Software Policy Draft

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Software Policy Draft

Erik Moeller-4
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Software_Policy_Draft

(Permalink to original:
http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Software_Policy_Draft&oldid=661622
)

This is a first modest draft for a software policy for WMF projects.
It's an attempt to codify our existing practices re: free file formats
& open source software. I'd appreciate feedback & edits. If we can end
up with something that makes sense, I'll put it to a Board vote.

--
Toward Peace, Love & Progress:
Erik

DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.

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Re: Software Policy Draft

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi,
By codifying a current practice, you lose the flexibility that we currently
have. There are languages that are not at all supported with fonts that are
available and that are Free and unencumbered. This policy would mean that we
can no longer support all languages. I cannot believe that this is the
intention of the proposal.

The WMF has therefore two options:

   - It becomes instrumental in making fonts available for all languages
   for all major operating systems
   - It does not adopt the proposed software policy

Thanks,
    GerardM

On 9/3/07, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Software_Policy_Draft
>
> (Permalink to original:
>
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Software_Policy_Draft&oldid=661622
> )
>
> This is a first modest draft for a software policy for WMF projects.
> It's an attempt to codify our existing practices re: free file formats
> & open source software. I'd appreciate feedback & edits. If we can end
> up with something that makes sense, I'll put it to a Board vote.
>
> --
> Toward Peace, Love & Progress:
> Erik
>
> DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
> the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: Software Policy Draft

Gregory Maxwell
On 9/3/07, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:
> There are languages that are not at all supported with fonts that are
> available and that are Free and unencumbered.

Gerard, we've gone through this before.

What languages do we have projects in where there isn't acceptable
coverage in any free font? Please be specific.

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Re: Software Policy Draft

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi,
There are many languages that are problematic including Khmer, Cherokee and
Burmese. Also the question what languages do we have projects in is wrong.
The issue is that we should be able to support all languages. When a
language is not supported in Unicode, it becomes a different issue because
MediaWiki only supports languages that are supported in.

Also specifying it as any free font has its pitfalls. There should be fonts
for all the big operating systems. When we want to adopt a policy like the
one that is being discussed, we should actively support our users. Currently
we do not inform our users how and where to find the fonts they need to see
all of our content. In the articles about languages it is often said that
you may not be able to see all the content .. go away and look for a font.

When you want to have a strict policy about Free and unencumbered software,
you have to accept the consequences and enable people to use Free and
unencumbered software. This does include fonts.

Thanks,
     Gerard<

On 9/3/07, Gregory Maxwell <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 9/3/07, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > There are languages that are not at all supported with fonts that are
> > available and that are Free and unencumbered.
>
> Gerard, we've gone through this before.
>
> What languages do we have projects in where there isn't acceptable
> coverage in any free font? Please be specific.
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: Software Policy Draft

Tim Starling-2
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-4
Erik Moeller wrote:

> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Software_Policy_Draft
>
> (Permalink to original:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Software_Policy_Draft&oldid=661622
> )
>
> This is a first modest draft for a software policy for WMF projects.
> It's an attempt to codify our existing practices re: free file formats
> & open source software. I'd appreciate feedback & edits. If we can end
> up with something that makes sense, I'll put it to a Board vote.
>

Seems like instruction creep to me. Why do we need such a policy? Have
there been any challenges to these principles lately? Are there likely to be?

-- Tim Starling


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Re: Software Policy Draft

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-4
On 9/3/07, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:

> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Software_Policy_Draft
>
> (Permalink to original:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Software_Policy_Draft&oldid=661622
> )
>
> This is a first modest draft for a software policy for WMF projects.
> It's an attempt to codify our existing practices re: free file formats
> & open source software. I'd appreciate feedback & edits. If we can end
> up with something that makes sense, I'll put it to a Board vote.
>
>

For myself, I fully support clause 3: "Creating a functionally equivalent
copy ("mirror") of a project operated by the Wikimedia Foundation
must not require the use of proprietary software by the third party
creating the copy."

On clauses 1, 2 and 4. I think I need to study them further, before I
say anything too definitive, one way or the other.


--
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen, ~ [[User:Cimon Avaro]]

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Re: Software Policy Draft

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Tim Starling-2
> Seems like instruction creep to me. Why do we need such a policy? Have
> there been any challenges to these principles lately? Are there likely to be?

