The H.P. Lovecraft Wiki

I wanted to raise the topic of slightly relaxing our rule about incorporating material from other wikis into the HPLW.

I think there are two main objections to such incorporation--the ethical and the practical--which I'll address in turn.

The ethical objection is that copying and pasting material from other wikis is either plagiarism or too close to plagiarism. To that I would say, at least with Wikipedia and I believe with other wikis, part of the initial conception was that it was creating content for not just readers, but for other creators as well to use. That's why everything has a Creative Commons license -- it's this one, here: It specifically authorizes one to "copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format" and to "remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially." (It does require attribution, which I think might need a template--different from the one we have now, which is more warning than credit.)

I don't think this permission is given grudgingly--I think Wikipedia (and most wikis) have the attitude toward their product that wiki editors are supposed to have to their edits -- you put things out there, and people do stuff with them, and they take on a life of their own. Free-sharing seems very much a part of the wiki ethic. And I would say that applies to borrowing as well as lending--if there is material freely available to use, you should use it, if it makes the wiki better.

And that's what I see as the practical question: Does it make the wiki better? And that's why I have "(When Appropriate)" in the title up there, because I definitely think copying material from Wikipedia indiscriminately can definitely make the wiki worse. If you just copy and paste an article about a writer who's written some Mythos stories, or worse yet a historical figure that's been incorporated into the Mythos, it's certainly going to have a lot of information that isn't relevant to the HPLW. That's not helpful.

I do think, though, that if you look at Mythos-related articles on Wikipedia (and some other wikis), you'll find content that is more detailed and more thoroughly documented on particular aspects of the topics. One thing I think is sometimes done better over there is plot summaries. One I always think of is for Alan Moore's Providence: Could we write summaries of the issues that are that good? Sure. Are we going to, knowing that the end result is going to largely duplicate content that already exists elsewhere? I have to say, that knowledge would tend to sap my enthusiasm.

So my suggestion for a revised policy on borrowing from Wikipedia would be to allow only specific elements to be imported that can be used more or less as-is--with continued discouragement of copying and pasting entire articles as placeholders. And to do this we would need a new attribution template. (At least, I don't know that we have one.)

I want to assure everybody that if the general feeling is to keep the status quo with wiki borrowing, that is completely fine with me. Just putting this out there!