[Commons-l] Making Wikimedia Commons less frightening
lars at aronsson.se
Sat Dec 6 03:30:15 UTC 2008
I'm a man, I'm a C/UNIX programmer since 1986, I speak English,
I've been on Wikipedia since May 2001, I have 4,000 edits on the
English Wikipedia, 27,000 on the Swedish Wikipedia, and 1,500 on
Wikimedia Commons; in 2005 I introduced page scanning on
Wikisource. I don't claim to be better than you, I'm just saying
that I'm not a complete newcomer. And yet, my user talk page on
Commons is full of deletion requests. I occasionally contribute a
lot to Commons, but in between I might be away for a few months,
often long enough for deletions to go through.
The idea that I might be a stable, long time contributor, well
versed in copyright law and GNU and CC licences, fully able to
take legal responsibility for what I have uploaded, hasn't
occurred to the people posting these deletion requests. Instead,
images are deleted 7 days after the warning is posted. This is
completely equal and democratic, in the worst sense: Loyal
veterans get the same treatment as anonymous drive-by vandals.
Sometimes the deletion requests are anonymous. Sometimes the
conclusion is that the request was invalid because the image was
perfectly legitimate. But I don't see the requestor being punished
for this. In the last year or two, the community culture on
Commons has made this kind of drive-by-deletion-request something
normal. When I pointed out to another user that she needed to
explain why some images should be deleted, *I* was told to behave.
The Swedish Wikipedia is among those that no longer allows image
uploads, because everything should go on Commons. This means we
are recruiting Swedish newcomers to join Commons and upload their
images there. These are not programmers. They don't always speak
English. They might be afraid of technology, and think that
anything that goes wrong is their fault. (Yes, this includes
women and older people.) Still, we want them to contribute
because they might have unique pictures to share. Typically, if
they are helped to set up a user account, the user interface at
Commons will be set to Swedish.
One person who is not a newcomer, but a computer user pioneer in
his field since the 1980s, is Sven Rosborn, archaeologist and
manager of the viking museum at Foteviken in southern Sweden. He
has contributed dozens of his own photos and maps. He was a
speaker at the Wikipedia Academy conference in Sweden some weeks
ago. He does speak English, only perhaps not as eagerly as I. He
is not a programmer. His user talk page is also full of deletion
requests. Two months after the fact, he enters and anwers in
Swedish that these are his own self-made images and maps. But
then the result of the request is already "the media was deleted".
Both myself and Sven are people who don't give up easily on
Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Commons. We could take a lot of
mistreatment. But what about the real newcomers?
With the current behaviour of the Wikimedia Commons community, I
find it pointless to try to recruit new contributors. It would be
like pouring water into a bucket with a hole. This hole needs to
mended first. So, how do we do that?
How do others manage to recruit newcomers to Wikimedia Commons?
Are there any success stories in public outreach on Commons?
If a user only contributes to the Swedish Wikipedia and has the
Swedish language user interface setting on Wikimedia Commons, then
why should their user talk page receive image deletion requests in
English? Some of these template messages have links to
translations in other languages, but that is an awkward solution.
Will the requestor be able to read the user's answer in Swedish?
Shouldn't it be possible to assign Swedish speaking admins to
patroll contributions by Swedish speaking newcomers? That's how
it would work if all images were uploaded directly to the Swedish
Wikipedia. And the reason we moved images to Commons is not
because we wanted to confront our newcomers with English messages
or admins who fail to speak Swedish.
Maybe we should turn the system around, so our Swedish newcomers
can upload images to the Swedish Wikipedia, where they are
patrolled by Swedish speaking admins. Then, the patrolled images
can be automatically forwarded to Commons, instead of the other
way around. Even though this would require software development,
this seems a lot easier than trying to manage the admin community
Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se
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