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Stop FDL

Participation would be greater if a more permissive (not adware-ready) and practical (didn't require distribution of a lengthy license with printouts) licence was used instead of the GNU FDL. 09:46, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

The FDL indeed has some problems for I expect to change the licence in the near future. I was planning on using the cc-by-sa-3.0, but I still have a few issues to work out. I added the copyright assignment so that the licence decision can be taken later - so that it wouldn't delay the launch any further. Ciaran 06:37, 5 May 2009 (EDT)


Hi, The category system seems to need a lot of work. I have some ideas, but should I discuss them first? I wouldn't want to mess too much with say Category:Top level category is that would upset somebody. Steelpillow 09:37, 25 May 2009 (EDT)

To clarify, I mean category in the MediaWiki sense as a kind of index for linked articles, rather than as a way of naming articles. Steelpillow 04:26, 26 May 2009 (EDT)

As a first step, here is a hierarchical breakdown of content areas. I have not tried to find snappy titles, just descriptive of the title for now. Clearly, some will appear in more places, for example Patent offices would also come under Organisations. I have also left out much of the finer detail.

  • About this site:
    • Parent org - End Software Patents
    • Aims and stuff of ESP Wiki
    • Help and style guides for ESP Wiki
    • Wikis and MediaWiki generally
  • Legal topic areas:
    • About patents themselves
    • Jurisdictions (countries, states, federations, etc)
      • Legislation
      • Case law
      • Patent offices
    • Organisations
      • those that deal with patent issues (law firms, pressure groups)
      • those that own or abuse patents (commercial companies and a few others)
    • Specific patent disputes
  • General issues:
    • Why patents matter
      • The harm they do
      • Dispelling myths
      • Should we be fighting all patents or just some?
    • Fighting for freedom
      • Alerts
      • Threats and opportunities
      • About our proposals
  • Documents:
    • Individual patents
    • Books and papers
    • Individual laws and policies
    • Statements

This might also serve as a framework for a redesigned Main Page. What do you think? Steelpillow 07:05, 26 May 2009 (EDT)

Yup, looks good. Do you know anything about bots? Wikipedia uses a lot of bots for automateable tasks. I'm not sure if this work is automateable, but as the categories and page numbers grow, there will be structuration things that we'll want to automate.
The only observation I have is that I think Wikipedia made one mistake with overly strict application of hierarchy. For example, I think it's useful for there to be one category for the toplevel country pages (Brazil, Belgium, etc.), but also a category that includes those pages *and* the "case law in..." and "patent office practice in..." pages. Wikipedia wouldn't allow that, but I think in a small number of cases it does make sense. Ciaran 07:58, 26 May 2009 (EDT)
Sorry, I am not a bot person. As for Categories, the whole idea is to allow an organic, recursive hierarchy where a given article may be placed in several relevant categories, some of which may be sub-categories of each other. For example there is a top-level [[:Category:Region or jurisdiction]] and also Category:Case law by region. We could create a Category:England and Wales and make it a sub-category of [[:Category:Region or jurisdiction]]. Then, the article Case law in England and Wales can go in both Category:Case law by region and Category:England and Wales. Something like this:
      Category:Region or jurisdiction
                     |                      Category:Case law by region
         Category:England and Wales                     |
                     |                                  |
                        Case law in England and Wales
Wikipedia does a lot of this kind of thing - or have I misunderstood you? Steelpillow 16:14, 27 May 2009 (EDT)
There's no problem with the situation in your diagram, but I don't think Wikipedia would allow a category like the's current Category:Country and regional info. That category contains both toplevel region pages like Belgium *and* subpages of those pages, such as Legislation in Belgium. I think it's useful to be able to get a list of all pages about regional info, but I think Wikipedia policy would say that this inclusive category shouldn't exist and that Category:Legislation by country should be a sub-category of Category:Country and regional info and Legislation in Belgium should be in only the Category:Legislation by country, not also in a category such as Category:Country and regional info.

Geographical based categories

The names "Region or jurisdiction" and "Country and regional info" are not perfect. I use two descriptions in each because I want to avoid debates about whether Kosovo/Tibet/Catalonia/UK/Scotland is a "country" or a "nation" or a "state" etc. The only important groupings for are the boundaries of patent office jurisdictions and court rulings. Maybe the two categories should be "Region or jurisdiction" (just for Belgium, England and Wales, but excluding the legislation and case law subpages) and "All info for regions and jurisdictions" (Belgium, England and Wales, ...etc. plus "legislation in X",Y,Z plus "Case law in X",Y,Z)

However, since there are very few legislation and case law subpages, and I've recently merged some of them into the toplevel articles, maybe the broad all-inclusive category isn't so necessary anymore. No big issue, just thinking out loud. Ciaran 23:14, 28 May 2009 (EDT)
"Jurisdictions" seems like the most accurate term, and also the least likely to cause pointless debate/offence. But, is the EU a jurisdiction? Probably, yeh. Are the countries which signed up to the European Patent Convention a jurisdiction? Probably not. Maybe "Jurisdictions and international"? Ciaran 21:42, 31 May 2009 (EDT)
I have been working out a new Category tree here. There might be topics which are country/jurisdiction related but not legal topics, such as individual campaigns. The broad category, currently called Region or jurisdiction could be useful to group together all geographical-related articles. The more specific category, currently called Country and regional info, could then focus on legal topics. However I'd suggest these names be changed. For the broad, I cam up with Countries and international, and for the legal specifics Jurisdictions seems appropriate. steelpillow 03:25, 1 June 2009 (EDT)
The breakdown makes sense, but I've encountered problems by using the word "country" before. People who live in places of disputed sovereignty/independence often feel very strongly about the name used for the things that writes the laws that apply to them. If we have a category for "countries", some people will dispute or get offended by whether or not, for example, Catalonia is categorised as a "country".
For, this distinction is completely irrelevent since we only care about knowing what entity writes the laws and creates court precedents for a given area. If a local Catalonian government writes the applicable patent law and administers the patent office, then nobody could dispute that Catalonia is a "jurisdiction", and if the Spanish government does those things, the no one could dispute that Catalonia, for patent issues, is part of the jurisdiction "Spain".
So "jurisdiction" is probably more accurate and informative and avoids a potential problem.
Is the EU a jurisdiction? Yes and no. Do the signatories to the EPC form a jurisdiction? Yes and no. So something should be added, maybe the right term is then "Jurisdictions and international"? Ciaran 15:09, 1 June 2009 (EDT)
I have no real problem with Countries and regions, we can move articles across from Category:Country and regional info. steelpillow 05:00, 5 June 2009 (EDT)

We also have [[:Category:Region or jurisdiction]]. At the moment, say Case law in Germany is placed here. I'd prefer to move it into two other categories, Category:Germany and a new Category:Case law. Eventually, Category:Region or jurisdiction becomes redundant. steelpillow 05:00, 5 June 2009 (EDT)

