Forum:Tightening things up here.

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Forums: Index > Watercooler > Tightening things up here.

(sorry, should be a question mark after "Tightening things up around here" in the subject line, I didn't mean it to come out so forceful!).

Given another recent rash of deletions here (apparently caused by contributors not asking for permission to post material), I can't help but think that things need to be tightened up somewhat around here in that regard. I know I had to ask Thomas to remove some material (some worldgen programming code) based on my work that was adapted and posted here without my permission a couple of years ago, and DonM's timeline stuff was apparently put up without his permission a while back too, and now there's this latest batch of issues. Granted, I'm not really involved much with the wikia (I've really only edited some Spica Publishing info), but I wouldn't want to see the place shut down because people are being slack about getting permission to post things.

One other thing I'd strongly recommend is to block unregistered users from posting material - that way if anyone posts material that they shouldn't post, they can be tracked down. People should not be able to edit posts here anonymously.

Just some thoughts anyway... Evildrganymede 00:40, July 8, 2010 (UTC)

A large part of the issues have been my fault. Directly. The worldgen programming code was something I posted. Many of the just deleted articles were things I posted. So I, personally, need to be more careful about what should and shouldn't be posted.
We, the Traveller wiki administrators, don't have access rights to the Wikia wiki software settings to block unregistered users. There are a number of settings like this we can't change. It is one of the downsides of Wikia as the wiki host. The upside is a large, professional staff to manage the site, keep the software up to date, kill spammers, and other administrative tasks. I consider the trade-off well worth it. Tjoneslo 02:03, July 8, 2010 (UTC)

Can you not even moderate posts from unregistered users (i.e. hold them somewhere til you've verified that they're not spam or posting something they shouldn't)? Evildrganymede 06:46, July 8, 2010 (UTC)

Given the content of the message from Don McKinney, I'm not sure if it's going to be possible to continue doing things under the Wikia limits: "A licensee has complained that the FUP is NOT being followed, with content being simply copied from works currently available and being published. Even worse, there are numerous submissions from "Unregistered contributor", so many items on the Traveller Wiki are not even "owned" by anyone." Allens 13:43, July 8, 2010 (UTC)

I'm guessing that this has something to do with Martin Dougherty's recent post, right? Apparently Marc Miller's permission to put certain Traveller material on this wiki did not cover the work Dougherty had done, even though it was set in a setting owned by Marc Miller. This surprises me; I would have thought that after the problems with the DGP material, MM would have made sure that his licensing agreements included his right to use material created under them as background for other Traveller material, also by third parties (if permitted by him). I mean, it would be more than a little counter-productive if, when a licencee has mentioned Count Casimir of Fornol, no one else were allowed to allude to his existence. But perhaps this has something to do with the difference between quoting verbatim and paraphrasing?

So it seems to me that we need a list of canon material and what we are and are not permitted to do with each particular batch. E.g. "You can quote any library data from and GDW material verbatim, you have to paraphrase information derived from the adventure test, and you can't post adventure-specific material and game rules at all".

Incidentally, does this mean that if, for example, I want to use the material from GT:Far Trader as basis for an article about Algine, I need to get express permission from Jon Zeigler?

Rancke 09:51, July 8, 2010 (UTC)

I can't imagine that using FT-related stats would be a problem - quoting passages from the book verbatim might be though. Thing is, I think you guys need a better way to track contributions, and I think people need to be more careful about assuming they have permission to post material (more to the point, they need to STOP assuming they have permission to post material, and actually sure they're certain that they have permission before doing so). If wikia can't let you do that, then I think you're going to have these problems again in the future, so I think you either need to find a way to do it within Wikia or find somewhere else to host the wiki that does allow you to do it. Maybe Thomas should contact all the licence-holders and get written permission from them all (or not, if they don't want to allow you to post their stuff) before proceeding further.

I'm not even sure if the issue is about Fair Use (I'd imagine that Fair Use applies with or without anyone's permission) so much as it being about the claim that the authors' permission has been given to publish their material here when it hasn't been given. In my case, I specifically didn't want anyone else publishing anything based on my work on the MGT boards when I posted it there, and yet someone took it anyway and turned into code and posted it here, and they didn't ask me for my permission to do so.

Remember, this wikia was close to being shut down because of this, and this isn't the first time people have complained of material posted here that shouldn't have been (see above) - surely you don't want this sort of thing to happen yet again here in the future (possibly with fatal consequences for the site)? Evildrganymede 18:03, July 8, 2010 (UTC)

Fair use indeed doesn't require permission. And about the only reason that your work would not be turnable into code within fair use was your deletion of it from the original posting site. Being used, including turning into code, is, after all, the purpose of publishing material; nobody needs to ask permission of SJG or whoever to create route maps using GT:Far Trader rules (SJG's website includes material by Anthony Jackson using said rules), any more than they need to ask permission before gaming using such rules.
BTW, I suggest that the boilerplate about permission having been asked should be changed to state that either permission has been granted (including being covered by license) or the material is within fair use. Allens 18:39, July 8, 2010 (UTC)
I suspect what we have here is a confusion between copyrights and patents. Copyrights protect expression; patents protect ideas. A book cannot be patented; it may be possible to patent ideas within that book. This does get tricky with regard to "derivative" works, like direct translations into another language, which are still constrained by the original translation. Allens 18:42, July 8, 2010 (UTC)


Actually on all my posts at Mongoose (or any other RPG board) I explicitly state that they are not to be posted anywhere without my permission - so whether it was deleted or not, it was still wrong to do (especially given the claim that permission was granted, when it wasn't). I realise that some idiots (not Thomas, I'm thinking specifically of someone else) think that means that they can just copy my stuff willy-nilly and misquote it too, but if I say "don't copy it without my permission" I damn well expect people to not copy it without my permission, and I really don't care about anyone else's personal feelings on the matter. The legalese doesn't really matter either - if someone explicitly forbids people from copying work and they ignore that and go ahead and copy it, then they're doing something they have no permission to do.