There seems to be a desire by the board to put things in writing.
There are some benefits to this. While the community knows what our
values are (since they are our values), we would never do anything
against this policy. However, the staff at WMF aren't necessarily
members of the community with the same values we have - their job is
to do what the board tells them, we can't and shouldn't assume they
know what we want instinctively. These policies are how the board
guides the staff.

Even if we could assume the staff are psychic, there are still
problems with unwritten rules. When an unwritten rule conflicts with a
written one, the written one will always take priority, regardless of
which is more important. We can't really function with nothing in
writing, so it's necessary to put everything in writing.

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Re: Software Policy Draft

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
On 03/09/07, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:

> When you want to have a strict policy about Free and unencumbered software,
> you have to accept the consequences and enable people to use Free and
> unencumbered software. This does include fonts.


We can have a guideline "where not possible to substitute." This will
probably get a bit like the en:wp "fair use" guidelines at times ...
but should be a lot easier to keep manageable.


- d.

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Re: Software Policy Draft

Tim Starling-2
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
Thomas Dalton wrote:

>> Seems like instruction creep to me. Why do we need such a policy? Have
>> there been any challenges to these principles lately? Are there likely to be?
>
> There seems to be a desire by the board to put things in writing.
> There are some benefits to this. While the community knows what our
> values are (since they are our values), we would never do anything
> against this policy. However, the staff at WMF aren't necessarily
> members of the community with the same values we have - their job is
> to do what the board tells them, we can't and shouldn't assume they
> know what we want instinctively. These policies are how the board
> guides the staff.

The technical staff have ample experience with the values of the community.

> Even if we could assume the staff are psychic, there are still
> problems with unwritten rules. When an unwritten rule conflicts with a
> written one, the written one will always take priority, regardless of
> which is more important. We can't really function with nothing in
> writing, so it's necessary to put everything in writing.

The problem comes when a vague written policy such as this one could be
read in a way that conflicts with the core principles of the Foundation.
The Foundation's mission is education; promotion of free software is
secondary to that.

-- Tim Starling


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Re: Software Policy Draft

Mark
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
Thomas Dalton wrote:
> While the community knows what our
> values are (since they are our values), we would never do anything
> against this policy. However, the staff at WMF aren't necessarily
> members of the community with the same values we have - their job is
> to do what the board tells them, we can't and shouldn't assume they
> know what we want instinctively.

Given that there are thousands of members of the community---some of
whom might even be amenable to gainful employment---I can think of an
alternate solution to that problem. =]

-Mark


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Re: Software Policy Draft

Thomas Dalton
> Given that there are thousands of members of the community---some of
> whom might even be amenable to gainful employment---I can think of an
> alternate solution to that problem. =]

How many of them live in Florida?

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Re: Software Policy Draft

Thomas Dalton
On 03/09/07, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Given that there are thousands of members of the community---some of
> > whom might even be amenable to gainful employment---I can think of an
> > alternate solution to that problem. =]
>
> How many of them live in Florida?

PS And have the appropriate experience for whatever work is required?

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Re: Software Policy Draft

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Tim Starling-2
> The technical staff have ample experience with the values of the community.

I was talking in general terms. Yes, the current technical staff are
not an issue. Future technical staff, and non-technical staff could
be. We don't recruit staff based on their experience with Wikipedia,
we recruit them based on their ability to do the job (although
experience with Wikipedia is taken into account, I hope).

> The problem comes when a vague written policy such as this one could be
> read in a way that conflicts with the core principles of the Foundation.
> The Foundation's mission is education; promotion of free software is
> secondary to that.

A bad policy is worse than no policy in many cases, yes, but that's
why we've been told about this policy while it's at the draft stage.
We should be able to help the board put together a good policy.

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Re: Software Policy Draft

Gregory Maxwell
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
On 9/3/07, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Hoi,
> There are many languages that are problematic including Khmer, Cherokee and
> Burmese.

Cherokee is supported by several fonts. Support for it is included in
many linux desktops, including the Fedora system which is on my
laptop.

Myanmar (Burmese) is supported by a free font
(http://www.myanmarnlp.net.mm/opentype.htm). The language also has
some more demands on the layout and rendering engine (it has to
support a lot of face substitution).. but Myanmar is supported on free
systems either using the Pango myanmar module or the m17n package.

