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BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference

The new BPL Wiki hosted by Backpacking Light!

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by Don Wilson | 2008-11-11 00:15:00-07

Today Backpacking Light launches a wiki as a community-driven reference on lightweight backpacking. With BPL's passionate and active online community, we are confident that the wiki will quickly become a valuable tool and an excellent supplement to BPL's published articles and community forums.

For those not familiar with the technology, a wiki is a website that can be edited by its users, allowing users to create new articles that contain images, links, and tables. It is a community project, where anyone can create content. What makes a wiki unique is that the collective power of a large and passionate community can quickly create a valuable resource. As a site targeted at reference material, the BPL wiki will be limited to certain types of content. Reference material that contains factual information such as articles about hiking trails, collections of recipes, or examples of techniques are perfect for the wiki. Articles that are primarily opinion pieces, such as essays and gear reviews are not appropriate for the wiki.

BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference - 1
The Backpacking Light wiki launches today as a reference for BPL readers.

To get things started, the wiki has been organized into a series of categories to help organize the content. The categories are People, Places, Companies, Food and Nutrition, Techniques, Materials, and Gear. There is also a page to collect links to BPL classic articles, making it easier for users to find those pieces that represent the best and most popular material published on BPL. The wiki has been seeded with a limited amount of content, and we expect it will take some weeks for the community and staff to get it populated more fully. Examples include:

From People: Bio of Ryan Jordan

From Places: John Muir Trail, Superior Hiking Trail, and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness

From Companies: Snow Peak and Western Mountaineering

From Food and Nutrition: the Recipes page

The BPL Classics page

A Challenge to the BPL Community

As a collaborative project, the wiki will rely on the community to reach its full potential. The collective knowledge and experience of BPL readers is immense, as is evident from the forums and reader reviews. Our challenge to you is to get involved and help grow the wiki. Imagine the value of definitive pages on your favorite trails and wilderness areas. Imagine the knowledge that could be harvested from the BPL forums on topics such as cuben fiber or insulation properties or fording rivers. Imagine the value of collecting links related to a single topic from BPL articles or other areas of the web. Now all of these things can be done easily and with the help of your fellow members.

So our challenge to you is to get involved. To give you a little motivation, we'll be monitoring the wiki and will give out up to fifty gear shop coupons for $14.99 to those who create articles or add significant content. We can monitor this online, so you do not need to contact us - we'll contact you. However, you can send email to if you have suggestions on overall organization or content. You can also direct those same comments to the forums.

Editing the Wiki

There are help pages on the wiki with basic information regarding policies, content, and editing. If you are interested in creating new content, please take a quick look at these pages before you get started. The wiki is open to everyone on the web, but if you wish to edit the wiki, you will need to have a BPL account and be logged in. This allows us to track changes and attribute changes to users.

New Search Engine and Tabs

Also launched today is a re-organization of the tabs on BPL web pages. The new tabs are: Home, Articles, Shop, Community, and Wiki. These changes accurately reflect the organization and use of and will help users more easily navigate the site. Finally, today we are also launching a new search engine. This engine is a significant improvement over BPL's previous search capability and will make it easier and more effective to search the vast collection of material at Backpacking Light.

Collectively, these changes are a significant step forward in creating value for Backpacking Light readers. We are excited to see where the wiki will go in the weeks and months ahead. As always, we welcome your participation in the process and your comments on future directions.


"BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference," by Don Wilson. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2008-11-11 00:15:00-07.


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BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference
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Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Wiki Copyrights on 11/12/2008 11:24:01 MST Print View

"If you contribute material to the BackpackingLight wiki, you thereby grant Backpacking Light and Beartooth Media Group, Inc. the exclusive license to use this material and grant license for this material accordingly. In order to contribute, you must be in a position to grant this license, which means that either you hold the copyright to the material, for instance because you produced it yourself or you acquired the material from a source that allows the licensing, for instance because the material is in the public domain or is itself published under a license allowing distribution."

