Welcome to the third Wikimedia Quarto. In the first quarter of 2005, we hired our first employees, found external support for a Wikidata project, and had a short but successful fundraising drive. Wikimedians attended and spoke at a record number of trade shows and conferences, and interest in the organization — in the form of interviews and speaking engagements for our board members, articles devoted to the projects in the mainstream media, and mail sent to the board — seemed at times to strain our capacity to respond. This January also marked Wikipedia's fourth anniversary, in honor of which the data center was plagued with difficulties, and the projects were intermittently slowed for six weeks.
In this issue, along with the usual quarterly reports, conference summaries, and project updates, you may notice a few changes. The number of writers contributing to the Quarto has grown, and some have provided original essays about new projects and events. The gallery and calendar have also been improved. As usual, please send suggestions, submissions, and other feedback to newsletter (at) wikimedia.org, or leave them on the project discussion page on the Meta-wiki.
Submissions of local featured images and events, and unsolicited essays, are welcome.
We would like to thank the many new donors, large and small, who have supported the Foundation this spring. And special thanks to everyone who has contributed writing, sketches, paintings, sounds, video, code, philosophical rants, or dues to the various projects and chapters.
The growing body of Quarto translators have tackled our broadest translation effort yet, with some content in 17 languages. The design team has also been busy, producing the current clean look and our first PDF edition. Finally, there is now a mailing list for receiving Quarto updates, such as text-only and PDF versions, as soon as they come out. Enjoy the results!
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Jimbo Wales speaking at FOSDEM 2005 in Brussels, Belgium. By Chrys.
Wikimedia's mission is to give the world's knowledge to every single
person on the planet in their own language. As part of that mission,
Wikipedia is first and foremost an effort to create and distribute a
free encyclopedia of the highest possible quality. Asking whether the
community comes before or after this goal is really asking the wrong
question: the entire purpose of the community is this goal.
I don't know of any case where there is a genuine tension between
these two things, either. That is to say, the central core of the
community, the people who are really doing the work, are all
passionate about this point: that we're creating something of
extremely high quality, not just building an online community for its
The community does not come before our task, the community is
organized around our task. The difference is simply that decisions
should always be made, not on the grounds of social expediency or
popular majority or traditional credentials, but in light of the
requirements of the job we have set for ourselves.
I do not endorse the view, a view held as far as I know only by a tiny
minority, that Wikipedia is anti-elitist or anti-expert in any way.
If anything, we are extremely elitist, but we are
anti-credentialist. Attracting and retaining academic specialists is
one of our goals. That is, we seek thoughtful intelligent people
willing to do the very hard work of collaborating with others to be
both accurate and balanced, and we don't accept anything less than
that. A PhD is valuable evidence of that willingness, but it is not a
substitute for these qualities.
There may be cases of PhDs who think that no one should edit their expert
articles, or who can't stand seeing their point of view challenged,
and have no patience for discussion. In these cases, their expertise
is of limited value; if someone is unable to work in a friendly, helpful way
in a social context, and feels that their credentials entitle them to
the last word on a subject, this is a problem for them and for us. We
will always have to make complex judgments about how to handle such
I'm 100% committed to a goal of a "traditional encylopedia or better" quality for
Wikipedia, and all of our social rules should revolve around that.
Openness and inclusiveness are indispensible for us, but these are our
radical means to our radical ends.
Letter from the Board
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Anthere in Agadir, May 2005
It has been one year since Angela and I were elected to the board of directors; an exciting year, but also a difficult one. And, it was the first year of real operation of the Foundation and its board.
In June 2004, the Foundation's birth was, above all, a declaration of intent by Jimbo. Its aim was to create a legal structure to provide for the needs of the Wikimedia projects and to help these projects in their development, while promoting their free and open qualities. In short, it aimed to remove the commercial tinge of earlier times, such as, associations with wikipedia.com and bomis.com, and to fully assume a certain ideological stance.
One year ago, the Foundation existed on paper, but it had no real existence. Jimbo had a certain idea of what the board would be like. He imagined quarterly meetings and some agreements on principles. All things considered, not a demanding activity...
Quote : "The role of the board is *not* generally to get involved in the day-to-day operation of the website. The board is a legal entity entrusted with ultimate decision making for the Foundation. Website governance is a different matter altogether. I don't anticipate that the board will be a difficult or demanding position." — Jimmy Wales
This was not exactly Angela's or my point of view; Angela and I had both planned to do a little more than "take part in some meetings"... and, I am afraid that we made a little bit more exciting position :-)
Whereas Jimbo took care of a good part of the technical and financial management, we slowly endeavoured to bring our conceptions of our roles to life: to relay to Jimbo the opinions of the editors; to organize the general operation of the Foundation; to announce decisions taken by the board; to support editor initiatives; and to gradually to help Jimbo in certain tasks, which he could not reasonably continue to become yet more involved in.
I often hear people ask But how do you operate? And, well... this evolved over the course of the year. During the summer of 2004, all three of us were relatively available, and could discuss issues all day on the IRC channels. The three of us had occasion to meet three times, in July, in November, and in December. Jimbo and Angela worked together with the BBC in London during the autumn...
For Angela and myself, the most difficult thing was to find our place and, yet, to avoid stepping on each other's toes. This was not always easy; we both had a very strong wish to be useful and to see our work appreciated.
Today, things are different. Angela and I are also very involved in our professional activities and our personal lives. Our hours of presence on IRC now coincide only partially. Jimbo is frequently gone during the week, as the worldwide success of our projects has led to ever-mounting requests for presentations about the project. And, he devotes his weekends to his personal life.
What could be a negative point, that is, less availability for Wikimedia, and increased stress due to tighter management of our time, has also, I think, become a positive point; we have devoted much time to the Foundation, yet we also have our own private existence. We do not depend entirely on the project.
Currently, we, therefore, function much more asynchronously, by mail and by one-on-one discussions on IRC. It happens more frequently that Angela or I let ourselves occupy a role previously managed by Jimbo, such as responding to local conflicts or following up on legal requests. Since the tasks are numerous, we try division of labour... at the risk of sometimes lacking information about some issue already being handled by another member of the board.
Some board activities are visible to editors. Among the most conspicuous are the signing of a partnership with Yahoo! or the participation in a Wikipedia meeting. But, more generally, its actions are visible neither on the wiki, nor on the most-known discussion lists. Our daily activities may consist of managing innumerable emails, drawing up a budget, contributing to the organization of events, taking part in the development and the diffusion of the Quarto and press releases, updating the Foundation Website, promoting the creation of new departments and their discussion lists, following the proceedings of legal accusations of slander or copyright violations, considering the legalities of logo use, mediating conflicts on the individual projects, tapping developers for information, organizing grant meetings, signing petitions, presenting the projects at conferences, responding to interviews and the press, ordering hardware, inquiring after not-profit status, organizing income tax returns and fundraising, analyzing and commenting on contracts with partners, following and supporting the creation of local chapters, relaying requests from editors, etc....
