Creative Commons & Wikipedia

Look at the History and Discussion tabs of several Wikipedia history entries and write about what you see. 2) Consider what Creative Commons License you might use for your own site.  What role does copyright play in the resources you are working with this semester?

I looked into several different history entries on Wikipedia to get a sense of how active those pages are and what most of the editing involved for those topics. Since I already had some practice editing Wikipedia I have a decent understanding of how administrators deal with newly updated content and the processes of how to make contributions to pages.

One of the interesting points I noticed was the varying levels of seriousness in the discussions on content in the talk pages for each articles. There were sections that contained heated debates right next to sections on reasons for removal or grammar arguments. For instance on the talk section for Sun Yat-sen there was a grammar question on how his name should be shorted when discussing him throughout the page. One of the contributors suggested using “Yat-sen” whenever he was referenced. However another reviewer brought up that “Yat-sen” was his first name and it is standard both in Chinese and English writing to primarily refer to an individual by either their full or last name.

Another page I looked into had an interesting perspective on sources. Wikipedia articles often have a series of sources for the information presented. In an article on the Great Leap Forward one editor wrote about trying to diversify the sources for quotes that the article uses. Noting that all of the quotes seem to be coming from the same print source, they suggest trying to check those quotes in other sources just to maintain the credibility of those sources.

In terms of Creative Commons licensing as a group we would need to come to a consensus on what type of licensing we should use for our site. We should also discuss with Luisa Dispenzirie about any expectations the National Park Service might had in terms of licensing. The diaries are of course currently public domain however since the Park Service are in charge of the diaries they may have an opinion or a standard procedure on copyright that we should be aware and respectful about. However I speculate that we will probably use a Creative Common license in the end, and one that is more restrictive than the least restrictive license that Creative Commons offers.


Week #6 Copyright and Wikipedia

1) Look at the History and Discussion tabs of several Wikipedia history entries and write about what you see. 2) Consider what Creative Commons License you might use for your own site. What role does copyright play in the resources you are working with this semester?

1a) Ant Page

History: Over 500 edits
Some people add information, others take it away and a few fix links to media
People that make edits make more than one edit at a time
Discussion: One can see where people changed parts of the page
People add links to other helpful websites
1b) Baseball Page

History: People added links and books to the page for further reading for internet users
Tagging page???
Date maintenance
Reversions of edits
Discussion: Some edit requests have been answered
Very little discussion when compared with the Ant Page

1c) Potato Chip Page

History: Same person made over 10 edits in multiple categories
Undid revisions and reverted
This page has been visited very frequently over the past two months when compared
to the other two pages
Discussion: Some discussion is going on but not much

2) Since my group and I are working with primary source artifacts, it is very important that we are aware of the copyright information regarding these objects

Week #5 Group Contracts and 3D Scanner Practice

Just as last week was busy for our group, so was this week. We were busy both in class and outside of class. met with Dr. Meadows to practice using the ipad scanner and another portable scanner outside of class.

During class time we worked on revising our contracts and answered many of Dr. McClurken’s questions We changed many parts of our contract including our purpose, our materials, our timeline, and our division of labor. The biggest change we made after talking with Jarod Kearney, curator at the James Monroe Museum, was that we decided to in corporate a few quick videos of either Scott or Jarod talking about each of the artifacts to go along with the 3D scanned object.

Outside of class on Thursday 2-11-16, the group and I met with Dr. Meadows in Trinkle Hall to practice using the ipad scanner and another portable scanner. During the meeting we also sent an email to Jarod at the James Monroe Museum asking if he would be able to bring one of the artifacts to campus next week for us to scan using the largest scanner that is available at UMW.


Change, an idea that has plagued the heats and minds of people everywhere for all time. From change in social equality and standards to the change in technology we face each and every day. This week we were tasked with watching and reading up on a new era of change, a change for the world of digital information. “Creative Commons License”, this concept is growing with the demand for less restricted information and a wider yearning of shared sources. Wikipedia is one of the most popular modes of Creative Commons usage, ranking in the top 50 websites visited. Now with our website in mind and our use of Creative Commons material may be but not limited to web videos from youtube to vimeo to shared information gathered on our topic from UMW websites to information gathered from documents and emails during interviews.

