I hope you had a wonderful Easter! Here in Denmark, Easter is the longest block of holidays on the calendar. Stores were closed on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday. Luckily, stores were open again on Holy Saturday so there wasn’t a need to stock up on 5 days of groceries.
Spring has finally come to Denmark! The flowers are in bloom, the sun is out, and it is getting warm. Today, it is supposed to get up to 20°C (68°F). This is such a nice change from 5°C (41°F), steel grey, and drizzle that punctuated the fall through early spring. Since warm, sunny weather is so rare, people are out. The lakes and the harbor are packed with people eating, drinking, swimming, and hanging out.
Playing Lawyer is a Bad Idea
Wikipedians do a wide range of tasks when they log in. Some people write articles or upload photos that they took, but other people enjoy watching the recent changes feed for vandalism. To make this easier, developers have created a suite of tools such as Twinkle, Huggle, STiki, Igloo, and Lupin.
In April 2020, seeing that we needed yet another anti-vandalism tool, Ed6767 released RedWarn. RedWarn quickly both became the tool of choice for younger Wikipedians and developed a negative reputation. Despite this, it attracted a loyal userbase and development team. Due to creative differences, the development team went through a divorce in November 2021. Ed went off to work on Teyora and the rest of the developers continued on with RedWarn.
This would be a sad but uninteresting piece of Wikipedia insider baseball if not for this pair of agreements signed by Ed and Chlod. They seemed off to me, so I went and talked with some lawyers from various jurisdictions around the world about this because I am not one. The first lawyer I talked with responded with a much more professional version of: “LOL, nope. That looks like work.” They probably had the correct idea.
The consensus from the other lawyers I talked to and the ones who responded to my tweet was a mixture of facepalming and confirming that they are most likely enforceable contracts. The agreements fulfills the requirements for a contract and nothing in either of them is illegal. However, everyone pretty much wondered why this was signed in the first place. One of the lawyers found this to be a good example of why laypeople should talk to a lawyer first before signing a contract.
As for the underlying intellectual property that is being licensed, the response was mostly ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Most of the lawyers thought that the name “RedWarn”, which is not a registered trademark with the USPTO, might be protected. The extent to which it is protected varied considerably in the opinions of the people I talked to.
In January 2022, Ed posted a bizarre task on Phabricator, Wikimedia’s internal bug tracker, about possibly forking RedWarn due to his worries about the team that took over. A month later, the RedWarn team did the sensible thing and decided to rename the project to UltraViolet after a major rewrite cutting the last ties with Ed. UltraViolet is currently in Beta.
The Minute Man
On 19 April, The Minute Man had its day on the Main Page of Wikipedia. That day, over 40,000 people viewed by article. It was wonderful to share the article with the world that I have spent so much time researching and writing. It is also wonderful that the vandalism and unhelpful edits that punctuate an article’s time on the Main Page have passed by without incident.