Now that we can post projects on the Extended Edition Steam Workshop, I’m wondering how best to post Required Items there (e.g. hak required by multiple modules).
Technically, there are three options:
- A Required Item on Steam is a set of files uploaded once that can be referenced by multiple projects
- Required files can be duplicated in each project
- Project descriptions can link to required projects on the Vault
The idea behind Steam Workshop is to make it one-touch for the player, so it makes sense to bundle all the files for a module (or series) into one project (known as an Item on Steam), contrary to historical practice on NWVault. However, on the player’s PC, Steam holds the files for each Item separately, so option 2 results in duplicate files. In option 1, the player is actively prompted by Steam to subscribe to Required Items, which are not duplicated, and are kept up-to-date centrally.
The bigger question, though, is ethical. When is it acceptable to post other people’s stuff on Steam?
That’s why option 3 is there. If required projects can’t be posted on Steam for some reason, we can link to the Vault, with a Guide on how to install. Steam fans will hate this, but it’s a solution.
The ethical question depends on our reading of the Open permission on works submitted to the new Vault, the “customary usage” of projects migrated from NWVault, and courtesy to the authors. My tentative suggestion is that posting other people’s work on Steam is
- OK if the author gives permission
- Not OK if the author is active (let them do it in their own time)
- Not OK if the author has specified restrictive terms
- If it is a genuinely required project, open / customary usage & the author can’t be contacted, OK to bundle the content with the module (option 2) but not OK to post as a Required Item (option 1)
- Otherwise Not OK
What do people think?
EDIT - I modified the 4th bullet point to reflect the discussion to date. This doesn’t preclude further discussion, of course.
I revised the comment on Options 1 and 2 today, in the light of more comprehensive testing.
I’m inclined to agree with this suggestion on “protocol”, with a good faith contact attempt and, if posting someone else’s work, obviously a clear indicator of the original creator(s) and a linkback to the project page on the vault where it can be found.
I know this probably sounds way overboard, but back when this was brought up on the BD forums I was even thinking about some kind of vault banner that could be used on all migrated old content to clearly signal intent and possibly link back to an explanation, to put more distance between poster and creator on first sight.
It doesn’t seem that likely to happen here, but with the rip-off sites even NWN has seen (let alone other games), whole groups of people can go into berserk mode real fast when things get reposted, and even if people are well-meaning it can be hard to de-escalate the shit-show once it is well in progress. Having a kind of vault umbrella to operate under might appear to be less of a free-for-all at first glance, should original creators wander back in because of EE news.
Kinda wondering if I should make another Steam account for these purposes, if it ends up being more of a mass shift than a per-module requirements one…
Before anyone starts posting someone else’s content someplace else, we need a very clear definition of abandonware. We should also ensure that when posting a new project, that there are flags that can be set to allow cross-posting. It must always be opt-in by action rather than by default.
For example, I do not ever want any of my content, including CCC contributions to ever be cross-posted to Facebook or Steam. Ever. I have personal issues with both of those platforms. I believe that there are other content creators that may allow posting on some sites and not on others.
A “good faith effort” to contact someone is far too open-ended for my taste. Too often in our highly impatient modern world, a “good faith effort” to contact really means “didn’t respond in 72 hours so I’m going forward.”
Hence the need to define abandonware. Just because someone didn’t respond fast enough or the email bounced back does not mean that we can immediately start posting their content willy nilly. People can and do take a break and we want them to return to the community. But we don’t want their experience to be “I came back and found all of my work cross-posted on sites on I don’t like.”
What then is the definition of abandonware? Or in other words, how long must content be unclaimed or the author absent for the content to become abandoned? I don’t know other than it must be measured in years rather than months.
Thus my opinion is that we should post links back to the vault rather than cross-posting someone else’s content. Is there really any content that is so invaluable that we can’t live without it? If so, surely that is the exception. And by posting links, then we don’t have to define abandonware which would be highly contentious and distract us from creating new content.
