Commons talk:Requests for comment/MP4 Video

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Press coverage[edit]


The Wikimedia Foundation's multimedia team seeks community guidance on a proposal to support the MP4 video format. This digital video standard is used widely around the world to record, edit and watch videos on mobile phones, desktop computers and home video devices. It is also known as H.264/MPEG-4 or AVC.

Supporting the MP4 format would make it much easier for our users to view and contribute video on Wikimedia projects -- and video files could be offered in dual formats on our sites, so we could continue to support current open formats (WebM and Ogg Theora). However, MP4 is a patent-encumbered format, and using a proprietary format would be a departure from our current practice of only supporting open formats on our sites -- even though the licenses appear to have acceptable legal terms, with only a small fee required.

We would appreciate your guidance on whether or not to support MP4. Our Request for Comments presents views both in favor and against MP4 support, based on opinions we’ve heard in our discussions with community and team members.

Please join this RfC -- and share your feedback here.

All users are welcome to participate, whether you are active on Commons, Wikipedia, other Wikimedia project -- or any site that uses content from our free media repository.

We look forward to a constructive discussion with you and other community members, so we can make a more informed decision together on this important topic. Fabrice Florin (WMF) (talk) 01:06, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Problems with this RFC[edit]

  • Selecting only one option from a preordained list appears to be a vote. If this is a request for comments, then comments need to be possible right there on the page.
  • The "against" text given was incomplete and missed a very important objection: the secret licence.

I suggest a rewrite of the "against" text to properly reflect the views of those against this proposal - David Gerard (talk) 14:38, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Hi, David. While I'm not actually working on this RFC, I'm interested in the issue and stopped by to check it out. Comments are possible right there on the page, and even encouraged - there is a section dedicated to them at Commons:Requests_for_comment/MP4_Video#Comments. The against section specifically asks people to review that section: "More points such as these may come up during this RfC, and can be reviewed in the Comments section below." People are also invited to explain their positions in the section they support. I hope you'll make sure that your point of objection is clearly stated there. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:59, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Hi Maggie, actually the comments section actively discourages comments such as David's. It states it is limited to "comments or questions about MP4 support" and instructs us to raise other comments on this page (where I suspect most readers will never look). -- (talk) 15:09, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Wait, comments that are not within the topic of the RfC are discouraged? ;-) I would interpret the "about MP4 support" toi be broad enough to include license questions etc. What else do you think is not wanted in that section? --Dschwen (talk) 15:15, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Dschwen there, -. Comments about the process and goals unrelated to the support question do seem to be referred here, but I really think that David's comment is quite on topic in terms of level of support for MP4, and it does seem to be being raised as such in the RFC itself. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:18, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Well "For comments about this RfC's goals or process (unrelated to MP4 support), please participate on this discussion page." confused me then. Perhaps we should strike that sentence from the RFC? -- (talk) 15:22, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
if we struck every sentence from Wikipedia that one person once misunderstood we'd end up with a lot of blank pages.--Dschwen (talk) 15:26, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
If we rewrote every sentence from Wikipedia that one person once misunderstood then... Oh wait. That's exactly what we do. In fact that's the secret of whatever success wikipedia has achieved. Filceolaire (talk) 15:54, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
You got it Filceolaire, rewrite the sentence rather than strike it. --Dschwen (talk) 15:58, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Always useful to have a Bureaucrat's advice behind me, I have re-written the section as suggested. -- (talk) 16:49, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, I think your version is clearer. As a non-native speaker I couldn't have done it this well. --Dschwen (talk) 17:57, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
I note this because Dschwen directly asked me to keep my comments to one section. No. - David Gerard (talk) 15:36, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Just to give some context here, what I said to David was: By the way David Gerard,you were supposed to support only one option (same goes for John Vandenberg). That was about 4 hours ago, at a time when all other contributors followed that request, which was then still at the top of the comment section. Obviously reality has cought up and a lot of people have voiced disagreemnet with this particular format of commenting. The note at the top of the comments section was since struck. --Dschwen (talk) 19:04, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