@@@ My own words: This is saying that once you contribute you give BPL and beartooth exclusive rights to the content you posted. This does not bode well with me for reasons I will go into later. @@@

Attribution-Noncommercial License Granted for BPL Wiki Content Use

Backpacking Light's goal is to keep the content published here free to the public, and free for noncommercial use in perpetuity. In the spirit of that community goal, content use in the BPL Wiki is granted on an attribution, noncommercial license:

@@@ My own words: I agree with Dave T. Having a "goal" does not offer any reassurance. In all other areas of the copyrights you say "must", "you may not" etc... Change this language to "BPL WILL keep the content here..." otherwise there is no reason for anyone to believe you will achieve your "goal." @@@

Beartooth Media Group, Inc. grants you the nonexclusive license to: adapt, copy, distribute, and transmit any work published in the BPL Wiki (e.g., in the URL path under the following conditions:

@@@ My own words: You should not be able to grant me any rights for something that I write. It should still be mine. We are not being paid by you and you should not be able to own our intellectual property. This isn't IBM or some company that has us on salary and can own what we do while at work using their resources. This is a website. What we write should be ours. You should be thankful to have the resource done so well and, assuming it IS done well, driving traffic to your site. @@@

* Attribution. You must attribute the work with a citation to the full path URL of the source material here.

* Noncommercial Use. You may not use this work for commercial purposes without written permission from the Beartooth Media Group, Inc.

Any material submitted is subject to editing, alteration or removal without your permission or knowledge.

Do not submit copyrighted content from another source in any form (text or images).

The main problem with this whole thing is that you think you have any right to the content posted on this wiki simply because you are hosting it. That may be the case if, as I said above, you owned the computer I was typing on and happened to pay me a salary. This is not the case though. Sure, it's great your goal is to keep it free and for the public, but if that is TRULY the case you shouldn't try and own it. Want to achieve your goal? Stop trying to own the rights to all the information posted on this wiki. Then I can guarantee that it will remain free and for the public. I think there is a problem with the copyrights. I'd love for other members to come voice their opinions because maybe I am missing something here, but to me something seems off. Perhaps if Ryan or others in the organization came out with a clear reason why this wiki should be their property I could understand more, but until then I feel that if you want to own the wiki, then it's not a wiki and you should fill it up yourselves.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Wiki copyright on 11/12/2008 12:00:03 MST Print View

I agree with both Jen and Richard. I assume that this is a case of of BPL doing a CYA and take Ryan's intent at face value. That being said as Richard points out it is preferable when the contract matches the stated intent.

With the license going to BPL rather than the public this legally gives BPL the right to revoke that license at a future date.

Wikipedia uses the GNU Free Documentation License which seems like a good basis for what Ryan and BPL are trying to do. Here is the introduction to the GNU license:

The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document "free" in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not being considered responsible for modifications made by others.

Edited by nschmald on 11/12/2008 12:04:18 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Wiki copyright on 11/12/2008 14:18:22 MST Print View

Hi All,

Thanks for the feedback re: copyrights. We are looking into the right language to put here. There has to be some balance, but my intent is most certainly to keep this a free and freely licensable resource in perpetuity.

Thanks for your patience while we work something out more solid.


Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Wiki Copyrights on 11/12/2008 15:02:38 MST Print View

I read this in a very similar way to Andrew.
Forgive me if I don't speak Legal, but it does seem to imply, in fairly clear terms, that BPL becomes the owner of everything posted on the wiki.

"If you contribute material to the BackpackingLight wiki, you thereby grant Backpacking Light and Beartooth Media Group, Inc. the exclusive license to use this material and grant license for this material accordingly...."

How else am I to read this?
Would this not allow BPL, if they so desired, to charge a fee to access the information on the wiki, sell it, bundle access to it with a membership, or control/distribute it in any way they see fit?

Not trying to rain on the parade here, but if this wiki is supposed to be a free resource created by members of the community, the copyright language doesn't seem to reinforce the idea of community at all.

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
Re: Wiki Copyrights on 11/12/2008 15:36:20 MST Print View

I read it similar to Andrew and Graig,

I am nearly finished an extensive testing program on alcohols and mixtures for BP stoves, this has taken me many hundreds of hours and cost me a lot of money, I am going to publish the results/report on my website (not yet ready to go public) and share them on some other forums/wiki's that I participate in, I would be happy to add this report and some others that I have done to the BPL wiki but I am not prepared in anyway to loose my copyrights or IP.



Locale: South West US
Re: Re: Wiki Copyrights on 11/12/2008 16:29:28 MST Print View

This may be relevant to the discussion.

