Commons *has* a community, though a small and vulnerable one, and
regretfully declining community over the last years. Currently some twenty
people contribute 100 edits or more a month, and some four hundred people
contribute 5 edits or more a month, which is comparable to a "small"
language Wikipedia. I thank Pieter Kuiper fully for admitting Commons isn't
without it's own problems. I thank Ting Cheng, a community elected board
member of the Wikimedia Foundation, for his lengthy elaboration recognizing
an issue. I thank Dror for standing up. This Spring the WMF has initiated a
year long strategy formation process asking input from all sides and parties
involved around a series of questions concerning participation, reach and
quality. (Strict) compliance with license(s) is considered a [[[quality]]
issue by more than one regular contributor to Commons. Several image
gathering projects do have several goals, most notably informing the public
about free repositories of (for example) images which I will dub [[reach]]
and hooking newcomers to become contributors of content, which I will dub
[[participation]]. Initially dubbed [[governance of Commmons]] I would like
to invite all participants in this discussion, and all participants in the
[[massive upload conflict]]s to participate this year, just started, and
ending summer 2010, in the overall Wikimedia Foundation strategy formation
process. Help us all finding answers to all of "What should we do" and "How
should we do" questions. In my belief all active participants to Commons
should be give the time to reflect on the current issue, and give their
opinion, if they want to, which can take a longer time than the wikibreak of
Dror. Maybe it might be possible to generate a rough guideline in a year
time about [[I started a project to have the public take images and upload
them ultimately to Commons. How and when should I inform the community at
commons about my project and under which conditions won't the community at
Commons block all uploads from my project]]. After all, the Commons is a
very special project. It has many more sysops than active contributors. And,
as far as I know, a sysop is just a technical function, with the ability
(some buttons) and not the authority to push them without 'community
consent'. Governance at he commons and discussing about sysops might blur
this a little bit. That might presuppose sysops having an organizational
role or function they wouldn't have. And one last thing: Commons, like all
projects, are independent of the WMF, the Board of the WMF can't impose
anything on the project. So Ting showed a lot of courage by stepping into
this discussion, and I thank him for that, again.
GerardM blogged about this the other day:
It was resolved quickly, fortunately. I would like to kindly request
some caution among the Wikimedia Commons admin community when dealing
with what appear to be institutional accounts. In the spirit of
building better working relationships with GLAM institutions
(galleries, libraries, archives, and museums), I think it's important
that our first contacts are friendly and professional. I don't think a
policy against institutional accounts is particularly helpful in that
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation
Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate
Check out this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/20/arts/20funny.html?_r=1
In it that author complaints about the low quality photographs of well
known personalities in popular culture on English Wikipedia.
This short coming is attributed in part to
"Recent photographs on Wikipedia almost exclusively are the work of
amateurs who don’t mind giving away their work. Amateur may be too
kind a word; their photos tend to be the work of fans who happen to
have a camera."
But the author is apparently missing the detail that the problem he's
complaining about is largely limited to people, where there tend to be
special access challenges and where their exists a very high quality
bar because of the ubiquity of staged publicity shots.
Wikimedia has an enormous collection of contributor created
photographs of exceptional quality— but they tend to be in the areas
of architecture, landscapes, man made objects, plants, etc. Not so
much famous people.
I'd love to be able to give the author some counter examples, but all
of commons collections of featured grade images are intermixed with
the best freely licensed images we could find elsewhere.
In the past I'd hoped that providing many accolades to
non-contributors would encourage them to come contribute directly, but
I'm not aware of any cases of this happening. Anyone have any
Can the next POTY contest please only consider images created by
Wikimedians? The bar for qualifying could be pretty minimal, "All
relevant copyright holders for the image have commons accounts", or
the like ... would still serve the purpose of highlighting commons'
value as a source for unique works and not just as a partial mirror of
flickr and US government websites.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Gerard <dgerard(a)gmail.com>
Subject: NPG issue - other interested parties
To: Open Rights Group open discussion list
Apposite comment on this issue on my blog - other QANGOs that try to
own the public domain:
Roger Pearse Says:
July 17th, 2009 at 1:41 pm
Your comments on the British Library are very apposite, if a little
The British Library has refused, solidly, for 10 years, to my certain
knowledge, to digitise its collection of medieval manuscripts. It also
refuses to allow almost anyone to access them. Since it is based in
London, even people like myself who DO have clearance cannot in fact
go there very often. I asked them to digitise 3 manuscripts, each of
100 pages. I could photograph them in a day. They are quite sturdy.
They refused to do so. I offered to photograph them. They refused.
They agreed to photograph them only if I paid them £8,000. That’s £20
per click of the camera. And they wouldn’t put them online then. They
offered to allow ME to put them online, so long as I paid them £500 a
year for the rest of my life.
Yet the manuscripts have never been photographed at all! So, as you
remark, some fool could go in and steal pages. But the BL view is
better that, than that the images should appear on the web.
Preservation means photography, and the creation of many copies of the
images. To obstruct this is criminal.
So why does the BL do this? Because they are making money by selling
crude black-and-white (not even monochrome) images to scholars trying
to make use of the texts at massive prices (hundreds of pounds).
This seems to be the same motive as the NPG. Short-term greed, and the
hell with the public interest.
