Wikipedia:Don't escalate

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One fine day on IRC[edit]

1:05p: Noofish: I need advice from people here who are experienced in these things. I help run a wiki called <foo>. Recently, an unknown person just took all the text verbatim from the "about us" page from a high school's website. After about 50 minutes, I explained on the talk page that I was going to revert the edit due to it being considered plagiarism.

1:06p: Noofish: And also just because I think its bad practice. It would be better if that person could summarize the information themselves.

1:06p: Johnny_Reb: it's *4* badass templates, thank you

1:06p: Hamboney: Noofish: you need to delete the article, it's copyright infringement

1:06p: Noofish: So today, that person has come to the talk page and stated that they are a teacher for that high school and actually authored the text on their website.

1:06p: Hamboney: ok

1:07p: Noofish: So my question is, is this really plagiarism/copyright infringement?

1:07p: Beagleye: 16:45, 4 October 2006 Mark Twain (Talk | contribs) blocked "Ernest Hemingway (contribs)" with an expiry time of 1 week (being an asshole)

1:07p: Johnny_Reb: the user is the original author of the web page he ripped off for your wiki

1:07p: Hamboney: if you can make absolutely certain that it's the author, then no. Still, it's very good policy to simply not allowing it

1:07p: Johnny_Reb: correct?

1:08p: Johnny_Reb: you need to verify identity and permission

1:08p: Johnny_Reb: a letter on letterhead stationary is always a good argument in court

1:08p: Noofish: Ok, I agree with you. I just wanted to make sure that I'm not in the wrong. I figured that people working on Wikipedia would have more experience with this. Thanks for your help.

Note: At this point the noo fish is happy; his question has been answered and he's ready to go

1:08p: Hamboney: Noofish: we have a policy on Wikipedia of not allowing copyrighted text under any circumstances (except things like quoting)

1:09p: Johnny_Reb: although that can be played too WP:BEANS

1:09p: Squiddy: Hamboney: Umm... no.

1:09p: Noofish: I think that's a good policy.

1:09p: Squiddy: Most of the text on Wikipedia is copyrighted. It's just released under a free license. There's a *huge* difference.

1:09p: Hamboney: Squiddy: ohh mr nitpick

1:09p: Squiddy: Wikipedia is not in the public domain. It's freely licensed.

1:09p: Noofish: anyways

1:09p: Squiddy: Hamboney: It's not a nitpick. It's a fundamental and very important distinction.

1:10p: Johnny_Reb: it's an important point but not relevant to his issue

1:10p: Squiddy: The GFDL is what makes us copyleft and freely redistributable... and *keeps* us that way.

1:10p: Squiddy: Johnny_Reb: Actually, it is relevant.

1:10p: Johnny_Reb: Noofish: run quickly now before you choke on process-wonk wordsmog

1:10p: Hamboney: yes, I know that!

1:10p: Squiddy: Copyrighted text is fine in Wikipedia... as long as permission of the copyrgiht holder is obtained.

1:11p: Hamboney: Squiddy: no it's not. Permission is not enough

1:11p: Noofish: Johnny_Reb: hahaha. Yeah, indeed. What have I started here? I just wanted to ask a question. ;-)

1:11p: Hamboney: (now I'm nitpicking)

1:11p: Squiddy: Johnny_Reb: Please don't insult me for clarifying what is perhaps *the* most important thing about Wikipedia.

1:11p: Johnny_Reb: Squiddy: you're right but he's not even editing WP

1:11p: Squiddy: Permission to use under the GFDL granted by them *licensing* their text under the GFDL.

1:12p: Hamboney: hey, you started this!

1:11p:       Johnny_Reb runs screaming out of the building with a lit molotov cocktail

1:12p: Squiddy: no you said "as long as permission of the copyrgiht holder is obtained." That's not enough, they need to actually *license* it

1:12p: Pink_Poodle: Can an image be speedy-deleted if the author endorses the deletion?

5 minutes and 47 lines later:

1:17p: Squiddy: license. n. Official or legal permission to do or own a specified thing. See synonyms at "permission".

1:17p: Squiddy: The only *ways* they can give us permission are by releasing the text into the public domain or licensing it under the GFDL. I stand by my language.

10 minutes and 83 lines later:

1:27p: Hamboney: still giving us permission to use text and licensing text under the GFDL is not the same thing for people who *aren't* Wikipedians

1:28p: White_Mouse: hi, can we get an admin to do something about this user's vandalism....

1:29p: Tootsie: wait a minute

1:29p: Tootsie: they replaced all of the music?

— text edited heavily for comedic effect and to protect innocent and guilty alike


As editors, we share a common weakness: We like to edit – to correct things, to make them right. It's important to remember that in some cases, it really doesn't matter.

On IRC, this blew up and blew over in a matter of minutes. On wiki, this kind of escalation can rage for weeks or months. Everybody comes to the table with concerns; everybody needs to be right. Anybody who cares about the substantive issue gets dragged into the escalation by questioning the escalation itself.

This isn't just a matter of stay cool. We can all be coldly reasonable and still destroy the building piece by piece. We need to watch how many layers of indirection we're piling onto the discussion and try not to stray too far from the substantive issue.

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