Re: handling attributions for Docs

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Karsten Wade wrote:
Now we have a clear need for attributing source information: thanks to
being relicensed under CC BY SA 3.0 means we can import lots of good
content and so we're likely to do so.  Efficient attribution is now

There are two parts to this discussion:

* Technical - how it works in DocBook and Publican
* Brand - how does the Fedora Documentation Project want to attribute

I was going to look at it from a social angle, but I think the brand
angle overrides the social angle.  Read on for more.

== Technical proposal ==

To handle copyright attribution, I recommend we adopt this approach:

* For single or a few imports of a chunk of attributable content, use
  a <footnote>.  Attribution happens on the page it occurs.

  Example: Pulling a description of AES encryption from Wikipedia for
  the Fedora Security Guide.

Footnotes come from one school of attribution. There is another school of thought that preaches endnotes. I would recommend neither and suggest we go with a page of attribution and thanks were we mention various voluntary and 'acquired' contributions. This gives us a wider scope for referencing conversations, technical input, code, and other miscellaneous contribution. Useful as we will be without a formal and ridged format which would normally exclude those types of contributions.
* For longer imports, blends, or remixing of content, use

  Example: All of the people who work on a guide over the years would
  be lists in a standard format under the primary Fedora/Red Hat legal

That isn't relevant, really. If something is exceedingly, heavily rewritten it counts as an original work. Credit where credit is due, of course. However, if the original is unrecognisable all it does is make notices longer and unwieldy.
For the <legalnotice> usage, we would need:

* A standard format for all attributions, to make it fair, clear,
  equitable.  Alphabetical, for example.
Always by importance. Alphabetical is rubbish for translations and other languages.
* A change to Publican(?) to look for and use a file,
  en-US/Attribution.xml, if it is present.  This allows attribution to
  be kept within the main document source tree.
== Brand proposal ==

This is a proposal only affecting Fedora-branded works.  An upstream,
such as the "Linux Security Guide"
(, can attribute as it sees
fit, just as a downstream "Red Hat Enteprise Linux Security Guide" can
attribute as it sees fit.

Currently, for some works, we have primary authors in a long list on
the front cover of a work.  We've long discussed swapping that for
"Fedora Documentation Project".

In all writing projects there is always one to three actual writers. Primary writers should be up the front and secondary, tertiary and other contributors up the back/front in a references/attribution section.
Especially as we work with a larger group, the list of authors on the
front cover grows.  It visually competes with the Fedora branding.

And we should note that an important part of Open Source is personal gain. People's names are their brand. Most people involved in Open Source want their name present in patches and so forth as they are trying to grow their own brands. This should be encouraged, not hidden away. It brings personal pride to the work involved and enforces accountability.
In other parts of the Fedora Project, we don't see the authors
presented in that fashion.  Anaconda is "Anaconda Team
<anaconda-devel@xxxxxxxxxx>".  This is more the norm for FLOSS

There is often an AUTHORS page or similar included in the code or the program. Man pages are full of personal attributions. We should no abstract or removed this for previously mentioned reasons.
This is how a "Fedora Docs Team" focus looks in practice:

A good bonus to that would be having either a link to the project page
or text inline that links to the mailing list or project page.

Another idea is to have a notice in the authorship/editorship section,
"For full attribution of contributions to this work, refer to the
I agree, but we should keep a focus on primary contributors.
One reason for picking a standard is to set the expectation for how we
attribute under the Fedora brand.  When we put up individual names, it
creates a competitive space.  External content originators that are
remixed may demand front-page attribution.  This causes the visual
appeal to diminish while increasing the attribution maintenance.

If the remix is sufficient, we can give them a middle finger and suggest they take a hike. The world of publishing and technical documentation is nothing like the world of academic writing. Attribution is handled differently. If a work is sufficiently distinct it counts as an original work. Only original or patented ideas /must/ be attributed. I'm not saying we act like jerks to the community, I am just saying we don't have to comply when they act like jerks.

I think we want to create a competitive space. We want to work as a team but really bring credit to our standout players. We want to put them out there and say, "This person is really great". That may change from version to version and that is a Good Thing.

Having _all_ Fedora-branded guides follow the same standard that puts
the Fedora brand first does the best service to the Fedora Project.
It gives us the least headaches.  I think it is the right thing to do.

What do you think?

- Karsten


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