I have been in discussion with the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam about making
their material available on Commons. The Tropenmuseum has an important
collection on the colonial past of the Netherlands and contains a rich
collection on Suriname and Indonesia. The initial talks are about 100.000
The annotations of this material is all in Dutch. It will come with unique
identifiers back to the physical object in the Tropenmuseum and it will come
with the termbase for the images; this termbase is as I understand it the
equivalent of our categories. Some of the material has a partial translation
in English and, this can be provided to us as well.
The key issue I want to raise is that there are hundreds of museums in the
Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname all using Dutch there are more museums in
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein who speak German .... While we
aim to improve our front end to allow for easy uploads, we do not provide
language support. Language support will help people find pictures in their
language and will help the matching of categories into other languages.
Here's how to be helpful to one museum. How much of this could we
easily implement ASAP?
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John at Darkstar <vacuum(a)jeb.no>
Subject: [Foundation-l] Whishlist from the National Library in Norway
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
I got an email from National Library in Norway and it has some
interesting points. My comments are after the bulleted points. The
bulleted points are my writeup from their comments, the original email
was in Norwegian. Hopefully it is understandable.. :D
* Backlinks to the museums themselves is important, especially so the
museums can serve high resolution images or alternate images.
Note that in this context there could be images with extremely high
resolution, or processed images that could be part of some continued
work. Imagine a 2D image of a viking helmet that really are a 3D scan,
the 2D visualization is really a simplification and the 3D scan can be
refined with new processing. The viking helmet is an example and is
located at Kulturhistorisk museum. Medium resolution images are by
one source described as images in the range 800-1000px across longest
axis. High resolution images could be 25Mpx and higher, one source was
talking about 150Mpx. A 3D building scan combined with photographic
textures could be very much more than this.
This is also important for us, how can we tell our users that the
museums can provide additional services? To post a template isn't very
dynamic, yet it somehow solves the problem. What would be very
interesting is to make some kind of API that makes it possible to get
additional information directly from external sites. Probably something
like this should go through a white list of some kind or be sufficiently
laundered to make it safe in our environment.
* Send a message to a contact if a specific image is used on Wikipedia,
probably also containing metadata.
This kind of service probably should be some kind of RSS feed with an
additional option of en email notice. Probably it should be possible to
follow a RSS feed for a whole category, like "Images from National
Library of Norway" or "Photos by Axel Lindahl". Such a RSS feed
should probably be available in a daily or weekly digest mode. But what
if there is some sub category, what should then be sent as a message -
"This category and 1, 2, 3 levels below?"
* Geotag from Wikipedia should be available through Commons, and
additional tools for adding geotags are important.
Probably geotags from Wikipedia should be available through some kind of
API for Commons, but this should not be confused with geotags added to
the actual image itself. Changes to the Geotags should be available
through some kind of RSS feed too. It seems like tools to geotag an
image through features in the image is important, but I don't know if it
is feasible to do that today. I know about a few algorithms that can do
this, at least if they have some clue about where the photo comes from.
A wild guess "Norway" will most likely fail, but it isn't unlikely that
a general area of a municipality and a few additional features like the
location of a church and a couple of hilltops is sufficient. I know
Riksantikvarsembetet in Sweden and ABM-utvikling in Norway have talked
about this, so some interest definitely exist outside our community.
* Users should be able to give comments about an image or tag it, and
this should be reported back to the owner. This should be independent of
the use of the image at Wikipedia.
This I guess is two different thing. One thing is use of the image in
mashups, use in blogs, etc. For now you has to transfer the image to be
able to tag it on a blog, but what they say its interesting to get the
actual tagging on Commons and then the image should be mashable. The
other thing they talk about are comments on the image itself, which I
guess is simply an RSS feed from the talk page. They make an example
about Flckr.com, but I guess Expono.com is a better example. They said
that the total information from a wiki are probably more interesting for
them than Flickr.
Automatic tagging due to reuse is very interesting. How can we do this?
It works like trackback in blogs, but would probably mean that we allow
reuse of images through mashups. Imagine buttons like "post this on
flckr" and similar sites, and make the information about where the image
is reused available.
* They wonder how and if uncategorized images could be utilized somehow.
They make an example of several thousand photos taken by a German
soldier during WW2 in Norway, and this is about the only thing they know
about the images.
Perhaps we need some statistics on usage of the uploaded archives from
the German museums? Some of the images did not have sufficient
information for localizing them, yet they were later located. One
example is a photo from Mehavn.  I've been wondering if a service
like Expono is better suited and that we can transfer images when there
are something about them that makes them interesting for us. As long as
we have no information it is difficult for us to utilize the image, but
when we do utilize them we need to add a lot of information and that
isn't easy to do in an external interface.
As a side note, what if we make a dirt simple interface for adding
locations to images and then let the collaborative effort filter whats
usable information? Its something like "add the name of the place" and
only after more than one user adds the same name it shows up in a list
of possible places, perhaps overruled by a list of known locations. Note
that this should be done such that it doesn't create additional workload
for administrators, and that more evolved comments could be placed on
the discussion page.
* They wonder if an involved user would be interested in looking through
I believe it is better to make the images available to the community
because someone has the knowledge about the images. It is more likely
that the user with knowledge about the images will find them, than for
us to find the user with the knowledge. But if someone find a single
photo of interest, how can we use that information to find other images
of interest? I think it could be interesting to upload a bunch of images
where we have very little prior knowledge and then do some research on
how the images are utilized. Right now we have very little knowledge
about how such images are used. A project that uploads images without
any information and then let the community tag and use them will
probably take several years before any usefull information is gained, -
but even if the process is slow it will persist and there will be
available information over time.
John Erling Blad /jeblad
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