Talk:WTFPL

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Overlong lead[edit]

Per the title, the lead is a tad bit long. The main issue I have is the presence of this clause: "making it the 19th most used FOSS license." Is that really important enough to be in the lead? I don't see why its position on a list is important when the article already just mentioned that <1% of projects use the license. Michael Reed (talk) 18:26, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

well, I agree let's move that to reception, more details should be in the specialized chapters. cheersShaddim (talk) 23:02, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
I must say that I see no point whatsoever in any mention of the rank of a fraction of a percent, unless we’re trying to illustrate just how little diversity exists in the field, which I don’t think is what we want. Statistics like these would best be reported as MIT, GPL, Apache, BSD, maybe LGPL, and Other (16%). —67.14.236.50 (talk) 15:47, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
So, is there any point in mentioning this bottom rank? What are we trying to say with it? —67.14.236.50 (talk) 14:52, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
I don't understand your problem with it. What tells us 1% ? What tells us 19th rank? Both are hard to grasp alone... together they the reader at least some idea where to position the WTFPL in the spectrum of licenses. Shaddim (talk) 22:49, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
@Shaddim: Assuming you mean “what does _____ tell us”:
  • A fraction of a percentage tells us that barely anyone uses it, relatively speaking.
  • An arbitrary rank lower than 5 or 10, out of an unspecified number so that we don’t know how far up or down the list it actually is, tells us literally nothing.
  • Both data points taken together tell us that there are far fewer than nineteen widely used FOSS licenses, which seems off-topic unless we have reason to discuss FOSS culture and licensing in general in an article about one license in particular.
Which of these is the intended message here? —67.14.236.50 (talk) 01:43, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
Such interesting room for interpretations, as presented, should be given to the reader, not the editors. And especially, we should not limit the readers from valid interpretations by limiting the facts on arbitrary cutting points. Shaddim (talk) 05:27, 12 July 2016 (UTC)

──────────── @Shaddim: The cutting point doesn't seem arbitrary to me. My understanding is this: the lower the popularity of a license (that is, in the context of all available licenses), the less important the rank of the license relative to other licenses (e.g., 19th for WTFPL, 1st for MIT). Take a marathon, for example, where there are 10,000 runners, but only 3 medals to give out. The difference between 1st and 2nd is significant, as is the difference between 2nd and 3rd. But once you get to the difference between the 19th and the 20th, the difference is of much less relevance. In other words, it may be interesting that the WTFPL ranks as the 19th most popular license, but since the difference between the 19th and the 20th is of little magnitude (relative to the difference between the 1st and 2nd), then the rank doesn't need to be mentioned. Michael Reed (talk) 06:07, 12 July 2016 (UTC)

Agreed. If it were in the top ten, there might be an argument for including the rank (but even then, #10 only has 2% share). Past that, the number is pretty meaningless, isn’t it? What value does it add to the article? Yes, it’s a data point, but we don’t include every bit of data indiscriminately. So why include that one? —67.14.236.50 (talk) 06:17, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
Because it is hard data on popularity, which is recpetion whcih we are encouraged to represent. Feel free to find somethign better, until then we keep the best we have. Shaddim (talk) 15:17, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
We already have something better: the usage percentage. I ask again, what does the ranking add to that? It’s just a distractingly arbitrary number. Unless I’m mistaken, we wouldn’t say that a book reached #177 on Amazon’s charts or something, and that’s a much more significant rank out of thousands of books than a rank of 19/20; we might say the book made the top 200, but at that point the precise number isn’t worth mentioning. Such is the case here.
I know you disagree. I know you think there’s some reason to include it anyway, to consider it relevant rather than indiscriminate. I just don’t know what that reason is. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 22:25, 12 July 2016 (UTC)

Some random person said…[edit]

The section § Reception and discussion had namedropped people without giving any context of who they were or why we were quoting or referencing them specifically. I’ve attempted to remedy this by introducing the passage with: Individual open-source software developers have differing opinions regarding on the sincerity of the WTFPL. Thoughts? —67.14.236.50 (talk) 14:39, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

I like what you did; seems fine to me. Michael Reed (talk) 18:33, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

