Commons:Requests for comment/galleries

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This RFC addresses the question of how we can better design and maintain Commons:Galleries and Commons:Categories with a view to providing users with a useful selection of relevant content. These issues are of most concern when there are a very large number of files, and/or when files are split into many subcategories, making general browsing across the broad topic harder. Please provide proposals, observations and comments below. Rd232 (talk) 01:24, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

Proposal: template/collection category approach[edit]

Explanation Okay, so I have this template, {{AlbanyNY}} (shown below), which I have dutifully added to as many Albany-related files as possible. The template quickly describes the city of Albany and informs the reader that the image is part of a large gallery of files (all of which happen to contain the template). It extends the influence of WP:NYCD, a project about the city and its region. It also points the reader to other, general Commons categories that are relevant to the city of Albany. This template and its category were recently nominated for deletion; it was agreed that we should go through an RfC before closing the DR.

Basically, this new category/gallery is a 'collection', as I originally termed it. While Commons offers us 'galleries' and 'categories', neither of these concepts really offers us a user-friendly way to view many files about a single topic. 'Galleries' are constructed for us; we have no control over what we see (if we are the typical, non-editing user). And 'categories' are too complicated; correct 'categorization' sometimes involves upwards of dozens of levels of subcategories, even for topics that you may first think are pretty specific. Additionally, the use of 'galleries' requires constant updating to remain relevant and very much needs a dedicated overseer to do this work. It is also subject to the personal viewpoints of the overseer and could be a victim of POV. They are also content-limited: you can only use files that Commons hosts (which, in most cases, will not allow for a 'complete' gallery to ever be created). Incidentally, I've actually found it easier to create a 'gallery' from a 'collection' because you have a 30,000 ft view of the content and aren't required to dive into dozens of subcategories looking for useful files to use for the 'gallery'. A 'collection', in this sense, allows for any uploader to include the relevant template on the file page (a quick copy+paste to each upload rather than spending the time developing a 'gallery'). Whether a file should be included in the 'collection' is more black and white than how to best represent a topic in a 'gallery'.

The real issue here in my mind is that today, when you go to look at friends' photos, you browse through albums on Facebook or Flicker or the website of the author's choice. This is an expectation for the typical user. But on the off-chance the typical user even sees categories on the bottom of a file page on Commons, they'll immediately be intimidated because the category they're brought to probably looks like a mess at first glance: seemingly unrelated photos and a number of links on the top (and if there's enough subcategories, they won't all show on the first page, they may roll over on to the second, third, fourth... pages; it's not intuitive to click to the next page to see more sub cats). The template offers a quick, simple explanation: "There are more images on this topic here." They go there and find ... just files. Imagine that. Now, if they want to be a little more daring, they can hit the actual Commons categories that are also listed on the template (most of which are higher level subcategories of the main category in this case).

I don't see how using this style organization is a big deal, especially since it's not meant to replace anything. I don't care for 'galleries'. That's my right. I do care to categorize and subcategorize, and I do it a lot. Frankly, for many topics that aren't well categorized, this could be a good first step in which dedicated users (not well related to the topic) might feel comfortable subcategorizing if the uploaders knew to include the template. But on the other hand, I'm also not trying to sell this idea. I don't really care if others want in implement it. To me, it makes our wikiproject better (consider it an extension of WP:LOCAL, which I know doesn't apply here, but still makes the project better), explains the subtleties of Commons a bit better to the average user, and offers the user the chance to be pleasantly surprised with some of the media we host here by allowing them to just peruse our collection. If the idea did get off the ground, yes, you'd see many of these templates on files. So in that case you could include collapsable forms or something like wikiproject notifications do on

Just to bring in some numbers, you'll note that over the past 30 days, Category:Albany, New York saw 406 hits, Category:Albany, New York Collection saw 274 hits, and the gallery Albany, New York saw 174 hits.

In a Nutshell

  • User-friendly graphical experience similar to those seen on social media sites (makes the site less foreign to the typical user).
  • Removes intimidation factor of well-subcategorized categories in eyes of average user.
  • Extends influence of wikiprojects on other Wikimedia sites, expanding the look, feel, and coordination of the site, hopefully making the site more inviting.
  • As used here, promotes investigation of other Commons categories.
  • Template promotes the topic, piques the interest of the reader (the issue of 'unnecessary flattery' came up in the DR; maybe, but these statements are all referenced facts in the article—the same could be said about DYKs).
  • No net negatives to the project.
Downsides (shares the same downsides as cats and galleries)
  • User choice on what photos to include (potentially subject to POV), bigger issue will be users that don't know about template (but same issue exists for cats and galleries).
  • Organizes files based on arbitrary naming conventions (this was brought up at the DR; the response is: it's the same way for categories and it doesn't seem to be bothering us currently).

