It’s easy to forget just how old Wikipedia is, compared to many of the free culture organizations on the Web. One looming example of this has always been our use of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).
Founded before Creative Commons, the GFDL was the only copyleft license that even came close to making our work free for others in a way that fit our mission.

But it’s never been a perfect fit. Far from it, in fact.

Clauses such as the invariant sections rule and the burden of printing both the full text of the license and a list of authors have seriously handicapped past efforts to republish works of Wikimedia projects. The GFDL is not really to be faulted for this, since it’s written with software documentation in mind, not an encyclopedia with thousands of authors.

But there’s a solution on the horizon. With the advent of Version 1.3 of the GFDL, we can now legally transition to the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. But the choice to move to Creative Commons rests not with our non-profit, the Wikimedia Foundation. It rests with the people who have licensed their contributions: namely, you. If you’ve got more than 25 edits to a Wikimedia project before the 15th of March, please make your voice heard by voting!

More information:

The article on D. B. Cooper, a famous airplane hijacker who vanished near Portland in 1971, is featured today on the front page of Wikipedia!

This is an article that was developed mostly by people who aren’t involved in WikiProject Oregon, but as a Featured Article, it’s been peer reviewed by the community as one of the finest articles on Wikipedia. (Only about 2,000 articles have reached that status, fewer than a dozen related to Oregon.)

It’s also the subject of an interesting little tale, told in a couple of posts on my blog. Briefly: a Wikipedia editor who had worked on the article bought a book from, only to find that the book was an exact reproduction of an earlier version of the Wikipedia article. This appears to be legal, but raises some interesting questions. After my first post, the owner of the publishing company called me to give me his side of the story; the second blog post covers that discussion. Take a look at the full story.

But apart from all that, big congrats to the authors of the Wikipedia article — great job!