What category would Germany and Belgium go into? Not intending to stall your efforts, but FWIW here's what's in my head: the number of "Legislation in..." articles (and "Case law in..." articles) is decreasing rather than increasing. Now that there's some info in the wiki, I'm starting to think that that separation was a bad start. Example of problem: which page should hold information about the criteria for patentability in the USA? Whether something is patentable or not depends on a combination of the legislation, and what the courts have said, and how the patent office interpret those two things. So it probably makes more sense to have all three on the same page (be that either the "USA" page or maybe a "patentability in the USA" page). Ciaran 20:37, 5 June 2009 (EDT)
Taking the first bit first, let us suppose for the sake of argument that Germany keeps its own category but Belgium does not. The article on Belgium goes into Category:Countries and regions, that's easy. According to strict Categorisation rules, the article on Germany would go only into Category:Germany. But to get at it you would need to click through twice from Category:Countries and regions. So for convenience it could be added to that category as well. There would then be two entries for Germany in that top-level category, one for its category and another for its article - each in its appropriate list. Something like this:
 Category:Countries and regions
    |       |         |
    |       |  Category:Germany
    |       |   |            |
 Belgium   Germany   Innovation in Germany
If you think that most or all of the "case law in..." and "Legislation in..." pages will disappear, then the problem disappears with them. I think the best approach is for each country/region to have it all on one page unless and until that page gets too unwieldly. steelpillow 16:24, 6 June 2009 (EDT)

Jurisdiction too jargonish

The reason I am not keen on "jurisdiction" for the top-level category is that to me, being thoroughly ignorant of legal things, it sounds too technical to be about everyday things like countries or the EU. Then, would it be reasonable to say that California is part of the USA, and so its information would not appear in the TLC but only within the sub-category for the USA? Thus, the TLC covers countries (and international) while sub-categories cover smaller jurisdictions within those countries, something like this:

 Category:Countries and international
      Category:States in the USA
          California articles

I think this is straight forward enough. Or would too many people think "Oh, there's no top-level category for States, I'll give up looking"? steelpillow 15:27, 2 June 2009 (EDT)

I see your point about "jurisdiction" being jargonish. How about "Countries and regions"? "Regions" is vague enough to provide an escape path for why X was put into this category. "Countries and international" still has the political problem. I'll keep thinking about this...
I don't think "no top-level category for States" is a problem. "State" has a different meaning in every state-based federation/union anyway, so having a unified "states" category could never be coherent. Ciaran 16:28, 2 June 2009 (EDT)

Area based articles

(Discussion moved from here).

Having tried to gather information per-country, I think I'm already hitting limits - sooner than I expected. For most countries, there's not much story to tell, so it would probably be best to merge all per-country info back into one per-country page (from "legislation in..." and "patent office practice..." and "case law in...", just make one page). That's just FYI, in case you have ideas on that idea or on other restructuring. Since it seems I'm no longer the only person in this until-now sandbox, I better start announcing upcoming recategorisations :-) Ciaran 10:37, 25 May 2009 (EDT)

Actually, maybe case law and patent offices do deserve their own separate per-country page, but the legislation pages probably should be merged into the general overview per-country pages. Ciaran 17:42, 25 May 2009 (EDT)
I think it best to keep information for a given area in one article until it becomes too big. If the information is thin, dicing and slicing it into many pages leaves visitors frustrated as they fruitlessly click around all that emptiness. Once an article becomes indigestible, key topics can start to be split off to new pages. This also allows the site to grow organically, without an excessive editing load. In the present case, the candidate topic areas for new pages have already been identified. Steelpillow 04:36, 26 May 2009 (EDT)
I think you're right. I overestimated how much data could be gathered quickly about the sub-topics. I've moved/merged a few of the tiny sub-articles now, such as by moving Legislation in Chile to Chile. Ciaran 00:07, 29 May 2009 (EDT)

The spam

There's spam being added to this wiki every day. There are good technologies for blocking this, for example, non-logged-in users have to answer a math question if their edit includes a link. IMO it's not urgent though. Removing the spam isn't hard, and I'm a fan of holding back regulation until it's really necessary. For now, it's important to keep contribution as simple as possible. We will surely install some such anti-spam measure in the coming weeks. Ciaran 08:28, 26 May 2009 (EDT)

Spambot created a page

You may want to do something soon. A spambot just created a page anonymously. Visitors such as myself cannot delete such pages for you, so there is a danger it might get the idea and overwhelm you with thousands of spam pages. I can't remember if you have blocked automated account creation. 05:42, 30 May 2009 (EDT)

Thanks. Three interesting things used by Wikipedia are:
  • Anonymous edits with URLs have to answer a math question as a captcha
  • All changes with suspicious paterns get flagged (I think this tech is new, might be called "AF", an example is that any change which includes the same character four times in a row gets a tag "AF:row" or similar)
  • A blacklist of URLs that can't be added. Wikipedia has already built up a very long list of blacklisted URLs, so we can just copy theirs.
On Monday I'll talk to the sysadmins about which technologies they're familiar with or what other options we have. Ciaran 18:30, 30 May 2009 (EDT)

Spamblocking Software Blocking Sourceforge Addresses

Attempted to add my project to the list of projects shut down by patent threats. The main page is openises dot sourceforge dot net. When we attempted to save the page, it advised that the web address was spam. Given the number of open source projects at sourceforge, not sure why you would block their addresses??

Thanks for the heads up. I'm looking into it now... Ciaran 16:23, 3 September 2009 (EDT)
Here's the spamblock list: MediaWiki:Spam-blacklist. Sourceforge isn't on it.
What's the URL you're trying to add? (if you put a space in it, the spamblocker won't spot it) Ciaran 16:27, 3 September 2009 (EDT)
This should be working now (e.g. )
I didn't find the exact problem, but their were a number of semi-complicated exclusion rules in the spamblock list and I suspect one or two of them was trying to be a little too clever, so I removed the lot (for now). Ciaran 17:33, 3 September 2009 (EDT)

Deleting unwanted pages

I have created Template:Delete as a simple way to mark unwanted pages. It's just a quick fix, doing t properly is beyond my skills. The best way to track marked pages is to go to the template and use the "What links here" tool. 05:42, 30 May 2009 (EDT)

Non-software patent articles

Recently an article was created for patent 7490593. This is not software related. Does it have a place on ESP Wiki? (Just asking, I have no opinion either way, but I am thinking of Why focus only on software) steelpillow 15:34, 2 June 2009 (EDT)

I'm undecided, but it doesn't seem to be doing any harm, so I'd tend to leave it be. I can't imagine how it will help build the case against swpats, but that might just mean my imagination is too limited :-) Ciaran 16:12, 2 June 2009 (EDT)


How about an Alerts box on the Main page?, aimed at visitors who are browsing rather than editing? Maybe a Template:Alerts, something like this:

The idea is to get people actively campaigning (in contrast to merely adding campaign information on the wiki). What do you think? steelpillow 05:01, 24 June 2009 (EDT)

More on spam

We've installed MediaWiki:Spam-blacklist. That should block some spam.

But there's a strange type of spam remaining, a bot is adding links to websites that don't exist: [1], [2]. What's the purpose?

Two possibilities spring to mind. First, it might just be probing the site defences, using urls that will not be on any blacklist. Second (approaching paranoia?), it might be adding urls for sites that might get created one day as part of some DoS system, similar to the mass of unused urls carried by conficker, perhaps using unguarded wikis as proxies to save carrying that mass of urls around. steelpillow 17:10, 17 July 2009 (EDT)

If this persists, I guess I'll have to add in a test ("What is 7 plus 3?") whenever a non-logged in user makes an edit which adds a URL. Ciaran 15:09, 17 July 2009 (EDT)

Well, evil bots ain't going to disappear from the Internet overnight. Some halfway measures might be:
  • Disallow sub-pages in the main, Category, Talk and Category talk namespaces.
  • Block page creation by IP users (but still allow edits).
steelpillow 17:10, 17 July 2009 (EDT)

ESP Wiki policy

ISTR that somewhere on these pages is a statement that this is not a campaign against 'all patents, just software patents.

Whether this is so or not, I think the policy needs saying more prominently. I can't find that statement now, or any other on such details of policy.

