is a large collection of direct quotes, each individually made, from the same group of sources. Taken together they represent a reasonable chunk of the original works. For example, the page I used as an example features 11 "direct quotes" from the work The East African Diaspora: The Problem with Slaves alone, making a total of over 300 words. There is no commentary, and there isn't even a single word in that section not taken from the source. This constitutes over 10% of the original work.
Quoting does not avoid copyright concerns. It avoids plagiarism. Having lots of seemingly small quotes from one source does not avoid the requirement to stick to fair use. That you would suggest otherwise is concerning, especially as a custodian. Such an article could not be permitted on Wikipedia. The question is whether or not it fits Wikiversity, with the research focus, as use for research or teaching provides an exemption under fair use provisions.
But I'm also concerned about licensing requirements. That page is licensed under Creative Commons. Yet there is almost no original content added by the compiler. It is not just a derivative work based on multiple copyrighted sources, but also entirely a derivative work. In which case, can it be reasonably licensed as CC? My guess is that it cannot, as derivative works without sufficient original content remain under the original author's copyright, but I'm open to other views. If this is to be permitted, I suspect we need a system to identify pages used for research where the content is not able to be released under the CC license of the page, although doing so may also run afoul of WMF policy. A bit like the Fair Use Rationales used for images. - Bilby 04:42, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
That sounds right to me, though IANAL, etc. If these pages are composed entirely of scraped material from copyrighted works, it can't be presented as a CC work. --SB_Johnny talk 12:23, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
That's not legally accurate, SBJ. If each piece is legally copied, then the combination may be an original work. As a reductio ad absurdem, what if each quotation was only one word? Two words? A short sentence? A long sentence?
Bilby has claimed above that a particular work has copied about 10% of an original work, through 11 direct quotes. Is this a copyright violation with respect to that work? It cannot be determined from this information. It might be, it might even be clearly so, if the sentences, collectively, presented the essential value of the original work. If those sentences did not presen the heart of the original work, no. It depends entirely on the specific circumstances, no general rule that is correct has been stated. A certain 10% of one work might be far from violation, and of another might be blatant copyvio.
I'll present my opinion: we should avoid blatant copyvio, for sure, even though it presents no legal risk to the WMF at all, because of the nature of the WMF and its actual practice with respect to takedown requests. Blatant copyvio would create disruption, possibly requiring the attention of WMF employees, with benefit not matching that cost. Marginal copyvio combined with fair use, a judgement call, balancing a minor possibility of an owner objecting with the value of the usage. Here what we have may be anything between no-violation to marginal. Blatant, probably not. 10% of a work extracted in the manner of the page? Looking at the original article cited above, and at the page here, there is no way that the page here could substitute for the original article. It is not the core, presented in a way to substitute for the article, on the topic of the article. My examination should not be considered completely conclusive. But my opinion is that this is not copyvio at all.
I decided to look at the numbers myself. The original text copied into Notepad is 18,453 bytes. The Wikiversity page section quoted material is 559 bytes. I don't see where Bilby gets " over 10% of the original work." The link above for the work did not work, this is it: [1]. I don't see the "11 direct quotes" from the Diaspora article. There are five, presented as four, and here they are, and I'm definitely claiming fair use here:
  1. The East African diaspora can be traced back to three causes: (1) the migration of ethnic groups, like the Zulu, (2) to the slave trade and (3) to climatic changes, which caused wars and forced ethnic groups to abandon certain areas [...]
  2. Slaves' masters were obliged to teach their pagan slaves Islam [...]
  3. [...] as it justified slavery and facilitated the control of a dominant group outrageous piece of synthesis there, shifting the meaning of the source, my opinion, if this were part of the point. It's not.
  4. Slave owners were Africans.
  5. Although most and the biggest slave owners on the coast and islands were Muslims, there were also Christians and native Africans who were slave owners
I see no other quotes from the article. --Abd 22:00, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
In the last few hours, Marshallsumter has reduced the amount of copyrighted material in the article. I was clearly referring to the version that existed when I raised my concern and when I provided figures. Please assume good faith - you mistakenly insisted that there were only isolated sentences when I first posted this, then you didn't look at the history to see why there was a discrepancy between my figures and yours.
This isn't about size, although generally there is less of a problem with copyright when using small amounts of a copyrighted source than large ones. 10% of a copyrighted article, without commentary or evidence that it is being used under fair use, is going to be very hard to defend. This is about derivative works, which require that they provide sufficient originality in order to claim fair use on copyrighted materials used without permission. If these articles are seen as derivative works, which they are, then there is not sufficient originality for the license to be set by the compiler. The material cannot be released under CC.
Finally, my core point is that it might be ok if there is a valid claim of fair use. Such as the fair use rationales used for images. So:
a) The general concern: should we tag pages consisting not nothing but copyrighted works, with insufficient originality to claim that is is a reasonable derivative work, in the same way that we tag images in order to avoid the licensing discrepancy, in circumstances where fair use can be reasonably claimed.
