Wikipedia and attribution
Mike Linksvayer, March 9th, 2009
The potential migration of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects to using CC BY-SA as their primary content license has spurred some interesting discussions about attribution — how to give credit for a massively collaborative work in a variety of mediums? This question is relevant regardless of migration, but clearly migration has prompted the discussion and provides an opportunity to progress best practices.
Erik Möller has posted results of a survey run on the English and German Wikipedias regarding how contributors feel about what constitutes appropriate credit for using Wikipedia content. Raw survey data is available for independent analysis.
Unsurprisingly (at least in hindsight), attribution via linking to the article used was most popular, while not giving credit at all was least popular. Here’s the Condorcet ranking, provided by Robert Rohde:
1) Link to the article must be given. 2) Collective credit (e.g. Wikipedia community). 3) Link to the version history must be given. 4) For online use: link. For other uses: full list of authors. 5) Full list of authors must always be copied. 6) No credit is needed.
Creative Commons had wikis in mind when we added attribution via link in version 2.5 of our licenses in 2005. If there are further changes we can make to address attribution and massively collaborative works, it is surely something we’ll want to look at in a future version of the CC licenses, regardless of Wikipedia migration, as wiki and wiki-like mechanisms will only grow in importance for the creation of free cultural works — though it will be very helpful to have the brainpower and experience of the Wikipedia community guiding such developments.
Correction 2009-03-11: We added attribution by link in version 2.0. The change in 2.5 did have wikis in mind, but was more subtle — allowing the licensor to designate that attribution should go to an entity such as a journal or wiki. Thanks to Anthony for prompting this correction on the Wikimedia Foundation discussion list.