The “right to fork”, a consequence of the “hack on copyright” that is copyleft licensing, helps keep open source and open content project leaders honest. Forking is a political act as much as a version control command, and it used to be that both were a big deal. But now that distributed version control systems (DVCS) have made forking trivial, are there implications for the political act as well? How does political forking work within collaborative prose text projects (i.e. wikis)? English Wikipedia is so large as to be practically unforkable - it essentially has an unassailable monopoly, and unchecked power, in the English language encyclopedia market. One of the core Wikipedia rules is “one topic, one article”, which would seem to prohibit forking, but could we adhere to this principle and still take advantage of DVCS? Can a community be forked while keeping the shared project goals intact?
Audience members will benefit from a grasp of version control, distributed version control and the workings of wikis and Wikipedia.
Presented at the 'Freedom in the Cloud' miniconf, Monday January 24 2011 at linux.conf.au.