I've just gone ahead and done first, second and third choice, and reasoned with other people and all, and no one seems to object now. So that's all good then. --Kim Bruning (talk) 18:38, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

"Against" text also omitted WMF would use non-free software[edit]

It seems the "secret" licence has a requirement:[1]


Which means the software can't be distributed as free software. I'm quoting text from a 2002 version of the licence but Luis Villa says the 2010 version is "quite similar", and in his comments in this RFC he refers each time to the 2002 text without ever noting that the 2010 text is different, so I'm inclined to conclude that the 2010 text is, insofar as we are concerned, the same.

It does seem there was less rigour in drafting the "against" text than for the "for" text.

Also, since the WMF has a copy (otherwise, how did Luis judge the 2002 text to be similar to the 2010 text?), if they won't publish the full text, could they publish a few relevant parts? Or if an non-disclosure agreement prohibits all publication, can the WMF at least answer yes/no questions about its content? Gronky (talk) 14:40, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Correct Video count[edit]

It seems that the media has picked up 38k as the number of videos on commons. The actual number is 40469. Thus a slight bit larger. Determined by

mysql> select count(*) from image where img_media_type='VIDEO';

I suspect that the smaller count discounted videos with minor mime ogg (rather than ogv). Cheers. --Dschwen (talk) 00:37, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Before the Ogg Skeleton requirement (IIRC), all Ogg videos used the .ogg extension. w:Theora says the MIME type is "video/ogg", not "video/ogv". --AVRS (talk) 13:30, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Looks like Commons:MIME_type_statistics hasn't been run since november 24, Perhaps User:Ilmari_Karonen's toolserver account expired. (There's the aditional problem where the rfc says 38k, but the link says 39156. Probably just bad adding). This would require us to be adding about 650 new videos a month (No idea if that's plausible. Tool labs is down right now so I can't check). Bawolff (talk) 18:42, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
For reference, there is also video stats available at Special:TimedMediaHandler. Bawolff (talk) 19:19, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
And that number agrees with my count much better. --Dschwen (talk) 19:27, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

possible socks & IP voters[edit]

Hi all -

I've noticed that there are a number of editors voting here with only one (and others with only, say, a dozen global contribs) who are !voting in this discussion. I feel like we should have a discussion about how to handle this sort of !vote well before the close of the RfC, especially because many !votes (established users included) are simply parroting the rationales of other voters, so any close that deviates significantly from numbers (even though RfCs arent supposed to be votes, but !votes,) may be perceived as a supervote on the part of the closing crat - or for that matter, closing crats; maybe a triumvirate would be appropriate here? Best, Kevin Gorman (talk) 02:52, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

