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Access to sources of information

I agree that this would be a huge benefit to content. And in some ways this is already happening as people who already have access to these databases/journls, myself included, utilize this information in working with/on Wikipedia.

I would however question how the perception of this will go.

If the brand of Wikipedia is, as has been suggested "the largest most comprehensive online encyclopedia built by a self governing, self correcting community," and if it is free to anyone, regardless of resources, to participate, then Wikipedia risks building or reinforcing an elite who has access to other resources that many cannot afford. This could lead to a greater perceived divide wherein the ability to be a "trusted contributor" may have more to do with the amount of money you have, hence the access you have to certain informational databases, versus the way you go about contributing. There are a lot of potential snakes in the grass of this field. I find that doing something like this could be perceived as very questionaable.

In addition, the very act of Wikipedia pulling together to offer "negotiated cost" for a service such as this may be perceived, either by public opinion or legally, as a "club." By its very definition, a club is that which includes but also excludes. I think that is a very dangerous slope for Wikipedia to stand in or to stand near.

Bhneihouse15:23, 7 December 2009

I forgot to address the "class" issue. Basically Wikipedia is saying "if you meet this X criteria, you will get a financial benefit (free access to X)." As soon as there are "classes" of users in a "free" encyclopedia where "everyone can participate" you are destroying what you are saying is Wikipedia's brand.

Bhneihouse15:25, 7 December 2009

Disagree. "Everyone can edit" does not mean "everyone has equal access to all facilities". A new user can't access admin functions, an admin can't necessarily access the OTRS (volunteer email) system, and so on.

I don't see a problem with saying "we have made arrangements with these suppliers to provide access to sourcing material as a paid service to anyone meeting criteria X. We also make it freely available to Wikimedia editors who meet criteria Y".

At a last point, one might even have a select team of users with appropriate skills, who are granted such access, purely for the purposes of checking and locating claimed citations.

FT2 (Talk | email)15:40, 7 December 2009

Anyone who wants, means anyone who want up to a preset limit. The key factor for the publisher is the preset limit. At this time, I think that would a publisher would reasonably permit might well have some near relationship to the number of people here who would be interested. For the publisher, the question is 1/ the overall use--the number of places available times the probability that any one of them will be used. 2/ whether it will draw away the basis of other subscriptions--for example, if everyone at a particular college decided to get access by becoming active Wikipedia editors. I think this unlikely, and I hope the publishers will realise this. To the extent people sign up who do have access elsewhere, that would be a problem for us if it shut other people out, but he publishers would love it. They'd get paid twice over.

There would be no caste formation if the arranged limit is not used., which is what I expect. Removing people from the list who do not use the resource is an entirely reasonable way of keeping the list open to newcomers. It might of course happen that 10,000 people would want to use these resources to write Wikipedia articles. This cannot be accommodated by my proposal, but If they actually did so, WP would be so much better off in multiple ways that we would well be able to find the money to renegotiate the contract; the publisher would be delighted to do so. All such contracts are renegotiated from year to year (or 2 or 3 -year periods) based on actual use. If the use goes up, more money is necessary. If it remains very low, the question is whether the resource is worth paying for at all. As for the legality or advisability of confidential negotiations about the cost, the entire industry works in this manner. Most librarians are unhappy with this, but almost all publishers insist.

If people attempt to cover all problems, people never agrees on a contract. I imagine every publisher would see this as an experiment, and so would we.

DGG01:17, 10 December 2009

That sounds good. It seems to help the community, and it seems to satisfy the publisher... is it elitist? Does it form a caste? If we weed out the people who aren't using the tools, I think that would be satisfactory. But if that wasn't enough, we could always make a quota:

  • 66% of subscriptions reserved for "trusted editors".
  • 33% of subscriptions reserved for our most active editors who have only been there less than 100 days.
  • And if there are left overs after people have claimed them, we open the rest to everyone.

Not sure the details of the contract, but something like that could help ensure there's some "upward mobility" for new users.

Randomran03:34, 10 December 2009

I haven't reacted to this thread, because I have nothing to add that hasn't been said. I think it is a marvellous idea and am curious to find out if publishers are interested.

Woodwalker08:19, 10 December 2009