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Re: [xodp] The Virtues of Free Licenses (Was Re: Speak Your Mind Without Fear)

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  • Jimmy Wales
    ... Yes, your support for free content and free software is unquestioned. ... So, I see here 3 reasons, restated in my own words. 1. creating guides which
    Message 1 of 60 , Sep 13, 2002
      David Prenatt wrote:

      > On that same page, you will note that I refer XODPers to Wikipedia
      >should they wish to volunteer their time and talents for an open
      >content (read free content) project.

      Yes, your support for free content and free software is unquestioned.

      >However, I am very reluctant to release the data for the XODP Web
      >Guides under a free license because the concept of creating guides
      >which target keywords is still unproven and (IMHO) exclusive control
      >over XODP Web Guides content and the XODP Web Guides concept is a key
      >ingredient to proving the concept. Moreover, the concept relies upon
      >contracting "work for hire" and co-branding the content rather than
      >exploiting volunteer labor as ODP does.

      So, I see here 3 reasons, restated in my own words.

      1. creating guides which target keywords is unproven
      2. and exclusive control over content and concept is a key ingredient to proving the concept
      3. the concept relies on work for hire and co-branding versus volunteer labor

      My response...

      1. From a technical level, or content usefulness level, I don't think
      it is true that "guides which target keywords" are unproven in any
      real sense. I can't think of any serious objections to the usefulness
      of such guides (after all, this is what quality search results aspire
      to be). And there's nothing particularly complex or magical about the
      concept from a technical point of view.

      2. Exclusive control over your own website may be a key ingredient to
      proving the concept of your website, but it is difficult to see how keeping
      the raw data (transformed into RDF format, most likely) proprietary has
      anything to do with the concept in general.

      3. Work for hire and co-branding is almost certainly incompatible
      with a free license, you're right about that. But at the same time, I
      don't see any plausible liklihood that such a business model as that
      could possibly be successful. It seems impossible for contributors
      who want to get paid to outcompete contributors who work for free.

      As you said yourself:
      > As for the failure of other projects to overtake ODP's lead, I think
      >that can be attributed to the dot-com crash. To wit, there's very
      >little money to be made in content right now.

      I would only add: and the prospects for major change, particularly
      with respect to commodity data like web directory listings, are nil.


      > I wholeheartedly agree in the inherent value of open/free licenses,
      >but I also think that there is room for proprietary works. To wit,
      >great works of fiction and music would lose much of their value if
      >they were freely licensed. As such, I favor copyright protection for
      >such works, subject to the limitations of "fair use."

      I agree with all of this, except that I would point out that directory
      listings are not like "great works of fiction" and are not like
      "music" in any relevant sense. They are functional, utilitarian,
      listings, not fiction, not poetry.

      A directory listing is ideal for an open collaborative model, a model
      which is much more difficult to achieve without an open license.

      > I wish you the best of luck in developing a free directory. There
      >have been other attempts to do this a la wiki, but they inevitably
      >encounter problems with quality control.

      Can you point to any examples which had significant backing from
      someone able to gather a critical mass of contributors? Can you
      point to _any_ examples of free directories with a free license?
      I've never seen one.

      > I think the key to creating a free directory is developing the free
      >software which people would need to create and maintain a hierarchical
      >directory style database, and (as noted below) there are many coding
      >projects currently underway at SourceForge which hope to do just that.

      I think that's an important part of it, yes.

      > I began a list in the links section <
      >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/xodp/links > of this Yahoo! eGroup, but
      >this is only available to people who actually join the group because
      >of the way Yahoo! eGroups are set up.

      Oh, this is a nice resource, I'll look through it and see what I can
      see. :-)

      > I echo these sentiments. At the same time, I think that it would
      >make sense for people to volunteer their time for a Web directory with
      >proprietary content if that Web directory was operated by a non-profit
      >organization which they wanted to support. Moreover, there are people
      >who volunteer their time for proprietary directories like Zeal because
      >they want to promote their hobby or interest.

      That's right, but I think people are mistaken to do so. And I think
      they will switch to a powerful and truely free alternative.

      --Jimbo
    • David F. Prenatt, Jr.
      [Jimmy Wales:] ... I think that arttworks has correctly identified the core requirements of such a system in his WHATIS proposal, although his proposal goes
      Message 60 of 60 , Sep 20, 2002
        [Jimmy Wales:]
        >
        > I'm willing to share a site submission stream. I believe a simple
        > format could be worked out among alternative directory providers.
        > (Let's call ourselves 'ADPs' for 'alternative directory providers'.)
        > SIMPLE is the key, and doing SOMETHING is the key.

        I think that arttworks has correctly identified the core requirements of such a system in his WHATIS proposal, although his proposal goes far beyond the core requirements of such as system. (_See_: < http://www.donotgo.com/whatis.htm >.) For this idea to work, all that would be necessary is a site submission system which would allow the owner of a second- or third-level domain to submit a title, description, and keywords of his or her own choice to an ADP WHATIS database of his or her choice, and (in turn) the content of the several ADP WHATIS databases should be freely licensed.

        Humbly Yours,

        XODP Moderator netesq
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