I think part of the "issue" is that this topic is a community-wide issue. For example, I bet you're going to see a lot of not-strictly-contribute-through-edits people commenting (eg: people who've donated every year, long time supporters/librarians/etc, FLOSS-y people, etc). I'm not sure their opinions should be silenced because of a lack of edits, but that's just my personal opinion. I see this similar to the same group of people participating in the current webRTC standard discussion on whether VP9 or h264 will be "Mandatory to Implement" in the spec. There voices are needed, even if they don't normally edit. I think our comunity is larger than the sum of editors, fwiw. Greg G (talk) 05:08, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Commenters on other sites have been telling people to add their opinion as end users. Since this is posited as an end-user initiative, their opinions are arguably relevant - David Gerard (talk) 08:28, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
I would be against yet another Starchamber to close this RFC. Such things are literally cabals and feel wrong for the openness that the Commons community, as a whole, wish to support more firmly than most other Wikimedia projects.
As for socks, single purpose accounts and odd IPs, meh, most popular RFCs attract these. As part of closing if there has been a lot of off-wiki lobbying, then the closer would do well to explain how much such votes have influenced their closing opinion. In practice whether they are counted or not does not make much difference to the majority view. If it does, then it is likely that there is not a credible majority consensus (or, as per my preference for this RFC, a supermajority). -- (talk) 11:11, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
From Star chamber: [..] a political weapon, a symbol of the misuse and abuse of power by the English monarchy and courts. --Dschwen (talk) 05:41, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
It seems a fair parallel as the same article explains that "Court sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, and no witnesses", the reasons that Star Chambers were unpopular and fell into disrepute are the same ethical and political reasons why we try to avoid creating secret cabals on Wikimedia projects. -- (talk) 09:06, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
I agree that it's a fairly reasonable comparison -- I didn't read what Dschwen had to say as a complaint, so much as a clarification. But, I think it's worth mentioning here -- I think a group of respected people coming together for a decision can be very worthwhile, provided that they are transparent about their reasoning. The last time I saw something like this done, there was no discussion of what informed the decision, or how it should be treated as a precedent, whatsoever. So it provided cover for the people participating in the decision, lessening their accountability for the decision; but it had no benefit I could discern for the project as a whole. I was initially pleased to hear that a group of respected project members would be convening to consider the best outcome, but disappointed by the execution. In the end, the result was that I lost a good deal of respect for those who participated in the decision. -Pete F (talk) 18:55, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
+1 with regard to the loss of confidence the community has, as a result of the last way this was badly handled in an opaque and unaccountable fashion. -- (talk) 19:03, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
Hmm, I assume that last Star Chamber you two are referring to is the Prickasso video deletion? I don't want to go as far as saying that I lost a great deal of respect, but I was also a bit disappointed by the procedure. On the other hand I do acknowledge the challenge they faced. It was an emotionally very charged topic, and I perfectly understand that the members would rather not expose themselves to ongoing harassment under the cover of scrutinizing their decision. That being said, I don't think the MP4 RfC is emotionally quite as charged (although it is a rather public issue). I would very much like a group of community members (and preferably one that has been vetted already by going through a public election process, such as admins or 'crats) to undertake the closing of the RfC. But it should be made clear from the start that this closing will be discussed on wiki (a subpage for example that is only to be edited by the closing team until the closure is completed, to avoid a bleeding of the RfC topic discussion into the RfC closing meta discussion). This is an additional challenge for the closers, but ultimately in the project's best interest in terms of transparency. --Dschwen (talk) 19:16, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
Let's not get into what decision it was about -- I don't want to overstate the "respect" thing, which is just one factor among many, and the only negative among many positives. In general I think we are in agreement. I'd put it like this: a "cabal" can be a good thing if its selection and its decision process are sufficiently well thought out and transparent. I want to add, that I don't think it's necessarily a problem for such a group to be secretive about who voted which way, so long as it publishes a clear account, covering things like what factors influenced the decision and how. -Pete F (talk) 05:36, 28 January 2014 (UTC)
As the RFC is directly linked to from external coverage (e.g. the Slashdot post mentioned here at Press coverage), it's only natural that also people who are just occasional contributors or "mere" users without an account will give their opinion here. Also I'm not sure that "parroting the rationales of other voters" is much of a problem - after all, it's to be expected that many people will be e.g. of the opinion that MP4 will help to get more video contributors (on the pro side) or that non-free formats are contrary to our mission (on the contra side). Still, it's quite likely that there is also some sockpuppetry going on, that possibility just has to be kept in mind. Gestumblindi (talk) 16:51, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Measurements surely wrong: How do you check if an account is a person with very few edits? My commons.wm.o account has only a handful, but on the Wikimedia projects where I'm active I have five-digit number of edits, spanning ten years (e.g: en.w.o:Gronky). I'm active on multiple Wikipedias and Wiktionaries, but I don't use a global account. I hope I'm not in your sock count. Socks don't make global accounts (it wouldn't prove anything in their favour), so that indicator doesn't help. You could check the same username on en.w.o, but the flaws of that approach are obvious.
The only kinda-reliable thing to do is to check if the same IP address is being used to make multiple new accounts (or multiple comments). If there was a way to note which accounts represent non-contributors, I wouldn't see a problem in that. Their opinions could still be considered in a lesser capacity, as reader or supporter of Wikipedia. But I don't see any suggestions which avoid discounting valid contributors. Most Wikipedia contributors don't have accounts on commons.wm.o, so ignoring non-account edits isn't fair either. Gronky (talk) 12:05, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Pretty much we don't know, we just go by balance of probability and investigating IP addresses is rarely done and requires extremely good reasons. Having alternative accounts is not actually "unlawful" on this project, only misusing accounts; fortunately most of those that misuse their accounts are not that smart about it, or actually want to be noticed (such as bragging about it off-wiki). Try these links: Gronky on SUL, Gronky on uploadsum (may time-out, it's slow). There is a note on these reports showing that your account is not a SUL, and anyone who wanted to check up on a potential misuser should keep it in mind that just because an account on another project has the same name, does not necessarily mean the same person. I suggest we don't get too sidetracked on this, sock-hunting is a damaging blood sport on most Wikimedia projects, no need to draw more people into thinking it is worth eating up their volunteer time. -- (talk) 12:31, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Just a technical note: By default, all new accounts, including socks, are unified logins, aka global accounts. Davidwr (talk) 02:29, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