b) The specific concern: can fair use be reasonable claimed for these articles, given that it is not clear to me how they are being used for research or teaching, and that there is no commentary on the extensive quotations. If not, should this go to a deletion discussion.
My main interest is in the general claim, as this is an issue unique to Wikiversity amongst the various projects, as the other projects could not claim fair use for text in that form. And thus the focus has been on images, where there was potential to claim fair use. - Bilby 22:35, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
  • In the last few hours, Marshallsumter has reduced the amount of copyrighted material in the article. Yes, he did. I had first looked at the article as-is, not suspecting that he'd changed it. From that I first wrote what I wrote. Then I noticed the changes. Somehow I pulled up the wrong permanent link, the one after the one where he'd cut back in this section, so Bilby is correct. There was more material there. 1.93 KB. It is (a little) over 10% of the text. That could be closer to copyvio, though I still don't see this as copyvio, and I doubt any attorney would.
  • Bilby, you mention "very hard to defend." Defend where? In a court? In what kind of action? I'm guessing that a copyright attorney would say that there is not a snowball's chance in hell of the owner prevailing in an infringement suit. However, the WMF would not "defend" this article. If a take-down notice arrived from the owner, they'd take it down. If this were a brick and mortar university, and this were a student website operated by them, they would not prohibit this kind of work, but if they got a take-down notice, they'd take it down, because it would not be worth the effort to defend it. However, they also are not going to routinely prohibit students from compiling quotations in their student work.
  • In this case, it's amply justified as fair use, in addition to not being copyvio itself. I don't think you have understood the purpose of the article. Why don't you ask Marshall to explain what he's doing, on his Talk page, instead of carrying on a discussion here? I'd rather he answer, I'd just be guessing. But, yes, I can guess. And for that purpose, he needs to compile lists of exact quotations. Paraphrases would not work; above, he did put together, as if it were one quotation, what was originally separated, damaging the meaning. He'd have been better off with a longer quotation!
  • My answer to your question is that, Bilby, while there is an important issue here, an RfD on that page would be a waste of time. The really important question here is whether or not brief excerpts, not substantially replacing the original, not damaging the market for the original, are copyright violation at all. The paradox here is that a way to actually replace the article, to damage the source, would be to condense, not to use exact quotes. That page, however, would look very different, would not be detected as a problem on Wikipedia, because exact quotes would not be used, but a textual analysis of the ideas would reveal that it was not an original work, but derivative. Copyright violation does not require exact quotation. It's just easier to legally establish if there is massive exact quotation. Ten percent of this article damaging the market? Not the way he did it. --Abd 02:52, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
At this stage, the general question needs to be followed up with the WMF. I'll endevour to do so. I did suggest that Marshallsumter engage with this discussion, [2], but it seems that you gave him the impresion that it wasn't an issue, based on, I guess, a misunderstanding of the nature of those pages [3]. I'll wait to hear back from the WMF on how this fits into the licensing policy. - Bilby 03:07, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I assume you are aware that, by WMF policy, explained at meta, each site sets its own standards for fair use, right? If the Office gets an unusual number of take-down notices, and traces this to a legally defective local policy, I assume they would not tolerate that. I do wonder why one would be interested in rattling their cage, though. --Abd 03:13, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I want to confirm because we have material hosted here that claims to be licensed as Creative Commons which cannot be released under a CC license. This is enough of an issue to warrant checking on how to proceed. The best result would be to allow the text to be tagged with a Fair Use Rationale, making it clear to potential reusers that it is only included under fair use, and thus they need to take care. However, the current Licensing policy only seems to permit that with media files, and it appears that importing text in this manner may contravene the Terms of Use, which are both issues worth following up. - Bilby 03:39, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Hi. I've been following this discussion with interest. I spoke with the General Counsel earlier about it, and we were in agreement on this: The Wikimedia Foundation believes that academic integrity and plagiarism are mutually exclusive. All Wikimedia projects have very strong community based policies requiring that contributors respect the copyright of others. The Wikimedia Foundation complies with all legitimate take-down notices under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in the rare case that copyright is allegedly breached.
Regarding the question of the CC-by-SA license, I'll check with Geoff and get back with you. Philippe (WMF) 10:05, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for that - I was checking with Moonriddengirl as to the best person in the WMF to ask, and if not I was thinking of raising the issue on Internal-l. This solution is much neater. :) - Bilby 10:29, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes, thanks, Phillip. Some points:
  • I've seen no solid description of what the WMF permits and does not permit. From my own non-lawyer understanding of "copyright violation," the material being discussed here does not violate copyright. That is aside from questions of fair use. That is, within copyright law is a de minimus "exemption," that normally applies, even if there is no "fair use" claim. Exceptions can exist. The statement that a one-sentence exact quotation is not a copyright violation generally came from pages from apparently authoritative sources that did state that an exception is possible, giving an example, the quotation of Gerald Ford's reason for pardoning Nixon. In other words, the sentence expressed the core of public interest in the copyrighted work, and thus could negatively impact the market, it apparently was argued.
