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Revision as of 17:46, 11 February 2010 by Benrbennett (Talk | contribs)

Feedback Requested: Proposed changes to the FamilySearch wiki license

Summary:The FamilySearch wiki uses a creative commons non-commercial license vs. the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license which is used by Wikipedia.org (as well as many other well known wikis). As the hosts of the wiki, we are proposing a change in the licensing of our content in order to allow our community at large greater flexibility for legitimate uses of the wiki content. Prior to doing so, we want to solicit community input on this planned change. Please let us know what your thoughts are during the feedback period which we'll conduct during the next 14 days (11 February 2010 to 25 February 2010). After the feedback period is complete, we will communicate the planned decision and appeal process should any contributors disagree with the outcome. Additional details (and links to the exact language for the different licenses) can be found below. You can voice your support for or against this change by contributing to the proposed Wiki license change post in the forums.

References:

  1. Current FS Wiki License: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike
  2. Proposed FS Wiki License (pending community input): Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike
  3. General Description of all Creative Commons licenses: Creative Commons Summary - All Licenses

Note that the full legal language of each license is available by clicking on the "Legal Code" link at the bottom of each page.

Detail: FamilySearch originally selected a non-commercial license for the wiki because we did not want a commercial company to be able to put a different face on the content and wanted to keep our content ad-free. That said, as we've looked at ways that other wikis are run, organized and licensed (namely Wikipedia.org [1]) and considered how our community and FS may want to use content in the future, we think that a license change may be in order. In support of this intention, some research with our legal advisors at FamilySearch has helped us understand why a non-profit, community site such as Wikipedia.org [2] might choose a license that permitted “commercial” use of the content. The legal advisors informed us that “commercial” is associated with anything where money is being charged. The ambiguity of the non-commercial license could place restrictions on the FamilySearch wiki, limiting future use of the content, even for legitimate non-commercial purposes.

Some examples of activities that are not allowed under the current FamilySearch wiki license are included below:

  1. I contribute a large portion of information to begin a new article. Others edit the information, but the bulk of the content is still my original work. Later, I want to utilize the information with edits in a class syllabus for a conference. Under the current license, I would not be able to do this as a paid conference presenter. I could use my original contribution, but not any of the updated, current information contributed by others.
  2. I am teaching a free family history class, but no Internet access is available at the venue. I want to print copies of a few articles from the wiki for the participants in my class. I need to recoup my copying costs, and so I want to charge a small fee for the copies. It is questionable whether or not this would be allowed under the current license.
  3. I am a commercial company and I want to contribute content to the existing wiki, rather than create my own online research tool. I determine that the FamilySearch Research Wiki is the best place to send my customers to get the most current research information. I want to provide links to the wiki on my website to show my customers how the wiki may work with my own products and still provide a unified, good experience for my customers. By linking to the wiki, I will drive more traffic to the wiki and help my customers get the research help they need. Some of my customers may even become potential contributors to the wiki. I cannot do this under the current license.
  4. A non-profit entity realizes that some parts of the world do not have access to the Internet. They decide to print relevant articles of interest for those parts of the world, and package them in a small booklet to be sold at cost to peoples in these regions. This would not be allow under the current license.

While the commercial license has been implemented with Wikipedia (see [3]) , it is interesting to note that we have been unable to find any company who has chosen to risk using this license in a commercial way. The general ambiguity of the Creative Commons licenses appears to have limited commercial companies from using the content, possibly due to the potential risk of unclear interpretations of the terms of these licenses.

Once again, we look forward to your feedback. You can voice your support for or against this change by contributing to the proposed Wiki license change post in the forums.

Best regards, Ben Bennett FamilySearch Product Management

To All FamilySearch Wiki Contributors: An apology is in order...

By way of introduction, my name is Ben Bennett and I’ve recently joined the FamilySearch team as the product manager for the Wiki and Forums. Put simply, my job is to ensure that your experience, as contributors and users of the Wiki and Forums is excellent. To this end, an apology is in order.