As all this could not be managed by one tiny group alone, which is sometimes badly informed on the grounds for and the outcomes of each decision — for example, none of us has legal training. Therefore, it is necessary to weave a permanent fabric of collaborators and hope that all turns out for best.
And generally, THAT WORKS! Unfortunately, the multitude of daily tasks also pushes back significant decisions concerning the proper evolution of the Foundation.
The Foundation has functioned this year on the model described above — with failures, partial successes, and successes. Its role has been created day by day, according to changing needs, by striving for a constant but reasoned growth: through striving for decision-making by consensus, not by vote; and through supporting the suggestions of many people and listening as much as we could. I hope that it will continue to grow according to this model, gradually and continuously building the solid basis of operation, which it needs.
Florence Nibart-Devouard, "Anthere" 17:58, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
To start with, here is a brief summary of our financial state at the end of 2004:
In 2004, our global revenues were US$150,000, while expenses reached about US$123,000 dollars. The full bank history for 2004 is available on the Foundation Website. The most striking financial trend for 2004 was the amazing growth of our needs. In just one year, our server farm grew from 3 servers to 50! Naturally, this meant increasing costs throughout the year, to purchase new equipment and to support bandwidth requirements.
A budget meeting was held in early 2005, to estimate our growing needs. Following this estimate, a successful fundraising drive was held in February, yielding over US$90,000 dollars.
To date, most of our income has come from individual donations, ranging from US$5.00 to US$20.00 dollars. These donations have come from editors and readers who appreciate what we are doing. The success of our fundraising suggests that our growth can still essentially be supported by individual donations.
Other revenues included grants and sponsorship. Our most recent grant was from the Lounsbery Foundation. An important issue with regard to grants and donations is that the Wikimedia Foundation has finally been classified as a public charity, and granted tax exempt status by the IRS. This will certainly offer new incentives to potential grantors. During the first months of 2005, an IRC meeting was held on grant issues, and we considered looking for a Grants Manager for the Foundation. Later in the quarter, Wikimania, the first international meeting organised by and for wikipedians (taking place in August), was granted its first sponsorship, from Gurunet.
With our existing funds, we purchased some technical equipment in January. Numerous hosting proposals this quarter allowed us to purchase less hardware than expected. The donor of the first set of French squids donated three more, soon to be hosted by Lost Oasis for free; other propositions are currently being studied (see Wikimedia partners and hosts). In particular, discussions are ongoing with Google, but no agreement has been reached. The general trend is to multiply our partners, insuring independence; while making agreements that are technically relevant.
A new expense is salary. Since early 2005, the Foundation has been employing two part-time developers, Chad Perrin and Brion Vibber. The board has also decided to hire a person full time to do secretary work, such as physical paper work, sending out packages, purchase of tech parts, phone calls. The position will be local to Florida. Discussions are ongoing about hiring other people but no decision has been taken at that point.
Finally, the legal organisation of the Foundation has been strengthened in the past few weeks, with the creation of a page to coordinate discussions of legal issues.
In order to help the Wikimedia Foundation move forward, current and future legal issues regarding the Foundation are being centralized. This is being done to preserve the memory of useful internal and external links to solved problems and resources. Discussion and information are being gathered on the meta-wiki's legal page. This page is also the place to gather all legal material that the Foundation or local chapters might need to make requests of outside lawyers.
The Foundation's typical legal needs releate to copyright, trademarks, marketing, donations, taxes, and laws of associations and partnership. Legal issues must be considered both for common law countries and for civil law countries.
Creative Commons unveils new license for wikisEdit
By Michael Snow (21 march)
Last Thursday, Creative Commons introduced a beta version of its new license designed specifically for wikis, in conjunction with Lawrence Lessig's introduction of a wiki to help draft an updated version of one of his books.
As Lessig explained it, with the new license (given the designation of CC-Wiki), "rather than requiring attribution back to the copyright holder, [the license would] require attribution back to either the copyright holder or a designated entity." The designated entity would presumably be whatever organization controlled the wiki. Lessig characterized it as a newly branded version of the attribution/share-alike (CC-by-sa) license, rather than being an entirely new license.
Lessig is also using a wiki to coordinate updates to his book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, originally published in 2000. The wiki for the book, powered by JotSpot, will use the new CC-Wiki license, although the published version will not be under a Creative Commons license - Lessig told BusinessWeek that he wasn't able to get his publisher, Basic Books, to agree to such a license.
The new CC-wiki license could have implications for Wikipedia, as for quite some time there have been periodic complaints that the GNU Free Documentation License is difficult to comply with, and incompatible with the popular Creative Commons licenses. In an attempt to reduce the burden of license compliance on those who reuse Wikipedia content, Wikipedia's copyright notice encourages mirror sites to focus on providing a link back to the Wikipedia article. English Wikipedian Ram-Man spent some time this quarter systematically asking people to multi-license their contributions, usually under the GFDL and one of the Creative Commons licenses.
However, Lessig's project received a cool reception from some corners. Angela called the decision to use proprietary software from JotSpot to host Lessig's wiki a bizarre choice. Others, including Jamesday, criticized the CC-Wiki license itself, particularly over the effect of group attribution on the rights of individual authors. The license is still in "beta", and there has yet been no serious discussion about implementing such a license for Wikipedia content.
We worked out a number of collaborations with other organisations in the the first quarter, and are discussing many more. Belnet is providing free hosting and 22U of rackspace. This agreement has been signed recently.
Kennisnet is collaborating with Wikimedia in many ways; both by sponsoring software research and development, and by offering local hosting and the use of their servers. (For more information on Kennisnet collaborations, see Kennisnet, pg 7.)
We reached an agreement to provide a live feed of our public data to Answers.com.
Brion Vibber is currently working with them to make this happen. Ask Jeeves (a search engine) and Opera (a web browser company) are interested in such a feed as well, and Amazon.com has expressed some interest, but no agreements have been reached with any of them.
We have also reached some collaborations with content owners, who have provided their content for reuse in the project. The European Environment Agency has agreed to license their General Multilingual Environmental Thesaurus (GEMET) so that it may be included in Wiktionary;
Voice of America agreed to make the 5000 terms of its Pronunciation Guide available for use in Wikipedia; and the originalpublishers of the Whole Earth Catalog agreed to make the content of the first 5 years of Whole Earth Catalogs available for use in Wikisource and (in updated, wikified form) in Wikibooks.
Another dozen hosting offers, both large and small, are under discussion. Some are tentative, some want "co-marketing opportunities," etc. Right now, we are telling most of them that we are interested but that we will not be technically ready for a few months; so we should talk now to plan ahead but are unlikely to announce anything soon. We must first organise the deals recently concluded, and take time to think and organise, rather than proceeding in haste.
