Submissions/Attribution/Share-Alike and the impact on the incentives to contribute

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission

Attribution/Share-Alike and Its Impact

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)


Author of the submission

Tal Niv

E-mail address


Tal Niv

Country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)

UC Berkeley, Creative Commons

Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

User Generated Content is contributed in different venues under different regulatory frameworks, primarily comprised of intellectual property, venue-specific technical constraints and quasi-legal guidelines. Wikipedia has chosen to inject this regulatory framework with a one-size-fit-all licensing scheme for its contributions - CC-BY-SA 3.0 and the GFDL. This licensing scheme is a very particular one, and it therefore begs a set of questions that are all set to inquire after the meaning of Wikipedia’s particular choice. After all, there are many alternative-licensing schemes, which Wikipedia might have chosen, and in fact, this scheme was not its first choice. For example, Wikipedia might have chosen other CC licenses, a different mesh with the GFDL, a different platform altogether, its own created licenses like many other UGC venues, or possibly, Wikipedia could have left the choice of license to its contributors (although it is hard to imagine how).

As part of the research agenda, which I have taken on as part of Creative Commons that studies the socio-economic welfare impact of online regulatory frameworks, and specifically, the welfare impact of intellectual property tweaking licenses, I am interested in analyzing the impact of the Wikipedia license scheme. The idea is to replace our community's intuition with respect to the benefits of the regulatory scheme with rigorous research that would uncover whether the scheme is truly beneficial, or whether there are alternative frameworks that would promote the welfare impact of UGC. For this purpose, I ask the initial question, namely, what in this context is "beneficial"? Or in other words, how does a particular licensing scheme benefit Wikipedia, Wikipedians, users and the community, and through those areas of contribution, how does it benefit socio-economic welfare?

Clearly, there are many possible answers to the framing question, but having a defensible answer is a rudimentary stage along the way to a sound analysis of the contribution of a licensing scheme. Thinking about this has led me to believe that a licensing scheme’s impact is on the quality, the quantity and the versatility of the contributions and the subsequent contribution, as well as to community-building, to inclusion of diverse voices, and to other fields through externalities of benefits. I apply this framework to the particular scheme that Wikipedia has chosen for its users, and present analytical methods by which I try to study its contribution. Finally, I present the data deficiencies, which are barriers on our way to obtaining answers, and ask for ideas on new troves of data, which could be taken advantage of.

Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Will have slides
Special request as to time of presentations

Would appreciate very much to present on the first day of the conference.

Interested attendees

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  1. Mike Linksvayer (talk) 03:11, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
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