If we are confining ourselves to swpat-specific issues, then I think we need to be careful how we present our case, whether on this wiki or when campaigning. Inconsistency, such as being against swpats because they are expensive to SMEs while not campaigning against other patents for the same reason, might weaken our case.

Maybe we need a policy page where we can hammer out such issues? steelpillow 04:39, 9 August 2009 (EDT)

Even though I can't think of any campaign or region where I'd argue against the whole patent system, it's still good to document the general problems of the patent system. For example, when a government is considering giving the patent office more power (which would usually lead to reinforcing software patents), it would be useful to be able to point out that the patent office is a failing institution (if that's true).
There might even be countries where arguing against the whole patent system is a realistic way to get rid of software patents.
Some general problems take special significance in the context of software - like that the USPTO often takes seven years to process patent applications. In software, that's an eternity. Most start-ups don't even last that long. The wiki should make this clearer.
I think it's better to gather information in as broad a scope as possible, and let individual campaigns decide what they're going to argue for. But you're right that it's generally a mistake to argue against the whole patent system, so I've made this article prominent on the Main Page: Why focus only on software.
There's also the issue of attracting and keeping wiki contributors. From experience on Wikipedia, when people's first contributions are met with pointers to policy, they feel unwelcome. When people make contributions that I think are poor quality, or even slightly negative, I usually do nothing, and review it in a week or month's time. Keeping their edit makes them feel welcome - and retaining a contributor is more important than fixing any minor error.
For SMEs, the cost argument takes special significance in the context of software because software SMEs don't need special premises or permits so they usually have much lower budgets than manufacturing or pharaceutical SMEs. This needs to be made clearer on the SME page... Ciaran 08:50, 10 August 2009 (EDT)

Site organization

I think the front page of the Wiki risks scaring away new visitors. There are too many links and the page is scrollable. Obviously, when this Wiki began, articles were on the front page because there was so little material, at first. However, let me congratulate everyone who has contributed to ESP Wiki for the success in completing an important hurdle in the Wiki:WikiLifeCycle: The Wiki has outgrown the front page.

The attempts to use formatting to squeeze everything into the available real estate of the front page only avoids a glaring problem. The site needs to have clear paths for visitors to find information. User:steelpillow has begun this work by studying the topics covered and writing a proposal for categorization. To take this further, there needs to be a proposal for the front page that meets the needs of visitors with what exists on the site.

So who are the "audiences"?

  • People who want to get involved in abolishing software patents.
  • People who want to know why software patents are bad.
  • People who want to contribute (to the Wiki).
  • People who want to get involved in software patent issues in their locale.
  • People who want to learn more about this campaign against software patents.
  • People who want to learn about a specific technical issue as it relates to software patents.
  • People who want to learn about a specific discussion of software patents (economics, legal cases, GPLv3).
  • People who want a bibliography on software patent literature (for reading articles or watching video).

These people can come from different backgrounds, including:

  • Programmers
  • Software users (general public)
  • Lawyers or legal think-tankers
  • Political class or NGO do-gooders

The trick is coming up with a comprehensive map of who the visitors are that meets what already exists on the site. The resulting plan that works for the front page will should also scale as the Wiki grows and its purpose develops. --Ashawley 17:49, 9 August 2009 (EDT)

Thanks for the interesting link about the wiki life cycle. The target audience of is anti-swpat campaigners. If someone's writing a letter to a government official, making a flyer, or even just arguing on a web forum, should be the place they come to for information. If we achieve that, then the wiki should develop a reputation and that will lead to people contributing.
You're certainly right that we're outgrowing the frontpage. A clear example is the list of countries on the frontpage that I'm manually maintaining while the Categories functionality provides that automatically. (Category:Countries and regions) I don't know any way to have a category's contents automatically printed in another page in a formatted way.
I'm not sure that having the page scrollable is bad. All the wikis that I consult have frontpages that scroll. Got any links to good frontpages (scrollable or not) we could follow? Ciaran 12:19, 10 August 2009 (EDT)

Indeed, being scrollable isn't the problem. Many sites have material on the front page to read and thus requires scrolling. But right now this Wiki doesn't have any readable material, it's just a list of links. Again, that is fine since the mode of operation is to build the Wiki. I'm suggesting there needs to be a strategy developed for this site that suits its visitors. Keep it in mind. --Ashawley 16:06, 12 August 2009 (EDT)

I have hacked a demo for a new Main Page layout here. The individual link menus still need lot of work, but what do you think of the general idea? I'd like a short lead paragraph or so of text before the main lists of links, but am unsure what to talk about. steelpillow 15:05, 14 August 2009 (EDT)

Category suggestions

I've added category links at the bottom of the countries, arguments, and organisations sections on Main Page.

One problem with MediaWiki's categories is that subcategories are given a lot of space. Compare:

I think the latter is a lot better in terms of presenting the user with the content of the category. Would it be a good idea to tag certain categories as "simple categories", for which we agree not to add any subcategories. This could be implemented by putting a comment in each "simple" category, like this. Comments? Ciaran 16:42, 10 August 2009 (EDT)

Category pages are a take-what-you-get listing of linked stuff, they are dynamic and not easily controlled. For example as more countries grow multiple pages, they will grow more country sub-categories, until eventually [[:Category:Countries and regions] will have a useful top half of sub-categories and a "why is that hidden down there?" problematic bottom half of less documented countries. I think it best to take each topic area on its own merits. For example countries/regions are not going to appear and disappear rapidly. They could be listed on an ordinary page, subdivided by continent and/or just alphabetically (A sortable table could allow the user to select the ordering rule within the same table, using a hidden indexing system). The Arguments page is already beginning to do something similar for Category:Arguments. OTOH Category:Documents is unlikely to spur creation of a "Documents" article.
Categories have this brilliant ability to be linked to, even if you know of no other articles on that topic. I can browse a category and come across loads of pages I never knew existed, providing a powerful tool in rationalising and organising the actual pages. The more complex the site becomes, the more valuable this ability becomes. I sometimes use a category to capture related pages for a while, before building an introductory article that provides context and links for each article. Revisit the category later, and other users will have linked more articles, so then I am able to update/improve the introduction. A category is seldom a stable listing, and is not intended to be. steelpillow 17:09, 10 August 2009 (EDT)
Ok. I've undone my changes to Category:Arguments and I'm making a page now for Countries and regions. Ciaran 17:33, 10 August 2009 (EDT)

Countries and regions template

I had another idea. To avoid having a list on Main Page plus a list on a "Countries and regions" page to maintain, I made Template:Countries and regions, which contains all the data and a parent template Template:Countries and regions blurb which can be included in articles. For example, see the end of the Argentina article. Just an idea. Ciaran 17:52, 10 August 2009 (EDT)

Nah, not a good idea. The content of the front page should be easily editable by first time visitors, so it's not good that when they click the edit button they just see "{{countries and regions}}". For use at the bottom of each country page, I'm undecided if Template:countries and regions blurb is useful. I've left it in the Argentina article as an example. Ciaran 04:43, 11 August 2009 (EDT)
I don't think editability is a problem. A list like this is pretty static - it need not be so easily editable by the inexperienced, while the inveterate tinkerer will know how to track it down. Not so sure about the blurb though, the list is self-evident. But I am still not sure if it is a good idea. How often will anybody want to click from country to country? Is the shortcut worth the real estate occupied by the whole list? I am inclined to favour a Countries and Regions page: that occupies only one link, but demands an extra mouse-click to move countries. steelpillow 15:17, 11 August 2009 (EDT)
In fact, here is a demo sortable Countries and regions table. What do you think? It could maybe list the continent for each country in grey. steelpillow 15:45, 11 August 2009 (EDT)
Great. I thought I'd have to wait for a plugin to be installed to get that kind of table. I've put the current list of countries into your table and saved it at countries and regions. What other data could go in the table? Ciaran 21:59, 11 August 2009 (EDT)

About new accounts being created

In the create user log, there are two entries:

  • 10:18, 15 January 2010 Jenhongcai (Talk | contribs | block) created new account User:Acai (Talk | contribs | block)
  • 10:17, 15 January 2010 Jenhongcai (Talk | contribs | block) New user account

I don't know what the top message means. How does one user create another?