It’s not clear to me why any of these people (besides Hocevar) are being cited here or why their personal opinions particularly matter. Can anyone enlighten me on this? —67.14.236.50 (talk) 03:19, 12 July 2016 (UTC)

I’ve just boldly removed said opinions. If reverted, please discuss. Thanks. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 03:27, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
Reception has a very long tradition in WP. I will re-add the sources. Shaddim (talk) 05:27, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
Sure, but reception among random self-published individuals (edit: added a {{self-published}} notice)? These are not reliable sources on the subject. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 06:00, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
Note: I’ve linked this article in a Teahouse discussion about attributing individuals. And an uninvolved editor there has said: I do think that the individuals' credentials need to be explained, otherwise it just reads like a haphazard list of people's opinions. I fully agree. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 22:56, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
This is an misunderstanding. Reception and opinion of organizations/peoples on a topic don't need to come from "reliable" sources but from relevant ones. Relevant(!) even subjective opinions are fine, it needs to be just balanced, not mis-representing/unfair to the topic. Here, the opinion of relevant people in the software domain on a software license ARE noteworthy and fine for inclusion. The selected people are relevant, they have WP articles and work in associated domains. Shaddim (talk) 17:22, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
(67.14.236.50, using a public computer at the moment.) Wikipedia:Criticism says to give "both positive and negative viewpoints from reliable sources" (emphasis added), and goes on to cite WP:V as requiring "attributing all viewpoints to reliable, published sources" (emphasis added). So, yes, they do. And if these people's opinions were published by a third party, I would wholeheartedly agree on including them here. But they're self-published, and it isn't clear that any of them are experts on licensing, so it isn't clear why we're publishing their self-published opinions. —151.132.206.26 (talk) 17:58, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
You misunderstood reliablity in this context. There is no reliable opinion ("truth") about a topic. Even the best experts are not reliable right. This just means, we can not use website X (unreliable) wrote that Person Y (relevant) had opinion Z about topic W. This is no problem for the selected sources. There is no reasonable (emphasize mine) doubt on the "reliablity" of the published opinions, e.g. self-published primary sources are perfect sources here. Shaddim (talk) 18:08, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
─────────────────
Yes, self-published sources are generally reliable sources on the topic of the author’s personal opinion. But I don’t think that’s quite what that page meant. We don’t consider user reviews on Amazon.com, Steam, or Rotten Tomatoes, for instance, even though there’s no doubt that person Y wrote opinion Z. If there’s something that qualifies each of these people to speak on the topic, like having received a doctorate in intellectual property law, that should be made clear in the text; otherwise, it’s no better than user-submitted reviews. Or maybe that content just needs to be reformulated. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 22:36, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
I’ve just attempted to address this by including a bit about who each person is. But like I said at the Teahouse, I’m still not sure if any of them are qualified to have an opinion on the particular topic; in other words, we may be giving their opinions undue weight by mentioning them, especially following organizations that specialize in the field. If nothing improves, I will likely be removing the paragraph as WP:UNDUE. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 23:01, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
I would a oppose such a removal, as I believe: the selection is inside the freedom we enjoy as authors, the selection is already balanced and could be further balanced. Also, contrary to what seems the believe: the solution to a problems in WP should not always be "delete" but better reformulate, improve and rebalance. Shaddim (talk) 14:12, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
Fair enough. Can you show that these individuals are as credible on the subject as the FSF, OSI, et al., whose work on licensing has been published by a third party? Or that these are anything more than isolated personal opinions, possibly by finding an article about the WTFPL or about licenses in general that discusses those opinions itself? I’m just looking for something that shows some kind of trend among individual devs, something that shows that these remarks matter. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 07:40, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
First, this individuals are relevant, they have WP articles. Second they work (or are active) in the field of software, licenses, copyright etc so they are qualified to have an opinion on WTFPL...this selection is the active work of us all as authors and we have to find here a balanced acceptable solution in consensus. If you disagree on the existing selection, I encourage you to do your own research and expand the reception chapter by finding more notable and better suited individuals or parties on this subject, I'm all open in discussing substituting them then. cheers Shaddim (talk)
