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    • CommentRowNumber1.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2012
    • (edited Feb 10th 2012)

    I have added at HomePage in the section Discussion a new sentence with a new link:

    If you do contribute to the nLab, you are strongly encouraged to similarly drop a short note there about what you have done – or maybe just about what you plan to do or even what you would like others to do. See Welcome to the nForum (nlabmeta) for more information.

    I had completly forgotton about that page Welcome to the nForum (nlabmeta). I re-doscivered it only after my recent related comment here.

    • CommentRowNumber2.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2012
    • (edited Sep 15th 2012)

    Every now and then I receive private email with comments on or questions about nnLab entries. Somebody wants to know how to generate an SVG graphics in some entry, somebody asks about how to understand a given explanation, or some expert sends a long list of facts he finds is missing in some entry.

    Mostly I think that these messages would better be sent here to the nnForum. On the one hand because in some cases I am not actually the author of the given material that the comment is about and hence am not the right person to contact, on the other because even if I react and edit some entry, that reaction should be discussed here publically anyway, and so it would be all the more useful if already the original comment were visible here.

    But since these emails keep coming, I now thought that maybe a further comment on the HomePage might help.

    I have expanded the previous section “Discussion” there as follows. Just a suggestion. Let me know what you think. Feel free to edit further:


    Discussion, Comments, Questions

    {#Discussion}

    While we work on the nnLab, we talk to each other on the nForum. We inform ourselves about latest edits to the nnLab in the part nForum – latest changes and discuss these edits there.

    If you do make contributions to the nnLab, you are strongly encouraged to similarly drop a short note there about what you have done – or maybe just about what you plan to do or even what you would like others to do. See Welcome to the nForum (nlabmeta) for more information.

    Also if you do not want to contribute to the nnLab, but if you have a comment on an entry – say because you are an expert and feel that information is wrong or missing – or a question – say because you are a layman and feel that things could be explained better – then preferably you post that comment or question to the nForum, where it is visible to everybody who might be concerned.

    In case that you do feel that this is not an option and that you do need to contact privately (say by email) a single author of an nnLab page, please make sure that you know who the right author is. Beware that the nnLab pages are visibly “signed” only by the name of the last person who made any edit on the page, no matter how minor. To find the author who made the edit that you want to comment or ask about privately, you should click on the link “History” at the bottom of any page to see which version was authored by whom.

    • CommentRowNumber3.
    • CommentAuthorTodd_Trimble
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2012

    Yes, that sounds very good. I just made a few minor edits to what you wrote.

    Of course, this will probably not completely stop the emails from coming to you. Probably because for many people, you are the nLab, Urs. :-)

    • CommentRowNumber4.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2013
    • (edited Apr 4th 2013)

    Over on the Univalent Foundations list the issue arose about whether nLab material may be used in Wikipedia articles, i.e. if “we allow” it.

    I pointed to the HomePage which has a statement of the conditions of use of nnLab material, essentially saying: “Yes, of course! If you acknowledge your sources, as usual in academia.”

    Now somebody pointed out that the HomePage talked about use “in publications”, which might seem to be restrictive. Therefore I have now edited the relevant sentence accordingly; now it reads thus:

    Using and distributing content obtained from the nnLab is free and encouraged if you acknowledge the source, as usual in academia.

    • CommentRowNumber5.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2013
    • (edited Apr 4th 2013)

    I have also copied in a link to some cc-page that is supposed to express the same idea more officially, see here.

    I don’t really know about these things. I just hear that some people who want to use nLab material say they’d feel reassured if there is such a link. Those of you who know more about this stuff, please fine-tune as necessary.

    • CommentRowNumber6.
    • CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2013

    I’ve removed the CC link for now. I recall a lengthy discussion about licences which didn’t get resolved (if I remember right) so a CC licence might not be valid.

    But it might not be necessary. Is there a transcript of the discussion that I can read? What exactly do they want to do? Copy, or just attribute a source?

    • CommentRowNumber7.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2013
    • (edited Apr 5th 2013)

    It was about copying material to Wikipedia.

    They felt unsure about if it was “legal” to do it without that link to the CC-thing.

    I think that if it takes such a link to make clear that nLab material is there to be shared for the greater good of mankind, then by all means we should include such a link.