Top rank sales for Directmedia DVD of German WikipediaEdit
After the succesful distribution of the German Wikipedia on CD, the German publishing company Directmedia has released a DVD edition. The DVD is based on a snapshot of the wiki from March 3, which was quickly reviewed to remove potential copyright violations, vandalism and templates which are only useful in the online version of Wikipedia. Structured bibliographic information about key people, a new feature added for the CD distribution, was also added for more people.
The DVD contains 203,000 articles and thousands of images. It includes software for browsing the content with a fast full text search and features for annotations, bookmarks and so on. The DVD is shipped with software for running on Windows, MacOS and Linux; although the latter is still new and under heavy development.
The DVD was the best-selling software product at Amazon Germany the day after it was announced. Two days later, the 10,000 copies made for the release had sold out and a new set were ordered from the factory. These will be delivered within the next few weeks.
The DVD also contains data packages for Tomeraider and Mobipocket, allowing it to be installed on PDAs, as well as a "bonus CD-ROM." This CD is a bootable LAMPPIX-CD containing an Apache server, a MySQL database and Mediawiki. This runs a Mediawiki installation directly from the CD-ROM, which you can boot from in order to have access to over 200,000 articles from your web browser.
The DVD's ISBN is 3-89853-020-5; it can be ordered for 9.90 Euros from every book shop in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. For each DVD sold, one euro is donated to Wikimedia Deutschland. Both the DVD and the CD-ROM are available for free as ISO images, via P2P networks and on several FTP servers, encouraging sharing and broader distribution.
An increasing part of the Board's activity is related to public relations. Jimmy Wales is travelling or offline more frequently, due to invitations to talks all over the world. A quick view of his schedule
is probably the best summary of this. Other presentations have taken Angela and Anthere offline for days at a time (most recently at PixelAche for Anthere and A Decade of Web Design for Angela).
For more on these conferences, interviews and press reports, see Press (pg. 6) and International (pg. 7).
Effort has recently been put into improving the public collection of presentation materials. Anthere crafted a leaflet in French with Notafish for the TIC21 meeting in January 2005. Elian later released a collection of leaflets to be translated for the Fosdem meeting.
Jimmy Wales and Howard Rheingold  at Stanford University . Screenshot of a video by Alterego.
The full collection of current material may be found in three collections, for presentations, promotion, and leaflets. Most of this information may now be found in English, German, French and Dutch. Please add to these in other languages.
The first fund drive of 2005 was held from Friday, February 18, 2005, to Tuesday, March 1, 2005.
Our goal was to raise 75,000 USD to meet the immediate expenses in our 2005 budget. Originally, the fund drive was planned to run for three full weeks; however, we soon exceeded the original goal, and cut the fund drive short by 9 days. When all sources of donations were counted, we had surpassed the goal by 26%, raising the equivalent of 94,648.70 USD. A full breakdown of contributions by source is available; a quick overview:
76.44% (72,352.01 USD) from PayPal
21.18% (15,254.66 Euros | 20,046.15 USD) from Wikimedia Deutschland.
1.22% (1,155.00 USD) from snail mail/post
1.16% (1,095.54 USD) from MoneyBookers
Last December, the Lounsbery Foundation granted the Foundation 40,000 USD for hardware expenses in the first quarter of 2005. This grant, added to the money generated in the drive, allowed the foundation to purchase up to 75,000 USD worth of hardware.
20,000 USD were set aside for additional hardware and/or to pay for development projects.
This is also the first quarter where the full cost of hosting is being charged to the foundation; 16,000 USD was allocated for this. The extra 20,000 USD over the fundraiser goal was put into a reserve fund.
The foundation now has two employees: a part-time hardware assistant and one full-time developer under contract. The 8,000 USD for the developer is being provided by official mirror contracts. The 1,500 USD for the hardware assistant has been allocated from the budget.
Other budgeted items: 5,000 USD for travel, 500 USD for domain names, 2,500 USD for office expenses, 500 USD for fundraising and promotion, and 1,000 USD for miscellaneous expenses
Wikimedia Deutschland was the only chapter with its own financial report to issue; for details, see Chapters, page 5.
501(c)(3) status granted to Wikimedia Foundation
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After many months of waiting, the Wikimedia Foundation has been officially classified as a public charity and granted 501(c)(3) (tax exempt) status by the IRS. Donations to the Foundation are now tax deductible in the United States. The Foundation is now qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers, or gifts. The effective date of the exemption is June 20, 2003 (the date on which the Foundation was created), and the status is fully retroactive. If you have donated to the Foundation in the past, those donations may be claimed as tax deductions.
One grant meeting was held on IRC in February, with about 10 people in attendance. As a direct result, a UNESCO IFAP grant was pursued, unsuccessfully, to support the initial development of a universal dictionary.
Shortly thereafter, a similar proposal won a 5000 EUR grant for software development from Kennisnet, a Dutch educational organisation (for a full report on the grant and its effects, see Kennisnet and Wikimedia, pg. 7).
Bob Rosenschein of GuruNet agreed to be a primary sponsor of Wikimania for an amount of 30,000 EUR. He is a very enthusiastic supporter of Wikimedia's charitable goals, and his company is prospering in part due to reuse of Wikipedia content.
Socialtext, a corporate wiki development company, agreed to sponsor the conference for 5000 EUR; and other sponsorships were being discussed as of the end of March.
January and February saw a number of slowdowns and, on one occasion, a complete shutdown of Wikimedia sites. These were due to a variety of reasons. Many individual servers broke; 10 machines in the main cluster were fixed in the first quarter alone; and traffic continues to rise. The colocation facility had a massive power failure in February, leading to two days of downtime and read-only availability. As of the start of Q2, almost all servers are back in action, and the cluster is looking healthy.
Developers have recently started a LiveJournal as a way to communicate about servers issues with the community. That's one more feed for your preferred RSS aggregator.
There were two major power outages in the first quarter. The first outage, around February 21st, was due to a double power failure: two different power supplies to our cluster were switched off at the same time, when some of the internal switches in our colocation facility failed. Some databases were corrupted by the sudden loss of power; the surviving database had not been completely up-to-date with the most current server, and it took almost two days for developers to recover all data. In the meantime, the site was restored to read-only mode after a few hours.
The second outage took place on March 16th due to a human error: one of the master database's hard disks filled up, preventing slaves from being updated. At this point the data cluster had not fully recovered from the previous outage, and there was less than full redundancy among the database slaves. By the time space was made on the disk, the most up-to-date slave was already many hours behind. It took over eight hours of read-only time for the databases to be resynchronized.