Other thing: where's the creation entry for User:ciaran and User:steelpillow?

There have been a few accounts made recently and never used, so I'd like to understand this a bit more, in case there's a new spam tactic in preparation. Ciaran 11:49, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

One user creates another
I replicated this by:
  1. While logged off, go to Log in/Create new user.
  2. Open it again in a second tab and log in as usual. The system now knows who my broswer session belongs to.
  3. While still logged on, go back to the first tab and create the new user. Result, as you now see in the User creation log.
The suspect accounts are so recent, it's hard to say whether foul play is involved. People do sometimes create sock puppets for themselves, or accounts for friends, for legitimate reasons.
steelpillow 13:36, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Interesting. Slightly unintuitive behaviour from MediaWiki. Could be harmless alright. It got my attention because the name of the creator catches the eye more than the name of the created account does, so it could be used as a way to try to reduce the chances of an account being created. Ciaran 00:38, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Missing log entries
I created my own account back in May 2009, while the current User creation log only goes back to November 2009. Something appears to have (accidentally or knowingly) purged the log. Possibly someone may have done it while carrying out system maintenance? If not, it could be due to malware purging the log entries recording its own naughtiness. steelpillow 13:36, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
AFAIR, there was a MediaWiki upgrade done in November alright. Probably that. Ciaran 00:38, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

References (citations and facts)

I've made Template:reference needed and Help:Adding references, to mirror Wikipedia's way of requesting references.

The only change is that instead of using Wikipedia's terminology - where the three terms fact-reference-citation are all used but with no difference - I've used the term "reference" for everything.

Using one term is simpler. My prefered term of the three is probably citations, however, there's no convenient way to rename the <ref> tags, and "references" isn't a bad second, so I suggest we unify on "references". Ciaran 14:26, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

I'd agree. Citations are really just a particular kind of reference, while the "fact" tag is a way of requesting a reference. BTW, sorry I'm not helping much at the moment, but am v. busy on other things. steelpillow 22:12, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
No problem. I'll try to keep the evolutions logical and I'll continue to mention things here if they seem to need explaining. Your help has already been great.
I put in the request to get ParserFunctions installed. It's just taking some time because I put in a number of other sys admin requests at the same time. We should have ParserFunctions features to mess with in a few days. Ciaran 11:13, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

July 2010: splitting case law and litigation

I haven't gotten the perfect name but I'm going to go ahead with the splitting of court cases into case law and "litigation" for want of a better name. Doing this will allow us to have a "legal" ("governance"?) section of the wiki which will have case law, legislation, patent office practice, legal wordings and other stuff, and we'll be able to have a "real world harm" section which will include articles about litigation where software patents cost developers money. Ciaran 12:33, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

Recent Changes Cleanup

The Recent Changes Cleanup extension has been installed, which allows (admins only, I think) edits to get tagged as coming from a bot.

When someone spams the wiki, and I block them and undo their spam, leaving three useless entries in the Special:RecentChanges list. The extension makes this page Special:RecentChangesCleanup, from which those three edits can be tagged bot, so they don't appear on RecentChanges by default. If anyone wants to see those changes, they can click "Show bots".

Nothing major. Not even sure how much I'll bother with it, but I wanted to mention it in case it seems weird that edits disappear etc. Ciaran 12:13, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Messing with fonts, styles

I'm doing some work to unify the styles of:

In general, I'm using as the starting point and modifying the other sites to fit it, so there won't be too much change here.

The fonts here will be made bigger. (update: done)

I want the three sites to look as similar as possible, which means I have to avoid differences that would make users change their local settings. If fonts are small here and big on another site, the readers will enlarge the text here, shrink it on the other site, and in the process they'll knock design elements such as the background image out of sync. Ciaran 16:45, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

Template:Cite_web almost working

Template:Cite_web is, IMHO, a very important wiki-feature. It formats stuff nicely for inside <ref></ref> tags. We currently just put URLs in the ref tags, but with Cite_web we can give those links titles, authors, dates, add quotes from the linked document, etc. More documentation is at:

So, where we currently do this:

David Kappos gives talk about copyright.<ref></ref>

We can now do this: (if and when we like)

David Kappos gives talk about copyright.<ref>{{cite web
|title=USPTO homepage
|quote=USPTO Director David Kappos among the featured speakers at a public meeting to discuss copyright policy}}</ref>

Which should put this into the references section:

  1. "USPTO homepage". "USPTO Director David Kappos among the featured speakers at a public meeting to discuss copyright policy"

The only remaining glitch I've spotted is that the URL is currently printed after the link. That doesn't happen on wikipedia. I'm looking into it, but it's for another day. Cite_web is already safe to use. Ciaran 01:33, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

New argument: software innovation has to happen fast

It's kinda just a new way to state the existing argument about patents being too slow, but I wonder how/where it's best to develop the argument that computer security (and responding to users requests) requires innovation to happen quickly.

Responding to an oil leak is a question of logistics, procurement, decision making.

Responding to a virus that exploits a security weakness can requiring rethinking the security architecture or rethinking the user interface. Ciaran 13:56, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

One example (kinda) is Trend Micro v. Barracuda (2008, USA). That's not an emergency situation, but Barracuda was helping people respond to a security problem. Ciaran 14:12, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

External links per-section

I often want to add some links which only have relevance for a section of an article. When I put them in "External links" at the end, their relevance is lost, but if we spread external links across the whole article, they're harder to find. So I was thinking of adding section-specific external links sections (only in occasionally, when useful), and giving all the external links sections a background colour so that they're still easy to find at a glance.

The downside is that this requires some html <div> tags before and after the links, which is annoying because I prefer to keep the techy markup to a miniumum. Either:

{{ext links start|



{{ext links start}}

{{ext links end}}

The second seems better - less chance of unpredicted interaction between the links and the tag. Ciaran 18:56, 1 December 2010 (EST)

Fostering an inclusive community

There's a big long discussion about women in free software on, which got me thinking (more than any previous discussion of the topic did). I never would have thought that could seem unfriendly to women, but from the women in that LWN discussion, I guess having no visible problem doesn't make a project "friendly", it just makes it "not necessarily unfriendly", which equates to "potentially unfriendly".

It also seems, from that discussion, that to make a project "friendly", we just have to write a policy that sexist comments will not be accepted, and that comments shouldn't assume everyone is male, and enforce it. Seems reasonable, and it seems to be just putting in writing what we would have done anyway.

I've previously avoided making policies for because I see policies on Wikipedia mostly being used to revert new users, which makes people feel unwelcome, but this sort of policy wouldn't have that problem. Instead, it might make a lot of people feel more welcome.