@Grymlorde I figured there would be some sensitivity about Steam, which is why my suggestion is cautious.
Strictly speaking, the Vault Guidelines apply. In many cases, by those criteria, my reading is that usage on Steam is permissible. Here, I’m proposing some voluntary restraint, limited to projects created in good faith with dependencies on open / customary usage content.
While linking to the Vault is theoretically possible, I’m told that new players who are used to Steam doing everything automatically generally won’t bother. So authors who want uptake will definitely want to post dependencies there.
The best remedy for authors who don’t want that to happen is to say so in the Permissions section.
Personally I’d prefer it be more a case of don’t post anyone else’s work on Steam without permission to be honest. Far better that than existing creators having to indicate not on their projects. Plus that premise should be applied to any project that belongs to anyone other than Migrate Wizard to prevent them having to be fetched down belatedly. There’s been enough trouble recently with people emerging from the depths and claiming ownership to line things up for another round.
Well, if that were a general opinion, maybe the safer course is option 2.
In most cases, the default permission / customary usage certainly allows authors to include other people’s content in their own module haks (with credit) and post those on Steam. I can’t see any ethical difference between that, and bundling the hak itself in a larger derived work (the module Item on Steam).
It’s kinda sweeping the issue under the carpet, and results in duplication, but that way players never see the hak as a separate publication. Of course, dedicated explorers can drill down to find the hak, but exactly the same is true of third party files in the module hak.
It’s a matter of balance - keeping the peace if possible, but also respecting our open traditions, and the need to raise our game if we’re going to harvest new players through EE.
I amended a bullet point in the OP to reflect discussion to date.
I guess I just feel like we have the opportunity to set the standard for the larger community in terms of how things are going to end up at the Workshop and who has perceived “authority” in insisting things be done a particular way. It could be the Vault - experienced people with differing but respectful viewpoints that are familiar with wishes of creators.
It could also just be whomever comes along and rips from one place to post to another that doesn’t care about any of those things… but maybe that’s a false dichotomy that speaks more to my feelings on the most likely result :\
Not a module creator here, so I can’t campaign meaningfully in either direction! Just can’t help thinking that in these early stages it’s a chance to direct the … flow of traffic, or what have you.
Bundling a years-old resource for which one has no explicit permission with a module that uses it still puts the resource on the workshop, but doesn’t give it its own page and credit and ability to be used and remixed in future modules. Maybe there will be so much cool new stuff coming out with additional EE capabilities that my view on how things could go is just really cynical and shortsighted, though
(Or the original authors will even return!)
(Edit just to say hopefully my too many words does not come off as trying to pressure anyone that doesn’t want their stuff on Workshop, I totally get it, and I really don’t want to piss off creators that come back after being gone a minute, either )
Just some thoughts from someone who hasn’t posted and work on the Vault. If you didn’t make it then you really don’t have the right to post it anywhere else. If you want to make changes to it on your computer and use it for yourself that’s fine, but if you post it to Steam or somewhere else you better be able to fix it or answer to somebody who come back to community and want’s to know why their work is now posted in places they never wanted it to be. Which could lead to that builder demanding all their work removed from here too.
@jonesr65 your comment is in tune with the OP, I think.
The position in this community is a little more nuanced than some, because it has been customary to allow builders to make derivative works, both by incorporating components in their modules, and by creating dependencies on external haks, unless explicitly forbidden by the author. Moreover, works actively submitted to the new Vault explicitly permit open usage by default.
While the agreed Vault guidelines explicitly prohibit plagiarism, the point of components is to enable builders to make and share modules. There’s never been any explicit rule forcing builders to share their work on the Vault and nowhere else. On the contrary, it has been customary for modules to be published on other sites, including Bioware, the Nexus, and proleric.com.
All the same, there’s no point in being provocative, hence the proposed kludge of bundling what we need to make our modules work on the new platform, without explicitly publishing other people’s stuff as a separate item.