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Proposal:A quick and easy way to release all rights to a contribution for anonymous users

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An easy way for anonymous users to put their edits into the public domain.


Put a widget near the edit summary, which would mark the edit as public domain.

The widget could be

  • a checkbox
  • a button


Copyleft is good, but users don't always want to lock their work into a particular license.

If you write an article from your account and then edit it anonymously, you may have to prove later that it was you who edited it, if you want to use it under a license with which the then default licenses of the project are not compatible. Next year you can attach another license to the edits you've made using your account, but your edits made from dynamic IP addresses are scattered and forgotten. Now you cannot use a piece of your article in a project which uses CC BY, like Wikinews or Libregamewiki.

Sometimes I have only two reasons to log in when editing a page: to add the page to my watchlist and to avoid mentioning the copyright release in the edit summary every time.

Key Questions

How to release the rights?
  • In some countries "releasing into the public domain" makes no sense.
    • There are "licenses" like "copyrighted free use", CC0, CC-BY, each with its drawbacks.
What is the potential impact on freedom?
  • The impact on copyleft as it is with the current licenses may be bigger than if, e.g., a non-free license is used instead of public domain.
  • How much of the copyrightable (copyleftable) contributions is made by those who are not logged in?
What the pros and cons of each type of widget?
  • Checkbox ("mark my edit as public domain")
    • Pros:
      • that's what checkboxes are for.
      • takes less space than a button would
      • more text can be put besides and may be easier to read, overflow etc
    • Cons:
      • needs an additional click
      • small, harder to hit with a pointing device
      • can be confused with the "minor edit" box not available to unregistered users; maybe even with the "watch this page" box.
  • Button ("save the changes as public domain")
    • Pros:
      • needs no additional clicks
      • big, easy to click.
    • Cons:
      • there are three buttons already!
      • users used to clicking "save changes" may be more likely to forget about this other button than about a checkbox.
      • text description capabilities are more limited
Where to put the public domain tag?
  • something like the tags AbuseFilter adds?
  • edit summary
    • takes precious space
      • but at least it could be consistent (make it short?)
        • but a user could accidentally release his edit into the public domain, especially if his edit summary is cut short

Potential Costs

  • Feature/widget creep.
  • Perceived license creep. Add "(optional)"? But that takes a lot of space?
  • The space needed to store a "public domain?" bit for every edit.
  • A lower percentage of copyleft-protected content.


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:A quick and easy way to release all rights to a contribution for anonymous users.

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