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Opus and wikipedia: guidelines

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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 00:55   #1
jthoppes
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Opus and wikipedia: guidelines

I've recently discovered two pages (Prigogine's Nightjar and Pallas's Leaf Warbler) with content borrowed directly from wikipedia.

I just returned them to stubs, on the theory that 1. wikipedia does not mean "plagiarize this freely!" and 2. birdforum leadership set up our own wiki specifically for birders, not to duplicate the general encyclopedia at large.

If a wikipedia entry really is the best source on the web for some species, users should add an external link to it, not simply appropriate its entire text.

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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 01:08   #2
jthoppes
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Add Eurasian Golden Plover.
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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 02:29   #3
njlarsen
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Wikipedia does have a pretty liberal copyright policy, but with reference to the source, if I remember correctly. It might therefore not be directly wrong what had been done previously; I have not looked at the pages as they were. I would however agree that it is much better to write something one-self instead of relying on copying from somewhere else.

Disclaimer: I am not here speaking on behalf of anyone except myself; even though I am an Opus editor that doesn't mean I determine the policy of this place.

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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 03:05   #4
jthoppes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
Wikipedia does have a pretty liberal copyright policy, but with reference to the source, if I remember correctly.
I just looked up Wikipedia's policy on external use, which follows:

"Wikipedia's textual content is copyrighted, but you may reuse it under the terms of our licensing requirements, summarized below.
Text in Wikipedia, excluding quotations, has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License (or is in the public domain), and can therefore be reused only if you release any derived work under the GFDL. This requires that, among other things, you attribute the authors and allow others to freely copy your work. (This is a summary, see the licence text for the exact details.)
If you are unwilling or unable to use the GFDL for your work, use of Wikipedia content is unauthorized. Small quotations of Wikipedia content, with its source attributed, may be permissible under the "fair use" clause of U.S. copyright law. See Wikipedia: Citing Wikipedia for information about the proper citation of articles. No permission is needed to create a hyperlink to Wikipedia or its articles."


All three examples that I found this afternoon were entirely unattributed.

I have no particular objection to something like "Wikipedia aptly describes this species as 'a drab, unobtrusive foliage-gleaner fond of dense thickets'". These entries, however, were engaging in wholesale copying. Aside from issues relating to copyright and plagiarism, there are several good practical reasons to avoid this:

1. Propagation of error. These things will commit us to tracking the external wikipedia page, lest we continue to spread errors introduced over there. (And they're bigger than we are, so they will attract more vandals and kooks.)

2. Problems of style. The narrative style of the wikipedia articles on the nightjar and leaf warbler had been dismembered to fit the various pieces into our opus format. A variety of wikipedia styles were present (such as the citation tag), while a bunch of things we take for granted (that other species link to the opus entry, for example) were missing. Fixing these things, especially where taxonomic differences will inevitably appear, is almost as much trouble as writing a new entry from scratch.

In short: borrowing paragraph-length material from wikipedia is a bad idea, and I will continue to delete on sight unless convinced otherwise.

Last edited by jthoppes : Sunday 9th September 2007 at 03:08. Reason: remove emoticon in wikipedia quote; pronoun usage
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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 11:22   #5
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All Wikipedia content is copyright the original authors under the terms of the GFDL. Anyone is free to re-use that content for any purpose, subject (in this context) only to two conditions: (1) proper attribution of the original source, and (2) the re-used content is also placed under the GFDL licence - i.e., the entire article is free for anyone anywhere to re-use for any purpose.

I have no idea what, if any, licence applies to Opus material sourced from elsewhere (including the material that you or I contribute). Maybe this is spelled out somewhere, but without knowing the terms of copyright and who owns the text and under what conditions, I wouldn't want to put any effort into contributing myself.

But unless Opus material is covered under the GFDL, using Wikipedia text would make a real mess of things.
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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 13:57   #6
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Tannin, you are correct in saying that the copyright situation for Opus seems a little undefined at the moment. There is a page planned called Helpopyright, but the link took me to a blank page. It would be good if the moderators would make it a priority defining what should be in that page.

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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 18:47   #7
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Hi jthoppes,

I had noticed that some contents were being copied from Wikipedia directly some time ago (about a month or so), too, and contacted a Moderator. Although the problem is now fixed (I think), you'll probably find many articles identical to Wiki yet.
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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 18:58   #8
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Thanks for dealing with this, jocateme. I'll continue to get rid of these as I find them.
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Old Monday 10th September 2007, 09:56   #9
Andy Bright
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Please, if you remove content, please put something back into the article at the same time.

Thank you.
Andy
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Old Monday 10th September 2007, 17:52   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Bright View Post
Please, if you remove content, please put something back into the article at the same time.

Thank you.
Andy
I just restored the two articles mentioned in the first post. Is there a preferred method of flagging these things for eventual replacement without committing myself to writing dozens or hundreds of articles from scratch?
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