Any comments or suggestions for what policy to adopt? What examples are there? What's better, a policy explicitly to prevent exclusion of women, or a general policy of civility with no specific mention of women but which would obviously imply that sexist comments aren't allowed? Ciaran 11:57, 28 August 2009 (EDT)

Another thing which might be useful is advice on keeping discussions friendly. On other wikis, I've noticed that questions on Talk: pages are sometimes met replies which start with an overly definitive "no". Such assertive/aggressive replies are used in competitive/saturated projects (like the Linux-kernel mailing list, and what some parts of Wikipedia have unfortunately become) to push people away from reviewing/developing certain areas of a project. Doing it on could never be useful. So maybe what would be useful is more of a "How to be nice" guide. It might even be worth considering a two or three line statement under the edit box as well as or instead of writing rules/advice on a page. Ciaran 18:24, 20 September 2009 (EDT)
Here's the sort of thing I think could go in a good code of conduct: We have so much work to do, we need all the help we can get. Cooperation can be difficult sometimes but politeness, respect, and compromise are part of building as big a community possible for the fight for freedom. Ciaran 22:39, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Describing "failing" initiatives

I'm wondering how to best name the collection of non-abolition initiatives launched or considered to reduce or solve the problems of software patents.

Some are complete failures (e.g. using antitrust law, buying litigation insurance), and others have very minor benefits but will never get us where we want to be (e.g. defensive patent pools, invalidate the most harmful), and others are partial victories (e.g. abolishing business method patents or securing an exclusion from patent infringement when the reason is compatibility/interoperability).

The current name is too kind: "Steps that don't bring us closer to our goal but might give some temporary protection", but the only other name I can think of is probably too harsh: "failing solutions".

In reality, there's a spectrum, and some are closer to the former name and others closer to the latter.

The dangers of being too kind are more serious (readers might think we endorse those methods as solutions) than the dangers of being too harsh (contributors to those projects might be offended).

What name could better represent the situation?

Or should the division be refactored by changing the "Arguments" page to "Arguments for abolishing software patents", and then have a page for "non-abolition initiatives" which could list all the failing and minimally useful initiatives, with a clear note at the top of each such page about why we think that initiative is not worth focussing on.

(I just thought of that last idea while writing this question, and I'm starting to like it) Ciaran 09:35, 7 September 2009 (EDT)

I still like that last idea, but "non-abolition initiatives" is too vague - it could even include pro-swpat campaigns. What description could convey that these initiatives were launched to save people from the dangers of software patents, without letting the reader think that they are what we support? We need a succinct name for "Initiatives which were proposed as solutions, but which didn't aim for abolition and thus failed". Ciaran 14:52, 7 September 2009 (EDT)
"Palliatives" would fit the bill, unless you want to emphasise the "failing" bit. Palliatives ease the symptoms for a time, they do not cure. Or is that too high-falutin' a word? steelpillow 16:47, 7 September 2009 (EDT)
Maybe it could be one part of a two-name title. If there was a word for failed attempts at solving a problem, then we could have "Palliatives and $OTHERWORD". We might have to go with a long descriptive title in the end. Ciaran 17:14, 7 September 2009 (EDT)
"Palliatives and failed efforts to fix the problem"? (but then that could included "failed" abolition campaigns - but maybe I'm being too demanding here) Ciaran 17:18, 7 September 2009 (EDT)
Other possibly useful words: stopgap, mitigating, attenuating, alleviate, lessen, limit. (with help from Ciaran 17:25, 7 September 2009 (EDT)
"Palliatives and failed remedies"? steelpillow 14:54, 8 September 2009 (EDT)
Ok, let's start with that. Palliatives and failed remedies. Ciaran 07:50, 5 October 2009 (EDT)
The falutin' of "palliatives" is a little high. I still haven't thought of a replacement word, but here's a dump of my thoughts: "crutch" is good, but not really descriptive enough. Is there a word to describe something that a badly wounded boxer or soldier gets so they can continue to fight just a little longer, while incurring more and more damage the whole time? Is there a word for putting nice coat of paint over something that's rotten and rotting? Or if we look for something that's purely descriptive, is there a slightly shorter way to say "Expensive, inefficient, minor help and failed remedies". Ciaran 18:36, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
We use chewing-gum or sticky tape for a temporary fix, patch or lash-up, but those don't necessarily imply ultimate failure. For that, we talk of "painting over the cracks" or "short-term patches". Nostrums and snake oil are quack medicines, but is "nostrum" is as high-falutin' as "palliative"? How about "Patch-ups and snake oil"? steelpillow 13:29, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Then again, what about "bad", "dud" or "broken" ideas, as in say "Patch-ups and broken fixes" steelpillow 17:33, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
I like "duds". Most of those initiatives were launched with great fanfare (and many were surely just PR stunts), and duds describes what they've turned out to be. I've moved it to Duds and non-solutions now. Ciaran 15:01, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Possible changes to category names

Some categories are "out growing" their names. Nothing urgent, but here are some observations. Currently, the only way to change category names is the tedious way, so I won't make any changes until they seem logical and defined. That sort of tedious work doesn't bother me at all actually, but as the wiki grows, that work grows at least linearly, so I'd like to get it as right as possible in these "early" stages. Ciaran 09:37, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

There is no need for sub-categories to be mutually exclusive or to be carefully planned in advance. Sub-categorisation can (and sometimes should) also be recursive - think more "related" than "sub". The hierarchy we have stuck with so far is beginning to creak at the seams. Perhaps the time has come to move on to richer cross-linking. If a particular category seems like a good idea, just create it, link it to any suitable parent category/ies, and move any suitable articles and child categories over. This usually keeps the work manageable. steelpillow 21:19, 13 February 2010 (UTC)


Might have to be split up, but I'd split it as minimally as possible, just into two, three, or four subcategories.

Category:Organisations has parallel issues. It might be good to do the same for both, e.g. create cats for "Campaingers against swpats" and "Organisations against swpats" at the same time; both could then be sub-cats of each other and of "Campaigning" as well. steelpillow 21:19, 13 February 2010 (UTC)


A large portion of this is now filled with "indirect arguments", for example, articles about problems with the current patent system such as Costs of defending are astronomical for developers and SMEs. They're useful for pointing out problems, but it's a "direct" argument only for reducing the costs of filing/litigation/defence. They only become directly an anti-swpat argument when put in a context that explains that the costs will never become low enough or that there are so many of these practical problems that they're unsolvable. If someone sees these are our "arguments", they'll think we've misjudged the solution. I don't know if this category should be split in two (is a clear split even possible?) or if it should be renamed to something more general "Arguments and problems"?

I guess we have a similar issue with Category:Why it matters. I think it's useful to keep them both as they are, for direct issues of principle, law, etc. By all means have an indirect category, perhaps something like "Problems with the current system", and move the indirect stuff over. steelpillow 21:19, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Yeh, the more I think it through, the more sense it makes to start making a clear distinction between fundamental problems and practical problems. Pages on the latter could then have a note at the top explaining that they're not the core issue (but that, in context, they do for part of a core issue). I'm tied up with other work today, but I think I'll implement this later this week.
I'm not sure what direction to take with Category:Why it matters. An idea which would appeal to logical categorisers would be to make it the union of the fundamental and practical problems, but from a communications point of view that would be a mistake. People will be able to see that info just by looking at the two categories, so it would be a trivial convenience and would lead to people missing the vital distinction between fundamental and practial problems.
Another possibile use would be to house articles such as Why consumer organisations should be involved and Why tech groups should be involved (but that comes with the caveat that, given their weakly developed state, those articles might change in the future), and the cats for fundamental and practical problems would be sub-categories. Any ideas? No rush - I doubt this will be resolved this week, probably not even this month. Ciaran 18:32, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Category:Campaigning also could do with some lovin. The campaigning info on the wiki is generally higgledy piggledy. I'll try to turn Organising a campaign into a kind of parent article for this topic. Ciaran 06:16, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
That is partly my fault. I got muddled as to whether it was about news of campaigning activity, how to conduct a campaigns, campaigning organisations, or topics that come up during campaigns. steelpillow 15:14, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Category:Patent infringement suits

Update May 2010: this cat has been replaced by Court cases and litigation

I was going to make a category for articles about case law and patent office practice in the USA (and another for the EU would surely follow). Category:Patent infringement suits already contains many of the articles that would go in these categories (some wrongly, since for instance, there's no litigation in in re Bilski - it's a grant rejection dispute). I guess that category is useful because it can include cases that were filed but which were then settled before the ruling (thus no case law created, so wouldn't be in the new case law categories), so we'll have two largely overlapping categories, but still, that seems the right thing to do.