In December 2004, servers donated to the Wikimedia Foundation were installed at the Telecity facility located in Aubervilliers on the outskirts of Paris, France. The network access is donated by French provider Lost Oasis. In January, the software setup was completed; however, various problems then had to be ironed out.
As of April 1, 2005, those machines cache content in English and French, as well as all multimedia content (images, sounds...), for users located in Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switerland, and the United Kingdom (daily stats per country). The caches work as follows: if they hold the requested page in their local memory, they serve it directly; otherwise, they forward the request to the main Florida servers, and memorizes the answer while passing it to the browser of the Wikipedia user. Typically, for text content, 80% of accesses are cached (that is, they are served directly); the proportion climbs to 90-95% for image accesses. Due to the current way that the Mediawiki software works, content is cached much more efficiently for anonymous users: essentially, all text pages have to be requested from Florida for logged-in users.
The interest of such caches is twofold:
First, they relieve the load on the main Wikimedia Florida servers. We have to buy our bandwidth (network capacity) for Florida, whereas we can get (smaller) bandwidth chunks in other locations.
Second, they make browsing much quicker and responsive, at least for anonymous users. Any access to the Florida servers from Europe may take 100-150 ms round trip; this means that retrieving a complete page may take a significant fraction of a second, even if the servers respond instantaneously. The Paris servers, on the other hand, have much smaller roundtrip times from the countries they serve.
The Paris caches serve as a production experiment and test bed for future cache developments, which are currently being studied. We may, for instance, change the caching software in order to reduce the load on the caches (currently, with all the countries they serve, the machines are loaded 80-95%; the machines are, however, quite outdated), and see how we may improve efficiency and cache rates (it appears that the caches do not perform as efficiently as they should by fetching data from each other).
MediaWiki 1.4 became stable on March 20th, although the Wikimedia farm had been using 1.4 betas since December 2004. This means that most bugs have been fixed and developers are free to work full time on the next release. MediaWiki 1.5 will use an improved database schema, which should greatly enhance performance. There is also some interesting new code to improve page caching: pages served to anonymous users and to logged-in users will look the same, something which is not the case in 1.4.
Since March 28th, Wikipedia has been automatically blocking edits coming from open proxies. The feature is still in testing; details are being worked out
on the Meta-wiki.
Jimmy Wales asks for more developers at FOSDEMEdit
As the opening speaker at the FOSDEM 2005 conference in Brussels, Jimmy Wales appealed to the development community for support with the technical side of running Wikipedia. Analyses of these remarks were published in several places last week.
There are currently nine active Wikimedia projects. "Language count" below refers to the number of languages with at least five articles.
Wikipedia (encyclopedia, since January 2001): 134 languages, 50,000 editors, 1.6M articles, 27M internal links 
English : 6,000 users, 400K articles, 10% new users/month; German : 2,000 users, 250K articles
Wiktionary (dictionary/thesaurus, since December 2002): 70 languages, 1,000 editors, 170K articles 
Wikiquote (quotation collection, since July 2003): 30 languages, 500 editors, 11K articles 
Wikibooks (textbook/manual collection, since July 2003): 37 languages, 1100 editors, 12K articles 
Wikinews (news portal, since November 2004): 11 languages, 290 editors, 3,200 articles 
Wikisource (primary source repository, since November 2003): 50 language portals, 300 editors, 15K articles/documents 
Meta (Wikimedia coordination, since November 2001): 33 language portals, 800 editors, 3.2K articles 
Wikicommons (Media repository, since September 2004) : 520 editors, 8.4K articles, 60K media files 
Wikispecies (Species directory, since September 2004) 42 editors, 2.8K articles 
This quarter, a much awaited new statistics feature has been announced by Erik Zachte. It took a couple of weekends to get the scripts up to date for the new database format. The layout has been improved in some places, with newest statistics showing up on top, and language names in comparison tables.
EasyTimeline charts are collected for each Wikipedia language, and listed together with the script code. This may serve as a source of inspiration to help learn the syntax. This can also help find real gems on other Wikipedias that deserve to be translated. While starting a timeline from scratch is not trivial, expanding, correcting or translating an existing chart is indeed "easy."
"Wikinews is not Wikipedia!" This is the rallying cry sometimes heard at Wikinews. Because of the wild success of Wikipedia, Wikinews has been closely scrutinized by citizen journalists and the traditional press throughout its development. In this past quarter, the community has often been compared to Wikipedia, despite being a very different project with different goals and measures.
Wikinews has grown rapidly. At the start of the year the project had editions in two languages; now it has eleven. What began as a few hundred editors has grown to over 2000 registered users competing for productivity and quality of story writing. Within the Wikimedia family the project continues to have impressive growth, with the third largest increase in registered users for the past two months, and the largest article growth rate1.
Some noteworthy events this quarter included both the German and the English editions reaching their 1000th news article. One important goal of the project is to develop an archive of historical articles which may be used as references by others, including Wikipedia2,3, as a record of world and local events.
The project continues to generate interest in the journalistic spheres; for example, the English edition was featured in articles in Business Week4 and the New York Times5 (requires registration). Critical coverage of Wikinews has been of great interest within the project, and has ranged from Simon Waldman's analysis and EditorsWeblog rebuttal to Korby Parnell's near cheerleading. Overall there is no consistency to its critical reception; some reviewers love the project, some hate it. While most have both good and bad things to say about it, it has been picked, panned, and praised.
Members of the Wikinews community have reached out to other journalism efforts as well. en:Jimmy Wales and others attended the Harvard conference Blogging, Journalism & Credibility, which led to the organization of an IRC chat conference with bloggers, asking them for input on Wikinews development priorities. A representative was invited to speak at the International Symposium on Online Journalism, and similar presentations are being contemplated for the future.
Wikinewsies continue to experiment with the project. Members of the project have created a range of software tools as well, including WeatherChecker which retrieves weather data, Wikinews Flickr License Search to search Flickr for images by license type to illustrate stories, and the Wikinewsbot for automated Wikinews content retrieval and upload.
The first English Wikinews writing contest ran for 40 days, a test of endurance which produced hundreds of articles and ended in a three-way tie. Between them, HiFlyer, Simeon, and Pingswept produced over 100 articles, on top of the dozens more produced by eight other competitors. I encourage readers from other Wikinews editions to consider the possibility of implementing similar local contests.
Demotic script on a replica of the rosetta stone on display in Magdeburg. By Chris 73
To be excited about a dictionary, you have to be crazy. I must confess, I am guilty as charged... Consider that you cannot understand a word you are trying to understand, if you do not already know the concept. A dictionary should offer all words for all concepts; an ideal dictionary would offer all words in all languages.
