It seems sad that, with so many people enjoying their EEE, there has to be a party pooper. Someone who, no matter what they are told, seems insistent on spoiling everyone’s fun. It’s now arrived in the EEE community, in the form of a site which seems proud of the fact that it takes content from other sites, and fails to attribute it correctly! That’s right- takes a word-for-word copy of content, without complying with the licensing terms, and then sticks up two virtual fingers at those who object. In the Free software world, that’s a big no-no, and rightly so.
There is a great wiki on eeeUser.com (I post quite a lot on there, for the record, but, it’s not my contributions which make it great!); it contains a wealth of information, which is constantly updated, increased and improved. This wiki was made available under a permissive Creative Commons licence, which permits third parties to copy, modify and distribute the wiki’s content, provided that the third party correctly attributes all of the original authors. Now, you wouldn’t have thought that there would be a problem with this; after all, it’s not unreasonable to expect an author to be credited for his work, is it?
Unfortunately, it seems that Doug, the administrator of eeewiki.org and eeeplace.org, believes differently. His wiki site has a word-for-word copy of huge chunks of the eeeUser.com wiki, and yet he has stated that he has no intention of crediting the individual authors, despite the attribution information being readily and easily accessible to him. For example, the wiki entry here (you might recognise part of it, as I posted my contribution here also) has all the necessary information just one click away, here. All the hard work and effort of the contributors to eeeUser.com is now hosted on a different wiki, without even bothering to thank them by crediting them appropriately.
The small fact that his actions fall outside the scope of the licence, and thus are an infringement of copyright, sadly appears to evade him; he not only insists that he is in the right (although, perhaps not coincidentally, he has since deleted his reasoning as to quite why he believes he is right), but also repeatedly abuses his position as administrator by insulting those who comment otherwise (see the image, which is, according to Doug’s now-deleted post, is, “humor”!) by editing information attributed to someone’s name, on a public-facing forum, even going as far as searching out personal details of complainants and posting them. You’d have thought that it would be quickler, easier, and less hassle to simply comply with the Creative Commons licence, and have a site full of great, non-infringing content without having to lift a finger, but, there you go…
So what’s the net result? Sadly, nothing very positive…
- Because of eeewiki.org’s continued failure to attribute in accordance with the licence terms, the wiki at eeeUser.com is no longer available under the permissive licence, making it harder for those who genuinely would have benefited from it to do so. For what it’s worth, I don’t think that this change is worthwhile, as one non-compliant user should not cause anyone else to suffer through his actions; and
- There’s a wiki floating around which contains infringing and out-of-date information – any changes to the eeeUser.com can no longer be replicated on the infringing wiki (although, I hear you say, if they’ve infringed once, what’s to stop them doing so on an on-going basis). As such, users who visit the infringing wiki cannot even be sure that they are getting quality advice! One of the best parts of the wiki system is that it can be improved very easily, ensuring that the audience should always be able to access the best advice. I certainly would not trust the content on eeewiki.org, as I don’t know how it’s been modified from the original authors’ works, or whether a major change has been made to the original wiki, to delete bad advice. If you want peer-reviewed information, updated on an almost daily basis, visit the eeeUser.com wiki.
My position on this is quite clear- as a contributor to the eeeUser.com, I am happy for people to make use of my work, provided that they do so according to the terms of the licence under which it is released.
There’s been a lot of wasted time on this issue, time which could have been better spent playing with the EEE, or helping others make the most of it. My gut feeling is that nature will take its course, and the more popular, friendly sites will thrive, and those on which the administrators insult their members, and infringe the copyright of their upstream contributors, will fall away. In short, if you require assistance with your EEE, or know someone who does, I’d wholeheartedly recommend that you support eeeUser.com.