Preemptive Responses to Typical Arguments Against

  • Category Redundancy: This is not redundant to Category:Albany, New York because the geographic category is meant to host sub-categories (this one is not).
  • Gallery Redundancy: This is not redundant to gallery Albany, New York, as you'll note, because the gallery had a total of three images in it before the DR and requires manual update (this does not - it updates automatically as the template is added to photos).
  • Personal Collection/Gallery: This is not meant to be a personal category or collection of photos, it's meant to be a publicly accessible way to discover new things about a topic.

Respectfully submitted for your consideration, upstateNYer 04:50, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

This is the template in question
Seal of Albany, New York.svg This image or media is part of a collection on the city of Albany, New York, one of the oldest surviving European settlements from the original thirteen colonies, the longest continuously chartered city in the United States, and the second oldest state capital in the nation.

More images and media relating to Albany and the Albany area can be found at Category:Albany, New York Collection as well as the following media categories:

Albany, New York | History of Albany, New York | Buildings in Albany, New York | People from Albany, New York | Maps of Albany, New York | Paintings of Albany, New York | Postcards of Albany, New York | Schools in Albany, New York | Panoramas of Albany, New York | New York State Capitol | Albany City Hall | New York Capital District
Flag of Albany, New York.svg


  • "Incidentally, I've actually found it easier to create a 'gallery' from a 'collection'..." - that was my first reaction, that even if a 'collection' approach is not accepted as an alternative to galleries for end users, it could well be a very useful tool for the construction and maintenance of galleries. For this purpose, it would probably mean putting the 'collection' category somewhere in the Commons maintenance category tree, rather than the Topic category tree. Rd232 (talk) 11:41, 19 February 2012 (UTC)
  • My second reaction: if this collection approach is accepted as an alternative to galleries, we need some way to avoid collections proliferating indefinitely, and especially to avoid competing or heavily overlapping collections. This would need to be written down somewhere (Commons:Collections is currently an odd page, and could be repurposed); but it may be difficult to formulate in an effective way, I'm not sure. Rd232 (talk) 11:44, 19 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment The reason we're discussing this novel approach here is partly that it seems not to be covered by existing policy. The nearest is Commons:Categories saying Topical categories shouldn't be included through templates. - but that page is just a help page (not even a guideline). If this approach is accepted, then we would probably want to add something to both Commons:Categories and Commons:Galleries (Commons:Galleries is a guideline) on when and how this approach can be used, where the template is placed on the file page, etc. We might also create a meta-template to standardise how the template looks and works. The AlbanyNY example is quite a large banner, but if the link to the collection category is appropriately placed (eg right at the bottom, above the categories?), it could be quite small, more a simple "this file is part of the X Collection". Rd232 (talk) 21:41, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

Proposal: revise Commons:Galleries to provide more guidance[edit]

Commons:Galleries is of limited use in the construction of good galleries. It mixes help-type information with guideline-type information, and is quite short. It should be expanded and restructured. Help-type information should probably be moved to a separate section. We might also create Help:Galleries aimed at users of galleries, to explain and for example note relevant gadgets.

Rd232 (talk) 11:36, 19 February 2012 (UTC)


Proposal: split Commons:Categories, and create a category structure guideline[edit]

Commons:Categories are of limited use in the construction of good categories. It mixes help-type information with guideline-type information, and is too long. Additionally, Commons:Categories is not a guideline - it is just a help page.

Proposal: split Commons:Categories into

  1. Help:Categories, a general help page for users (people looking for content), not contributors. This can explain and for example note relevant gadgets.
  2. Commons:Categorization - this would contain all the "how to categorise" information currently in Commons:Categories.
  3. Commons:Category structure, a guideline ( ) for editors. Initially it might look something like this.
  4. Commons:Categories - a brief overview, and any information that doesn't fit anywhere else, like Commons:Categories#Tools.

PS discussion of a similar idea from July 2011 is here. Rd232 (talk) 11:36, 19 February 2012 (UTC)