2011-06-13 12:28:49Changing SkS graphics Creative Commons license to make it easier to use them in Wikipedia
John Cook


Got this suggestion from SkS user Mark-US who I've just upgraded so he can access the forum and join this discussion:

I would love to post Dana's graph of observed vs IPCC CO2 emissions to wikipedia (more on why below).  However, the current license, though extremely generous on the part of Dana and SkepSci, appears to run afoul of wiki's rules.  The precise url is insane.  Instead, please just click on the 2nd link on this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Upload under the heading "where is the media from"?   My interpretation of the rule is that the image can only go on wiki if its really really free for people to do use however they want.

Why would I ask ya'll to grant such a broad release?

Traffic analysis for climate related pages on wiki shows that in May 2011, the "global warming" page got over 13k hits per day, the runner up 4k, and from there it was a pretty fast drop.  CONCLUSION:  the global warming page matters most.

Next, as you may know, LOTS of people only read the "lead" section on these article. 

The way the lede section reads today, unless someone clicks one of the IPCC related links one could easily get the idea that IPCC says we might get by with just one degree of warming.  Though much better than the explicit error in a recent NAS report, (see http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/05/12/208086/national-academy-america’s-climate-choices), in practical terms it is pretty close.

I've been engaged in some editor dialogue about how (and whether) to change this on the wiki page.  I would like to add text to focus newbies' attention on the IPCC temperature projections for A1FI/A2 specifcally. Some of my fellow editors resisted my first effort. (Jumping ahead, in phase 2 I'll try to add something about flirting with 2C as the threshold for dangerous change and that might be an overestimate, and in phase 3 discuss recent research tending to show IPCC underestimate climate sensitivity, but one step at a time.) 

The response from other editors after my first attempt was that "we don't put too much emphasis on just one paper".  Dana's pictorial representation of the IEA data has an order of magnitude more persuasive power, and would provide the natural tie-in for text to put right in front of newcomer's noses that best estimates for our actual A2/A1FI trajectory is, uh, "kinda high".

If you grant the broader license you won't be able to take it back, and there's no guarantee the graphic will become part of the page, or if it does, how long it will remain there.

Thanks for thinking about it. I know it's asking a lot.

MY TWO CENTS: I'm a big fan of this idea and okay with changing the creative commons license on the graphics in order to make it easier to use our graphics in Wikipedia. The SkS graphics are a very powerful resource, have already had a very strong impact in many areas (web pages, blog posts, articles in scientific journals, a NOAA report, scientist talks, a US Navy report, climate communicator articles and PPT presentations, etc). So the more widely we can disseminate them, the greater the impact.

Any thoughts/comments?

2011-06-13 12:40:16
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

No objection; only complete agreement from this mouse.  More and broader access is the point in order to disseminate the message as effectively and efficiently as possible.  And the power of the visual contained in a graph is beyond measure.

2011-06-13 13:00:19
Rob Painting

The more eyes Sks graphics reach, the better, IMO.

2011-06-13 18:37:01



2011-06-13 20:28:05


At the moment the only copyright I can see is the one that appears at the bottom of each page, i.e. John Cook. I think we need to explicitly state for each graph the licence under which the author releases it. There are several possible licences suitable for wikipedia use.
It is a hard work though, we should go back to each graph we produced and state the licence.

2011-06-14 00:51:39


Thanks for welcoming me to this discussion John.

Its my understanding that there are only two creative commons licenses that comply with wiki's rules to be considered a  "free" and therefore wiki-complian image.   Those are "attribution" and "attribution-sharing".   This means that others will be welcome to change the image. 

Please consider the possibility that:

someone will use it in a commercial work and not share $ with you (well that stinks but at least folks would see it)

someone changes it to somehow ridicule you (that would REALLY stink)

Anthony Watts changes it to ridicule you, and attributes THAT version to you, and makes money off the book (I would certainly never suggest he'd do any such slanderous thing but if he did that would REALLY-x-REALLY stink)

I'm not an attorney, but as I said to John in a private email, IMO the license text that supposedly limits changes to the author's vision sounds warm and fuzzy, but from my courtroom contract battles (as a litigant) its my guess that provision of the license is unenforceable due to subjectivity.  If so, its my non-attorney opinion this would be a foolish change unless (as I hope) you are willing to privately think of the attribute-sharing cc license as being for the benefit of honest people who want to respect your work, and you would probably just grin and bear it if scoundrels decide to abuse your work.  If you think you might want to retain control or have something tangible to enforce thru litigation,then don't do this. 

In closing, a note about wiki.  Here is the link for wiki traffic analysis


All this gives is page views.  Its hard to say who is viewing these pages, and for what purpose.  For example, a page with 4000 views by junior high kids getting ready to plagiarize for a paper has less international policy implications than a page with 40 views by staff underlings preparing briefing papers for science policy advisors.  My point is, just because a page has low traffic doesn't necessarily mean it has no impact.  If anyone knows a way to get more meaningful data than mere page views I'd like to learn it.

Mark (US) aka real life Steve Elfelt (still USA)

2011-06-14 02:16:46
Dana Nuccitelli

Sounds good to me - would be cool to get the graph posted on Wikipedia.  The GFDL or Creative Commons licenses seem reasonable to me.