Talk:Mexican tea culture

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Removed text[edit]

I've here removed the copy from the Sparks Mexico website. The list (not necessarily a problem in itself) has been almost completely copy-pasted, with some minor language changed. The phrasing of the text reflects almost exactly the turns of phrase in the source. I see no "free" license on the page being copied from, and the linked "main" page does have a copyright notice - so the presumption here is that it is a copyrighted work. There are several ways to remedy this. One would be to completely rewrite the section in prose, selecting only the most prominent drinks; another would be to create a table where the entries could be listed in neutral terms, with a lead-in sentence of "According to the Sparks Mexico project, [these] are the medicinal uses of herbal teas" or something similar. Perhaps there are other approaches too, but I don't think the content I removed is justifiable as entered. Franamax (talk) 23:15, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

Forgot to mention: a certain part of my decision here is the rather uncritical approach taken to incorporating the copied material. All the "species" were wiki-linked, but it really makes no sense to create a redlink to Quercus spp.. "spp." refers to multiple species/subspecies of a genus. Unless another source can be found to indicate which exact species are used in the tea, the correct link would be to List of Quercus species or perhaps Oak. That would be fixable too, but there are just too many problems with the wording I removed. Franamax (talk) 23:28, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
My bad, I didn't think that a list/table with the correct citation would be considered a copyright violation. Particularly since it was one part of the article, not the entire thing. When in doubt, leave it out. OttawaAC (talk) 02:17, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
Rather than looking at how much of the WP article it comprises, I think the better way is to look at whether or not you are making a "substantial taking" of the copied work. Copying a list of facts is generally not a problem, and preserving some logical ordering of a list (i.e. chronological or alphabetic) is also generally not a problem. Here though, I can see several concerns: how was the extent (# of items on the list) determined? Is it an exhaustive list, or was creativity involved on the part of the original authors when thewy selected the items to be included? (i.e. did they leave out the really dangerous teas?); and is there creativity in the information presented in the list? In this case, the wording id distinctive, and the recommended doses came from (hopefully) on-the-ground research and someone had to decide whether to say the tea uses one small handful or two small handfuls, and how big of a cup you should be drinking. That is creative selection and presentation of facts, which we don't slavishly copy here, unless we show it clearly with quotation marks (and that looks like way too much to put in a quote box). If the webpage showed a GFDL or CC-BY compatible license, then of course the text could be copied, changed, etc. with the proper attribution template. But everything I read in that list is looking like creativity and skill was used to compile it. Contrast that with, say, if I was to take a phone book and list the entire info in phone # order instead of by name - I really wouldn't be able to complain that you ripped me off when you copied it here (which of course you wouldn't do anyway, just sayin' :). Franamax (talk) 05:55, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for replying with more details. I posted a question about copying and pasting info from lists, tables, charts, and so on, over in the Media copyright questions forum, I'm hoping to get some more input so that I understand this thoroughly: [1]

I think it's a bit complicated. For example, the list that was provided in the Mexican tea culture article was long, but far from exhaustive. University of Texas (El Paso) and U of Texas (Austin) have published the following online [2]:

A total of 3,000 species have been compiled in an atlas of medicinal plants employed by diverse ethnic groups. Incredibly, of these only approximately 1% of them have been studied in depth, regarding their potential medicinal properties (Argueta et al., 1994).

(ETA: yes, they're just referring to traditional Mexican medicinal plants.) Some of these medicines do actually refer to an entire species of plant, like "erba buena", which is also called Yerba buena, and refers, as I understand it, to any of a large variety of wild mint plants. Also, your point about the dosages is well taken; I did preface the list with a sentence warning of the dangers of incorrect consumption, and I left out some details that would enable more people to experiment with the information. On the other hand, I did no original research into the medicinal teas, and I can't verify the source's claims. Maybe more of a caution or disclaimer is required?


Those details are pertinent, but I think they're actually less important than establishing a length threshold for copying lists, tables, charts etc. I get into that a bit more at the copyright question forum. Like paraphrasing information, I was always told at university, more than three or four sentences requires a citation or blockquote. Copyright laws may have different requirements than academic research papers, though, and I want to know what the deal is with the copyright restrictions on content. OttawaAC (talk) 23:20, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure if MCQ was the best place to ask (but I'm glad you did, more voices are always good), I think they deal more with image questions. If you don't get good response there you could try the copyright problems talk page. If you're not aware, the awesome source for all things copyright is User:Moonriddengirl, who is extremely knowledgeable and always helpful (and always overworked). I think she watches WT:CP and so do other people familiar with textual issues.
I think you shoud probably drop any dosage info, since your source has nothing matching on liver or kidney toxicity (and see more concerns below). As a table, you would present it as remedy name - plant+species link - part of plant - used for - refs (eventually). A bit at the top about "[credible source] has compiled a partial list of medicinal blah blah..." and a citation at the bottom of the table, I think would handle the copyright concerns, because you are reducing the list to just plain (and as noted at MCQ too, uncopyrightable) facts. I don't think reordering would particularly help anything, if you are not incorporating another source and/or making selections from the list. As you said at MCQ, if you took someone's creative writing and rearranged it in order of bark/fruit/husk/leaf/root, they might have legitimate grounds to complain. And I can't really help with what to include or exclude, although the one that can induce abortion and is extremely poisonous, hmm; the one that regularizes menstrual flow and expels intestinal worms, that's an intersting mechanism of action; and the one that improve's the mood, dude, let's try smoking it! ;)
As far as establishing length thresholds on copying of lists, I really think the answer will always be "give a diff of the list you refer to so we can look at it". It is a complex topic. And you do need to be aware that university guidelines and ours may be different, for instance our "definition" of plagiarism may be a little different, since universities promote original research and we sort-of discourage it. And perhaps here we have to deal with more extensive copying from single sources, whereas universities push their students and faculty to inetgrate sources? Because wiki articles get a built a bit at a time, maybe they are more vulnerable to sole-sourced segments, which are often where copyvio concerns arise.
Most important for this page though, I've had another look at the source, and I'm not sure it can be qualified as reliable in any case. Where exactly did that list come from? The About page for the site is talking about someone currently moving between cities, that doesn't sound like an organization with editorial oversight or fact checking. A Google search for "Sparks Mexico" shows "info, links, pictures and stories about traveling and retiring in Mexico". That doesn't sound to me like a superior source for what si essentially medical advice (though we do have a disclaimer). Maybe you could seek out some of those academic sources referenced in the link you give above and they could be used to support a smaller list. I don't doubt the good faith and diligence of whoever compiled the list you used, but I can't figure out who they are or how they got the information.
Umm, sorry for yet another lengthy post. :) Franamax (talk) 07:24, 12 November 2011 (UTC)