  • Fair use may permit much more. It is possible, under fair use, to quote far more than a sentence, one might be able to quote the entire work, under some circumstances. Purposes of study, research, or criticism, for example, are commonly included in fair use. What is allowed under fair use is a difficult subject. This has, wisely, been left to each project to decide locally. I presume that the WMF would support any reasonable decision. I presume that it would not continue to support any local policy that created frequent take-down notices.
  • Regardless of fair use considerations, and unless a usage was considered critical by a community (with the WMF agreeing), I expect that a take-down notice would be honored, for material like that being discussed here; the reason is that there are alternatives. A student can keep their notes -- which is what this amounts to, initially -- off-line. Note that copyright violation, if it exists, would exist anyway, even if it's off-line, but the responsibility would be clearly with the user, not the WMF or the community.
  • Plagiarism is not an issue here. Plagiarism would involve quotation without attribution. All the quotes involved here are attributed. It could be argued that they increase the market for the material, and that they do not decrease it. Nobody interested in "The East African Diaspora: The Problem with Slaves" would read this material in lieu of the original, but they might possibly find this material first, then read the original, which actually discusses that topic.
  • The research here is studying usage of the term "dominant group" in all fields. To study this usage, short quotations are used, as would be expected. Paraphrase would actually be unacceptable and problematic. Hence a strong case can be made for fair use even if there is copyright violation involved otherwise. This is the reason for the proposal for a Fair Use warning. It would be harmless, and would resolve any dispute here.
  • The meta page on Fair Use, states that Wikiversity does allow fair use for taxt, as I recall. Some sites only allow it for images. However, we don't have a formal policy yet, as far as I can see, so the meta description in a table there may simply represent unopposed opinion at the time, I have not looked at the history.
  • It should be made clear that "copyright violations" create only an extremely small risk for the WMF, which risk is completely eliminated if the WMF promptly responds to take-down notices. This is my understanding of why the WMF can afford to leave these decisions to each community, even if the communities are not expert on copyright violation. Errors can be fixed without loss to the WMF, other than the cost of an Office action. The probability of that contingency is not zero, but we will probably spend more WMF money asking the question than any possible expected risk in the present situation. The question should be asked, to be sure, to help generate better copyright advice to the projects, a long-term benefit.
  • My experience with good lawyers suggests that, still, advice will often vary with how the question is asked. "Should we permit copyvio" would be one question, and "Is this specific case copyright violation?", which would require study, is a different question. A question of "Would ten percent of an article being copied be a copyright violation?" would elicit a different answer ("Probably" or "Sometimes" is what I'd expect from a lawyer on this) than "In this case, does ten percent copied, as disjoint quotations studying the usage of words, not as condensed or extracted presentation of the original thesis and evidence, constitute copyright violation?" (If the lawyer answered the question as a hypothetical, which would be cheap, I'd expect "Sometimes." If the lawyer actually reviewed the article, I'd expect "No," or "Maybe. It's unlikely, but if they send a take-down notice, it would be prudent to respond with removal of the offending material." That latter opinion would be relatively expensive to obtain, because it would require the lawyer to read and review the material and the source.)
  • What would be useful would be some study of this issue overall, to provide better guidance for contingencies like this. The user here has actually cut way down on quotation, in response to concerns, making what is left even more clearly within the exceptions for de minimus copying and fair use. There should be no rush. --Abd 16:46, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
There are two issues here. The question of which such content falls under fair use, and the question as to whether or not it meets the licensing requirement. To be clear on the licensing requirements, the WMF licensing policy provides an except allowing the use of non-free content if there is an Exemption Doctrine Policy on the project. However, it also states:
Such EDPs must be minimal. Their use, with limited exception, should be to illustrate historically significant events, to include identifying protected works such as logos, or to complement (within narrow limits) articles about copyrighted contemporary works.' [4]
Thus there seems to be an assumption that non-free content is limited to media, but the "limited exception" may, if really pushed, be read to include text. The Terms of Use states:
If you want to import text that you have found elsewhere or that you have co-authored with others, you can only do so if it is available under terms that are compatible with the CC-BY-SA license [5]
The question is whether or not a page consisting of nothing but non-free content, with no original commentary or other work, is in keeping with the Terms of Use, because the content is from copyrighted works, and therefore it is not clear to me that such content can be licensed under CC (even if it is permissible under Fair Use). I'm interested in seeing where the WMF stands on this, mostly because of the general situation rather than these pages in particular. - Bilby 21:45, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Other related fair use issue

