On 2/23/2011 6:29 PM, Daniel Schwen wrote:
Have you ever taken the possibility into consideration, that Billy
does not want the 'praise' and 'recognition'?

Maybe he is just happy with the fact that his pictures are being used.
This is all just speculation. And a single person is anecdotal evidence at best.
I do not quite understand the fuss about "Billy Hathorn"

    You've got a good point.  Some people might not be motivated by recognition,  and some might have a strong desire for privacy and would be repelled by recognition.

    On the other hand,  I think that the large majority of people do like getting recognition and get unhappy if they aren't getting recognition for what they do (in work,  family life, etc.)  Now,  it could be that commons,  by offering little recognition,  has selected for a special population of people who don't want recognition,  but I think you'll attract more new people if people get recognition.

   "Billy Hathorn" isn't remarkable because he's got an empty User page -- an overwhelming majority of commons users have empty User pages.  He's remarkable because he's taken a lot of pictures.  I found him by looking at a list of top contributors in my database;  after I skipped over the top few users (that I knew were bots) he was the second person I looked at.  I'd have no trouble finding 50 more people who've made major contributions and have no talk page.

    Note that any privacy that Billy gets from not having a descriptive User page is weak privacy.  If he keeps the clock in his camera accurate,  I can use my database to put together a remarkably detailed description of places he's been and when he was there.  The average cyberstalker might have a hard time putting his story together,  but an intelligence agency or industrial espionage outfit would have no problem.  [If he's putting bad timestamps on his pictures,  he's harming the veridicality of both Wikipedia and Commons]

    Even if Wikimedia Commons doesn't put together a useful 'summary' page for users,  there's no reason why a third party can't use a fully automated process to make a 'photostream' page for Billy much like the photostream page on flickr -- and I'm certain that this is going to happen.  ;-)

    Better information about users would have many social benefits.  For instance,  if Billy was a bit more visible and recognized,  his friends might decide to chip in a little money here and there and help him get a better camera.  If he was connected to a community of photographers,  he might find that he can improve his pictures greatly by buying $15 worth of supplies and learning to think a little more about light.

    Just the other day I got an email from a woman who wanted to use this image


    in a book.  She was concerned with the validity of the public domain declaration of the image.  Well,  the best I can do is play jailhouse lawyer,  look at the evidence,  and put together an argument that the image is in the public domain.  If we go back to the uploader,  we see that he's got a User page but he's basically a cipher,


    looking at what I can see there,  plus what's in my database,  I believe he's an Iranian who takes pride in his heritage -- but I don't know if he lives in Iran.  It's plausible that he scanned this image out of a book or other document,  but I really don't know.  Somebody who wanted to put together the story of this image would need to contact him,  but looking at the talk page I see "I do not visit Wikipedia very often so that there may be a considerable lapse of time before I respond to your message or messages placed on this page".

    Now,  quite likely,  Behnam Farid is as excited to answer this sort of question as I am (that his,  he's not) but when users can't get answers to questions about the provenance of images,  that degrades the value of PD declarations and CC license grants.  And note that CC doesn't just protect the rights of content creators,  it protects the rights of content consumers by maintaining information about provenance...  For instance,  if an image is photoshopped or staged,  provenance information makes it possible for us to hold the manipulator responsible.

    On the other hand,  Behnam Farid might live in Iran,  which has a repressive government which might give him trouble if they don't like the information he's posting to Wikipedia.  He might have a really good reason to keep his head low.

    As you see,  like anything having to do with online identity,  there are a lot of tradeoffs here and no one simple answer.