    • CommentRowNumber8.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2013
    • (edited Apr 5th 2013)

    Where Andrew removed the link to the cc-license at HomePage I have now added the following sentence:

    (There is currently no consensus on a more formal license statement, but if it matters check if relevant individual contributors state such on their nLab homepages.)

    Then I have added the pointer to that CC-license to my personal page here.

    Since the material in question happens to have been contributed by me, with a polishing edit by Mike Shulman, that might do the trick already.

    • CommentRowNumber9.
    • CommentAuthorTobyBartels
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2013

    It is illegal to blindly copy material from nLab to Wikipedia even if we put in that licence statement. That's because past contributors never agreed to release the material that they wrote. (I'm not suggesting that this is the result of a good law; but it is the result of the law as it is, at least in most countries.)

    I don't think that Urs's statement is really even good enough for future contributions, since contributors might never have seen or agreed to it. (We should put something prominent on the edit page itself, like Wikipedia does.) In any case, it can't be retroactive, and this will contaminate everything that modifies a page written before we adopt a licence.

    However, for those who want to copy from the nLab with more care, principal contributors can give permission to use our edits. Then as long as copiers check that they copy only material written by these contributors (except for minor edits without creative content, such as grammar and spelling fixes, perhaps even fixes of mathematical thinkos), then they are OK. (I already give permission to use anything that I write, anywhere.)

    • CommentRowNumber10.
    • CommentAuthorTobyBartels
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2013

    Copying material from the nLab to Wikipedia, while perfectly fine with me, is far more than what is normally done in academia. In academia, we don't normally copy entire texts or even large portions thereof; we make minor quotations and copy ideas, with credit. This is already legal, on Wikipedia and elsewhere. (Minor quotations can be a grey area of the law, an area which goes by such names as ‘fair use’ and ‘fair dealing’. Anything normally done in academia would probably be legal on Wikipedia, but probably not more.)

    • CommentRowNumber11.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2013
    • (edited Apr 9th 2013)

    It already and since long ago says in words on the HomePage that contributors understand that their contributions can be used elsewhere, with due attribution.

    In my life in academia, I make and distribute copies of other people’s work all the time, often a few dozen per day.

    Why make it more complicated than it is? The idea that somebody types something into the nLab and later complains when he sees it somewhere else on the internet seems unrealistic. If anyone doesn’t want to share text, he or she won’t type it into a public wiki.

    Especially not one that says on its HomePage: contributors understand that others may use their contributions. The cc-license thing is just there to say this again, more formally.

    • CommentRowNumber12.
    • CommentAuthorTobyBartels
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2013

    Why make it more complicated than it is?

    Take that up with the Wikimedia Foundation. What we have simply is not good enough to meet their standards for inclusion.

    I don't think that we should bend over backwards to make it fit, either. But they are very careful about copyright law, and we are not.

    In my life in academia, I make and distribute copies of other people’s work all the time, often a few dozen per day.

    That also falls under fair use/dealing. But putting a copy of their article up on your web site (or Wikipedia) goes beyond that.

    • CommentRowNumber13.
    • CommentAuthorTobyBartels
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2013

    I may be missing something, but I don't see anything on the Home Page that suggests that material from the nLab might be copied to other websites. Again, I have no objection to that, but we are far from establishing that people have the legal right to do this, even though we would all be happy with it.

    • CommentRowNumber14.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2013

    I don’t understand this.

    we are far from establishing that people have the legal right to do this, even though we would all be happy with it.

    What is it that keeps us from declaring whatever we want about the material which we create and host?

    Take that up with the Wikimedia Foundation. What we have simply is not good enough to meet their standards for inclusion.

    What does that mean? Which part of CC BY-SA 3.0 requires that “what I have is good enough to meet Wikimedia’s standard of incllusion”?

    What is the big difference between the text of CC BY-SA 3.0 and what it says on HomePage? Is it that you interpret “use” as not including “share”?

    Why don’t we just change it then? Or else, which CC-license do you think does capture what it says on HomePage?

    But maybe you can put me in perspective more generally about what the problem or even the issue here is. To my mind the situation is: we are investing energy into making stuff available publically and usefully, since it is good for scientific knowledge to be available publically and usefully. Now part of the public that uses the material asks us to state more “formally” that they may use it. Why not do so?