Yes, largely overlapping cats is fine, because they have different focus and are not wholly overlapping. It's how the category system is meant to work. steelpillow 21:19, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Obama administration

Which category should it go in? People? Organisations? something new for political entities?

Both People and Organisations, of course. Maybe by creating new sub-cats for "politicians" and "political organisations" as with my campaigners example above. steelpillow 21:19, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Adding a "series" navigation aid

I've been doing a stock take of all the articles: User:Ciaran/temp-frontpage

The original goal was to update the front page, but I was wondering if there's also another way to use this organisation effort. My first thought was we could have a box for each of the ~20 sections (which I'll call "series" since "sections" already has a MediaWiki meaning), with 10-30 articles. The relevant box could be included at the bottom of each article. So, for every article about a person, there would be a box with a list of all articles about people, and at the end of every article about a court case, there'd be a box with a list of all the articles about court cases, etc.

But, this is a bit bulky, and it might overshadow the categories.

My current idea is to make an overview page for each of the ~20 series. This already exists for some/most, like Countries and litigation. And, for each series we could also have a template that gets included and is diplayed at the top-right of the article, like the box that's currently on Bilski v. Kappos (2009, USA).

This seems maintainable and useful. My hope is that when people land on a page from a search engine, be it a good page or a poor one, they should easily see ways to look for other interesting topics. Ciaran 15:14, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

I think the overview pages with lists of links is a good idea. But it needs some care:
  • Some pages may want to end up in more than one series.
  • On the overview page the link list should probably go near the top, on the other pages it might be better along the bottom as you first thought - that way, a couple of them on a schizophrenic page would not clutter the main content.
What shape to make the link lists? See my rough hack of a possible main page layout. The lists run horizontally, and could easily be templated as tasteful boxes.
I think this system would be flexible enough and have about the least maintenance overheads.
Meanwhile, there might be some scope for bringing the categories a little more in line with your series titles. Don't be afraid of overshadowing the categories - if they fall out of favor, it might be for good reason.
steelpillow 22:06, 1 March 2010 (UTC)
I like your Test2 hack. When we have overview pages for each of the ~20 "series" (maybe 20 is too many), I think that style will be the way to go. What's holding me up is that there are still a few articles to sort into the series, and there are some series (e.g. "Arguments and problems") that might be split or differently defined. Should be ready in a week or so.
I want to limit as much as possible the repetition of pages between series, but yeh, articles like Bilski-v-Kappos will have to go in series Bilski and series Case law. Categories provide the navigation functionality of having multiple ways to find an article - so I want "series" to offer a different way to navigate, but I won't let purity get in way of being useful. Ciaran 13:56, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Standard sections for pages on organisations

(I haven't forgotten any discussions, IIRC, but the ACTA leak has distracted me.)

Most types of pages can't be made uniform, but it hit me that maybe the pages about companies, or about all organisations, could all include these sections (even if they just say "no known info"):

  • Patent acquisition history
  • Litigation by and against
  • Lobbying and consultation responses

Just what's in my mind. Ciaran 13:29, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. What about templating some of the key highlights in a box, say type of organisation, pro/anti/neutral stance and country of origin? Also not thinking deeply. steelpillow 19:26, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Yeh. I think that's a logical way to go, but I can't think of how to word it. Summarising positions is very difficult:
  • Google - I'd say anti-swpat, but they sure do a good job hiding it! They're also stockpiling a lot of worrying patents, so it might be misleading to put them in the "with us" category.
  • Novell - I'd say strongly pro-swpat, but I've never actually found evidence that they lobbied or pushed for software to be patentable. I have a memory of some from the EU lobbying around 2004, but I've no proof.
  • Oracle - currently pro-swpat, but previously anti-swpat. The current stance is obviously more important, but do we weaken our case by oversimplifying their position?
But maybe my problem is tunnel vision. Maybe there's a better way to summarise things than simply "for/against". Ciaran 19:46, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Maybe one thing that can have a one word answer is "Has used software patents aggressively: "
On it's own, it wouldn't make for an interesting box, but it's a start :-) Ciaran 22:59, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
Rather than have a statement which must then be true/false, I think it better to have a descriptor and a short summary. For example "Position on swpats: " can then be "for", "against" or "Not known". Stockpiling patents is not an indicator - the FSF (or an associate?) does that. I think it's worth including some detail, for example Oracle could be "For swpat, previously against". Quotations, links, etc. can then go in the body of the article. steelpillow 15:37, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Could Template:navbox vertical go on every page?

I've shrunk the size of Template:navbox vertical and I think it might now be ready to be put on every page.

Remaining problems:

  • It doesn't work well with text-based browsers (like lynx) - you see all the navbox contents, hundreds of lines, before you see the page.
    • Possible solution #1 (best): could we use some <div> taggery with float properties to put the template at the end of the text but have it displayed at the top? Maybe by putting the whole article in one tag, and then having the template on its own in another tag just after? (I've tried in vain, but I'm no wizard)
    • Possible solution #2: copy the table code, making "newtable" with a way to have the box only displayed if the browser is gecko/webkit/ie.
  • I wonder if this will also cause problems with how search engines categorise the page contents (but, this can't be much of a problem since a lot of news site pages are overloaded with crap and they get indexed okay).
  • I've no idea if this might cause problems for browsers used by blind people.
  • I still have to develop a method of keeping it up to date. I think this will require writing a few scripts and maintaining a table with all the articles and what series they're in.

The goals of the navbox are:

  • Make it easier for first-time visitors to see our other pages
  • Mention "End Software Patents" - build the campaign's reputation
  • Mention it's publicly editable
  • Link to Finding things on
  • On rare occasions, it could be used to display big announcements

Anyone got comments on the readiness of Template:navbox vertical? Or insight on the problems above? Ciaran 08:54, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

I've made Template:welcome a redirect to Template:Navbox vertical, just for a trial, so it can be seen in action on the pages which use Template:welcome: Special:WhatLinksHere/Template:Welcome.
One other thing: some pages also need their own box. I'm not sure yet how to combine this one with another. Ciaran 10:26, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Some thoughts:

  • The only way using div tags would be to create a whole column for the navbox. There is no way to do this without adding the div code to every page. Might as well use a table.
  • But not doing that leaves it all before the main body.
  • How about dropping it (or something like it) into the left hand menu space that is served with every page? Sorry I don't know how this is done. Say between the search box and the toolbox. Or would that put it ahead of the main content for text browsers too?
  • You could put a horizontal navbar along the bottom of every page.

