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Help:How to make a good contribution

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Best way to contribute: a single sentence!

The best edits are single sentences. If a claim needs more than a sentence, that often means you're explaining why you think it's probably true, which usually means you have no actual proof. It's much better to add just the claim and a link to a study or an article by an expert which gives an actual proof.

Also, someone has to maintain each of these pages, and there are 649 pages on en.swpat.org. Use as few words as possible so the quality and up-to-dateness of the wiki can be maintained.

Write short, readable paragraphs

en.swpat.org is the place where activists look for information. Good activists are busy people. Don't make their work difficult by writing long paragraphs or multiple paragraphs about the same topic. Make the point and add your evidence, concisely.

Review your contributions by assuming that the reader will leave as soon as she sees a sentence she doesn't like.

Focus on credibility, think about convincing a critic

We don't have to convince our friends. We have to convince our critics - we have to convince intelligent people who think we are wrong.

For example, think about trying to gather support in a parliament. There is probably a party or two that you think will support us. Ignore them! We don't need to put years of work into building a resource like en.swpat.org to get their support. Now concentrate on the other parties, the ones you disagree with. We have to change their minds and get them on our side. This will require facts, studies, quotes from business leaders.

Cite sources for your assertions!

(See: Help:Adding references)

Contributing text can be useful, but what's more likely to be useful is links, summaries of linked documents, and quotes from linked documents.

We're trying to raise the standard of dialogue. It's easy to claim that software patents harm SMEs, and it's also easy to give hypothetical examples of how this could be true. The goal of this site is to provide the information necessary to prove that this is true. We want to gather studies, articles, and real examples.

en.swpat.org structure and page naming

Page names for: Court rulings: (the text published by the court, not the litigation/disagreement in general)

Patent office case law should be in the article about that patent office, together with other general info about the patent office.

Stay on topic

We don't evaluate corporate strategies

When documenting litigation between companies, we should (with exceptions described below) ignore the media's estimations of the profitability or emotions and focus on what problems this litigation highlights.

For example, when Oracle sued Google over Java patents, here are two things we don't care about:

  • OFF TOPIC: Oracle wants to recuperate some of the costs of their purchase of Sun
  • OFF TOPIC: Oracle is sick of owning Java and being the only company that's not profiting from it

These theories discuss the motivation for one company to attack another but the attack could be done in many ways. These theories don't explain anything about the rights and wrongs, or the problems of patenting software ideas.

Meanwhile, it's useful to note the effects that the population will experience:

  • ON TOPIC: Oracle is creating uncertainty for individuals and companies with projects based on Java
  • ON TOPIC: Microsoft is monopolising their file formats so they can charge extraordinarily high prices and block competition

Hardware patents are not our problem

Hardware patents are not problems for software developers. Hardware patents are only restrictions on the manufacturing and distribution of hardware.

Hardware patents might be bad economic policy. Maybe they are, maybe they're not. Same for patents on manufacturing pharmaceuticals or cars, but they're all off topic. en.swpat.org is focused on documenting the social and economic problems which patents cause to developers and distributors of software.

Remember that patents can be partly hardware, partly software. For example, a patent could list various claims about a mechanical process and then add a later claim along the lines of "The method described in Claim #1, performed by software on a computer".

(See also: How to read patents and gather prior art)

Global audience

en.swpat.org is used by groups in Australia, Europe, Israel, New Zealand, USA, etc... Please be careful to avoid confusing references to "the parliament" or "the constitution" without mentioning what country.

When mentioning currencies, please use the country prefix. For example, if an article quotes an Australian report about a company based in the USA having to pay $100,000 - does that mean US dollars or Australian dollars? To avoid this, use US$100,000 or A$100,000.

Unambiguous currency symbols

  • Australian dollar: A$
  • Canadian dollar: C$
  • New Zealand dollar: NZ$
  • USA dollar: US$

More currency symbols can be found at these links: [1], [2]

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