Creative Commons

After looking at the History tab of several Wikipedia articles, I notice that a lot of updates tend to be around the same time.  One day may have eight different updates/edits while another day may have none at all.  Another thing I noticed is that most edits are small (change grammar/wording) while other edits are bigger and required discussion.  Some edits were completely reversed after other users claimed that everything must be discussed when making an edit.  On the discussion page, there were many suggestions to improve the articles by adding various people, events, etc.  That said, it looked like any regular internet forum where everyone gets into fights over little details and users throw the rules at each other claiming that the page should/should not be edited because they (the user arguing) is in the right because of whatever their argument is.


Looking over the different Creative Commons Licenses, I believe our project would benefit most from the “Attribution” license given that the National Park Service may want to change something later after we finish (but since I cannot be sure what, this provides them with freedom to edit what they may want to).  Of course, if the NPS would prefer this license, it will be their job to make sure all of the information is accurate.  Copyrights should not pose much problem since we are only working with historical documents which we already have permission to scan, transcribe, and upload.  At this point we have no intention of using anything licensed at all so there is currently no need to address any copyrights.

Wikipedia and Creative Commons

Wikipedia: I decided to look at the history and discussion tabs for extensive subjects like the American Civil War and Thomas Jefferson. Curiosity also drove me to look at a controversial topic, so I looked at the history  and discussion tab for the 2012 Benghazi attacks. There actually seemed to be very little debate on each of these topics. Similarly, most of the editors seemed to be standardizing the format of the content and fixing grammar and punctuation problems. Occasionally, people responded to requests for additional citations by adding links to new sources. I was expecting there to be more content changes for the 2012 Benghazi attacks page. However, there was only one instance of someone deleting content without justification in the page’s recent revision history. Consistent with Jimmy Wales’s description of how Wikipedia works, someone who was watching the page fixed the deletion within minutes.

Creative Commons: Although my group would have to consult with the James Monroe Museum about which Creative Commons license they believe is most appropriate, I think the Attribution-Noncommercial license would probably work best. Since the objects are owned by a nonprofit, I do not see the museum wanting someone to use the 3D laser scans and videos for commercial purposes. However, the Attribution-Noncommercial license would allow people to improve or build on these resources for research and educational purposes. Not requiring users to license their new creations under the same terms as us would give them greater flexibility and encourage the use of our material.

Wikipedia and Creative Commons

(1)  Look at the History and Discussion tabs of several Wikipedia history entries and write about what you see.

I looked at three Wikipedia pages for topics related to my HIST 485 thesis this semester.  The articles were titled “July 20,” “Operation Valkyrie,” and “Henning von Tresckow.”  The “History” tab just appears to reveal a list of recent and older changes that have been made to the article since its creation.  I think it is interesting that you are able to click on a change, see who made the change, and see a comparison of what the article looks like currently and how it appeared prior to the update.  I did think the comparative information was a bit confusing in that I was not entirely sure what I was looking at.  When I saw that you could click to compare the changes, I thought it would give you a section of the article and then show in red where the changes were, or something along those lines.  The other tab, “Discussion,” includes comments users have made that suggest improvements to the article and also appears to be where users ask for help in editing.  In this section, people will usually focus on a certain passage of the article and then describe why they think it should be removed or altered.  This section alarmed me because people want to change information, and they state what they believe should be said, but they do not seem to offer any credible citation to support their views.  If Wikipedia is all about making quality information available to everyone on earth, as Jimmy Wales stated, then they should make sure to use appropriate source material.

(2)  Consider what Creative Commons License you might use for your own site.  What role does copyright play in the resources you are working with this semester?