    • CommentRowNumber15.
    • CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2013

    What is it that keeps us from declaring whatever we want about the material which we create and host?

    The whole problem is that word “we”. There is nothing that keeps us from doing so, but who are the “we” and “us” in this? Legally, it is everyone who has contributed to the material that you want to relicense.

    When someone contributes to the nLab we don’t make them sign a form allowing us to use their contribution for whatever nefarious schemes we have. The fact that they contribute gives us a de facto licence to use their contribution on the nLab within the bounds of “expected use”. So as it is a wiki, we’re fine to modify it and reuse it in other places on the nLab. (NB I am not a lawyer …) But taking it from the nLab to Wikipedia is not part of the normal use of the nLab so isn’t covered by this.

    Now, there may be provision in law that would allow us to claim all contributions as “belonging” to us, if we could figure out who the “us” is (I guess I’d have the strongest legal claim here). I’m not convinced we’d want to do this even if we could and I doubt that we could. It may also be possible to get a line drawn in terms of contributions which says “Any contribution below (whatever that means) this line is not subject to copyright” and then get the agreement of all other contributors to agree to some sort of relicensing (though I remember Zoran arguing against the SA part of CC-BY-SA).

    Note that all of this only applies to direct copying. Academic reuse is of course completely fine. That is, someone can take the results from one of our pages and rewrite them into another article. There’s not even a requirement for attribution here, just a widely held academic standard that says “If you don’t attribute your work, we’ll sneer at you.”.

    Moreover, if there is an article where all the (significant) contributors can be identified and give their permission, that’s again fine. Similarly, if you create a new page and put a banner at the top saying “This page may one day become an article. By editing this page you agree that this can be done with your contribution and that the resulting page can be published in an academic journal.”

    • CommentRowNumber16.
    • CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2013

    This just occurred to me.

    By way of a similar situation, consider contributions to the site TeX-SX. By posting some code there, I make it available under CC-BY-SA(3.0) simply by virtue of posting. However, that’s a lousy licence for code and makes it difficult for people to reuse that code in their documents (should they attribute my code in their actual article? Seems a bit over the top!). So I (and others) decided to relicense our code. I have the power to do that as the copyright holder, but no-one else does even though it’s already CC-BY-SA. To make my code as usable as possible, I put it in the public domain. Now anyone can use my code and don’t even have to say where they got it from. But they can only do that with my code (and that of others that have been relicensed). For others then technically they still need to use CC-BY-SA.

    You can see some of the discussion here.

    • CommentRowNumber17.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2013
    • (edited Apr 17th 2013)

    If you are worried about previous contributors not agreeing and going to sue us, then let’s state on HomePage “All contributions to the nLab are licensed under blah from NOW on.”, where “NOW” is some date.

    You suggest:

    that’s again fine. Similarly, if you create a new page and put a banner at the top saying “This page may one day become an article. By editing this page you agree that this can be done with your contribution and that the resulting page can be published in an academic journal.”

    Good, so the suggestion under discussion is to put this kind of statement right at the HomePage, to apply globally. Why should we state it for each page separately?

    The people who were asking me to add this license statement say this is just the same statement as used on Wikipedia. It seems that if for a wiki with number of contributors order of 10 610^6 this is a viable solution then for our wiki with contributors order of 10 010^0 it’s good, too.

    • CommentRowNumber18.
    • CommentAuthorTobyBartels
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2013

    I endorse Andrew #15 as an answer to Urs #14. This addresses Urs #17.

    Why should we state it for each page separately?

    Because otherwise it won't hold up in court. (Whether it holds up for Wikipedia is another matter, but there are people there who know what will hold up in court, so in the long run it won't be enough.)

    If somebody goes directly to one of our pages and adds a paragraph of prose which is then incorporated into the article, then there's no evidence that they ever saw the Home Page. They could come along later and say that their paragraph was a creative exposition over which they retain all rights, and they never gave permission to put anything derived from it on Wikipedia. If necessary (say, if they go further and say that they never gave us permission to remix it on the nLab and it's a too big headache to argue about what qualifies as ‘fair use’), we can probably just delete their material. But Wikipedia wants to be sure that everything is good from the beginning, to the point that people can fearlessly sell copies of Wikipedia articles (on DVDs) for fund-raising.

