Yesterday, I exchanged a few e-mails with a professional photographer to
confirm the licencing status of some of his work on Commons. I discovered
someone willing to confirm the licence, but evidently quite disgruntled by
his experience of Commons. Two lessons can be learned from what I read:
1) We are victims of a paradox which forces us to be especially annoying
with the most precious of our occasional contributors.
A significant proportion of the high-quality photographs of celebrities
uploaded on Commons are copyvios. This forces us to be especially strident
with copyright issues towards well-meant photographers. Short of the most
courteous civility, repeated requests amount to downright harassment, and
may appear to question the word of the uploader.
I don't have a magic formula to break the paradox itself, but we should make
efforts to sensibilise our users:
* be extremely polite
* apologise for bothering people with seemingly superfluous paperwork
* apologise for seemingly doubting their word
* offer to help and advise personally if the user needs anything
* formulise the request in such a way that a simple "OK" from the user is
sufficient. Open-ended questions are creepy ("what next, my credit card
number ?") and bothering ("how many bleeding mails will I have to send
before they are content with what I gave them ?").
* assume that the user knows all of our rules. We are there to guide them.
* assume that the user is aware of problems that we encounter as Commons
administrators (typically, that most photographs that look like his are
2) There is definitely a trend of professional photographers to request
credits under the image in articles. This is what they are accustomed to.
I (and a few others) think that we should make efforts to sensibilise our
users to this. We can definitely afford to credit people in articles. This
is a small concession which costs us very little and can benefit us greatly.
Thanks, Sandahl. Actually I've put my Spanish to the test on this. And
Geni, I'm leaning toward taking the risk that even if Panamanian law does
apply, the photographer who shot a 1913 photograph was unlikely to be
alive 45 years later. I'll try to research that some more before uploading.
Generally speaking, is there any coordinated effort to fill in these gaps?
Pretty much the entire Western Hemisphere copyright terms could be filled in
by editors who are fluent in English, Spanish, French, and Portugese.
It's a huge disincentive against actually countering systemic bias when the
*Find great shot in archives. Whoopee!
*Search license info page: nothing.
*Surf, squint, translate.
*Um, is this right?
Some days ago I was looking for video files on Commons. I then noticed
Commons not only lacked a proper image search, but does not have
anything to search specifically for video and audio. So I created one:
It allows searching in video and audio files, by length, y category,
by resolution and by audio format. It embeds Wikimedia's ogg player,
so you can directly view the videos in your web browser.
First, I want to congratulate the organizers of the POTY contest, it
was grandly organized and I found it a great opportunity to discover
some of the finest work on Commons.
There is *one* thing that bothered me though, which bothered me last
year already. It is that the "picture of the year" is undoubtedly the
most "popular" but is it really the most relevant to Commons' stated
mission and goal? Or even goals?
(to be frank, I think it is to some extent, more than last year, but
that's a matter of personal opinion).
By this I mean the following:
I liked having to vote in different categories in the first round and
found it interesting to be able to navigate among different pictures,
but I found myself a bit at a loss having to choose between this or
that picture, so I came up with a quick on-the-fly little grid in my
head which, among other things and just to give an example included:
- Potential for use in educational material (is it just cute, or is it
also illustrative of some thing/animal/concept/issue/question etc.)
- Quality of the image (is it just pretty, or is it pretty and of an
- Ease of reuse (does it bear more than one license? Which licences?)
- Interest of description and details provided (is it just "a bird"?
or "birdisia colorfulo, a bird found only in the most colourful places
in the world captured at dawn in wonderland...")
- Is it made by a professional or an amateur? (is it made by NASA and
their talented people/gear, or by a Wikimedian who took it for Commons
to start with).
etc. These are all questions I asked myself, and I am sure I am not
the only one who came up with such criteria to chose the pictures I
To be very frank, while I voted for many pictures in the first round
because they actually answered to all of the above point, I ended up
voting in the final round not necessarily for the "picture I liked
best", but for the picture which answered most of my questions
So I was wondering if it would make any kind of sense to at least
propose a grid for people to use when they vote and around which they
can decide which photo they "like" best. It might also be that we
would like to actually implement a multicategory vote for the final
round, which would allow people to vote for one picture, but also
weigh their vote with different points, such as "this is my fave, and
it is my fave because it is very free, of fantastic educational value,
made by an amateur and despite the fact that its quality should be
I imagine for example that you could then have more than one "pictire"
of the year, ie. one that's voted pic of the year, but also one that's
voted "pic of the year of educational use" etc.
Just thought I'd throw this out there and wanted to see what the
feedback could be on such a proposal.
NB. This gmail address is used for mailing lists. Personal emails sent
to this address will probably get lost.
The Dirac video codec is nearly fixed and part of it is set to become
an SMPTE standard. The BBC has tried hard to ensure it is as
unencumbered as possible.
Apart from the coder and decoder both being somewhat inefficient at
present, I understand there isn't much that plays it back as yet (VLC
in experimental builds).
What would we need before allowing Dirac-encoded video on Wikimedia?
I attended KDE 4.0 release event
(http://www.kde.org/kde-4.0-release-event/) today. Event was great
itself and particularly as opportunity to promote Commons.
If I'm not mistaken 2 years ago I read announcement about
collaboration between Wikimedia Foundation and KDE for creating web
services to use Wikimedia project content in KDE applications. However
as I talked with several developers I didn't noticed big awareness of
our free content. So I made some advertisement :-):
* kde-edu could have biggest benefits of collaboration: we have
pronunciation files, photos, SVG flags/maps/etc. Also kde-edu could
use content of wiktionary.org/omegawiki.org.
* KOffice could use Commons content as clip art (especially SVGs).
* Marble (http://edu.kde.org/marble/) could include GeoCommons by default.
* And of course desktop wallpapers, especially from featured pictures.
However I'm not sure how well MediaWiki API suited for 3-rd party
usage and of course Commons search should be improved.
KDE 4.0 is ported to MacOS X and Windows, so integration of our
content could make good promotion for us.
Also Jeremy (of kde-edu) mentioned that Kalzium
(http://edu.kde.org/kalzium/) uses open format for 3D molecules
storage. I think 3D viewer for chemical data will be great addition
for chemistry articles. So will be good idea to investigate this.
I also want to ask other Commoners to attend similar open source/open
content events for promoting our project and generating even greater
idea how to use our content.
With best regards,
More portraits of KDE developers will follow. Unfortunately Google
prohibited to take picture inside building.
The 2007 Picture of the Year competition is now concluded, and we are
happy to announce the results:
WINNER: '''Broadway Tower in Cotswolds, England.''' ([[:Image:Broadway
tower edit.jpg]]) by [[:en:User:Newton2|Newton2]]. 84 votes
RUNNER-UP: '''New York City at night, USA.''' ([[:Image:New York City
at night HDR.jpg]]) by ''Paulo Barcellos Jr.''. 67 votes
2ND RUNNER-UP: '''Red Squirrel in the Hofgarten in Düsseldorf'''
([[:Image:Eichhörnchen Düsseldorf Hofgarten edit.jpg]]) by [[User:Ray
eye|Ray eye]]. 66 votes
In the first round, there were 665 voting among 514 images. The top 28
made it to the final, where 919 voters voted. Congratulations to all
the contributors who helped create these beautiful works and made them
available to the world as free content.
A complete listing of the voting totals, along with selected voter
comments, is available at
Thanks to all the voters for participating, and we look forward to
doing it all again for 2008. :)
Thanks, Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year committee