But what does this mean? There are many kinds of dictionaries. Traditional dictionaries, listing words with definitions and history; glossaries, thesauri, and translation dictionaries. Wiktionary is bold; it wants to be all of these. Under the current software, the wiktionaries in different languages all contain largely the same content — lists of words and languages. Only their definitions change from one language to the next. Wouldn't it be nice for the Wiktionary entry on a word to be available automatically in every Wiktionary language?
The ideal of a single ultimate Wiktionary for all languages is a dream for people who care about such resources. Merging the different communities is not easy. What I personally like best is that such a project would give me a place to put the glossary of botanical terms compiled by Herman Busser. Herman was a remarkable person in the Dutch cactus and succulent world who published several papers on cacti. His glossary was given to me before his death, to give it another lease on life.
Technically, this combined Wiktionary requires an extension to the Mediawiki software, something like the Wikidata project. This would allow for fields where users can select predefined values, to indicate, for instance, that a word is an English language word. Other fields might include text with wikisyntax. An implementation of Wikidata is underway, and we are slowly progressing toward such a Wiktionary.
As I write this, I am still dreaming: what would it be like if we had not just the GEMET thesaurus, but the other EU thesauri as well; would it not be grand to have a resource in Papiamento or Hopi? I wonder how many dreams will come true, and what we will dream up next once we have an ultimate Wiktionary.
A French arbitration committee was elected on March 22, 2005. This election was the result of a process begun on September 19, 2004 to decide firstly whether such a committee was needed, and secondly what its powers and rules would be.
Conflicts in 2004 had exposed the shortcomings of the French-speaking community's previous conflict resolution methods. Previously, the community had held public votes to decide upon which editors to impose sanctions. The voting periods invited personal attacks and an excessive number of vote pages. Voters would hesitate to commit to one position or the other, in the end voting for reasons of loyalty or based on actions unrelated to the one being disputed.
To make matters worse, page histories were difficult to follow, resulting in uninformed voting and subjective opinions. The atmosphere became so unpleasant for everyone that civility in the community began to collapse.
After three successive sessions discussing adoption of the policies, the arbitration committee was allowed to proceed subject to certain rules:
The committee would reserve the right to decline a request for arbitration.
The committee members, or referees, would settle individual cases rather than setting rules for behavior for the whole site. Such rules should be based on consensus within the entire community rather than the arbitration committee acting on its own.
The referees can establish and use precedence in deciding future cases as long as they provide a concise explanation of how the cases are comparable.
Wikimedia Commons was launched on September 7, 2004 as a free repository of multimedia files (including images, sounds, and video) to be used on all projects of the Wikimedia foundation. It has developed faster than any other Wikimedia project. By April 16, 2005, over 76,000 multimedia files were available, and the site had over 5,250 users, including 53 administrators and 2 bureaucrats.
Multilingualism is probably the most difficult challenge to address on the Commons. This single project directly serves the collected sites of the foundation in every language. Contributors to the Commons, from all languages, must be able to communicate with each other without language barriers becoming insurmountable obstacles. The possibility of assigning one or more categories directly to images, and of being able to visualize image labels from their category page entries, has been one early response to this problem of multilingualism in searching for files. Within the pages of the Commons site, users have developed a significant linguistic infrastructure, with the principal help pages available in some ten languages.
However, the creation of a coordination center for translations has made it possible to reduce the need for translating the various help pages. The interface for the Commons is also available in the majority of Wikipedia languages. A final revealing detail: for every fifteen English-language administrators, there are thirteen German administrators, six in French, three in Dutch, three in Polish, two in Russian, two in Swedish, and one each in Romanian, Japanese, Portuguese, Icelandic, Hebrew, Czech, Bulgarian and Belarusian.
The Commons has seen the addition of many design features to improve the ease of use of its files. The central feature of the Commons is that its files can be included directly on other Wikimedia Foundation sites without needing to copy them into the local database for each site. Another new feature is a sidebar link that displays a gallery of the most recently uploaded files, with a thumbnail of each image. A new "gallery" software library, developed for the latest version of the MediaWiki software, allows for these thumbnails to be constructed quickly.
Though the Commons exists primarily to provide a service to the other Wikimedia Foundation projects, the users of the Commons quickly implemented the kinds of tools for community interaction that one finds on the Wikipedia sites—in particular, a "café" for general conversation, and a page for voting to remove individual files. A separate mailing list and IRC channel were created (#commons.wikimedia). A specific community spirit has thus been gradually developed. This spirit is particularly well-expressed in a recent vote for high-quality images: nominations for such 'featured' images are discussed and voted upon every day. Some of these images are of great beauty, and are often the personal work of gifted Commoners. 86 images have thus been chosen so far. In these featured images one can see a sign of the vitality and originality of this project, hardly seven months old, yet already seen by some as one of the most beautiful achievements of the Wikimedia Foundation.
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A portion of an Arabic translation of Job (28:1-21). By Llywrch
The Wikiquote project is a multilingual, open-content compendium of quotations. On March 25, 2005 the project reached 10,000 total articles, according to Pumpie, an editor on English Wikiquote. This was 21 months since the project's start in July 2003.
As of March 31, 22 of over 70 Wikiquote languages are very active. About 4,000 user accounts have been created in total, along with many unregistered editors (as on other projects). There are currently four Wikiquote projects, English, German, French and Polish, with more than 1,000 articles; the largest being English with almost 2,700 articles. Among the top ten Wikiquotes, eight are in European languages, and two in Asian languages - Chinese and Japanese. Among the non-latin-alphabet projects, Bulgarian is the largest, with over 500 articles.
Most Wikiquote languages focus on authors who wrote in their own language, but there are many good translations. Some Wikiquote languages, including the Japanese and English projects, show a strong inclination to reference the original text, and many quotes are accompanied by original texts. This inclination is readily observed in the extensive collections of proverbs.
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Persian, (فارسی), is a language with a rich tradition that is the official language in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan and is widely spoken in Uzbekistan.
AdamM's Persian teacher really liked the idea of a wiki when it was shown to her, and she was really happy when it was suggested that she put her training materials on Wikibooks.
Realizing this idea proved to be a struggle. Learning Persian is like going back to primary school — you are learning to recognize the shapes and sounds of characters when you learn your first words. It involves learning words you may not be interested in, chosen to introduce a few characters at a time. The materials in question are being used to teach Persian to men and women with Iranian partners who live in the Netherlands. To these people it is particularly important to speak well, as many pupils go to Iran after learning the basics to meet their new families for the first time.
All of the Persian texts have been pronounced, recorded, and uploaded to the Commons, a process that proved to be troublesome: sound files use the naming scheme xx.word.ogg, where xx is the ISO 639 code. When this was applied to a word like برادر, you get fa-برادر.ogg. A file with this name cannot be uploaded with Firefox, cannot be saved with Audacity, and cannot be listened to with Ashampoo. You can, however, use Internet Explorer to upload such a file to Commons.