    The people who were asking me to add this license statement say this is just the same statement as used on Wikipedia.

    The statement on Wikipedia appears prominently on every edit page. We could do this too, and probably should; we just need to agree on the licence. (I would suggest CC-by, which is good enough for Wikipedia.) This thread is probably not a good place to discuss that, since it wouldn't be peculiar to the Home Page.

    Even if we do this, however, it may be very tricky to apply. If an article A has a significant contribution from an anonymous editor in 2012, then it's not covered. Unless you check its edit history, you don't know if an article has this. But worse, article B may be created in 2014 with some text copied from A and then modified (say if B = co-A, which comes up a lot). Since there's not always a record of this, none of the material is trustworthy. (Wikipedia ran into this problem when it converted from GNU FDL to CC-by-sa; changing the licence for future contributions would eventually leave everything uncertain. They eventually convinced Richard Stallman to write a one-time exception into the FDL to allow this, but we don't have even that option.)

    We should put a licensing agreement on the edit pages anyway. If Wikipedians use their discernment to judge that something's OK, then they may be able to use it. (And you can tell them right now that anything written only by you or me is free for copying, because you allow them and I allow everybody.)

    • CommentRowNumber19.
    • CommentAuthorzskoda
    • CommentTimeApr 18th 2013
    • (edited Apr 18th 2013)

    Moreover, if there is an article where all the (significant) contributors can be identified and give their permission

    I do not think that it is reasonable for a user to browse through very long history to identify all the concrete contributors to a cited page; unless it is about rare and very fundamental discovery :) Of course, sometimes it is clear who the main contributor to some entry is, at least to most people who are somewhat close to the nnLab inner workings; somewhat less obvious to a newcomer.

    • CommentRowNumber20.
    • CommentAuthorTobyBartels
    • CommentTimeApr 18th 2013

    No, it's not reasonable; but if people want to copy text from the nLab to Wikipedia and comply with Wikipedia's requirements, then that's what they have to do. And they can't just look at the history list either; they would have to contact each of us and get us to agree that we wrote it all and didn't copy it from somewhere else (including another nLab page with more contributors). Nothing that we put on the Lab now can change this consequence of copyright law, our past practices, and Wikipedia's requirements.

    • CommentRowNumber21.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeApr 18th 2013
    • (edited Apr 18th 2013)

    We could do this too, and probably should;

    Yup. Glad to hear this.

    we just need to agree on the licence. (I would suggest CC-by, which is good enough for Wikipedia.)

    Whatever you find appropriate.

    (What puzzled me is that you and others who worry about being sued by nLab contributors argue or did argue against stating a formal license. It would seem to me that those licenses were dreamed up precisely to cope with such worries. But what do I know. In any case, if simply stating a string of symbols of the form CC-something makes people feel better/safer when using the nLab, we should by all means add such.)

    • CommentRowNumber22.
    • CommentAuthorTobyBartels
    • CommentTimeApr 19th 2013

    I'm not worried, Wikipedia is. And even Wikipedia isn't really worried about being sued (not in this case), but they have a uniform policy.

    • CommentRowNumber23.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeMar 29th 2014

    I have added to the HomePage after “For more see” a pointer to the Wikipedia entry on the nnLab.

    • CommentRowNumber24.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2014

    Since I was being asked about it a few times now, I have added to HomePage in the section Steering Committee the following lines.

    The domain ncatlab.orgncatlab.org and the nnLab’s virtual server are owned (rented) by Urs Schreiber. The technical administration of the software installation is done by Adeel Khan Yusufzai (and was previously done by Andrew Stacey for several years).

    Regarding the “steering committee”: I keep having the thought that there is a certain gap between what might be its intention and what it is in reality. I keep thinking that we ought to improve on this. But also I have really no spare energy and leisure left, so better we won’t.

    • CommentRowNumber25.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2015
    • (edited Aug 3rd 2015)

    I have

    • updated all the links to the nnForum from HomePage from the deprecated “mathforge.org” to “ncatlab.org”;

    • removed the paragraphs on technical problems which no longer exist;

    • updated the information as to who pays for the server. (Not sure what happened here, I had thought that information had been updated weeks back when the server migrated to CMU)

    • CommentRowNumber26.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeJul 5th 2016

    I have edited the section Software requirements on the nnLab HomePage. I have removed the pointer to MathPlayer for IE, because I seem to remember that this no longer works.

