[Commons-l] Making Wikimedia Commons less frightening

Patricia Rodrigues snooze210904 at yahoo.se
Sat Dec 6 12:20:29 UTC 2008


Thank you very much for your e-mail. I'm afraid I don't have any good answers for you - your concern about how to treat people from other communities is a big concern for many people, including myself. I'm afraid I don't have a magic bullet for your problem, but I find the idea of allowing local uploads and then have some sort of automatic forwarding to Commons when things are locally checked a very good one.
There is a striking lack of support for non-English speakers. As you might know, pt.wikipedia also disabled local uploads and the problem you mentioned for sv.wp also stands for pt.wp. I found lately several instances where pt users were perhaps not dealt with in the best manner mainly because of lack of communication. There was in most cases no attempt to fetch a Commons "regular" speaking Portuguese to help. We have a list of administrators by language that is perhaps not being put to use. In any case, it's not covering all languages. If Swedes are in general good English speakers/writers and you find problems, imagine what it is to deal with (mainly) portuguese and brazillians that in most cases have about zero knowledge of English.
No, Commons is far from being good as a multilingual project. I wouldn't recommend disabling local uploads nowadays. Resolving the problems you mentioned requires more communication skills, which we are lacking right now. Our warnings are too scary and many of our admins too aggressive. I'm not sure what we could do to improve the current state of things, but something must change.

--- On Sat, 6/12/08, Lars Aronsson <lars at aronsson.se> wrote:
From: Lars Aronsson <lars at aronsson.se>
Subject: [Commons-l] Making Wikimedia Commons less frightening
To: commons-l at lists.wikimedia.org
Date: Saturday, 6 December, 2008, 3:30 AM

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 
on Commons.

  Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
  Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se

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