Having articles only means they are WP:NOTABLE, not relevant. And notability is not the issue here, unless they are specifically notable in the field of licensing or intellectual property (which, to my knowledge, they are not). Just like writing a book and sending it to a publisher does not make one an expert in publishing-industry contracts, writing software and choosing a license to publish it under does not make one an expert in software licenses. From what I can tell, these are the self-published opinions of people whose experience with IP law is limited to picking a license they like, except perhaps for Nina Paley. If they have other qualifications, please do share those; but as it stands, it is simply not appropriate to include anything from these sources here. If we could cite an article or two from reliable sources (not self-published) that discussed any number of people’s opinions of the WTFPL, that would be a massive improvement. If we could cite self-published material, even blog or Github comments, from people who are acknowledged by other sources to be knowledgeable about licensing, that would be a massive improvement. Can any such improvements be made to the current content? Can we show that this is not just a random sampling of people who picked a license? —67.14.236.50 (talk) 23:47, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
These people are notable, they work in an WTFPL associated field which makes their opinion potentially inclusion worthy. While a truely random sample of people would be also a good idea, we follow here a similar idea: a editor selected represenative balanced representation (selected in consensus by WP authors) which "making sure that all majority and significant minority views that have appeared (...) are covered". The goal is "representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without editorial bias, all of the significant views that have been published (...) on a topic", not find the perfect specialist (which does not exist, there is no correct opinion about a topic). I agree more sources would be beneficial, do you have other sources with opinions which could improve the balance and broadness here? Again, I encourage you finding more and better suitable experts (not challenge the few we have here needlessly, while hammering on "reliability" which is perfectly fine with self-published sources as already debated...and is in general only minor topic, the main topic is verfiability, which is fullfilled). Shaddim (talk) 09:30, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
─────────────────
No, a random selection would be a terrible idea, since we’d have no reason to care what they had to say. That’s my point, that that’s what this seems like. I think you missed a key word in your quotes: significant. A view held by some person who may not even know anything about the subject area is not significant. I asked for reliable sources that support these people’s credibility. Do they exist? Is there a source that says Eric S. Raymond has a history of copyright negotiation, or a third-party publication of Jeff Atwood’s thoughts on the GPL’s problems, or anything? I’m not saying we should remove them. I’m saying we should remove them if nothing can be found. Can anything be found? —67.14.236.50 (talk) 15:02, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
Well, while I disagree in this interpretation of the value of random sampling a user base (e.g. in histrogram form would be beautiful and valuable), this is thankfully purely academic as we apply here another concept: the concept that we as WP authors present here a representative, balanced selection of notable opinions on a topic. Which is very fine idea, and I heared even from you a semi-agreement on the selected sources. Therefore, your request on finding meta sources which support the idea that ESR, Nina Paley, Jeff Atwood are good references on the topic of the WTFPL I find kind of excessive and meta. Is that not one step too far? With that argumentation everywhere applied we couldn't formulate as authors a single sentence without source, reducing us to pure copyists. We have degrees of freedom as author collective, on formulating and balancing and including material, as I showed by citing WP policies. For the source material here, trust the author collective, please don't reduce us to stupid copyists. And, you are invited to follow your own request and bring material if you believe it absolutely necessary. cheers Shaddim (talk) 15:59, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
We weren’t talking about statistical data (which, agreed, would be far superior); we were talking about a couple of people’s personal thoughts. I agreed only that self-published sources are reliable sources of their own claims. See also WP:ABOUTSELF. That does not make them appropriate for inclusion in something that is not about themselves. I ask only that we show their relevance beyond simply having an opinion. Please note that I’m asking about relevance, not notability. Please also see my earlier analogy with the print industry; a published author’s self-published thoughts on some publishing contract are not necessarily relevant to said contract, or indeed to anyone but himself. I say the individual opinions collected here don’t matter to anyone but the individuals who wrote them, who have never had any dealings in contract law or copyright law or any actual license-related field. I would be delighted to be proven wrong. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 02:10, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