Free fonts for Khmer can be found at
http://www.khmeros.info/drupal/?q=en/download/fonts. Likewise Khmer
needs some substitution/layout rules.. Likewise, Khmer is supported by
m17n and the latest pango.

>Also specifying it as any free font has its pitfalls. There should be
>fonts for all the big operating systems. When we want to adopt a policy
>like the one that is being discussed, we should actively support our
>users.

Just about all fonts of interest are available in truetype form.
They'll run on all "major operating systems".

> When you want to have a strict policy about Free and unencumbered software,
> you have to accept the consequences and enable people to use Free and
> unencumbered software. This does include fonts.

No, actually it doesn't include fonts. No one has made this argument
has actually be able to produce an example of a actual gap related to
fonts and if found no such gap would exist for long due to the lack of
copyrightability of the font faces themselves, if nothing else.

Fonts simply are not an area where there is any conflict with free
software, nor in area where there should ever be a conflict.

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Re: Software Policy Draft

Platonides
In reply to this post by Tim Starling-2
Simetrical wrote:
 > 4.1 Clearly identify changes in the natural language of a document's
 > text and any  text equivalents (e.g., captions). [Priority 1]
 >     For example, in HTML use the "lang" attribute. In XML, use
"xml:lang".
 >
 > 1.1 isn't failed by anything in the software itself, I don't think,
 > but we make it practically impossible for in-article images to pass
 > it.  4.1 isn't followed anywhere, we have one big lang attribute for
 > everything last I checked.


There're some templates, but not too used. They mostly exist to fix
browser rendering bugs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Lang
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:IPA



Tim Starling wrote:
> Seems like instruction creep to me. Why do we need such a policy? Have
> there been any challenges to these principles lately? Are there likely to be?
>
> -- Tim Starling

I don't see that it really adds anything, but could give problems on
strict reading of the letter.
When is a format free and when not?

Are Pdfs free?
Were Gif free when there patents were active because you could create
"uncompressed" gifs?
Is Djvu if you need propietary software to get efficient compression? [1]
Is our content free because i could wget -m en.wikipedia.org ?
Are our dumps free just because the content is self-descriptive (ie. i
could create my own parser)?
Are our dumps equally free without mwdumper (java is free but not
usable) as they could be imported (reeaally slowly) with importDump.php?


Not that i'm against the spirit of the resolution, but its wording is a
troll [2]. See the "Wikimedia logos on Commons" thread on foundation-l
about the suposed contradiction between non-free WMF logos and the image
resolution [3]. And it doesn't really matter, as it's a non-written
rule, and such a change would pass through brion, which is a Foundation
employee.
Rather a board resolution, i think it would be better as a board
recommendation.

Just my 2 cents.


[1] http://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=6131#c8
[2] Troll (post) http://catb.org/jargon/html/T/troll.html
[3] http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.org.wikimedia.foundation/19410


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Re: Software Policy Draft

Gerard Meijssen-3
In reply to this post by Gregory Maxwell
Hoi,
Fonts are an absolute pain when you do not have them, When they can be found
in the first place, they are not consistent in their behaviour and size. The
notion that because of there being a font for one operating system there is
one for another is simply wrong.

By putting this policy into concrete, we assume responsibilities that we do
not have at this time. Helping sort out the mess that is what fonts are is
one.

