major access providers
Each of these providers has a different attitude to the corpus:
- Anarchopedia:Itself seeks to liberate it for everyone.
- Wikipedia (copies or forks of the GFDL corpus are often incorrectly called "a wikipedia" to mean more or less "near-universal GFDL corpus access provider with wikitext standard editing facilities") seeks to "own" it and the Wikipedia power structure typically refuses to grant that there is any GFDL corpus beyond that one project - indeed Wikipedia violates GFDL quite openly
- Wikinfo (except where material is marked as per some other license like Creative Commons) seeks to split it into "sympathetic" and "critical" articles
- Disinfopedia seeks to expose propaganda techniques and uses the corpus primarily as a source on methods and examples.
- Consumerium seeks to extend the critical approach to moral purchasing and what is bought in the marketplace
legal potential to merge with Creative Commons
There has been some discussion of trying to dual-license all this under CC-by-sa. This seems very difficult as it would involve thousands of contributors, some hard to find or unwilling to verify their authorship. Creative Commons is discussing this in the context of enabling GFDL corpus access providers to offer such options to their users.
There are problems with this approach: The GFDL text corpus predates Common Content and can't be cleanly relicensed as the latter due to diffuse copyright ownership. Only an 'upgrade' to later versions of the GFDL could apply. It's occasionally proposed that future versions of GFDL and CC by-sa should be compatible, but it's not clear that this will happen. One speculative future proposal is to create a more compatible CC-by-sa-fd to include the clauses that try to guarantee the integrity of the documentation and attribution, and have a future GFDL declare that it is in effect a dual-license between prior GFDLs and this new CC.
In addition to these legal issues there are editorial ones:
There is some hope that a true unified GFDL Corpus with a single set of editing and forking and reintegration rules might arise. This would require removal of obstacles (like "usurpation" by any single GFDL corpus access provider), perhaps bringing in players like FSF or Creative Commons:Itself or an independent board for the corpus itself.
trolls vs. sysops
There is substantial ideology around the GFDL corpus and many disputes about its future. Advocates of sysop vandalism claim that there "must be" a central provider and that this provider is de facto guardian with eminent domain over the content. Ordinary members of Wikipedia's sysop power structure go along with this even if they have disagreements or reservations about it, and such practices as demanding link backs to Wikipedia for all GFDL corpus users or trying to threaten those who refer generally to "a wikipedia" are very common.
Trolls seek to achieve independence of user interface and access the GFDL text corpus itself directly through any user interface. This they are doing at present through use of tools they do not share with non-trolls, so little can be said about these. It appears inevitable that:
Eventually, by a combination of legal and technical means, such trolls will succeed, and the GFDL text corpus will be liberated and visible and editable as a whole, and it will be relatively easy to undo sysop vandalism and avoid cabals.