Being that our site with Murray and Slaughter’s letters is being created for and is consequently affiliated with the National Park Service (NPS), I do not know how much say we have in deciding what type of Creative Commons License to use.  But, if we can choose one, I would say we would most likely use either “Attribution-NoDerivatives” or “Attribution.”  Both options allow commercial uses of the work, while the first does not allow adaptations of the work to be shared while the second does.  I do not like the idea of the work being changed, so I would most likely be in favor of “Attribution-NoDerivatives.”  Since these two men are not very well known, if known at all, by the larger historical community, any parts of their letters or the content my group includes on the site should be taken as is because they are so unique.  As far as copyright, I do not think my group will run into any issues.  Most of our resources include the letters, biographical information on Murray that the NPS sent with his letters, Murray’s possessions at the Chancellorsville Battlefield Museum, Slaughter’s grave in the Confederate Cemetery downtown, and any additional information we learn about these two men from Luisa Dispenzirie, the museum curator at Chancellorsville.  The Confederate Cemetery is open to the public and the Murray family gave the NPS George’s letters and things.  The only area we will likely have to tread carefully is on using pictures and other information we find online.  We will have to search on our own for information on Slaughter and Murray and so anything we find on other sites needs to be evaluated for use in our project.

Wikipedia and Copyright

I mostly looked at Wikipedia pages about British history. Overall, the more popular topic of history such as “Henry VIII” had more comments and the less known topic had fewer comments. Many of the conversations seem to get very heated such as the spelling of “Stewart” in the “House of Stuart” page. Sometimes the comments were very aggressive urging the writer of the edit to produce a source to back up their argument. Many of the edits and comments seemed genuine and brought up some good issues. I was happy to find that most of the edits that were not correct were rejected which I thought was good. Although details of most of the topics are lacking the Wikipedia pages I looked at provide a good overview of historical events and people.

I am not sure exactly how we could use Creative Commons for our project. We could CC our scans so that people can reuse them for educational purposes but I assume we should discuss that with the National Park Service since they own the diaries. According to chapter seven of Cohen and Rosenzweig it says that we do not need to place a copyright notice on our work which I agree with since in our about page we can clearly layout who we are and our project. One thing I could see us having a copyright discussion about is anything (images, videos, etc.) we use from the National Park Service but since we are helping them by digitizing their diaries I don’t think it will be an issue.

Wikipedia and Creative Commons

From looking at the History and Discussion tabs of many Wikipedia history entries, I never realized how much conversation when on about the content on the sites. I also never realized how frequently they are updated. Most of the pages I looked at have been updated within the month. Some of the discussion I noticed were questions regarding sections that people thought needed revision, as well as opinions on the validity and accuracy of the information. People also comment explaining what edits they made. Most of the discussion focuses on how each specific page can be improved, which is the purpose of the Discussion tab.  Because each page is so heavily discussed, I think it makes Wikipedia a more valid source of information than I once thought. Each page is constantly being red-over and improved, most of whom seem to be intelligent people. Additionally, at the top of the pages, there is a message reminding editors to use goodwill and write with non biased views while discussing the information.

The Creative Commons license that our website could use is the Attribution-NonCommercial license. According to Creative Commons, “this license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms”. This will allow others use the information and change it as they would like, without getting financial gain while still giving us credit. Due to the nature of our project, some of the information will change over time, so editing our site will be necessary. This license will allow others to edit our site, while still giving credit where it is due.

The Ever-Looming Copyright Law

Copyright is something we all run into on a daily basis. Whether it be a video on YouTube or a new album that is only streamed on a certain website that is losing a lot of money (I’m looking at you Kanye and Tidal). It is often times something that we understand is important but do not fully understand the repercussions when we break it.

Exploring the History and Discussion sections on Wikipedia is like a whole new area of Wikipedia that I had zero idea existed. The History tab is kind of boring, showing only what small phrases were changed or sometimes what things were completely taken out because of poor citations. However, the Discussion tab was the cool part. Here, the contributors communicate with one another to discuss improvements for the topic. The first page I read was the featured article of the day about Chester A. Arthur, the 21st president of the United States. In the discussion, the contributors talked about what new information that could add based on new information that has come out about Arthur. I think it is this latter point that is the most important. The new information must be backed up and cited by historians or others relevant to the field of study. The copyright comes into play because this information needs to be cited correctly.

For my project, I think the Creative Commons “Attribution-ShareAlike” would work best. This license would allow others to take the work that my groups has done and tweak it or add onto it. However, the person who decides to work on the project further must do two things. One, they must properly credit my group and the work we have done. And two, they must use the same Creative Commons license in their work. I really like the second part of this license because it ensures that the spirit of the work is moving forward as more people work on it and leave it open for others to extend on their research and work.