    Instead I have highlighted more that presently the only browser that really works for viewing the nnLab is Firefox and its derivatives. (Or else, please add names of other browsers that do, too.)

    This is how the section reads now:

    The nnLab sends mathematical formulas to the browser using MathML.

    Notice that you don’t need to know any MathML for editing the nnLab, only your browser does. You write formulas into the nnLab between dollar signs in iTeX, which is very similar to ordinary LaTeX.

    Presently only Firefox and its derivatives have implemented native rendering of MathML. Presently all other browsers fall back to invoking MathJax. This works fine on small pages, but on pages with substantial content the MathJax rendering takes up to several minutes.

    This means that presently you should use Firefox or its derivatives to view the nnLab (free download of Firefox).

    • CommentRowNumber27.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2017

    I have added Richard Williamson’s name to the section “Server” here. Now it reads:

    The technical administration of the software installation is done by Adeel Khan Yusufzai and Richard Williamson

  1. Thanks!

    • CommentRowNumber29.
    • CommentAuthorTim_Porter
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2018
    • (edited Jan 13th 2018)

    The Home Page is blank for me. Yesterday (for me) there was an edit by 156.199.37.165 (anonymous). (I could not see what changes had been made. The source looked to be the same, so I do not understand what was happening.) I have rolled back to version 259.

    • CommentRowNumber30.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2018

    Thanks for noticing!

    The change that was made by “Anonymous” in rev 260 was right after the query box environment. Ordinarily that ends with

      =--
    

    but after Anonymous’s edit it ended with

      =--اا
    

    where the two vertical slashes are apparently something more unusual than it might seem, as you can see when you try to edit them out: The cursor behaves funnily when it hits these slashes.

    Anyway, it seems that these two slashes confused the parser and caused it to render an empty page, because removing them (testing in the Sandbox) made the page display again.

    Not sure what all this means. I hope it means somebody made some weird accidental edit, not knowing what they did.

  2. I’ll investigate when time allows. Been very busy recently, but have not forgotten about the issues raised,

    • CommentRowNumber32.
    • CommentAuthoradeelkh
    • CommentTimeJul 20th 2018

    I am resigning, and leaving the technical administration of the nLab fully in the very capable hands of Richard Williamson.

    diff, v263, current

    • CommentRowNumber33.
    • CommentAuthorDavidRoberts
    • CommentTimeJul 20th 2018

    Thanks for all your hard work, Adeel, it is very much appreciated.

    • CommentRowNumber34.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeJul 20th 2018
    • (edited Jul 20th 2018)

    I was about to update the line “administration was previously taken care of by Andrew Stacey” to “by Adeel Khan and before that by Andrew Stacey”, but then thought that was beginning to look funny, and so I removed that line alltogether. Instead, I added a remark indicating that we could always do with more hands: Now it resads:

    The technical administration of the software installation is currently taken care of by Richard Williamson, thankfully. (If you wish to lend a hand, please contact us.)

    diff, v264, current

    • CommentRowNumber35.
    • CommentAuthorRichard Williamson
    • CommentTimeJul 20th 2018
    • (edited Jul 20th 2018)

    I have written to Adeel privately, but wish to express publically as well that, though I understand the reasons (no time!), I am very sorry that he has ’formally’ stepped down. I think he has done a fantastic job; with admirable humility and working mostly in the background, he really got the nLab into a stable, well-performing, and more robust state, and put in place all the tough groundwork. I have simply been making small additions on top of the more fundamental work that he did. He was also a pleasure to work with.

    I would really encourage someone (or ideally several people) now to take the opportunity to become directly involved with the nLab maintenance. It need not be big things, there are many small things which could be done every now and then; and there need not be a long-term commitment, just a willingness to contribute when possible. I am very happy to break down tasks or to explain the codebase or infrastructure.

    • CommentRowNumber36.
    • CommentAuthorTodd_Trimble
    • CommentTimeJul 20th 2018

    Indeed, Adeel will be missed, quietly keeping things running seamlessly. Thank you Adeel for all your hard work.

    • CommentRowNumber37.
    • CommentAuthorMike Shulman
    • CommentTimeJul 23rd 2018

    Thanks very much for all your work Adeel! We’ll miss you.

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