─────── On reflection, I think most of my complaints abut the use of these sources (other than the utter lack of context) really stemmed from the first source. One person founded an organization where deciding whether licenses were valid or not was what he did; another is very involved in copyright-related issues (this, by the way, is what I have meant by showing relevance). And then we have a personal preference of some guy with no apparent connection to the subject. A case can be made for the inclusion of two of these, but not for the one leading them off. I guess I probably looked at the first selection and assumed the following would be equally inappropriate. I stand by what I’ve previously said, except I was saying it specifically about the Atwood reference, as Raymond and Paley both probably satisfy WP:SPS as experts. Still would be nice to get some secondary sources for it all, of course—and then there’s the question of whether it bears mention when no secondary sources have bothered. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 04:20, 20 July 2016 (UTC)

I've added more outdents to make this section readable on small mobile screens, but have made no other changes. --Thnidu (talk) 17:44, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
Thanks! —67.14.236.50 (talk) 21:33, 24 July 2016 (UTC)

Third Opinion[edit]

A third opinion has been requested. It isn't clear what the question is. Please state what the question is. Robert McClenon (talk) 01:48, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

The last paragraph of § Reception cites some individuals’ self-published opinions about the WTFPL’s validity as a software license, or about whether or not they personally just like it. Do they belong here? I say the relevance of these personal opinions (primarily Atwood’s) is unclear, with no qualifications related to contract law (a software license being a type of contract) and no third parties discussing them; User:Shaddim seems to believe that their having the ability to use the license, an opinion about it, and a biography on Wikipedia makes even a personal preference relevant. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 02:23, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
Also, I’m not convinced that WP:ABOUTSELF condones using self-published opinions about other things. I presume “third parties” in #2 refers to legal entities, but if the source claims the author holds this opinion about that thing, is that considered information about the author? Assuming of course that we never establish the author as being an expert in the field per WP:SPS. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 02:51, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
The above isn't a question but a statement of opinion. It still isn't clear to me what the difference of opinion is. Robert McClenon (talk) 02:37, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
I gave my opinion, and I gave his as I understood it: I say the relevance of these personal opinions (primarily Atwood’s) is unclear, with no qualifications related to contract law (a software license being a type of contract) and no third parties discussing them; User:Shaddim seems to believe that their having the ability to use the license, an opinion about it, and a biography on Wikipedia makes even a personal preference relevant. What remains unclear? —67.14.236.50 (talk) 02:50, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
Actually, let’s make this dead simple: We disagree about whether self-pubished opinions should be listed. Clear enough? —67.14.236.50 (talk) 03:02, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
No. I agree that self-published opinions are not worth listing. However, I have seen many times that one of the reasons for dispute resolution is that one editor has a different idea of what a second editor is saying than the second editor has of what they are trying to say. I don't know, even if you said it, that the other editor thinks that self-published opinions should be listed. I agree that they shouldn't, but I still don't know if both editors agree that that is the question. Robert McClenon (talk) 03:41, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
How about the part where he said self-published primary sources are perfect sources here? These are his words. This is the disputed point. I’ve since attempted to establish two of them as coming from expert sources, so a case can be made for those SPSes; but I still see no rationale for considering Jeff Atwood an expert source on this subject (hence this edit), and Shaddim never explained what qualified any of them as expert sources or even agreed that it was necessary. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 04:10, 24 July 2016 (UTC)

Unnecessary specificity[edit]

I don’t understand why the article includes this line: Specifically, the WTFPL does not disclaim warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, nor does it expressly disclaim liability for unintended damage caused by the software. If the license does not include a disclaimer, what’s the point of listing what types of disclaimer it doesn’t include? We already said it doesn’t have any. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 16:32, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

Yes, I'm unsure why it's included too; maybe its inclusion would seem more sound to a lawyer. Regardless, I didn't find it in the citation, so perhaps it should be removed. Michael Reed (talk) 18:38, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
Done. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 20:03, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
Well, it is quite easy to understand why "Specifically, the WTFPL does not disclaim warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, nor does it expressly disclaim liability for unintended damage caused by the software" was included, it explained the scope and gave more details of an complex legal concept. Especially, it allowed to Wikilinks to specific sub concepts (like merchantability) which could have helped the reader understanding the overall concept. This chance is now lost, with this bare minimum version. Shaddim (talk) 23:13, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
I agree with most of what you're saying, but it doesn't address the fact that the claim was not mentioned in the source (hence the failed verification tag). Then again, my analysis of the source was hasty, so I could have missed the claim.
To be clear, I'd probably welcome the re-inclusion of such a claim, provided it's properly cited. Michael Reed (talk) 23:41, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, the sourcing was the main problem (as it often is on Wikipedia). The cited FAQ did not go into any sort of detail about what kind of disclaimer was not included, but the relevant part of the MIT license is cited, so I would think that should be sufficient for contrast if it’s necessary at all. Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “it explained the scope”; the scope was any disclaimers of any kind, since the license includes none. The FAQ does say that the license is meant to be all-purpose and not just for software, so I’m not convinced the standard software disclaimer concepts are even relevant here. But if it can be reliably sourced, go for it. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 00:26, 11 July 2016 (UTC)

