Commons:Case for Commons

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The Wikimedia Foundation is currently working on a grant proposal that is related to the usability for uploading and embedding media files to Wikimedia Commons. (This is an area that we will likely not be able to address in detail as part of the Stanton usability project, so we're trying to parcel it into a separate project.) As part of this proposal, I would like to make a compelling case that pictures and other media uploaded to Commons benefit from strongly from the increased visibility, especially through Wikipedia articles. I'd also like to demonstrate that images get used in multiple languages and multiple projects.

The simplest research approach that any volunteer could take is to take a sample (say 50 featured pictures and 50 random ones) and to catalog in a spreadsheet usage across Wikimedia projects, using the CheckUsage tool. But I'm sure there are other approaches - both quantitative and qualitative - that might work as well, e.g. based on Wikipedia article traffic statistics.

I'd love to see some volunteer input into this question, which essentially boils down: Why is Wikimedia Commons awesome, and why is it worth investing in to make it even better? Any and all help making the "Case for Commons" is appreciated.--Eloquence (talk) 02:51, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Analysis and ideas[edit]

Please add your thoughts here.

Best category system[edit]

Out of all the file repositories out there, is there any that has as good of a category system as Commons? (Added by Piotrus 07:09, 8 January 2009)

Oh, our category system is good? That's a new one to me... it may be in certain areas (TOL maybe), but in general, I think we'd fare much better with "atomic categories" (aka "tags"). Note that most TOL categories are atomic. As a side effect, category intersections/unions would be much easier to do with atomic categories. Lupo 09:58, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Besides: for non-English speakers, our category system becomes next to impenetrable. See e.g. [1]... the easiest way to find that image is not to traverse the categories at all, but to search for "autobus arrêt france". Lupo 10:06, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Wikipedia categorization was commended upon by scholars, ex. [2]. While I am not saying our system is beyond improvement, I am personally not aware of any media repository with a better category system. And further, I find Commons search pretty useless - I find almost all of my images by category system. PS. I am not familiar with your jargon (TOL, atomic categories...). --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 18:03, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Sorry. TOL = "Tree of Life"; COM:TOL. By "atomic categories" I mean a system in which you would categorize a female Bangladeshi photographer born in 1902 and died in 1972 in the categories Category:Bangladesh, Category:Photographers, Category:Women, Category:1902 births, and Category:1972 deaths, but certainly not in a category "Female photographers from Bangladesh". Try finding all Finnish authors (photographers, sculptors, writers, architects, and so on) with our current category system. It cannot be easily done because they all are in separate categories. In brief: a much shallower category tree in which individual categories are used more like tags. (Though it's not exactly the same as tags.) Compare the categorization system of en-WP with that of de-WP... Lupo 19:58, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Open source[edit]

Commons is the biggest repository of open source images. Unlike other media repositories, all content from Commons is thus easily reusable.(Added by Piotrus 07:09, 8 January 2009)

This is true and not true. It is easily reusable for a certain class of largely non-commercial uses. Specifically those uses where people don't expect a large negative impact if the free license claims are wrong, and are willing to trust the word of entities like BusterBoy387. In my experience, commercial publishers are still usually unwilling to trust Commons as they aren't comfortable relying on the claims being made to the same degree that they would a professional stock image service. With the professional services they expect to pay for use but they get a well-documented paper trail and contractually backed assertions about legitimacy. If you are printing 100,000 textbooks (for example), then you want to avoid any "gotcha" moments down the line, and hence from their point of view other stock galleries with better documentation are more useful than Commons.
Even as an insider, I wouldn't put anything I found on Commons in a book or magazine unless I could properly identify the real world identity of the uploader. So, while it is great to be free, I wouldn't agree that Commons is generically more "useable". Our images simply serve a different audience than many "other media repositories". Dragons flight (talk) 05:58, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Agree with Dragons flight. Fact is, you cannot safely reuse (outside of WMF projects, at least) any image from the commons without verifying the source and license statement yourself. I'd love to see some statistics on what percentage of the files ever uploaded here were found to be copyvios. We get lots of copyvios. We catch some (I hope we even catch many), but we also miss some/many. And when it comes to allegedly PD works (i.e., not explicitly freely licensed), things get very muddy in many cases anyway, and re-users have to re-evaluate PD claims anyway to check whether the work would be PD in their jurisdiction, too.
Besides, what does "open source images" mean? Did you mean "freely licensed"? Even then, are we the biggest? We seem to have about 1.5 million files in Category:GFDL and about 1 million in Category:Creative Commons licenses (plus an unknown number in a myriad of subcats with possible overlaps: what a great category system we have). Let's say about two thirds of all the files here are explicitly freely licensed (and that doesn't account for dual licensing or for copyvios wrongly claimed to be freely licensed). Flickr claims to have 11.3 million CC-BY and 7.7 million CC-BY-SA photos for a grand total of 19 million. Way to go... Lupo 11:00, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
This raises an interesting point: perhaps we should have a system for checking "safe, confirmed as free, etc." images? Something akin to checked versions on some Wikipedias. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 18:05, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
We have OTRS. But even that can be fooled, see e.g. this case: [3], [4], [5]. Lupo 16:41, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Dedicated participants[edit]

The Commons is the only media repository in which dedicated volunteers try to ensure some quality control. They actively improve image descriptions and categorizations, and they actively try to clean the repository of copyright violations. (Added by Lupo 14:35, 8 January 2009 (UTC))

On erroneous descriptions, see for instance Commons:Bundesarchiv/Error reports, where Wikimedians have identified scores of errors in the descriptions of the German Federal Archive. On copyvios... well, see above. It's still an important feature of the Commons, which sets it apart from other "free media" repositories such as Flickr (where they also have copyvios). One notable area where we don't exercise quality control is the photographic quality of images, but there are various initiatives to encourage submitting high-quality images (COM:FPC, COM:QIC, COM:VIC). We might do a bit more about outreach or offering recognition incentives for participants (COM:MOP and COM:MOI come to mind), and we could try to do more in the area of image restoration. Lupo 14:35, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Another way of saying it: large, worldwide community dedicated to improving media metadata, including multilingual captions, geotagging, copyright information and categorisation as mentioned above. No other image/media community would even come close to the obsessiveness our contributors display. :) --pfctdayelise (说什么?) 00:18, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

To improve commons images usage in Wikipedia articles[edit]

Commons images usage out of Wikimedia projects is an important question definitely, but, more important is to use Commons images in Wikipedia articles. Some ideas have been developed (like http://toolserver.org/~emijrp/imagesforbio/ now almost out-of-date) which has allowed to illustrate about ~25000 biographies in more than 150 languages. Emijrp (talk) 20:20, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

This is an amazingly useful tool - thanks for the pointer.--Eloquence (talk) 03:05, 9 January 2009 (UTC)