[pmwiki-users] SALIENCE for the WikiSite's terms of use, copyright, copyleft, and etc?

Patrick R. Michaud pmichaud at pobox.com
Mon Apr 25 16:38:26 CDT 2005

Monty writes:
> Therefore, it is *necessary* that templates accomodate these 
> considerations of the legal contract between the WikiAdministrator and 
> WikiUser over I.P. rights and licensing.
> In my opinion, IP rights assignment is so important that it should be 
> brought to the potential WikiAdministrator's attention when s/he 
> downloads PmWiki, as something which *must* be decided on *prior* to 
> launching her/his WikiWiki website.
> Pm, do you disagree?  

I often have trouble agreeing with words such as "necessary", 
"must", "prior", "all", etc.  The world is not always so uniform.
Not every site that runs PmWiki allows public contributions; indeed,
the majority of -paying- PmWiki sites are not publicly editable.
So, saying that an administrator must always write a contributions 
policy before using PmWiki is just going to frighten off a lot of people
(indeed, it'll frighten off the ones I'm most interested in having!).

> Yes, providing anything beyond a well integrated (but empty) hook is ill 
> advised.  However, omitting hooks is poor, because it causes the average 
> WikiAdministrator to neglect/forget about writing a site policy and IP 
> agreement [...]

I also have trouble with the term "average WikiAdministrator".  :-)
As I've mentioned in the past, there seem to be about five or six
overlapping types of PmWiki sites, none of which can be called the
"average".  And for many of them IP issues don't apply.

Beyond that, I don't recall that AutoCAD makes strong warnings about
the risks of using it for engineering structures, or that Adobe 
Photoshop or wget or FTP warn me too strongly about possible copyright 
infringements when I use those packages.  At some point the end-user
is expected to know appropriate uses of the tool.

But, ultimately I agree that bringing these issues to the attention 
of new admins would be useful -- I just don't think we need to be 
"in your face" about it.  Information about IP issues would be very 
helpful and appropriate in a "Guide to running a public wiki site" 
page, either as part of the documentation or in the Cookbook.  
Such a guide could talk about IP issues, as well as security/vandalism,
the most popular cookbook recipes for such sites, configuration tips
and tricks, organizational structures, etc.

> I don't even think PmWiki should offer a general warning.  Just template 
> hooks to a (initially blank, "policy goes here") policy page.

Note that adding a hook to a policy-goes-here page in PmWiki is
as simple as adding it to Main.SideBar -- it doesn't have to be
in the template.

In some legal senses a blank "policy goes here" page (or a link to
such) might be worse than not having one.  Certainly a blank policy page
implies to others that the site doesn't have a published policy, 
which might be incorrect.  Sometimes PmWiki is just a small part of 
a larger system where the policies are distributed via other pages
or means.

But if anyone wants to draft some text for a "policy goes here" page,
or a guide for administrators that discusses the issues and where to
go for more information, I'll be extremely glad to look at including
it into the distribution.  :-)


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