According to our policy, "Wikiversity content that is used under the fair use doctrine must have no free equivalent. Wikiversity content that is used under the fair use doctrine should, when possible, be replaced with equivalent content that is available under a copyleft license or that exists in the public domain." Even if Marshallsumter would be allowed to quote these texts so extensively if there was no free equivalent, I highly doubt the current practise is allowable. It's very difficult to tell what MS actually is trying to do (which is an issue in itself), but as far as I can see, he's just listing occurrences of the phrase "dominant group" in academic publications in particular areas. In which case, MS should, to avoid the copyright issues with claiming fair use, simply list and/or link to the publications if they are not in the public domain. Alternatively, he could choose to analyse public domain texts. For instance, see this narrow search of documents published between 1850 and 1920, all which are public domain - [6]. There's clearly enough in here to do some "dominant group" research, and I suggest that MS stops dealing with "fair use" text until there's community consensus that his practises are acceptable. S Larctia 20:38, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

I have nominated the pages for deletion. Kaldari 22:36, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

In re Ottava, Abd, SB Johnny


Yesterday I became aware of the block of Ottava Rima due to disruptive activity. I have spent several hours reviewing discussions both on Wikiversity and on external sites, and I am saddened by the results. Here we have a case of grown men acting like children. None of these three parties appears to be without fault, and it seems like common courtesy and basic human respect have gone by the wayside.

I urge all three of these users to take a step backward, and avoid interaction if they cannot be civil. We are one of the first Wikiversity projects, and should be the model to be followed, not a justification to scrap the entire system due to petty rivalries. Each of us should be here to build a learning environment and expand the horizons of free knowledge, not play childrens' games or bicker.

Accordingly, I have spoken with Ottava, who has indicated an intention not to edit, and I have reduced the block down. I hope that my action is not in vain and that everyone steps back from the cliff and carefully considers how best to treat their fellow human beings.

