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Tracking authorship of ported works in MediaWiki

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There is an issue or limitation in MediaWiki:

Suppose someone (AIDG for example) publishes something on their site under CC-BY-SA. We want to somehow post that content at Appropedia (of course)

But MediaWiki treats the "author" as the registered user who entered the content - but this is not always the case

That's a use case that doesn't seem well handled. It is a particular issue for Appropedia as we are porting a lot of open licensed content (see Appropedia:Porting).

Attrib notices are important, but not enough.

Noting the source in the edit summary is good, but that's not computer readable, so it restricts the ability to search by author...

If a team of folks were porting AIDG, then they could each use that proxy ID, and the user page for the proxy ID could have additional info.

Ideally there'd be an option when editing for "other people's work". So I'm logged in as me, but I enter (say) AIDG.org as the author. Then the authorship would be credited as AIDG's proxy ID...

...the option when editing. select a radio thingy, then input original author, which then lists that as the author and mentions you (the editor) in the edit summary? Or create a new field, so there's "author" and "editor"? And the edit would show up on the contributions page of both (marked differently somehow)

And you should have the option of doing it after the fact also (going back and looking at your contributions). With a blanket way to do all contributions to a particular page - that might even be the easiest way?

We want to make sure that there is consistent naming of the external author so that both Bob and Jane refer to AIDG in the same way - what that implies is that there is a database of external authors. There will be times when people still get it wrong and need to recast the actual attribution. mw:Extension:User Merge and Delete or something similar could handle that.

In the case of porting, it would be nice to point to the original work also (not just list the author). Attrib tag should point to original, but the more detail we get within the metadata for the page (assuming we can call history info "metadata") the better.

Metadata?[edit]

The issue: Users just copying and pasting from one part of the wiki to another:

  • Users typically don't credit the original author(s). It's no small job to work out who wrote a particular two sentences, for example.
  • This seems to be always an issue in an active wiki, but seems to be overlooked (as if attribution to the wiki is what really matters.
  • Crediting back to the original page in the edit summary is a big improvement, but
    • Eventhis can become very confusing in cases of merges, multiple page moves and deletions.
    • This relies on users following good practice, which doesn't always happen.

Using metadata attached to text would enable authorship to be tracked as long as it's copied in its "formatted" form from one edit box to the other. This will require a significantly higher level of sophistication of software, but let's explore. Could metadata be attached to the particular text, in the same way that bold or italic is?

Problems:

  • The metadata would remain when there is only a tiny fragment left, even a word.
  • If it's like bold or italic in HTML or other rich text, then text added within a section of text will naturally take on this same author attribute. This needs to be overcome, which is probably not trivial.

Bottom line: Doesn't look like a serious option in the foreseeable future. However the issue (loss of attribution to the individual author) remains a problem.

Plagiarism software[edit]

Perhaps we need that software that is now in quite common use in high schools, etc, which checks for plagiarism

That could work pretty well. As long as the language is similar, the plagiarism detection stuff probably works

If the language changes a lot, it doesn't matter (no longer a copyvio)

This is a good reason to have an original version posted somewhere that the search engines and/or plagiarism software can find it. This is consistent with Appropedia's policy of making original documents easily accessible (Appropedia:Original content).


Questions - can you answer?[edit]

Are MediaWiki developers aware of this, and if so, is it a priority?

Notes[edit]

Sources: based on a chat between User:Curtbeckmann and User:Chriswaterguy.