Submissions:2023/No Rights Reserved: What CC0 Means for Contributor Motivations, Data Provenance, and the Wikipedia Detour

From WikiConference North America
Revision as of 16:37, 6 November 2023 by Matthewvetter (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2023.


No Rights Reserved: What CC0 Means for Contributor Motivations, Data Provenance, and the Wikipedia Detour


Equity / Inclusion / Community Health, Credibility / Mis and Disinformation (WikiCred)

Type of session:




Is Wikidata's adoption of the CC Zero license a gift to the commons or a surrender to the corporate web? We propose a combined presentation + roundtable session to delve into the ethical problems surrounding Wikidata, the collaborative knowledge graph project that aims to provide structured data to support Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. With the growing importance of open data and the increasing reliance on platforms like Wikidata, it is crucial to critically examine the ethical implications of its usage in three key areas: 1) Contributor alienation and motivation, 2) data provenance, and 3) the Wikipedia detour.

Alienation and Contributor Motivations: One of the primary ethical challenges of Wikidata lies in understanding how the platform may unintentionally alienate certain contributors, especially vis-à-vis its abandonment of CC-by-SA copyright and the ethical guidelines that make other Wikimedia projects trustworthy. This part of the session will explore how extraction and commodification of Wikidata by third-party users such as Google threatens the ethos of the commons and the original spirit of Wikimedia as an instance of commons-based peer production.

Data Provenance: Data provenance plays a vital role in establishing the reliability and trustworthiness of information. In the context of Wikidata, it becomes crucial to examine the sources of data and the potential biases they may introduce. This segment will focus in on how the loss of data provenance (both in terms of the lack of references in Wikidata, as well as its often unattributed uptake by other apps and agents (E.g. Google Knowledge Graph)) threatens a core element of Wikimedia's reliability via the loss of verifiability.

The Wikipedia Detour: Extraction of Wikidata without attribution, as becomes not only permissible but encouraged via CC Zero licensing, causes additional problems beyond threatening reliability. It also allows most casual web users to bypass Wikimedia projects completely. The Wikipedia detour threatens the larger movement in terms of fundraising and recruiting new editors/contributors. But it also threatens the important role that Wikimedia plays in the global knowledge infrastructure.

This combined presentation and roundtable session will offer a platform for an in-depth exploration of the ethical challenges posed by Wikidata use of CC Zero. We recognize the expertise that many attendees would bring and invite audience members to engage in these issues with us as stakeholders across the Wikimedia movement. The diverse perspectives and collective wisdom shared during this event will contribute to a greater understanding of these issues and generate actionable insights to address them. Ultimately, we hope to foster a more inclusive, reliable, and ethically sound environment within the Wikidata ecosystem and beyond.

Author name:

Matt Vetter; Zach McDowell

E-mail address:;

Wikimedia username:

Matthewvetter; ZachMcDowell

Affiliated organization(s):

Indiana University of Pennsylvania; University of Illinois Chicago

Estimated time:

45-60 mins

Special requests:


Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:

Yes; Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) Conference, Dublin, Nov. 2022

Okay to livestream?

Livestreaming is okay

If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)