Geoff 02:15, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Geoff, if I'm at "fault" for something, I'd appreciate it being specified, otherwise this comment is just more of the same, it is about personalities and it produces no conversation or possible correction of actual errors. There is no proposal or risk of shutdown for Wikiversity.
I'm concerned about unblocking based on private assurances, and without discussion. It can be disruptive. You unblocked JWSchmidt without addressing the problems, let's hope this one turns out better than that. --Abd 03:48, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Geoff, you might look into it a bit: I very rarely initiate conversations with either of these fellas, and generally step out of the discussion once the other one jumps in (see my talk page... one always seems to jump in if I am discussing something with the other).
No problem on my end with the unblocking, it was purely preventative and it did its job. There's a pretty clear record showing that these two will continue to escalate an argument if external brakes aren't applied, which is in a way understandable because they both tend to feel very strongly about their positions and opinions. My own feeling is that this really becomes disruptive when the dispute is echoed on many different public fora and user talk pages all at once, since this tends to grind everything to a halt. They're both quite aware that others find it disruptive, which is in part why they are no longer permitted to participate on some of the sister wikis. In this case it was mostly Ottava opening the 12-pack of worms. --SB_Johnny talk 21:14, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Call for image filter referendum

The Wikimedia Foundation, at the direction of the Board of Trustees, will be holding a vote to determine whether members of the community support the creation and usage of an opt-in personal image filter, which would allow readers to voluntarily screen particular types of images strictly for their own account.

Further details and educational materials will be available shortly. The referendum is scheduled for 12-27 August, 2011, and will be conducted on servers hosted by a neutral third party. Referendum details, officials, voting requirements, and supporting materials will be posted at m:Image filter referendum shortly.

For the coordinating committee,
Philippe (WMF)
Robert Harris

Personal image filter referendum: reminder

Hello. :) Though this is not local policy, the dates are approaching, and I wanted to make sure that your project was aware--as it is certainly far-reaching. (It seems like it might not have a lot of impact here, but might, and could certainly still be of interest.)

The Wikimedia Foundation, at the direction of the Board of Trustees, will be holding a vote to determine whether members of the community support the creation and usage of an opt-in personal image filter, which would allow readers to voluntarily screen particular types of images strictly for their own accounts. The referendum is scheduled for 12-27 August. You can read more about it at m:Image filter referendum/en; if you are interested in weighing in, you may especially want to review M:Image filter referendum/FAQ/en. Thanks! --Mdennis (WMF) 13:39, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

MediaWiki 1.18 deployment

MediaWiki is scheduled to be upgraded on this wiki Monday, September 26, 23:00-03:00 UTC. As you may know, MediaWiki is the wiki software developed by the Wikimedia community, and 1.18 is the upcoming version of the software that has been in development since December. More details about this upgrade can be found on the MediaWiki 1.18 announcement on We don't anticipate any problems, but if you do encounter any, please see the blog post for more information on how to report problems. Since this wiki will be one of the first to get the software, we're particularly interested in your experience with it. Thanks! -- mw:User:RobLa-WMF (local user page) 00:10, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

A sensible change to WV:RFC

I think it would be much better if we changed the usergroups to add a "probationary custodian" group, which the 'crats could add and remove. I also think it would be much better if the "full custodian" group could only be added or removed by stewards. This would mean that the stewards would either close the RFAs themselves, or "approve" closures by local 'crats. --SB_Johnny talk 17:47, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