The upload functionality received a facelift while this was going on, making it possible to upload a file and add all of its categories at once, which cut down the time needed for these uploads by more than half.
As Persian is read from right to left, it makes sense to have the Persian material in the fa.wikibooks.org domain and not in the nl: or the en: domain. This leads to a not-so-funny problem. The symbol that indicates an external link does not move to the left in a Persian article; instead, it obscures the first characters in a word, making it somewhat unreadable. Luckily there is a <div class="plainlinks"> style which removes this nuisance on an article-by-article basis. Depending on which browser you use, an article such as PersianLes2 may be almost impossible to edit, even for people familiar with wiki syntax.
We currently have articles with Persian pronunciations, and intend to add Dutch words and phrases to Wiktionary as well. This way we hope to have many functional translations, to make it easy to localize the material for students of Persian who speak other languages. For now, please enjoy the current English-Persian wikibook.
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In January 2005 the PlanetMath Exchange project was started by Derek Williams to assist in content exchange between Wikipedia and PlanetMath, a community-based math encyclopedia begun in 2001 whose content is released under the terms of the GFDL. The project aims to enrich the content of mathematics articles on Wikipedia. Although there are currently only nine participants, nearly 500 articles from PlanetMath have been examined, and about 40% have had content merged into Wikipedia. Oleg Alexandrov has since written some scripts to help automate the process; statistics for the project are available on the statistics page.
A Japanese Wikipedian contributed an article on a landmark from his hometown, the Osezaki Lighthouse, to the Japanese Wikipedia. He found a nice photo on the web and asked the photographer if he could use it on Wikipedia. He received permission from the copyright holder and uploaded this image to Wikipedia, but forgot to add licence information to the image. When the image became a candidate to be featured on the Main Page of the Japanese Wikipedia, another Wikipedian pointed out the omission, and made him aware of the seriousness of careful copyright and licensing. He mailed the copyright holder again to explain the GFDL, and to ask him to release the image under its terms. The photographer agreed willingly. This photographer had been frequently bothered by copyright infringements, including one by an official municipality website, and he felt that these sites neglected the value of his works and his effort. The Wikipedian's request therefore impressed him greatly, and the young contributor realized how important it is to respect copyright in order to promote the project.
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Wikimedia Deutschland actively promoted Wikimedia projects this quarter, organizing presences at the world's biggest computer fair, Cebit, in Hannover, and at the book fair in Leipzig. These two events, one sponsored by Linux New Media AG, and the other by Directmedia Publishing (the producer of the Wikipedia DVD), were successful. The people manning the booths, including Southpark, Mathias Schindler, Nina, Arne Klempert and Elian, had no need to explain to visitors what Wikipedia was - this was already widely known. However, they answered many questions about how Wikipedia actually works.
On the invitation of Axel Schäfer, a member of the German parliament, Mathias Schindler, Kurt Jansson and Elian spent a week in Berlin, taking initial steps in the political arena. They spoke with several politicians, explaining the workings of Wikipedia and its special problems with copyright law as it stands.
On a sadder note: Achim Raschka, beloved organizer of the international and German writing contests, left the board for personal reasons.
As of the end of March, there were around 150 members of the German Verein.
A brief breakdown of contributions since the founding of the Verein:
# of donations
Total: 14,718.33 EUR from 351 donations
Total: 21,487.14 EUR from 725 donations
The only considerable expenditures in 2005 were 2,714 EUR for legal advice.
Everything else (a fax number, Wikimedia stamps, &c.) cost under 100 EUR in all.
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Wikimédia France, the association representing the French chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, held its first regular Assemblée générale (general meeting of members) to elect the new Conseil d'administration (board) and to discuss many things. The newly elected board can be seen here, and a short summary about the association should soon be displayed.
The règlement intérieur (a complement to the initial bylaws) was voted on and officially adopted. The association Treasurer can finally open a bank account after a formal vote from the board. And many new people joined the association. In the coming weeks, the board is expected to organize teams to work on different matter; in particular, to find money and partnerships for the Wikimedia projects.
The association purchased the wikimedia.fr domain name. It plans to set up a public chapter website at that domain, using a wiki running on one of the Paris squids.
A few general directions were observed in the past months.
Wikipedia was well covered by English and German press in 2004, but only started being covered by press in other languages after the one-millionth article press release. In 2005, for non-English languages the press has finally reached the stage when their stories are no longer merely a basic explanation of what Wikipedia "is" for an audience unaware of the project. They are focusing more on breaking news or interviews about specific issues. In many countries, it seems that Wikipedia is now considered a reference, without need for further description. For example, in January the potential Google deal was heavily commented on in the press and on blogs in many languages.
Editors in many languages are now regularly interviewed on specific issues on their own projects. For instance, see the interview with Anthere in neteconomie.com about the Foundation's opinion on projects such as the Google Print Library Project, the NYPL Digital Gallery, or the altruistic behavior of firms like Yahoo!.
A second trend is that more and more information is published on projects other than Wikipedia, especially Wikinews (the media love to write about themselves). Major reports were in Businessweek,
the NYT, and Wired.
On the positive side, Wikipedia was described by The Guardian (February 27) as "The best example yet of the capacity of the internet to coalesce into self-regulating networks" .
Wired Magazine (March 2005) took an in-depth look at some of the most active Wikipedians, and described Wikipedia as "the self-organising library of the future . Meanwhile, CNN and many other news outlets reported comments made by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World-Wide Web, who said at a conference that wiki software embodied many of his original visions for the internet as a tool for collaboration, and that Wikipedia was "a great example of how people want to be creative and not just suck in information" .
Wikipedia's coverage of the Indian Ocean tsunami generated a great deal of interest in the project, with The Financial Times (January 9) describing Wikipedia as "The only instant reference work" . In The Observer on the same day, a column compared Wikipedia to the bee that defies the laws of aerodynamics by flying, stating that though Wikipedia "ought to be a disaster", it was in fact "an exceedingly useful online reference work" .
The widely circulated criticism of Robert McHenry, former Encyclopædia Britannica editor (discussed below), triggered an article in Free Software Magazine (March 2005), outlining the advantages of a freely-editable encyclopaedia over traditional works , and accusing Britannica of adopting underhanded techniques to try and discredit a serious threat to its reputation.
Wikipedia and Wikinews were mentioned on LCI, an important news french television channel. It was only during a few minutes in a show about wikis, but it is one of the rare mentions of Wikipedia on television.
In an article posted on New Year's Eve on Kuro5hin , Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger inveighed against the project he had been a leading part of until 2002 under the title, "Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its Anti-Elitism." Sanger complained that experts were not treated with sufficient respect, that lack of deference to expertise would be fatal to the long term credibility of the project, and that the project had a "certain poisonous social atmosphere" because of problem users. His stance was reported by Wired Magazine and many others.