Sorry that doesn't help much. - steelpillow 20:58, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Damn. The div tags idea might have been wishful thinking :-) Putting it in the left-hand column is probably the long term way to go. AFAICT, that will require a sys-admin patching some file, so I'll put it in my queue of sys-admin requests (but, the state of Parserfunctions gives an indication of how quickly that queue moves). I'll look into the broswer detection idea - that might be doable without any sys-admin intervention. I'll give the bottom-horizontal bar a try, maybe it would work if it was like a set of tabs with multi-colum lists, but it might not be prominent enough. Thanks for the sanity check and new ideas. Ciaran 23:11, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
I just realised that the real solution would be to have one thing (short list of links) displayed when javascript's disabled, and another (navbox) when it enabled. I think HTML might have tags for doing that. Will take a look... Ciaran 08:08, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I did look into this, but found no solution. I've made notes about the problems and possible solutions at Template:Navbox. Ciaran 13:23, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Reorganising example patents

For these articles:

I was thinking of making the commonality clearer by renaming them to all to "Effects of patents on insert-topic-here", etc. The last one might get renamed soon to something about "multi-touch" rather than its current very general name. Ciaran 12:58, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Lengthy titles are seldom good. I'd be inclined to keep the "Xxxx patents" form, even change Phone patent litigation to Phone patents. That way the title stays relevant even though the focus of individual articles currently differs. It might be worth creating a category for "Effects of patents" or "Technology patents" or similar, if nothing suitable exists yet. steelpillow 20:00, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Or maybe "Patents on xxxx"? That would be almost as short, and it would still be more noticeable that there's a connection between these articles. Ciaran 23:55, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Not sure I have an opinion either way. Go for it. steelpillow 20:19, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Right. I think I'll go ahead with that, and make the category. And then a second set of articles that I'd like to make more uniform is:
And maybe there are more with that kind of focus - specific patents or specific sets of patents owned by a single entity. Ciaran 08:08, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Restating the problem

What I'm wondering about is how to break down this list into two, three, or four "sets" of articles:

  1. Micro-blogging patents
  2. XML patents
  3. micro-blogging patents
  4. audio-video patents
  5. Webpage and web service patents
  6. Image processing patents
  7. Phone patent litigation
  8. Divine e-commerce patents
  9. MPEG video formats (Maybe this should be "MPEG-LA's video patents")
  10. Microsoft FAT patents
  11. DE10232674 (More or less the same thing was granted in the USA as US2003226110 - two articles wouldn't make sense, so what's the best way to do this? A descriptive title with two redirects and put the redirects into categories so that DE10232674 will appear somewhere?)
  12. jpeg
  13. JPEG 2000
  14. Ogg Theora

There's surely more but that's probably enough to show the range. For 1-7, I'd say they're articles about the affects of patents on a *domain*. 8-11 are about specific idea (patented in one or more countries) or sets of patents owned by a single entity - number 11 is about a specific patent granted in a specific country, not sure if it still fits in. 12-14 are specific standards. But is that breakdown right enough to be worth formalising?

If it's useful, they can also be put in a kind of hierarchy:

No rush, any comments welcome. Ciaran 18:05, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

My instinct is to split them into two kinds of space - one for technology areas and one for patent owners. Your hierarchy might serve as the germ of two new articles, each organising the relevant detailed articles. Some articles would appear in both lists. That way, there is no need to allocate each article to a given space. steelpillow 20:44, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
For an article about patent owners, patent trolls should also be added.
But for now I'm thinking about the technology areas. What do we want readers of the above list of articles to see? I think they should show the harms of software patents through real world examples. I'm not sure what change this implies, but I just feel that this set of articles lacks a direction, so I wanted to juggle them around here a bit to see if anything emerges... And now that I think of it, maybe court cases should then be a subset of this "effects" series (but because court cases are so important, they would still get treated as a top-level set).
For individual patents (example DE10232674), I think a short article just for that patent would be fine - even if it was just a template that displays where to view that patent on the various websites that show patents, plus links to articles we have and third-party articles mentioning that patent. But, an individual patent isn't necessary an "effect", so maybe the minimal articles about individual patents should be separate.
Then, threatening use of a patent could get an article such as "Divine e-commerce patents" (or "Divine threatens e-commerce"?), and if there was litigation, either a new article could be started for the case, or the "threatens" article could be turned into a "court case" article depending on what's appropriate. And then articles such as Micro-blogging patents would be "Threats to micro-blogging".
What got me thinking is that I was telling someone that at, they could find all the necessary example of the harm done by software patents. Then I started looking at our current structures, and I think this aspect is actually missing. The Arguments page tries to cover it, but the examples angle could be better. Ciaran 00:16, 29 May 2010 (UTC)
Another twist: Trend Micro v. Barracuda (2008, USA). Trend attacked Barracuda. A law suit was filed. They settled out of court. Now Trend is in dispute with Fortinet over the same patent. A Separate Trend Micro v. Fortinet article wouldn't make sense. How to organise these situations into articles? (I think this confirms that court cases are a subset of real world effects) Ciaran 03:08, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
I'm looking into this again. NetApp's filesystem patents is an article that also deals with multiple litigations over the same patents. Maybe the current "court cases" should be split in two: aggression and rulings. Bilski v. Kappos is only interesting from the ruling point of view. NetApp v. Sun is only interesting from the look-what's-happening point of view. I'll check if all cases can be split into these two groups. Ciaran 20:18, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
This might be a good idea. One set would have names like "Bilski v. Kappos ruling (2010, USA)" and the others would be "NetApp litigation against Sun and others (2010, USA)". Ciaran 22:32, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
Nah, "litigation" is the wrong word. We need something that includes threats and other ways of forced licensing. "NetApp patent aggression against Sun and others"? Ciaran 22:34, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
(Much later...) I was going to rename most of those articles from "X patents" to "Patents blocking X", but what about areas where it's not clear that a blocking patent exists? I don't want to create the impression that, for example, JPEG has patent problems if it doesn't. "Patents and JPEG"? Ciaran 10:05, 19 January 2012 (EST)

Reorganising arguments

So arguments can be stated as refutations of myths, and vice versa, so I guess arguments and myths should be under the same umbrella. The other obvious thing to try is to split arguments between practical problems with current software patent regimes and fundamental problems that will always exist as long as software is patentable.

I haven't gotten far in the planning of this reorganisation, but I'll flesh some ideas out here. Ciaran 16:25, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

(Previous discussion on this: #Category:Arguments)

Maybe the correct approach of this is think of it in terms of a future legislative proposal. Which arguments could be nullified by the sort of reforms that IBM might push for (anti-troll measures, increase the speed, lower the cost, etc.), and which can only be nullified by abolition. And then myths are a third subsection. Ciaran 16:39, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

I don't think "myths" is a great term. "False [counter-]arguments", or "false claims" would be better. Ciaran 17:58, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

First try at splitting this list on fundamental/implementation problems.

First, the fundamental problems:

Implementation problems:

False claims (refuted):

Looking at this list also makes me wonder if some of these should have more descriptive names to describe why they're specific to, or at least particularly problematic for, software.

