[sc34wg3] www.topicmaps.com (and topicmaps.org)

Steven R. Newcomb sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
22 Oct 2005 13:46:54 -0400

Robert Barta <rho@bigpond.net.au> writes:

> On Thu, Oct 13, 2005 at 12:02:51AM +0100, Murray Altheim wrote:
> > Steve Pepper wrote:
> > >* Murray
> > >| 
> > >| You're quite welcome. I would of course be willing to work
> > >| under the full direction of WG3, and would simply appreciate
> > >| the committee agreeing beforehand to a means by which I
> > >| would take such direction, so to avoid any confusion.
> > >
> > >Fine by me. Let's see what Michel has to say.

> > [Murray:]

> > He has indicated to me in private mail that he's willing to
> > move this forward so long as I'm in charge of the site. As
> > you might imagine, the matter is rather sensitive, so I'm
> > going to be handling it with kid gloves.
> While I am happy to support your efforts where I can, for the records
> I would like to state that am strongly against this plan.

> First, I am not sure why a matter of a .org domain is a "sensitive
> issue". For me this appears as simple cybersquatting, not nuclear
> disarmament. I do not think that a community which suffers from this
> should reward this kind of behavior.

> Then the fact, that topicmaps.org is in the XML namespace is
> completely irrelevant. We all know that an XML namespace URI not
> necessarily must be referenceable.

> And lastly, what happens if Michel changes his mind? Then we are at
> field zero again. Brittle strategy.
> > ............................................. I need to satisfy
> > everyone, and I'm going to try.
> I always thought this is a recipee to make everyone unhappy ;-)

Robert, maybe you don't realize that you just insulted and defamed the
character of Michel Biezunski, and ignored his unbroken (and unmatched)
record of commitment to and unselfish support of the Topic Maps
community.  Since you have done this in public, I feel compelled to
respond in public, in order to set the record straight.

Here's the definition of "cybersquatting", as listed in Wikipedia

  *Cybersquatting* is a derogatory term used to describe the practice
  of registering and claiming rights over Internet domain names which
  are, arguably, not for the taking. The cybersquatter then offers the
  domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained
  within the name at an inflated price, an act which some deem to be

  Cybersquatters usually ask for prices far greater than that at which
  they purchased it. Some cybersquatters put up derogatory remarks
  about the person or company the domain is meant to represent in an
  effort to encourage the subject to buy the domain from them.

Michel registered the domain "topicmaps.org" before anyone used it,
and long before there even was an ISO standard of that name, and
before anyone else was using this ISO trademark.  At the time, no one
more richly deserved to own this domain, and, in fact, nobody else
even thought to register it.  You can verify the date by interrogating
the "whois" database, which reports that he registered the domain name
on "09-Dec-1999 20:36:53 UTC".

Michel paid to register "topicmaps.org" with his own funds, and he
continues to own it by virtue of the fact that he keeps renewing it
with his own funds.

Michel contributed the use of the domain name to Topicmaps.org when
he co-founded that organization.  This was after he spent a great deal
of his own time and money on the extremely demanding task of founding
that organization.

After he resigned as co-chair of Topicmaps.org, early in 2001, he put
the domain name under the control of those who took over the XTM
project after his resignation.  Although he has always had control
over the domain name, he left the website under the control of those
who were running Topicmaps.org, even though he was deeply troubled by
the direction the organization had taken (that's why he resigned, and
why I did, too), and even though the website was changed in such a way
as to diminish the apparent significance of his role in founding the
organization and in designing the XTM syntax.

Every year since then he has paid to keep the domain name registered.
You can see this as a freely-made, ongoing contribution to the
community.  Or, if you must, you can regard it as part of a dark plan
to retain control over what appears at the website.  However, if you
take the latter view, I wonder on what basis you can explain the fact
that he has never changed a single character at the website, nor
indeed has he done anything to exploit his ownership position for any
self-serving purpose whatsoever.  Even now, when Topicmaps.org is long
dead and XTM has long since been transferred to ISO, he's not taking
control of the website, but instead totally delegating the task of
maintaining the site to someone with Murray Altheim's extraordinary
level of demonstrated fair-mindedness, dedication to the welfare of
the community as a whole, and integrity.  

Having discussed it with him, I'm confident that he is making this
change in order to spare the community any unnecessary harm.

So I don't see how Michel's stewardship of the topicmaps.org domain
name can possibly be considered "cybersquatting".  (And it's not very
nice, or very community-minded, for you to characterize it as
"cybersquatting".)  As far as I can tell, everything he has done about
this domain name, and that he has refused to do about it, he has done
in perfect harmony with the idea of maximizing benefit to the
community as a whole.  He has provided stability for this domain name
for nearly five years, now, at his own expense, sometimes in the face
of withering personal, political, financial and technical storms.  Any
lesser man would have concluded that it really wasn't worth it.  For
years, now, he has arguably derived less than no benefit from owning
it, and I see no reason to expect that situation to change when Murray
resumes maintenance of the now fossilized website.  (BTW, you should
know that Murray was the person who originally designed and created
the topicmaps.org website, also at considerable personal cost.  For
example, I myself was present in the room when Murray collapsed from
exhaustion, in front of his keyboard, during the rush to prepare the
site in time to unveil it at XML 2000.)

When you say:

> I do not think that a community which suffers from this
> should reward this kind of behavior.

...I'm not sure what the antecedent of "this" is, that the community
is presumably "suffering" from.  And I'm not sure what "this kind of
behavior" is, either, that the community should not "reward".  But
your expression of your opinion (whatever it is) is hard to understand
in any way other than as derogatory to Michel.  Worse, as far as I can
tell, it is an *undeserved* insult.

> And lastly, what happens if Michel changes his mind? Then we are at
> field zero again. Brittle strategy.

Again you insult Michel, implying that the community should not trust
him to provide stability for this domain name.  The facts, however, do
not support you, Robert.  Michel has been providing stability from the
very beginning, and since long before the beginning, at a personal
cost that you can scarcely imagine, and that I hope you will never
have to pay -- not for anything.

Robert, I know you well enough, and I have more than enough confidence
in your integrity, to believe that if you had *any* idea how much what
you have said is at variance with the facts, you would *never* say it.
At best, it makes you appear to be seriously ill-informed.

I hope you are better-informed now.

I would suggest that, if you have an alternative vision for what
should be done with Topicmaps.org, you take it up with Murray, or if
you can't work with Murray, take it up with Michel.  In my experience,
it is possible, by clear, rational argument, to get either of them to
change their minds, or at least to reach an accommodation with them.
True, it's not always easy! (;^) But you are VERY good at making such
arguments, and judging from the quality of your other contributions to
the community, I'd be willing to bet, without knowing much about it,
that your vision for the website should be VERY seriously considered.

-- Steve

Steven R. Newcomb, Consultant
Coolheads Consulting

Co-editor, Topic Maps International Standard (ISO/IEC 13250)
Co-editor, draft Topic Maps -- Reference Model (ISO/IEC 13250-5)


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