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[Note: At this time (June 2000) ViewPoint is still a partially-designed idea of CliffordAdams.]

The ViewPoint idea depends on freely copying and editing content, to a much greater degree than the typical site (even wiki sites). Imagine being encouraged to copy and edit any page, to any degree of editing, even if your edits are unpopular. To allow this freedom, authors will be asked to submit only freely-available work, and use links to non-free relevant content.

ViewPoint will claim an extra right to copy and create derivative works from submissions. Attribution will not be required for derivative works. ViewPoint mirrors will be encouraged, and the database might be publically available.

If one does not like the policy, there are plenty of sites that are not ViewPoint.


This may be the toughest point, but it is important to the ViewPoint ideal. Imagine a whole wiki of content in DocumentMode without signatures... One possiblity is that people could create "pure idea" areas, with no signatures allowed. Content could be copied from anywhere in the ViewPoint system into these areas, edited, and stripped of signatures and identifying text.

ViewPoint site admins would be encouraged to delete malicious misattributions, however, especially if they are in "signature" form.


ViewPoint will be user-based. (Users may be pseudonyms, and no personal information will be required.) The first time a user posts, I plan to display the policy, and require an agreement (like yes/no radiobuttons, with "no" the default). After that, a simple statement like "Submitted text is subject to the ViewPointCopyright policy" (with a link) will appear near the save button. (The idea is to be similar to many online licenses.)

If a user still wants to remove content that they contributed, a ViewPoint admin may give them the option to be completely removed from the site. The ViewPoint content may be mirrored by other sites, however, and ViewPoint sites will not be bound by each other's actions.

Copyright Violations:

Content found to be violating copyrights (where the user did not have the right to submit the content) will be removed. The user may be suspended or banned from the local site in serious cases.


Try it and see if it works. :-)

I think there's a low road and a high road approach to no signatures. "Low road" would be the simple Wiki-like scheme in which the system genuinely does not know who wrote what. A "high road" system would know, and would track the authorship of every fragment of text behind the scenes, but wouldn't necessarily display it.

The high road could look very like the low road in that neither would display attributions by default, but would (a) be much harder to implement; and (b) would allow the option of drilling down to discover the hidden info.

I am not sure whether you envisage View Point as low road or high road. Personally as an author I would prefer attributions to be kept, even if only behind the scenes. As a reader I want to see diverse contributions blended seamlessly, and attributions tend to constitute a "seam". As a coder I'm aware that a low road solution that works is often better than a high road one that is never complete enough to be usable.

(The high/low road metaphor comes from Brand's HowBuildingsLearn.) -- DaveHarris

This is an interesting way to think about the choices, although the metaphor seems hopelessly slanted toward the "high" choice. Maybe it could be recast as the "high" road of communal ideas vs. the "low" road of author-gratification? (This is related to the old Document/Thread distinction on Wiki. See Wiki:ThreadModeConsideredHarmful for some of the strongest statements. Note that I was one of the anonymous authors arguing for signatures.) --CliffordAdams

In practice I find the metaphor emphasises the value of the low road. Maybe this is worth a page: HighRoadLowRoad. -- DaveHarris

Aside from that, I am planning to do things a bit differently. For one, I plan to keep a log of all changes (probably as diffs), along with any identifying information about the changes. I don't plan on making it widely public, however, because I don't want to keep any unrevokable public history. The log would be available to a set of mediators who could volunteer to settle disputes. (For instance, a person could ask a mediator to confirm that they had said "Smalltalk has some problems" rather than "Smalltalk is complete garbage".) (The log for a particular page might be available to editors of a particular view.)

ViewPoint definitely won't be another XanaduProject. (Given uncontrollable cut/paste abilities, I don't think Xanadu's TransCopyright goals are workable.) I hope that most non-"pure idea" areas will value correct attribution of content. I wouldn't recommend a view which was careless with author credits.

In ViewPoint, the best response to incorrect content is to add the correct information. One could start a "correct attribution" supplemental viewpoint to correct errors and misattributions. A supplemental viewpoint would appear in a section on the top or bottom of a page. Most people would probably subscribe to a small bundle of supplemental views, along with a few primary viewpoints.

"Author reply" is another supplemental view that I hope would be popular--it would allow authors brief clarifications (with links to longer content) if they feel misquoted or severely misunderstood.

To abuse another metaphor, contributing to ViewPoint will be like adding ingredients to a communal stewpot. You won't be able to separate out your content once it mixes with the rest of the stew. Thanks for an interesting idea/metaphor. --CliffordAdams


What do you see as bad about "unrevokable public history"?

People change their minds, and sometimes the words one wrote before are no longer appropriate. For instance, a few people might be glad that Wiki:SamGentile was trimmed from its earlier state.

In some cases, like the "mind wipe" and "reductionist" events, I think even the usual wiki-permanence is too much. (A lot of wiki-on-wiki policy/politics is done through email.) In practice, few people are willing to wipe the page. I would object to removing pages like Wiki:WikiMindWipe or similar "historic" pages. I've even threatened to defend, by any technical means, a few older historical pages. (I've become more tolerant of losing wiki history since then.)

I am interested in revokable public history, but I'm uncertain what is really worth saving as history. In ViewPoint, people will make copies and versions of content rather than editing a single page. If one feels that a particular page is worth saving, one will be free to make a copy of it. No one will not be obliged to remove the content, except for copyright or other legal reasons. (Other people may add comments, and in rare cases a site admin may refuse to host content (see below).)

I'm leaning toward allowing authors to view any of their historic versions (that they submitted), and allowing them to share them if they choose. Editors of a particular view would have full access to all versions of their pages. (And, in the "open" view, everyone would be an editor.) Editors may be able to revoke versions within their views. (This has interesting implications for the "open" view.)

One interesting case was a swiki which kept a full history of all pages. An attacker replaced many (all?) the pages with inappropriate material, so the site admin finally threw out all the old history and restarted the site.

Implementing public history isn't a high priority for me, but I won't say that it will never happen. Personally, I probably wouldn't have contributed any signed content to C2 if it had kept full history. --CliffordAdams

See also: Wiki:ErasingPainfulMemoriesDiscussion.

Site Limits:

ViewPoint is intended to be similar to UseNet, where content may be shared between any participating Usenet system. Like Usenet, no individual system will be required to carry all content. Unlike Usenet, sites will likely diverge from each other (although each will be free to copy from the other ViewPoint sites). Until (unless?) a second site is convinced to join, the original ViewPoint site admin will have a large degree of control.

Unless ViewPoint becomes large enough to host its own dedicated system with dedicated bandwidth, it will have to deal with content restrictions. For instance, "adult" content is not allowed by most hosting providers (including the current provider of UseModWiki).

Finally, I don't believe that a ViewPoint site is required to accept any content. It is not a "hosting space provider". I intend to be very open, and possibly even keep material that would be immediately erased if it appeared on a site like C2. However, I have some limits. If one disagrees with them, they will be completely free to copy all of the content and set up a ViewPoint site with fewer limits. Indeed, I'd rather like it if a hardcore FirstAmendment believer set up a site and fought against any censorship. --CliffordAdams



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