His comments were much discussed. Danah Boyd, writing on the Many-to-Many weblog , said she was 'often embarrassed by what appears at Wikipedia'. In an ongoing debate with fellow columnist Clay Shirky, Boyd also complained about the lack of known authorship .
Shirky, an ardent supporter of Wikipedia, took a more positive view than Boyd. But Sanger, commenting on Shirky's entries, accused him of having a 'religious faith in the superiority of Wikipedia's system' . As a followup, Wired Magazine also took a look at some problems faced by Wikipedia in terms of becoming a respected reference source .
As former editor of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Robert McHenry penned further criticism of Wikipedia, following his scathing attack last year in an article entitled 'The faith-based encyclopædia'. Writing in the Chicago Tribune, he described the project as "...a small and self-selected group convincing itself...that it is in some ineffable way superior" .
A story by the Washington Post caused controversy when it was found to contain misinformation which originated in a Wikipedia article about the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake . The news story alleged that priests had 'roamed the streets, hanging those they believed had incurred God's wrath' after the quake, but investigations by a Catholic radio presenter found that the line could be traced back to a Wikipedia article on the quake . One blogger described it as having "originated in an unsourced, wholly imaginary Wikipedia entry" .
Perhaps testament to the growing influence of Wikipedia in the public conscience, news outlets often assume that Wikitravel is an offshoot of Wikipedia . Another frequent error has been for reporters to refer to the predecessor of Wikipedia as 'Newpedia' rather than 'Nupedia', with culprits including The Guardian  and Nature .
Brazilian magazine Veja noted how easy it can be to vandalise Wikipedia in an article on January 26, when it added false information to the English Wikipedia's article on Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Romanian magazine Evenimentul Zilei seemed surprised to discover that anyone could edit Wikipedia, announcing to a shocked nation that this editable encyclopaedia "isn't a joke, it really exists" .
The German online edition of Der Spiegel, one of the country's top-selling news sources, was found in February to have plagiarised an article from the German Wikipedia. The Wikipedia article on the Rwandan genocide of 1994 was copied verbatim by the paper, including grammatical errors, but retracted and replaced with an apology  when the plagiarism was uncovered .
And despite Wikipedia's insistence that it is not a social experiment, The Guardian touted it on January 13 as an example of "the resurgence of communism - in its primeval form - on the internet" .
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A growing number of conferences were attended by Wikimedians this quarter, both as speakers and as booth-tenders. Here are reports on some of the most remarkable and interesting.
Meanwhile, the Wikimania team is busy preparing for the Wikimania conference, the first international Wikimedia conference, to be held in August 2005. We hope you will be able to participate; we have kept entrance fees very low to make attendance as painless as possible. You can register for the conference online.
Fosdem is a yearly event in Brussels, Belgium; and was a great opportunity to meet many of the "Who's Who" of the Open Software/Free Software community. Jimmy had been asked to give the keynote speech for the 2005 event, so it was important to get some presence on the floor as well.
Many people were involved in planning this event. Walter played a key part: as he was living in Brussels, he handled much of the printing of pamphlets and leaflets; French leaflets came in the mail from Anthere, and he printed German and Dutch leaflets and laminated A2 posters. Elian helped finish making a beautiful set of leaflets — late one night, she had many people scramble to finish the Dutch text and produce a professional product. Everything came together in Brussels, and the attendees had a great time.
From March 10-12, Wikimedia was present at CeBIT, the world's biggest computer fair, in Hannover, Germany. Our booth was located in the lovely neighbourhood of projects like Debian, KDE, Gnome and OpenOffice at the Linuxpark. Brockhaus was also present at CeBIT, in the same hall as Wikimedia. Unlike most other open source projects, Wikimedia had an entire booth devoted to it, with a table for a presentation computer and for leaflets. Decoration and equipment was scarce — posters left over from FOSDEM 2005 were used, and Nina's brand new iBook served as the presentation computer.
TIC is a sustainable development conference; its latest event, TIC21, took place in France in February 2005. Anthere was asked to write an article on how Wikipedia is related to sustainable development for a TIC21 newsletter, and invited to participate at the TIC conference. Wikimedia has since been invited to give a presentation for next year's conference by one of the organisers.
Anthere speaking at Dot Org Boom in Stockholm, Sweden 2005. By LA2.
Wikimedia was invited to the PixelACHE electronic art festival and its Dot Org Boom seminar, which took place in April 2005 in Helsinki, Finland. Florence Devouard was the Wikipedia ambassador for three presentations; one in the Finnish embassy in Stockholm, and the other two in Helsinki.
The festival provided an opportunity for a meetup with three editors in Stockholm (Lars Aronsson of Project Runeberg and Susning.nu, Steve Rapaport, and Sabina Rapaport Romlin) and two in Helsinki (Timo and Cimon). Steve wrote up a biased but appreciated report afterwards.
Jimmy Wales is going to give a talk at the mid-November WSIS meeting. He also asked that Wikimedia be represented at the next Prepcom (19-30 September, in Geneva, Switzerland) with a booth run by Wikimedia volunteers. He also suggested a workshop to be run for people who want to learn more about how Wikipedia functions.
Wikimania 2005 - The First International Wikimedia Conference will be held in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, from 4 August 2005 to 8 August 2005. The conference is accepting papers and other submissions through the end of May (from people both within and outside the Wikimedia and Wikipedia communities) for presentations, workshops, and discussion groups. Suggestions are also being accepted for speaker panels, keynote speakers, and other activities. Submissions may be sent to cfp--at--wikimedia.org; other inquiries to info--at--wikimedia.org. Freely licensed works are preferred. We strongly encourage you to license submissions under GFDL or CC. You can also directly write the paper at http://meta.wikimedia.org or another wiki.
The audience will consist primarily of around 300 active Wikimedians from all over the world.
Translation services will be available at the conference. The speakers list will be finalized at the end of June, and attendees will be encouraged to coordinate their own additional activities ahead of time.
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Some of our fellow wikimedians get involved with the Foundation's work by means other than editing. Below are descriptions of a partnership started with Kennisnet and a report on the use of intellectual property in France, both of which came about through the independent efforts of Wikimedians.
Kennisnet and Wikimedia, the start of a partnership
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"Tigers have very bold black stripes on their fur." Wikijunior is developing educational material for children by adapting content on Wikipedia for their younger audience. By Malene Thyssen
Kennisnet is a group that provides proxies for Dutch schools. They were a major source of
vandalism for the Dutch Wikipedia, and so most of the Dutch moderators did not like them. There were frequent discussions about what to do; should we block Kennisnet permanently or only for short periods, in order not to have the good suffer for the bad? We had contact with a few schools, which proved that we could cooperate if we knew whom to contact. Kennisnet was a central ISP; what could we do?