The only people who should have a right to decide how their IP is used is the IP holder - that applies whether one is posting on a forum, publishing a PDF or book, or whatever. People on forums or wikis do not get to decide how to spread that IP based on their own misguided beliefs. And more to the point, you don't get to tell me what the "point of publishing material" is - I wrote that stuff specifically for use in the Mongoose playtest, and for nowhere else. I did not want anyone to turn it into code to publish without my permission or without even telling me on a wiki.

I would hope that giving the finger to people who say "don't copy stuff onto this wikia without my permission" is not the prevalent attitude here. Evildrganymede 02:10, July 9, 2010 (UTC)

What I am attempting to say is that you wouldn't have had a legal leg to stand on, as far as I can tell. Taking the code down was politeness, not legal necessity. (That is not to say that Wikia might not have given in when they weren't legally obligated to.) Allens 03:20, July 9, 2010 (UTC)
Oh. Incidentally, I agree with said politeness, and most definitely disapprove of people not properly giving credit - that's called plagiarism, and is something that I've cracked down on myself in classes I've been a teaching assistant for (and check for as a professor now). Allens 03:27, July 9, 2010 (UTC)

That's the point really. The legality of it isn't what narks me so much, it's more the "impoliteness" of not giving credit and/or of doing things without asking for permission (or just saying "Screw you" or copping attitude if a request to take it down is made). Refusing such requests by saying that there's "no legal leg to stand on" (and I'm not sure that's even accurate, having researched it a bit when it happened to me recently on the Mongoose boards) is just being a jackass IMO. Evildrganymede 03:38, July 9, 2010 (UTC)

This is the reason I took down the code when asked. The Traveller community is too small to go around pissing people off. We are going to run into this problem again. IP owners change. IP owners change their mind regarding having their stuff posted. The solution is to do exactly what we did do. Have a polite discussion with whomever is complaining, and resolve the issue as best as possible. This may include deleting offending content. Tjoneslo 12:43, July 9, 2010 (UTC)

Personally, I would never have posted anything that an author had merely posted on a forum without asking his permission first. However, I would cheerfully have posted (within the standard limitations) anything published under a Traveller license (except the DGP stuff) on the strength of Marc Miller's permission alone. If, as the recent events indicates, this would be incorrect, I'd really like to have the correct rules spelled out. I certainly would not want to offend Mr. Dougherty or any other Traveller author. Rancke 09:21, July 9, 2010 (UTC)

The rules have been written, but are scattered through several forum posts and talk pages.
  1. Most Traveller publishers have policies regarding reproducing their content online. Please read and respect these policies.
  2. Ask permission of any author who's stuff you are posting. Make a note in the authors page they have granted permission for the posting.
What bit us here was that QLI does not have a clear policy. The details of the contracts between QLI and their writers is not public knowledge. So the default FFE permissive posting policy no longer applies. Tjoneslo 12:43, July 9, 2010 (UTC)

If they're scattered all over the place, can you condense these "rules" into one obvious page, linked preferably from the Traveller wikia's home page? And also say exactly who you've had permission to post things from, and how far that permission extends? (and maybe reconfirm that permission with authors/publishers?). That way the situation should be more clear to contributors. Evildrganymede 16:04, July 9, 2010 (UTC)

Copyright has the online policy of the major publishers. This page is linked off the bottom of the main page. The wording at the top of the page needs to be strengthened. If you have some specific suggestions post them on the talk page. Otherwise I'll come up with something and post it there. Tjoneslo 01:49, July 10, 2010 (UTC)

I would strongly suggest putting the Copyright link in the main sidebar, IMO it's not remotely obvious at the bottom there. Evildrganymede 20:45, July 10, 2010 (UTC)

The copyrights page is now on the sidebar menu right next to the Manual of style. I've updated the copyrights page to include the individual users section mention on the discussion page. I've created the Permission given template to add to the authors page (and a category:Permission to find them). Help on wording on the template would be helpful. Tjoneslo 19:32, July 12, 2010 (UTC)

That looks good I think. Though perhaps it'd be an idea to have a list of material that contributors explicitly don't (yet) have permission to post here (e.g. Martin's stuff), in case people just assume that they do. If you ever get that permission, then the page can be updated. Evildrganymede 16:38, July 14, 2010 (UTC)

I have added an explicit page called Permission which should answer some of these issues. The problem with permissions in general is that many people are not reachable any more. Which means that their published material is permanently unavailable (at least until 50 or so years after their death). Where it becomes difficult is if the original information was published in a public forum, which as far as I am aware should be able to be re-distributed (with proper credit). Dcorrin 19:00, November 22, 2010 (UTC)