Forum:Should We Release Database Dumps Of All Questions On Biostar?
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13.2 years ago

Somewhat self-referential and perhaps better suited for the newsgroup but that won't reach the targeted audience. Which of the following would you prefer:

  1. All content of BioStar distributed with a Creative Commons license.
  2. All content of BioStar distributed between the moderators to ensure continuity.
  3. All content of BioStar maintained by the main administrator (current state)

If no obvious consensus emerges your votes might be weighted by your log10 scaled reputation :-) ...

meta biostars • 4.7k views
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The problem is that you don't own the BioStar content, those who post the questions and answers hold the copyright, and they are the only ones who can attach a license to their content. This is why Wikipedia has a big fat warning, and StackOverflow at least a CC-Wiki button. Biostar has neither, and by now it might be too late to convert everything to another (or any, for that matter) license. (IANAL, but have seen license switch debates for Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap.)

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If copyright of existing Q&As is an issue, it might help to stop it getting any worse by updating the user agreement on BioStar so that any new questions/answers fall under CC. Presumably this could be done now, instead of waiting for the new-and-improved-BioStar. To address the existing questions, these could always be flagged on a new system as being copyright-held-by-posters exceptions.

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^^ Answered by your comment on Daniel Swan's post, in respect to the purpose of distribution!

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@Istavan Michael raises a very valid point. Legally, each person holds copyright over the content that they created. Since nothing else was stated at the time of the posting, the current status is "All Rights Reserved". Option 1 would in my view be highly desirable; however, it would require that someone gets in contact with every contributor to BioStar and obtains their permission to redistribute their content under a new license. Any content from people who didn't give their consent - possibly because you could not reach them - would have to be removed.

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Perhaps we can have users post a comment in their profile stating if their prior content can be licensed under CC, e.g. "all questions, comments and responses I have provided prior to 1 Dec 2010 are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License"

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Is the BioStar backend MySQL? I assume the dumps would therefore be simple MySQL dumps! Useful for distributed backups, but not sure how the information would be useful to any one individual?

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I support option 1 if it is possible.

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@Michael It is never too late. We can always remove contributions.

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@Lars, true, and we would contact people. In practice things tend to work out well, those that contribute a lot answer their emails ;-)

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@Istvan, please also make it clear that using the license is not a copyright transfer, but instead the users agree to release their content as cc-by-sa.

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A note about the CC licensing has been added to the 'Ask Question' page.

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@Istvan, the note about the change in policy is great for future questions, but how can we efficiently apply CC licensing to past content? Your proposed email solution doesn't provide a public record that users have authorized their content. My suggestion about adding a note to our profiles was aimed at providing a public record of our consent for past content.

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@Casey, there is no need for a public record. Adding the information to one's profile is a bad idea because there is no easy way to track that information.

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@Istvan, the faq (point "Terms of use" or something similar) is probably a better place to put this information because (1) this would be the logical place to look and (2) it is not shown when you answer a question. But please don't do a legal overkill by putting it everywhere ;-)

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@Michael, there is indeed a need for a public record of people's choice about their content since BioStar did not start under a CC license, and there is substantial back content that is not/will not be covered by Istvan's recent change to include a CC license disclaimer to future content (see giovanni's post below). What is your solution for how this issue can be dealt with? How can we demonstrate that users agree to having their back-content available under a CC license?

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Added information to FAQ, Main Page and Question prompt. We'll sort out the issue of the previous content license in some way that is minimally annoying and intrusive. In the end it is the spirit of the license that needs to be followed. For example I would consider everyone above suggesting the CC option as automatically opting in for their past contributions as well.

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@Casey, I do understand the issue, the emphasis was on the word public and not on record (sorry to spam here, can I write messages to users somehow?). Profile information can be added and removed at will by users, the stackexchange platform does not keep track of that. Thus I could add the line, remove it afterwards, and noone would know whether I had agreed or not. If Istvan sent out a mail asking each user to opt-in, him keeping the answers would be sufficient.

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Was there ever a consensus reached about licensing content? How about licensing "meta" content such as tags?

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13.2 years ago
User 59 13k

I think we'd need to think about which CC licence with option 1.

The content is public, I see no reason for it not to be distributed publicly. Maybe it could be released on BioTorrents? with an agreement that some people would keep seeding 'releases'.

I'm assuming this is to do with continuity should something happen to the site, rather than anything else!