  • All businesses are targets --> All businesses use software, all have risk

? Ciaran 19:31, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

My first reaction is to ask if there is a difference between legal arguments and other kinds such as moral, pragmatic (implementation) or factual. Broadly, Software is math is a legal argument, Patent ambush a moral one, Low risk pragmatic and Software patents harm SMEs factual. OTOH, many fall across several of these classifications.
Then, every argument has its counter-argument. Should false claims that "X is so" be presented in reverse, as "Why xxx is not so", or maybe go the other way and treat "Insurance against patent litigation doesn't work" as the false claim for "Insurance against patent litigation". Either way, I'd like consistency.
steelpillow 20:08, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
Yeh, I think software is math and Just a Use of the Patented General Purpose Computer shouldn't be here, or at least should be renamed. They are currently arguments for how to abolish software patents. If an article was called, "Software patents block people from using math", then that would be an argument. (I'll reply again later to the rest) Ciaran 21:48, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
"Why xxx is not so" makes complete sense. It seems obvious now that you say it, but it never crossed my mind. In "arguments", these articles could be in a subsection "refutations" (for want of a better name - they're also "counter arguments", but in the context of an anti-swpat wiki, that would sound like counter-arguments to our own arguments, which they're not).
For what remains, which I split in two (fundamental/implementation) and you split in three (moral/pragmatic/factual), my goal is to prepare for upcoming legislative battles. I'm worried that instead of the "us versus them" battle that we fared very well in in the EU, our coming battles will be over what change to make: should governments abolish software patents or just tweak the numbers to make trolling unprofitable. I think there'll be a lot of support for making trolling unprofitable, including among people whose software patent problems don't come from trolls. I think our challenge will be to explain why aiming for "reform" is wasting an opportunity. So, the goal of the division in this particular case isn't so much to help readers find things, as it is to highlight why abolition is the solution.
This goal is also more important than perfect coherency. For example, the 20 year term of patents, is that reformable or not? Well, technically it is, but in reality it's very unlikely to get reformed, so it's a grey area for where to place it, but I'd rather have grey areas and explain the reform/abolition distinction than eliminate the grey areas but lose the above point. Ciaran 01:15, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

Planned changes to structure

Nothing radical, but I'd like split court decision analyses out from the other pages that collect info about court cases. Two initial examples:

I'll make a category for them, then start to look for existing articles that should be renamed in this way.

I'm also looking at how to split the arguments up into fundamental problems and the unsolveably numerous practical problems. Ciaran 20:08, 24 November 2011 (EST)

I don't like this idea anymore. There's a new ruling in Germany and I want to make a page for it but I don't yet know if it contains substantial case law or if it's just one more court case awarding some money to someone.
With German rulings, where the rationale behind the ruling isn't published until weeks after the publication of the decision, it's actually not even always possible to know if a ruling will contain substantial case law.
I think I should go back to having the same title format for all cases, but have a page listing case-law-making cases, and a category and a standard-ish note at the top of all such pages. Hmmmm.... Ciaran 03:53, 30 December 2011 (EST)
Or, another solution would be to have a page for each case, and a second page for an analysis of the ruling if it's interesting. So if we don't know if a ruling will have interesting case law, it's still possible to make a page for it. A page for the analysis can come later, if worthwhile. Ciaran 06:29, 30 December 2011 (EST)
Yes. Separate pages for the case in general, and the decision. If a German decision hasn't been published yet, it's simply a case, until the decision is published, then a page can be made about the decision. Decisions differ from cases in that they have a single precise date. This should be in the page name. Something like:
...preferably something that can be put directly into a sentence. Ciaran 08:51, 14 February 2012 (EST)
Also has to accommodate court cases that are referred to by code, like German cases:
I think I'll go with this:
  • Microsoft v. Siemens ruling on 10 April 2010 by the German BGH - this is code named "X ZR 27/07", but I won't put codes in page titles
  • Cybersource v. Retail ruling on 16 Aug 2011‎ by the US CAFC
Ciaran 12:55, 21 February 2012 (EST)

End result: I went with:

Having a date in the middle was just weird, and using completely correct English made them too long.

Case law articles (the ones with the new naming convention) are now in this category: Category:Court ruling analyses.

That was a lot of work. Ciaran 19:16, 23 February 2012 (EST)

I deleted navbox's content

I've blanked Template:Navbox and moved some of the functionality into MediaWiki:Sitenotice.

The main reason was that the Navbox was very broken for users who have javascript disabled. Another reason was that it was a (minor) maintenance burden.

In the future, I might move the "Navigation headings" from Sitenotice back into Navbox, and maybe make a series of derived boxes with more navigation topics for case law, countries, court cases etc. So I'll leave all the Navbox tags in the articles for the moment. Ciaran 12:52, 21 February 2012 (EST)

Pruning the categories

The wiki has outgrown some categories. Category:USA and Category:Legal topics could easily have +100 articles, and it would be such a mish-mash that no one would no what to be looking for there. One of these days I'll make a list and delete a lot of categories.

I'm also wondering if subcategories are a good idea. They make category pages very messy and might defeat the purpose of categories as an organisational tool. I'm going to experiment with sticking to a flat structure and manually adding links if they're very relevant. Like this:

. Ciaran 13:16, 2 August 2012 (EDT)

I'll have to categorise categories into objective and subjective. Pages can be objectively put into "Court rulings in Germany", but it's not always easy to know if a page really belongs in a category like "Campaigning" (which is a worthwhile category). Ciaran 16:40, 2 August 2012 (EDT)

Court rulings or case law?

I seem to have decided that "case law" was a better term than "court rulings".

Should I change every instance of "court rulings" to "case law"?

I'd tend to say yes, but "court rulings" does a slightly better job of highlighting the individual pages are about individual court rulings.

Is using both terms better for search engine pickup? Is there a useful distinction?

And then should "Template:patent office decisions list" also be changed to "Patent office case law"?

... Ciaran 13:32, 2 August 2012 (EDT)

Yes, there's a difference. I can have a list of court ruling analyses, but not a list of case law analyses. Case law is the whole. Court rulings are parts. It can sometimes be hard to say if a ruling is part of case law (i.e. does it really have an impact), but it's usually clear that a ruling is a court ruling.
Grey areas include preliminary injunctions by courts, and rulings by "commissions" such as the USITC, but I'm going to classify both of those as court rulings. Ciaran 13:59, 2 August 2012 (EDT)

Court rulings and case law again

Problem: I wanted the "court rulings" pages to be about individual texts that contribute to case law, but the name "court rulings" also suggests that Apple v. Microsoft should be in the category.

What the category name really should say is "Analysis of case law from court rulings", but that's too long. "Case law" seems better.

Here's a starting point for looking at what categories will need to be renamed (when I've decided on the name change):

. Ciaran 06:42, 13 August 2012 (EDT)

Babelfish has been replaced by Bing Translate

I'll have to update the Template:translate de set of templates, but can't do it right now since Bing Translate is giving me an error. Ciaran 09:13, 5 October 2012 (EDT)

Change people articles "on" to "and"

It would be better to have

than the current

That's more accurate, particularly when we talk about judges who talk about patents in general or software in general. Those comments might give insight to how that judge would approach software patents, but it's not a comment "on software patents". Ciaran 21:57, 31 December 2012 (EST)

Wiki software and config to-do, Summer 2013

Some things to do after May's upgrade to Mediawiki 1.21.1:

  • Fix the display glitch caused by my Questy patch, displaying questions twice
  • Make a new theme, based on vector, to resemble Wikipedia, but using ESP style
    • Make ESP logo that uses full available space
  • Enable more editing buttons, like on Wikipedia
  • Check what thing (gadget?) has to be enabled to get hover-over ref tooltips
  • Dig for ideas in Wikipedia's InitialiseSettings.php, CommonSettings.php, and Special:Version
  • Code for LocalSettings.php to change my question from time to time, say, by picking the question based on the month
    • It could even just be "What month comes after $currentMonth?"
  • Get reflist working with a ref= option so for list-defined footnote text, like Wikipedia does
  • Check if I can enable page renaming for non-logged in users
  • Clarify copyright situation, as I described on
  • Why does my cite_web always print the url a second time?

If you have more, now's the time to suggest them. Ciaran (talk) 04:42, 17 June 2013 (EDT)