Background page currently doesn't support translation[edit]

Please make the page Commons:Requests_for_comment/MP4_Video/Background translatable. Thank you. --Sebastian Wallroth (talk) 20:59, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

I've added translation tags (i think correctly?), and will ping for translation admins to check and mark it as ready. Quiddity (talk) 23:53, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! --Sebastian Wallroth (talk) 11:00, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
✓ Done I went over the translation markup and enabled translation. Jean-Fred (talk) 15:18, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Translation bug[edit]

If I look at one of the translations (for example Commons:Requests for comment/MP4 Video/ja), I only see old votes. The most recent votes are from 16 January. However, in the English version, I see many more votes. It is also difficult to figure out how to vote if you are looking at one of the translations as edit buttons are missing from the section links. Is it possible to fix this somehow? --Stefan4 (talk) 01:14, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

It probably would have been better if at the beginning we put the information part on a separate page, transcluded it in, and only translated that separate page. Bawolff (talk) 01:56, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Offsite canvassing[edit]

[2] Closers, please consider accordingly - David Gerard (talk) 23:06, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

FWIW, at the time of this e-mail the “voting score” was 132-4-45-5-250. -- Tuválkin 11:34, 25 January 2014 (UTC)
in fairness thats a fairly low traffic mailing list and given the media coverage mentioned at the top of the page we are already well into offsite territory. GLAMS also have a fairly legitimate interest in this subject (although if 500 supporters turn up for lossless dirac with flac sound it may complicate matters).Geni (talk) 05:21, 26 January 2014 (UTC)
Hey, if 500 people want lossless dirac with flac sound, we can make that a priority ;) [All that is missing for that to work is support for Dirac in Pear's File_Ogg module]. Bawolff (talk) 02:25, 29 January 2014 (UTC)


OT but while there are lots of people interested in this page... do we currently have a process for requesting conversions? E.g. there's a lovely pool of mostly cc-by educational videos here that I ran across recently. Where to put this? -- Phoebe (talk) 23:12, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

put it on Commons:Graphic_Lab/Video_and_sound_workshop. --Pristurus (talk) 23:46, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Closed 9 hours early, not a big deal, but it could have been[edit]

Opened: 00:53, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Closed: 15:58, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Time open: 29 days 15 hours 5 minutes.

I'm not asking for this to be re-opened, the 60/40 margin and the lack of any reason to think there would be a big rush of last-minute discussion doesn't warrant that.

I am asking that closers double-check the clock in the future. Davidwr (talk) 18:01, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

Actually no time was specified for the closure on the last day. Notice in advance: "One of the 'crats will close this RFC during the day of 14th February (UTC)". Anyway, in the circumstances it will not change anything. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:42, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Ah. I was going by the default "30 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, or as close as reasonable" for RFCs. The number of page-views for this page has been much lower the past 2 weeks than in the early days of the discussion. Davidwr (talk) 18:46, 14 February 2014 (UTC)