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Drop the NC clause. That will make it impossible for someone to maintain a site with this data in many very reasonable ways, like the current one, which has advertisement and clearly is commercial.

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Haha, don't need an explanation of 'bus factor' nearly used it myself in the post but didn't know how widespread usage was :) To answer my own CC point, I would favour a non-commercial, share alike CC licence a la http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

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I favour this licence too.

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I would also vote against the non-commercial clause. It may seem tempting, but it can come back and haunt you in many surprising ways. Personally, I would recommend a plain CC-BY license without any restrictions.

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Yes it is about continuity and "bus factor" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_factor

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I agree a non-commercial clause can be detrimental for ourselves.

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13.2 years ago

I often see questions asked that place artificial barriers, necessitating a particular response, however I am a firm believer in a multifaceted approach and I can't see what stops us from choosing all of the above?

Perhaps it might be considered overkill, but I like to be safe rather than sorry. On my home/work machine I have a script running that tarball's my work weekly and uploads to my network storage drive. I also have a backup utility doing a minimalistic backup on a daily basis. I use DropBox, svn, git and mercurial too, all of which (the respective data directories) are included in the tarballs. I also have automated backups running on my electronic lab notebooks and other services. You can't accuse me of being lax with backups.

So, I don't see why content can't be managed by site administrators, distributed between moderators and released to the community as MySQL dumps via BioTorrents or some other system? I'd like an, all of the above option for my vote please ;)

Cheers,

Steve

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3
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13.2 years ago
Bio_X2Y ★ 4.3k

If you want a strict answer, I agree with Option 1.

However, it would be great if any new site had a "Download all as zip" feature so that in a worse case scenario, continuity could be carried on by anyone (not just the moderators, who may or may not have the inclination to build a new site from scratch). Presumably since a Creative Commons license would allow people to re-use the questions anyway, this would be more of a convenience feature than anything. And at a psychological level, I think this kind of feature would remove any fears I have of the site disappearing overnight.

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13.2 years ago

I am mostly with Daniel, but advice against the NC clause of the Creative Commons license. Instead, just use go for CC-SA-BY.

The NC clause inhibits many useful models to host a site like this, including one with advertisement; it makes it impossible to create a book with Neil and Pierre as editors (and many of us as author) with the best questions of the past year. Etc, etc. It also is incompatible with the Open Knowledge Foundation ideas of Open Data and Open Content.

I rest my case.

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Does this really prohibit recovery of infrastructure costs for hosting if the content is under the same licence?

I would also argue that specifically prohibiting the book idea would be a good thing, not a bad one. Firstly as this should be the canonical (and most up to date) resource for BioStar content, and secondly it's the 21st Century :)

I've done a bit of reading this morning, and note that Stack Overflow dumps are also licensed CC-SA-BY. I understand the CC-NC-SA-BY is not the textual equivalent of copyleft. I'd like to see more specific use-cases of where a NC licence would hurt.

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"Does this really prohibit recovery of infrastructure costs?" Why not? I do not have the definite answer... the thing is, just the uncertain state reduces the scope of the applicability, which, IMHO, opposes the whole idea of making the content CC at all. Also, why is making a book out of the content a bad thing? No one has the right to do so right now, but it sounds like an excellent Bioinformatics Tutorial to me... why make that impossible??

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13.2 years ago
Mary 11k

I don't have strong feelings about this, but I know some people do.

My only issue would be what you think is best for the future--if you tried to get support for this from grant agencies or from private sources, what would be the best strategy to describe it to them--and to be able to defend that position. And I don't know that any of them would be better for that. I suspect some CC licensing option might be most comforting to them?

As I write that, though, I wonder how you would want users to cite it back if it is used elsewhere. I would at least define that.

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13.2 years ago
Rm 8.3k

I would like to see biostar with "Creative Commons license". I go with option 1.

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13.2 years ago

I support option 1 with CC 3.0 and some sort of mechanism for users to authorise current/past posts for open access use.

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13.2 years ago

I would put a statement saying that from now on, all the questions and answers on Biostar will be released under a CC license. I would put it on the homepage of the site, and above the 'Post Your Answer' button in the form for submitting a new answer (and the same for posting new questions).

For example:

by submitting your answer or question here, you agree to release it under a CC-SA-By license. Your nickname will be used to recognize your authorship.

You can't do much for the contents posted to date, but you can release the contents posted from now under this license.

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