Then the Wikijunior project started, with a small grant to create educational content. This was an opportunity to approach Kennisnet: maybe we could get them interested in this project, and they could help us with the proxy problems. We arranged a meeting: two Wikimedians went to Zoetermeer. We were welcomed by a big panel of senior people from Kennisnet and introduced ourselves. It turned out they liked us, they knew us, and they immediately wanted to know what Kennisnet could do to improve the availability of Wikipedia!
It was thrilling to see how well received our efforts on new projects like Wiktionary, Wikibooks and Wikinews were. Our perception of Kennisnet as an ISP proved to be totally wrong. Kennisnet was only the intermediary between schools and ISPs, overseeing a contract that provided Internet access; it was unfortunate that this contract was also called Kennisnet.
Our second meeting was amusing; the Wikipedians arrived in a big group, but due to sickness there was only one person from Kennisnet. Nevertheless, this proved to be a really important meeting. Kennisnet wanted to act like a partner; the basics for all the projects were identified: hosting, funding for Wikidata and improvements to Wiktionary, using Wikipedia and Wikinews within Kennisnet projects, and having kids contribute to Wikipedia. It was really brilliant. In all the excitement we had forgotten about the proxies, and about Wikijunior, but this is bound to come up at a next meeting...
by Yann Forget, with the help of Teofilo-Folengo, Emmanuel Legrand, and Nataraja.
This article reflects the opinions of its authors, which may not be those of the board of the Wikimedia Foundation
Wikipedia editors have encountered problems in obtaining documents that should be largely accessible to the public. On the other hand, certain institutions are beginning to show an awareness of this problem.
Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Février. This illumination is the oldest known image of winter. By Petrusbarbygere
Several requests were made to French institutions to obtain authorization for the publication of documents in Wikipedia. Institutions contacted include the National Library of France and the photographic archives of the French Ministry for Culture.
In the first case, these are illuminations which have several centuries. Although The National Library of France authorized the reproduction, they did so only with restrictions, since they would not admit that these documents are in the public domain.
The second case concerned 19th Century photographs of which the ADAGP society and the historic monuments refuse any publication without the payment of royalties.
On March 15, 2005, the Supreme Court of Appeal, the highest French jurisdiction, handed down a very interesting judgment in the field of authors' rights. It involved the artists Daniel Buren and Christian Drevet, who are the authors of the refitting of Place des Terreaux, in Lyon. They reproached four editors for having reproduced and marketed postcards of the square without their authorization and mentioning their name on the back of the cards.
For Gérard Ducrey, lawyer of the Union professionnelle de la carte postale (Professional Postcard Union), this is a revolution in the image copyright law for works made by civil servants (...) a crushing blow to the operations of confiscation of public space by certain artists. Ducrey, more precisely, aims at architects, authors of famous buildings built with public money, who require a royalty each time their work appears in a newspaper, a book, on a postcard or on a poster. It is the case for the pyramid of the Louvre, the National Library of France, the Great Arch of La Défense...
This decision which makes jurisprudence will certainly have positive consequences on projects such as Wikipédia.
This French historical map, showing discoverings in present-day United States following a 1673 expedition, was kindly made available to Wikimedia by the National Library of France. By David Monniaux
The opinion of the President of the French RepublicEdit
The President of the French Republic recently intervened with the Ministry for Culture, asking for acceleration of the diffusion of French and European works on the Internet. He particularly asked for an analysis of the conditions under which the funds of the large French and European libraries could be enlarged and made more easily accessible on the Internet.
It would be interesting to see how this initiative could benefit the projects of the Wikimedia Foundation.
In addition, three European countries - the United Kingdom, Italy and France - joined to create an Internet portal to display cultural collections. Other countries should join the project soon. Germany, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, and Portugal have all expressed an interest in joining the Michael Project.
It would be interesting to intercede with the founders of this project to make works in the public domain clearly identified and easily accessible.
Intellectual property of Public AdministrationsEdit
It would be useful to begin a campaign of lobbying to ask for the free licensing, or dedication into the public domain, of works produced for public administrations, as often as possible. This is done automatically by certain United States administrations, such as NASA and other American federal administrations (although state and city administrations may copyright their works). Such a change would help to promote the diffusion of such works within their field, and to avoid other copyright complications; if done throughout the world, it would also balance the current United States-related dominance of contents available freely on line.
There is a bill being considered by the French Parliament, which was adopted for consideration by the Council of Ministers on November 12, 2003. This bill says that 'Title II' expressly recognizes the efforts of authors in producing works within their functions as public agents. It considers ways to guarantee royalties for such work, while also guaranteeing the administration which employs them a means of fulfilling its mission of public service.
The 2003 report of the Public Edition Mediator contains an enigmatic quote: une grande partie des tirages est réservée à une diffusion gratuite que les informations données ne permettent toutefois pas d’estimer globalement. (Rough translation: 'A majority of circulations are reserved for free distribution, the value of which cannot be estimated from the given information.')
Initially, it would be necessary to benefit from the national feeling to ask for the publication of certain documents under a free licence (for example, photographs of the presidents of the French Republic). Then, one could widen the sphere of activity to other types of documents.
To write to French MPs asking them to adopt a legislation similar to the German law on the freedom of panorama (de:Panoramafreiheit), which makes it possible for photographers to exempt the majority of royalties when work photographed is on a public highway.
I think that, in the long run, our role is to promote the ideas of Culture Libre. We must define the intermediate stages in reaching this goal.
Expansion. Revision. Publication. Next-generation Trolls. Year Five . A great many things lurk just around the corner; new chapters, new publications, new groups of readers and researchers. What can we do with all of them; how will the community manage? Finding out is half the excitement.
On a dark office evening,
Sat down in my chair.
Sharp smell of stale coffee
Circling round in the air.
Suddenly on the webpage
There came a flickering light.
My head grew heavy, and my sight grew dim;
I had to stop for the night.
There it was in the link list:
"Edit page; you'll do well"
And I was thinking to myself This could be Heaven or this could be Hell!
Then it lit up the quickbar
And it showed me the way.
There were pages begging clean-up;
I thought I heard them say-ay:
Welcome to the Hotel Wikipedia Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place) So much empty space... Plenty of work at the Hotel Wikipedia Any time of year You can find us here...
Many links in the Portal Disambigs won't suffice
And users said, We are all just prisoners here Of our own device.
And in the Most Requested
The list of pages increased;
They edit it with their steely knives
But they just can't kill the beast.
Last thing I remember,
I couldn't take any more.
I had to find the hyperlink back
to the life I had before Relax, said the Rambot, We are programmed to receive. You can log out any time you like But your work can never leave.
Welcome to the Hotel Wikipedia Such a lovely place So much empty space They're typing it in at the Hotel Wikipedia Things that you can do— Revertvandals, too—