I support adding a probationary custodian group that bureaucrats can add and remove. I don't support getting the stewards involved in adding full custodians, because unfortunately some people still seem to desire to see Wikiversity fail and that may benefit their "cause". -- darklama  18:38, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Darklama, I think the stewards as a group tend to be the least likely to act "on a cause". The problem locally is that a 'crat can look forward to serious and unpleasant drama if they're called upon to make a judgement call. --SB_Johnny talk 19:25, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm concerned that perception is part of the current serious and unpleasant drama that exists, and this action could lead to more suspicion and lack of confidence both by the local community and the global community. People from the both the local and global community seem to feed off each other's negative perception of one another. The stewards would probably get blamed by people from the local community for any decisions they feel isn't in the interest of the community and will likely color their views and be seen as justification for their distrust in the global community. Having the stewards making the judgment call would probably be seen as a good thing by some members of the global community, and as justifying their beliefs that the Wikiversity community can't be trusted to be responsible and deal with its own messes. I think both will negatively impact Wikiversity further, and will do more harm than good as a result. -- darklama  20:28, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Before we change policy in such a drastic way, we should at least have an example before us, examined in detail, where this would have made a situation less disruptive. We have a 'crat shortage, by the way, see Wikiversity:Changing username.
Wikiversity policy requires closing permanent custodianship discussions based on arguments, not numbers of votes, but analysis of arguments can depend heavily on local conditions and policies. Assessment of local consensus likewise can require knowledge of local users. Stewards don't know those, so decisions that stewards are called upon to make should be clear and relatively simple. I've seen what looked to me like a 'crat error here, and, if I thought it enough of a problem, I could address it through local process. A steward error? Almost impossible to fix. The stewards are not responsible to the local community. Bureaucrats are. --Abd 01:00, 29 September 2011 (UTC)


I'm concerned that this editor lacks the competence to usefully contribute to the project. Recent creations such as Culture and Religion and Human are not useful educational resources. I don't want to discourage Mr. Fida Ali, but I feel that he needs to concentrate on creating a useful educational resource instead of these semi-encyclopedic titbits. --S Larctia 22:00, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

I've placed another message on this talk page. If he continues creating articles, perhaps a final warning would be appropriate, after which we can speedy, but we really do need to AGF this one. --Draicone (talk) 04:09, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
Part of our educational mission can include education in community norms and wikitext. The user is operating outside his native language, but has been generally cooperative. I find with users like this that often, at first, they will create pages in mainspace inappropriately. I routinely userfy such pages and request that the user work only in user space at first, particularly as to the creation of new resources. Our attitude, especially as custodians, should be welcoming and helpful, and I prefer to back off from that only with blatant spammers and vandals, and even then, I'd avoid accusations regarding user competence.
Working on "semi-encyclopedic titbits" is something that students in real classrooms might often do. We should encourage it, while, at the same time, finding ways to improve Wikiversity organization and quality. The page Human was created as a stub by an experienced user, not by this editor. The editor found the page and attempted to flesh it out. This is not a problem, and did no harm. Wikiversity includes highly experienced and knowledgeable users, and users as young as seven years old. We are inclusive. That does not mean that we need be disorganized.
Just looking at Human, there are three basic possibilities:
  • The user's edit made the page worse. Revert it or fix it.
  • the user's edit did no damage. Leave it or improve it.
  • The user's edit was an improvement. Leave it or improve it even more
  • There is a fourth possibility, that the topic was inappropriate. That is not likely to be the consensus position.
In this case, the edit did not make the page worse, and might stimulate improvement.
As to Culture and Religion, the page seems out-of-place, not structurally connected. But it's not harmful, as such. I'm userfying it, and discussing this with the user. --Abd 20:18, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
I personally feel that experienced users creating pages with no content such as [7] isn't showing a great example. I'm not sure why we should have a learning resource at Human at all, and if we do want one, it should be a resource useful to a specific audience, not a list of attributes Mr. Fida Ali ascribes to humans. --S Larctia 21:24, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
S Larctia, it seems that you are only considering educational resources from the point of view of product. But education is a process, and there is educational value to participation in it. I would not have created Human here. I haven't asked Jtneill what he had in mind. My point, however, is that you brought the issue of a supposedly incompetent user to the entire community. That's uncivil, in fact. Discussing this matter generally would not have been. We have many very low quality resources, and Human is far from the worst. The user who created the page, however, is a real teacher in a real school, and a bureaucrat here. Doesn't mean he can't make mistakes, but just that we may have differing views, but for Wikiversity to accomplish its mission, we must work together. All of us.
I do agree about specific audience as a matter of design, in general, but this has more to do with how we organize resources. We need to put far more attention into that, and less attention into individual page decisions. If we have clearer policy and guidelines, we won't have to re-invent the wheel over every page. A poor page within a useful hierarchy will almost certainly be improved. Standing alone, no. --Abd 01:13, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

what is the p&id diagrams?

general question moved to Wikiversity:Help desk --Abd 19:29, 28 September 2011 (UTC)