From the U.S. Copyright Office FAQ section:

"What does copyright protect?
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.


When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Here's a link directly to the U.S. Copyright Office FAQ.

Edited by oiboyroi on 11/12/2008 16:34:54 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Wiki Copyright on 11/12/2008 16:50:06 MST Print View

OK guys, we have the copyright policy modified now in response to your suggestions on this thread. Thanks for your feedback,

Andrew Dolman
Re: Re: Wiki Copyrights on 11/12/2008 18:03:56 MST Print View

Hi Tony,

If you put your stuff on a wiki such as wikipedia, you are handing over your copyright, that's kind of the point of a wiki.

If you want to keep control over your work, just write a brief summary and then link to your site.

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
Re: Re: Wiki Copyrights on 11/12/2008 18:07:41 MST Print View

Hi Andrew,

>f you put your stuff on a wiki such as wikipedia, you are handing over your copyright, that's kind of the point of a wiki.

If you want to keep control over your work, just write a brief summary and then link to your site.



Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: Re: Re: Wiki Copyrights on 11/12/2008 19:52:06 MST Print View

Wow..The new copyright is great. I've been meaning to say a few thigns, two should have been said right away and the third is a response to the changes.

1. The wiki is an awesome resource and I thank BPL for setting up and hosting it. It looks great so far.

2. The new search function was incredible while I was using it. I don't know what the bug was, but that is nothing surprising as it would be amazing to release something like that without a bug! It's a great search engine and makes the forums much more useful! It's an awesom ejob and a great implementation. Congrats to the coders and to the company for a job well done.

3. Thank you for the changes to the copyright! It's amazing that BPL and beartooth are so responsive to their customers and it is something very special. I really feel great to be part of this community and I applaud everyone working at BPL/Beartooth for their efforts, ethics, and practices. I think this business is being run incredibly well and that sometimes we may take it for granted. You are all doing a really great, upstanding, and admirable job! Thank you!

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Gear 101 on 11/12/2008 20:06:40 MST Print View

I was a little bemused by the appearance of a new site search function. I must admit, I didn't get around to trying it out. But does it really work any better than googling " [insert search terms here]"? I've always found it easy to find BPL forum threads or articles using google. You've gotta use the "" tag though.

On the subject of the wiki... I've added a "Gear 101" category to the gear section of the wiki. Intended as an overview for newcomers to lightweight gear. I know I found the sheer amount of gear information a bit daunting when I started, so I thought it would be good to have a "start reading here" section. Feel free to contribute!

Edited by ashleyb on 11/12/2008 20:11:19 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Gear 101 on 11/12/2008 20:34:10 MST Print View

Note that a new forum has been created to house discussions related to the strategy and administration of the Wiki.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Wiki Copyright on 11/12/2008 21:09:09 MST Print View

Thank you Ryan for your speedy and thoughtful response.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/21/2008 17:14:11 MST Print View

I'm getting this error message when trying the link.

Catchable fatal error: Object of class User could not be converted to string in /home/bpl/public_html/extensions/Auth_remoteuser.php on line 358

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
The same on 11/23/2008 12:01:39 MST Print View

Likewise, I am getting the same error.

Ben Klocek
(benklocek) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Re: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/25/2008 13:29:43 MST Print View


Please try again. We've made a few adjustments and killed a few bugs in the wiki authentication code. Let us know if it works for you.


Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 06/16/2015 21:16:23 MDT Print View

Seems like the links don't work as a F member.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 06/16/2015 21:35:59 MDT Print View

Seems like you're 7 years late.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 06/16/2015 21:56:45 MDT Print View

Yes, um, well not all projects stay on schedule, maybe something happened.

More importantly, the enthusiasm, and the comments about BPL being responsive and attentive to member concerns were true and sincere in this thread.

In 2015, after releasing digest no 18, BPL is suspending accounts to create a BPL friendly environment.

It's a long road from there to here. Maybe someone told the story in the wiki and it was silenced as quickly as Bob Gross.

Edited by redmonk on 06/16/2015 21:59:46 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 06/16/2015 23:18:13 MDT Print View

"wiki" has been replaced by "school" above center

must have been a good idea that didn't work out, so was dropped