And why it's rarely used[edit]

FWIW, ISTM that the license isn't used much because:

  • Lots of people dislike its obscenity and/or consider it inappropriate in a licensing document with legal ramifications.
  • Lots of people either don't take it seriously because it's a parody, or are willing to do so but figure that (at least some) other people won't.
  • Like this comment's first line, it differs from initialism overload.

--Thnidu (talk) 18:02, 24 July 2016 (UTC)

@Thnidu: Got any reliable sources for this? While I can’t disagree with any of it, it would be great if we could include these criticisms with some non-SPSes. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 21:37, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
Not at all; this is all my own surmise. As I said, ISTM ("It seems to me"). Yes, it would be great, but I don't think that many people who find it inappropriate or crude would bother to write it up. And that would be only one person's opinion, and a primary source. --Thnidu (talk) 23:25, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
@Thnidu: Then I must admit being confused as to why you posted it on an article talk page. It would improve the article if we could use it, but we can’t. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 23:39, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
This is the article's talk page. I'm talking about the subject of the article. I'm sorry if you find my comments non-constructive and inappropriate.
  • (edited to add) OK, I've followed your link and now I see your point. I've often seen some tangential chatter on talk pages, but yeah. I'd like this section left in, though, as possibly useful for finding and discussing some useable material. 23:56, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
  • I was going to paste in some pertinent excerpts from the WTFPL FAQ page, but now I won't, and you and anyone else can go read it yourself. --Thnidu (talk) 23:48, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
    @Thnidu: No need to take it personally like that (unless I’m misinterpreting your initial reaction). The FAQ would be a primary source, though, which isn’t helpful for discussing outside reactions. But thanks for adding the explanation. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 00:46, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

──────────── Oh dear, I was afraid that my wording might be misinterpreted. No, I'm basically agreeing with you. Always learning: I've been doing Wikipedia for over ten years, and I don't remember seeing that bit of policy before, though of course it makes sense. And I meant that the FAQ page could possibly give other editors ideas on how and where to look for proper sources on people's reactions to WTFPL, not to use it directly as a source. --Thnidu (talk) 01:11, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

Then I’m dreadfully sorry for misunderstanding you—twice in one post! It might be me, it’s getting late. Cheers! —67.14.236.50 (talk) 01:56, 25 July 2016 (UTC)


Some possible sources:

  1. Github discussion: Please change license from WTFPL (e.g. to GPL) #474. December, 2015
  2. Programmers Stack Exchange: Should I change the name of the WTFPL? Feb. 9, 2014
  3. Hacker News: Do what the fuck you want to public license. April 16, 2014
  4. Reddit/opensource Liability of WTFPL vs MIT license: is there a *practical* difference, or just a *theoretical* one? April 13, 2012
  5. Lukasa's Echochamber: The GPL vs. The MIT License: Which License To Use. By Cory Benfield. December, 2015 "If you want people to use your name when they use your work in something, use MIT or BSD. If you honestly don’t care at all, use the WTFPL (the Do What The Fuck You Want To Public License). That’s the only decision you need to make."


I really don’t think discussion forums like StackExchange or GitHub comments are acceptable sources, unless there’s some reason to call out some individual, like a comment from the author. All we could say otherwise would be something like, “At least one person in the world claimed that reading WTFPL made her mother faint,” which would be WP:UNDUE (actually, that’s probably the rationale behind WP:SPS). Am I mistaken? —67.14.236.50 (talk) 02:04, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
Yeah... Still, is there any harm in leaving the list up there? --Thnidu (talk) 02:49, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
None at all! Just as long as everyone’s aware of that. —67.14.236.50 (talk) 03:22, 25 July 2016 (UTC)