My name is Brian Kell. I am originally from Nebraska. I studied mathematics and computer science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Later I went to Carnegie Mellon University and got a Ph.D. in algorithms, combinatorics, and optimization. Now I am a software engineer at Google in Munich.

I joined Wikipedia on 29 November 2003, when I made my first edit, a few minor corrections to Superphénix. Since then it has become a habit of mine to edit Wikipedia articles whenever I'm putting off something useful. I reached 10,000 edits on 9 August 2006, according to Essjay's edit counter; to celebrate the occasion, my 10,000th edit was a few minor corrections to Superphénix. A little over a year later, on 26 November 2007, I became an administrator.

Long ago I rewrote the article about indigo dye and began the list of solar system objects by mass. To celebrate my 30,000th edit on 31 January 2011, I wrote an article about partial cubes. My 35,000th edit, on 31 July 2012 after a long wikibreak, was an expansion of Kell (volcano). Most of my edits to articles are minor spelling or grammatical tweaks that I do in passing. I spend a lot of time in the image namespace, trying to deal with the chaos that reigns there. I have uploaded some images of my own, which anyone may use however they like, as outlined below.

Wikipedians I know in real life include Benplowman, Clayness, CodyEbberson, Colby, Hschimke, Jhofker, MahmoudHashemi, Makuro, Mbeerman, Mkjanssen, Stack, Stolee, Swid, W00tfest99, Wboney, Wgunther, and Wnorton.

Intellectual propertyEdit

Licensing hassles annoy me, so I release, abandon, renounce, relinquish, waive, and otherwise disavow all exclusive rights to all my textual contributions on Wikipedia in all languages. I similarly release all exclusive rights that I hold to any images or other non-textual contributions that I upload to Wikipedia in any language. Be aware, however, that some of my images may be derivative works of images by others; in such cases I can only release any exclusive rights that I myself hold. I have tried to indicate in my image gallery when one of my images is a derivative work of a previous image.

Any person or entity may freely use, reproduce, distribute, or modify, for commercial or non-commercial use, with or without attribution, anything I wrote or uploaded to Wikipedia to which I have released my exclusive rights. (Ideally I would just release everything into the public domain, but I guess I can't do that. It is unnecessarily difficult to give up rights you don't want.)

As a corollary, if you want to license anything to which I have given up my exclusive rights (if, say, you need a license for some technical legal reason), you may do so under whatever license you want, so long as it does not claim to give you any exclusive rights. Pick one that suits your needs; the GFDL is an example. If you need me to officially "agree", send me an e-mail, or post on my talk page. Apparently it is established law that a license cannot be made irrevocable without consideration, which means that if you don't trust me and you want to be absolutely sure I don't revoke this entirely-free-use license in the future, you should send me a dollar. ;-)

All contributions by this user are hereby released into the public domain
  I, the author, hereby agree to waive all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in all content contributed by me, the user, and immediately place any and all contributions by me into the public domain, unless otherwise noted.
I grant anyone the right to use my work for any purpose, without any conditions, to be changed or destroyed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notification.

Know thine image formatsEdit

A big personal annoyance for me is images in JPEG format that should be PNGs or SVGs. Things like maps and diagrams should ideally be SVGs if possible, or else PNGs, but never JPEGs (unless they were scanned from a hard copy, in which case PNG still isn't a bad idea).

There is a category for images with inappropriate JPEG compression. If you have some graphics software and want to help, please do so.

My opinionsEdit

I tend to be a perfectionist and an idealist, rather than a pragmatist or a realist.

I think that copyright protection in the United States lasts far too long; something like the 28 years granted by the Copyright Act of 1909 is much more reasonable than the current span of the life of the author plus 70 years. The ultimate purpose of copyright, according to the United States Constitution, is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". After a point, prolonging copyright protection actually hampers this progress, as authors are not free to create derivative works of copyrighted material, and many creative works will be forgotten or lost before they enter the public domain.

I believe that the English Wikipedia should not allow fair-use images. Many images on Wikipedia for which fair use is claimed are logos, and I don't think logos add anything to articles, certainly not enough to justify a fair-use claim. Some fair-use images, like certain album covers or screenshots of video games that illustrate unique characteristics, might improve articles significantly, it is true. On the whole, though, the rampant abuse of fair-use tags outweighs the advantages of allowing them. The fair-use tags just invite people to take images from Web pages indiscriminately and claim fair use—not to mention the inevitable and interminable debates about what uses are "fair" and what uses cross the blurry legal line into copyright infringement. Wikipedia is meant to be a freely usable and freely editable encyclopedia, and fair-use images are entirely contradictory to that goal, even those fair-use images which significantly improve articles.

For this reason, I have decided that I will no longer make any fair-use claims for images on Wikipedia. Fair use is a gray murky area in copyright law, and I do not want to make any claims that could easily be brought into question in the future. If you think that this is too extreme, you can talk to me about it. After all, there are supposed to be no binding decisions here.

Whenever I get really frustrated with Wikipedia, I remind myself that Wikipedia is a long-range project, and that it doesn't have to be perfect today. I think this makes me an optimistic eventualist.

Wikipedia flawsEdit

Wikipedia isn't perfect. Things I don't like about Wikipedia include the following.

  • Undetected hoaxes and vandalism. I find obviously untrue statements in Wikipedia uncomfortably often. More disturbingly, upon investigation I find that many of these statements have been included in Wikipedia for months without anyone questioning them. See User:Bkell/Long-lasting vandalism for examples.
  • Image names include the format. From the point of view of the author of a Wikipedia article, it doesn't matter if the map of Europe they want to use is a JPEG or a GIF or a PNG or an SVG; they should just be able to say [[Image:Map of Europe]] and let the software figure out what format it is. This would also solve the massive inconvenience of replacing an image in one format with an image in a different format. As it stands now, apparently the extension doesn't have to match the file type anyway; I've seen several PNGs with a .jpg extension, for example. This is MediaZilla bug 4421.
  • Wikimedia Commons is clumsy. There is no way for a Commons resource to be multilingual, even though a major reason for the existence of the Commons is so that Wikipedias in different languages can share the same image base. There don't appear to be good guidelines for when images should be put in an article and when they should be put in a category instead. Finally, images on Commons can be shadowed by images of the same name on a specific-language Wikipedia (MediaZilla bug 2717).


Notes to selfEdit

External linkEdit