As you know, we recently implemented a new user ID/sign in process for the FamilySearch Wiki. As we implemented this new system, I personally heard from many of you. Many of you shared with me problems that were occurring for you as you tried to sign in, edit or do other things that resulted in lost work, lost time and frustration for you, our key contributors and users. Please accept my sincere apology for the poor performance and poor experience associated with the Wiki during the past few weeks. Please also accept my commitment that the FamilySearch team will learn from this experience and do all that we can to prevent situations like this in the future. To this end, I wanted to share with you a brief list of the lessons that we’ve learned and vow not to repeat:


  1. Communication: We need to do a much better job communicating with our community in advance as to what we’re doing, why we’re doing it (and what’s in it for you) and what you should do if you have problems.
  2. Testing: We need to do a better job of testing our planned user experience.
  3. Timing: This implementation occurred just before the holidays when many of our users were active and key staff members were offline. We need to ensure that major changes are not made when key resources are not available or just prior to major conferences and events.
  4. Resolution of critical issues: There were critical issues that were brought to our attention that were not resolved as quickly as they might have been.


The FamilySearch team is currently reviewing these failures and putting plans in place to ensure they don’t occur again. Going forward, we’re committed to the following:


  1. We’ll improve our ability to listen to you – Some of you have noticed that our FamilySearch staff has been much more active in the Forums. We will continue to do this and if we plan to do something that impacts the community in a material way, you will have an opportunity to provide your thoughts and feedback.
  2. We’ll improve our response to your suggestions – We’re working to add resources to improve our response time to requests and to take action on feedback from the community. It is predictable that there will be some changes that we will need to make to ensure that the Wiki remains a viable resource for all. Regardless of what we do, we’ll always work to provide advanced notice and to solicit your opinion and ensure that your voice is heard. Your part in this process is to speak up – we need your feedback to make the community better.
  3. We’ll improve how we test changes – Prior to making future changes, we’ll test the solution, with those of you who wish to participate, to ensure the changes enhance your work related to the Wiki and community at large. In addition, via the Forums, we’ll listen closely after a change is implemented and respond quickly to problems you may encounter.


There are a number of changes planned for the Wiki in preparation for upcoming conferences and other new FamilySearch products. As such, we’ll have an opportunity to put our commitment to you to the test. Look for posts on the Forums outlining these changes and requesting your feedback.


As the host of the Wiki, it’s fair to say that, while we won’t always be perfect, we are committed to improving to ensure that the Research Wiki becomes an even more valuable resource for you and the genealogical community at large. If you have suggestions or feedback, please feel free to share it with me via the Forums. Thank you for all you do. Without you the Wiki wouldn’t be what it is today – the largest collection of free genealogical research advice online… by the community and for the community.

Best regards,
Ben Bennett
FamilySearch Wiki Product Management




I think it's time for the apology to disappear from the home page. Time to move forward! Lise 22:09, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

 Welcome...

Hello!

The Welcoming Committee is here to support you and offer a warm welcome to a Community that loves Family History. Thank you for your contributions! Please continue editing and consider joining the Welcoming Committee or Projects Seeking Contributors where you may work with experienced users who will help you feel comfortable. This message is posted on your talk page which is associated with your personal User Page. You may practice editing on the Wiki by creating a User Page about yourself. We hope you like this place and decide to join in.

There are a few pages you may find helpful:

You may find additional editing assistance from experienced contributors in the Social Groups on Forums.FamilySearch.org. We have groups for Newbies to the Wiki, Help for Wiki Contributors and Wiki Tech Power Users. Please sign your name only on discussion/talk pages using four tildes (~). This will automatically create your username with a timestamp for your comments. If you need personal assistance, feel free to contact the Welcoming Committee Members.

Again, welcome! CK Whipple 00:00, 5 January 2010 (UTC)