Thanks,
     GerardM

On 9/3/07, Gregory Maxwell <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 9/3/07, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Hoi,
> > There are many languages that are problematic including Khmer, Cherokee
> and
> > Burmese.
>
> Cherokee is supported by several fonts. Support for it is included in
> many linux desktops, including the Fedora system which is on my
> laptop.
>
> Myanmar (Burmese) is supported by a free font
> (http://www.myanmarnlp.net.mm/opentype.htm). The language also has
> some more demands on the layout and rendering engine (it has to
> support a lot of face substitution).. but Myanmar is supported on free
> systems either using the Pango myanmar module or the m17n package.
>
> Free fonts for Khmer can be found at
> http://www.khmeros.info/drupal/?q=en/download/fonts. Likewise Khmer
> needs some substitution/layout rules.. Likewise, Khmer is supported by
> m17n and the latest pango.
>
> >Also specifying it as any free font has its pitfalls. There should be
> >fonts for all the big operating systems. When we want to adopt a policy
> >like the one that is being discussed, we should actively support our
> >users.
>
> Just about all fonts of interest are available in truetype form.
> They'll run on all "major operating systems".
>
> > When you want to have a strict policy about Free and unencumbered
> software,
> > you have to accept the consequences and enable people to use Free and
> > unencumbered software. This does include fonts.
>
> No, actually it doesn't include fonts. No one has made this argument
> has actually be able to produce an example of a actual gap related to
> fonts and if found no such gap would exist for long due to the lack of
> copyrightability of the font faces themselves, if nothing else.
>
> Fonts simply are not an area where there is any conflict with free
> software, nor in area where there should ever be a conflict.
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: Software Policy Draft

Mark Bergsma-2
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
Thomas Dalton wrote:
>> The technical staff have ample experience with the values of the community.
>
> I was talking in general terms. Yes, the current technical staff are
> not an issue. Future technical staff, and non-technical staff could
> be. We don't recruit staff based on their experience with Wikipedia,
> we recruit them based on their ability to do the job (although
> experience with Wikipedia is taken into account, I hope).

I always find it fascinating when external people are explaining current
practices to the people actually doing the job.

 > How many of them live in Florida?

How many of them *need* to live in Florida?

--
Mark Bergsma <[hidden email]>
System and Network Administrator, Wikimedia Foundation

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Re: Software Policy Draft

brian.mcneil-2

> > How many of them live in Florida?

>How many of them *need* to live in Florida?

I live in Belgium, I work on contract for a U.S. subsidiary of China.com. My
current project is for a client in the central US time zone, my last was for
one in Alaska. If you have the technological infrastructure such as phones
and Internet correctly set up then there is no reason people need work in
Florida. They can work anywhere, and it has benefits - you become a 24 hour
organisation.

In fact, in the last four years I've never even known what any of the people
I was working with looked like.


Brian McNeil


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Re: Software Policy Draft

Andre Engels
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-4
2007/9/3, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]>:

> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Software_Policy_Draft
>
> (Permalink to original:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Software_Policy_Draft&oldid=661622
> )
>
> This is a first modest draft for a software policy for WMF projects.
> It's an attempt to codify our existing practices re: free file formats
> & open source software. I'd appreciate feedback & edits. If we can end
> up with something that makes sense, I'll put it to a Board vote.

I think that the current definition of "direct dependency" in the page
("a copy of the content cannot be rendered or modified on the user's
system using open source software without a prior conversion to
another format by the user.") is too strict. It would for example
consider every type of zipped material, independent of the nature of
the compression algorithm or the encoding of what was zipped, to be
directly dependent on proprietary software. I think there should be an
addendum "when there is no open source software capable of doing such
a conversion".

--
Andre Engels, [hidden email]
ICQ: 6260644  --  Skype: a_engels

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Re: Software Policy Draft

Gregory Maxwell
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
On 9/4/07, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Hoi,
> Fonts are an absolute pain when you do not have them, When they can be found
> in the first place, they are not consistent in their behaviour and size. The
> notion that because of there being a font for one operating system there is
> one for another is simply wrong.

Yes fonts are a pain. But the font that I've mentioned are all TTF,
and will work on any reasonable modern system.

Amusingly.. it is free fonts that reduce the pain since they are
available to more people and can be distributed more liberally.


> By putting this policy into concrete, we assume responsibilities that we
>do not have at this time. Helping sort out the mess that is what fonts are
>is one.

I haven't commented on the proposed policy as others have stated my
views more clearly than I would... but I do not see how you reach this
conclusion.

The policy would require that things we distribute will work with
freely licensed tools. This is already believed to be the existing
practice.

So far you haven't shown us an example of text we distribute which
can't be used with freely licensed tools, so there is no conflict.
Perhaps most people will read the text using non-free fonts, just like
most people browse the site with IE on Windows... Our practice is to
avoid doing things which make the decision to use free tools hard for
those who would not choose to use propritary tools.  I feel sorry for
people who browse our site using IE on Windows, but that they do is
their choice, and it has no direct conflict with making sure that our
work is useful for people without Windows.

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