Our Words Not Yours

Here's a possible approach to text one adds to the Wiki, be it signed or unsigned:

Words I add to wiki pages are *our* words, not mine. They can be freely edited, by myself and others, using exactly the same standards I use for any other text that appears here. The contributions I make are just that: contributions. They are additions to the common wealth, and represent neither the staking out of personal territory, nor a loan, nor a substitute or replacement for other writing I might do in other contexts. I hold this view not on the basis of legality, but regardless of it. Words I speak to the wiki, on a fundamental emotional and psychological level, belong to the wiki.

I largely agree with this. In other words, this is the attitude I have to my own contributions on Wiki, and I would prefer others to have to theirs. But in this approach what difference should there be, if any, between signed and unsigned contributions? I still think that enlightened WikiPoliteness? should take account of signatures when editing. But signing should not signify a strong claim to ownership. It should be more subtle than that. Each individual on Wiki matters, and if they choose to identify themselves that is a piece of "signal" that should be respected, but not the exclusion of all other factors, on refactoring a page.

Also: how do you know what view someone takes to their signed contributions and should that affect your policy on editing pages with their signed stuff on? Or do we need to fall back on Ward's original copyright statement as the only 'level playing field' here - which if it was taken very seriously even by a few individuals I assume would inhibit almost all forms of editing other signed contributions, to the detriment of ImproveSignalAndReadability.


This draws an interesting parallel to the FreeSoftware world. The decision to make your software into FreeSoftware is one not to be taken lightly, since you are giving your code away and cannot ever take it back.

Some recent folk who wanted to catch the OpenSource wave gave their code away with some rather nasty strings attached, trying to keep their hands in it. The result of their decisions: all manner of FreeSoftware devotees rejected their code because it tied their hands. It was not a gift, therefore they could not or would not use it to make more gifts.

I give my words freely to the WikiWikiWeb. (Whether it wants them or not is a different story. Perhaps I should give less in the future.) What the WikiWikiWeb chooses to do with them is fine with me. I do not give all my words to the WikiWikiWeb, just as I do not give all my code to the FreeSoftware pool. But those that I do, I give as freely as I can.

Of course, this parallel breaks down at a certain point because in addition to anyone giving, anyone can also take away.

-- MattBehrens

In Wiki, there are two mistakes we can make, I feel in our fear of committing the second error we have extensively committed the first error. I believe at the optimal point we will just have to accept both errors will occur. Perhaps before adding any text to a page, the contributor should edit the existing page to a) ensure he is not duplicating a previous statement, and b) to condense the preceding text to a more readable length. Comments? -- WayneMack

Although not strictly part of any known liturgy, I do believe in the power of the WikiPrayer. I think you may need it. Even if it only raises a smile, not instant supernatural wisdom, spare a kind thought for KeithBraithwaite who coined it so aptly many months ago. [I do miss you Keith. (That bit should probably go in an email.)] -- RichardDrake

Er, did I coin it? Can't remember. I've certainly edited it a few times. Kind as you thought is, you've no need to miss me as I'm still around. --KeithBraithwaite

I feel like the doctor in an Alan Ayckborn play who pronounces someone dead only for everyone to hear them start moaning again. Instead of being properly relieved it just plays into his deep insecurity: "I'll never be a success at anything...".


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