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The problem with personal attribution is that on a wiki the articles are owned/editable by everyone, this means that its very important no article looks like it "belongs" to anyone (if you are worried that and article isn't neutral then add a comment like "this article's neutrality is disputed" near the top). Also, if people want to see what you have contributed then they can use find your user contributions page. If you think your views are very controversial then you might want to consider putting them into another article (eg. Alternative views on the Renaissance) or on another site and then linking to the from the relevant article on Cunnan.

Most_common_Cunnan_faux_pas has a few short notes on why things such as personal attribution will be edited out of articles.

Hope this clears up my reasons for making the changes I did, Tobin


Accountability and recognition for written work is a die-in-a-ditch issue for me.

I have no objection to other people editing work, or correcting mistaken facts or typos, or adding a section at the bottom that says 'This was the view for a long time, but recent work has shown yadda yadda', but I have a moral right to be identified as the author of what I write.

This is both positive and negative ; if I get caught making shit up to support a point, all my future work deserves to be tainted by that. On the other hand, if people like what I write, I believe that they should be able to go 'I've read his work on the Wiki. He knows lots of cool shit. I'll go ask him about <issue X>'.

Also, readers have a moral right to know who wrote what they are reading. I have people I trust automatically, because their other writings have earned that respect. Most people dont get that, until I've cross-checked enough of what they've written to make trust the default for them (bibliographies and footnotes are my high road to trust, people).

Thirdly, without explicit recognition of authors, how are people going to go 'Person X should be publicly recognised for their learning and contribution to Lochac through the Wiki' ? While I personally like the AoA I got in the reign of Val and Rowena, I'm not motivated by awards, but I know people who are, and I think on balance awards are a good thing. Without recognbition of authors, how can Their Magesties learn who to reward ?

Finally, you quote a BSD-like licence for the Wiki ; you will note author attribution all throughtout all OSS projects. It is there to provide accountability ; if I write crap, then people know it's my crap. If I write good clean code, then people know it's my good, clean code.

In short, recognition of authorship both morally correct, and is essential for me to contribute.

Anton de Stoc Politokopolis V Novembre

The wiki software records all edits and stores them permanently. Each change to an article can be shown with its differences from the previous version highlighted, and who contributed the changes (eg. this shows text that Conrad Leviston added to an article that was started by Del). I know that some people don't find this to be ideal (though it is much better than most wiki software) but it is the way the wiki works. If you want an article to be attributed to you alone then a wiki probably isn't the best place to distribute it (you could put your articles on your own site and link to them from the wiki)

You are writing some very interesting stuff and I don't want to drive you away by arguing but if people start "owning" articles then the wiki stops being a community effort (or becomes less of one). Tobin
PS - I agree totally on the bibliographies and footnotes point.


If the system records edits, then my insistance on having my name on what I write is therefore unimportant - except to me, for whom it is very important.

The analogy I would use for the Wiki as a community effort is forest and trees - we planted the forest, but that tree is mine, and that tree I helped with.

Authors deserve to have their work publicly and easily identified.



If I may extend your analogy, I'd describe Cunnan as more of a timber plantation. The trees are there to be improved upon. Someone may fell your tree, mill it and turn it into something else. If the original unmodified tree is important to you, it may be better to plant it in an arboretum or botanical park. Morgant


I really, really dont care about 'unmodified'. We are all dwarves, looking higher because we are upon the shoulders of giants.

What I care about is that an author's work is clearly identified as theirs, so they can take responsibility for it, good or bad.


In the case of this wiki (and wikis in general) articles are, ultimately, authored by the community. Individuals can be expected to take responsibility for what they change in an article but there is no concept of ownership (that is to say no individual can say an article is "theirs"). If you want articles attributed to yourself (alone) then Cunnan isn't an appropriate place to write them.

This is a large part of what helps wikis grow at great speed and to great depth (though Cunnan is far from the kind of critical mass that larger wikis have). They are not plagued by the "don't copy, distribute or change anything" attitude of, most, private work. As soon as someone starts claiming that an article is their work alone then it becomes much harder for others to contribute (how much does one need to add to an article before it becomes one's own? If the original author stops working on the articles are they still unalterable?).

The wiki software keeps track of all changes made and who made them. It is a fairly easy matter to determine who did what to an article. This record is a much better method of tracking such changes, as an attribution inserted directly into an article can be changed while this record can't be forged (by anyone who doesn't have direct access to the database).

When Cunnan was first set-up some thought was given to the possibility of using software similar to that which Everything2 uses but it was obvious that, while still working well it caused some stagnation with people "owning" nodes. Wikis on the other hand don't suffer this problem (look at the exponential growth of the Wikipedia for an example.)

I hope this doesn't stop you from wanting to contribute but this wiki risks going the way of other collaborative works if people start thinking of articles as being "their" work. - Tobin 23:52, 5 Nov 2003 (EST)

OK, how about this compromise?

Anton writes what he wants, and finishes his articles with the byline: "Written by Anton de Stoc ... bla bla bla ...".

Should anyone else come and substantially change the article, they should then remove the byline?

At least the original copy of the article will remain in the archives with Anton's byline on it.

Also note that many of Anton's articles here are previously published with his name on the byline and to reproduce an original article, even with permission and the oversight of the GNU FDL, it's best to reproduce it in full including all bylines.


Cleaner is:

  1. if you want to retain authoship: write what you want. Post it somewhere. Then link to it here
  2. if you are willing to work collaboratively: contribut to the wiki and be content with the user contribution and page history features to record you unique contributions.

I find editing articles with a byline in them to be awkward. ~ JakeVortex 12:48, 6 Nov 2003 (EST)

Del's compromise sounds fair to me. As long as Anton has no problem with the idea that people will, probably, modify what he has written at some point and that the attributions should be placed at the end of an article (Attribution sub heading?) so that it doesn't look like individual sections of an article are owned by a single person.

For articles that have been started using material that has been published elsewhere I'd like to see more of an effort to include bylines. Would the following be acceptable to everyone?


Much of this article is based on an original article by Person XYZ, you can find a copy of the original article at some location (Possibly the article history?)

I think that makes it clear where the starting point came from and where people can find a copy.


Fine by me. I'll adopt a sig block that says

"Written/Modified by Anton on [date]. Feel free to use, copy, correct, modify or redistribute".

This should encourage people to correct me when I make mistakes of fact, attribution, interpretation, spelling, or when my biases show too obviously.


As long as you limit this to articles where you have contributed something significant that should be fine (though I'd be much happier if you used something in the style I suggested, it separates the attribution out of the evolving article text, lets people get back to your original work and is far more general than a "sig block"). I think the "Feel free to use, copy, correct, modify or redistribute" is entirely redundant though and should be cut (the GNU FDL gives people the right to do this anyway.)