[R-wiki] License for R Wiki contents
Frank E Harrell Jr
f.harrell at vanderbilt.edu
Fri Jan 20 04:56:16 CET 2006
Philippe Grosjean wrote:
> Paul Johnson wrote:
> > [...]
> > And people who add
> > things should have some control over who can edit their input. If
> > Prof Harrell were to put in something, and he really does not want
> > other people to fiddle it, he should be able to protect. TWiki allows
> > that kind of control.
> Here, I say "no, no way!". This is against the Wiki phylosophy, and
> also, against the license I propose for the R Wiki, which is "Creative
> Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5" (but see:
You are right Philippe, and thanks for all the thoughts below -Frank
> OK, a couple of explanations are required:
> 1) The Wiki is for collaborative work. By the way, I believe it is the
> missing block in the R world: to offer a way for *collaborative*
> writting of documentation. Currently:
> - The R core team is responsible for edition of .Rd files of base
> packages and for the R manuals. Limited input from users through "bug"
> - Package authors/maintainers have control over their .Rd files and
> vignettes. Users feedback on the documentation is also limited.
> - R News allows for writting papers on R topics. Nice for reviews, or
> presentation of particular features, but static once it is published.
> - Other documentation is either in the form of html/pdf documents, or in
> the form of published books. Both need effort from their authors to keep
> them up-to-date with a R software that changes rapidly with two versions
> each year! A lot of these web/pdf documents are not updated, because
> their authors are not "rewarded" enough from such a painful work. Some
> books are updated (MASS, with its 4th edition, comes to my mind
> immediately), but it is even harder for the users (who owns the four
> editions of MASS?).
> Collaborative work may be a solution to this problem: if someone notice
> an error in a page, he can correct it himself... even if the author has
> no time, or no interest on updating its own documents. Now, does it
> means that all pages you put on the Wiki are left for free changes by
> anybody? No, because there are several ways to cope with that:
> 1) The Wiki stores all versions of each page. If you, as the author, do
> not like changes made by others, you are free to revert to a previous
> version. This can lead to a dispute if the other person revert again and
> again. This sometimes happens on Wikipedia. In this case, the dispute
> is solved by a discussion on a dedicated forum. Here, we have R-sig-wiki
> which could play the same role, if needed. Ultimately, the original
> author could ask for a locking of his page, if needed, which leads to
> the second tool:
> 2) It is possible to give write access to selected pages to only one
> user, or a specific group of users. However, this should be used only in
> extreme cases, since it plays against the Wiki phylosophy and strength:
> *collaboration on the same documents*.
> 3) Bad users can be blacklisted. So, they are bannished from write
> access to the whole Wiki, temporarily or definitely.
> This mechanism clearly requires a team of maintainers for the Wiki.
> Given the high investment of many people on R-Help, I anticipe we could
> find enough volunteers in the R users community for doing this job.
> Now, back to the license. I think that authors on the Wiki should keep
> rights on their outputs... but not with an usual copyright approach,
> because it is against collaborative and incremental building of
> documents, by definition!
> GPL suffers from one big problem regarding the Wiki: it does not
> inhibits a commercial use of the material. This is not much a problem
> for a software (think about Linux distributions: some are sold by
> companies and this is just fine), but in the case of documentation, I
> would not like that someone decide to publish a part or the whole R Wiki
> in a book, claiming to be the editor because he just compiles the
> documents and put them in a format suitable for Springer, Chapmann &
> Hall, or whatever editor... This is the same problem for the GNU Free
> Documentation License.
> After a search for a better license term, it appears that the Creative
> Commons license named "Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike" is a good
> one in this context because:
> 1) Attribution -- (Original) authors must be always explicitly cited
> (except if they dislike changes or use made of their material, in which
> case they could ask for not being cited),
> 2) NonCommercial -- It is explicitly stated that commercial use is
> prohibited. Thus, nobody can publish a book using material in the Wiki,
> never! But anybody can compile PDFs or other formats that are freely
> distributed on the Internet.
> 3) ShareAlike -- This is exactly the same idea as GPL: you can use,
> copy, distribute, modify and redistribute your modifications, but at the
> condition that you keep the same license for the redistributed material.
> It is what makes the strength of R (and Linux, and Apache, and...). So,
> the idea is to use the same phylosophy for the documentation on the R Wiki.
> By the way, CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike is a license rather
> common for public Wikis.
> Now the last point that is, I think, important: would it be possible to
> compile part of the Wiki and to publish it in another form? Indeed, I
> think at a publication that is better valuable in a C.V. Yes, I think
> about somethink like JSS. It should be possible to do so, with all
> authors cited, of course, in an order that reflects the amount of work
> done be each people. That is the theory, but I am not sure it would be
> that simple in practice!
> Philippe Grosjean
> R-sig-wiki mailing list
> R-sig-wiki at r-project.org
Frank E Harrell Jr Professor and Chair School of Medicine
Department of Biostatistics Vanderbilt University
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