User:Antemister/Fictional flag issue

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Several hundreds of fictional flags can be found on Commons - why? They do not have an educational purpose and are private artwork of their uploaders, who want to see their private designs on Commons. But Commons is not a webspace provider, and to make things worse, especially editors of the smaller WP do use them in their article because they rely on the accuracy of the files on Commons and might not understand file description properly. It should be logical that they should be deleted. Besides their uploaders, few users seem to support them there. What to do with them? I prefer deleting...--Antemister (talk) 14:06, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

I agree. We have a general rule against keeping personal art from non-notable artists -- we are not Flickr and do not provide free hosting for personal creations -- so that it seems to me that fictional flags could and should be deleted under that rule. More important, though, is the confusion factor. A painting from a non-notable artist does no damage except clutter. Fictional flags can and will be used in place of the genuine flag which causes confusion and degrades the quality of WMF projects containing them.

Note that the term "fictional flags" also covers flags such as those shown at Category:Flags of Middle-earth. As long as they follow the description in the text, I think that such flags should not only be kept, but be encouraged. I see no reason why the article on Rohan should not be illustrated with its flag, as described by Tolkien. The distinction lies with the fact that the flags of Middle-earth are described by a notable author and therefore have educational value as legitimate illustrations of his work. Flags that arise out of the imagination of non-notable people are just clutter. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 14:35, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

I agree with Jim, if a flag does not have a independent source (such as the source of the examples in Category:Flags of Middle-earth) it has no place on commons, it risks at best confusing editors and at worst outright inaccurate articles. I also think that a naming and category conversion for those that meet the independent source test needs to be established, for example they should never be in the same category as genuine flags for that country and the filename should clearly contain something like proposed or alternative. LGA talkedits 20:54, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

(Edit conflict) It seems to me that there are three kinds of image that could fall under this heading:

  1. flags invented for real entities, so identified by name or description, or bearing a close visual resemblance to the official, popular, or historic version: should be deleted as misleading and a potential means of ‘symbolic POV-pushing’ (I would not generally consider minor colour variations to be “inventions“ for this purpose, controversial though they seem to be);
  2. flags of notable fictional entities: should be evaluated on their merits, particularly for sourcing to eliminate ‘fanfic’ inventions, but are generally within scope; and
  3. personal inventions, flags of little-known fictional entities, and all speculative or creative reconstructions: out of scope (but might be justifiable as personal user-space material under the customary tolerance for small quantities of otherwise ‘useless’ content there).
I agree that even if kept, none of the above should appear in galleries or categories of real entities. I presume we can exclude from this discussion such historic fictions as mediaeval illustrations of flags in biblical scenes, or heraldic rolls including arms of ancient & mythical personages, for their general interest & value, as long as they’re properly described and categorized.—Odysseus1479 (talk) 21:36, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
There are also flags that have been seriously proposed for official use, but not yet accepted (e.g. some in Category:Proposed national flags of New Zealand); flags that may well previously have been in use, but the evidence is not entirely clear (e.g. File:Flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic 1918-1920 (variant).svg); and no doubt other unclear cases that don't occur to me at present.
I'm not convinced that deletion is the answer in these cases, or even for all of the personal inventions mentioned above. The main problem they can cause is confusion. I think systems for avoiding such confusion would be worth trying as an alternative to deletion in many cases. The naming convention mentioned above is one possibility, although I like the idea of tagging dubious flags with suitable templates better. These could be translated into multiple languages, and could handle grey areas more flexibly than deletion rules. Deletion is also often perceived as a high-stakes business, leading to excessive conflict.
By the way, wouldn't this discussion be better conducted as an RfC, instead of tucked away in userspace? --Avenue (talk) 00:48, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
Expanding on one point: how many of the six proposed flag designs displayed in en:New Zealand flag debate#Proposals do people think are outside our scope? (One of these was designed by a Wikipedian, and three by people with Wikipedia articles.) What about photos of unofficial flags being used, such as File:Laffare1.jpg (used in nine Wikipedia articles, including de:Silberfarn-Flagge)? --Avenue (talk) 01:40, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
  • I'm with Jim on this. Fictional flags/artwork created by non-notable individuals is/are out of scope on Commons. We are not a webhost/gallery/means of promotion of amateur/hobbyist artists. -FASTILY 01:02, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
Mostly I agree with Jim and Fastily. Fictional flags can stay, if they have a source. I mean real source, not "own work" or designer's name: link into official document. An unsourced fictional flag is a bad thing. And this is valid for every flag: unsourced non-fictional flag is also a bad thing, because sometimes it is difficult to make difference between a fictional and non-fictional flag (for example, flags of nobility families – some of them had flag, some not). Taivo (talk) 09:50, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
I'd like to see the whole fictional flag de-cluttered. Unless (officially) proposed flags (then not fictional anymore) or things like the Middle-Earth-Flag - delete. Actually, when in doubt delete. IMHO the description / uploader of the flag has to provide enough information that there is an educational use. It shouldn't be the job of a user to determine if the flag is real or fiction or whatisthatthingscratchhead. I say let's try to add that to our book of rules and de-clutter this area. --Hedwig in Washington (mail?) 13:44, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
OK, thanks for those replys here! I did not write that explicitly, but for me it was always clears that my DRs do not extend to "fictional flags of notable fictional entities" like the Middle Earth flags, "fictional flags of non-fictional entities designend by relevant people" like that File:Fictional flag of Hatay.svg that appeared in Indiana Jones movie, or "flag proposals by notable persons like Whitney Smith", or even "flag proposals designend by non-notable people who took part in flag contests". This issue covers in fact only these private flag designs of some uploaders here. @Avenue: Flags proposals like the New Zealand one are OK, as long they are also used outside the WP context. A flag proposal by the famous artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser is course notable/in scope, but not the one designed only be that WP uploader (although this is one of the less aggravating examples, because here there might me many other similar proposals in real life - this is a great difference between drawing a "Flag of the New Zealand minister of the interior", which does not exist in reality). Controversial variants like that old azerbaijan issue should stay here, as WP has to illustrate that controversy. What is RfC? I'm not familiar with many procedures on Commons... @Hedwig: In fact, to provide enough information that there is an educational use seems to be impossible for such images...--Antemister (talk) 09:03, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

An RfC is a "Request for Comment" its a tool to further transparency so that the community doesn't feel like things are being discussed and decided behind its back ( see Commons:Requests for comment) So far the comments here are sensible and well considered, and although I am more an inclusionist by nature, I would be happy to work within the consensus so far formed. Added links to this discussion at Category:Special or fictional flags and on the village pump, to open up participation.--KTo288 (talk) 10:10, 11 April 2014 (UTC)



Antemister -- A sub-page of your personal user page is really not the best place to discuss this issue, and your apparent action of inviting here a selective group of those who already basically agree with you (and no one else) is rather unfortunate. Thanks to KTo288 for attempting to partially correct some of these faux pas on your part, but I really don't know how "official" any conversation conducted on a sub-page of your personal user page can be considered.
In any case, as you've already been repeatedly told many times in many places, there are many hundreds of "special or fictional" or personally proposed flag and coat-of-arms images on Commons, and it's been a long-standing practice or de facto quasi-policy for many years that such "special or fictional" emblem images are not usually deleted just for being "special or fictional", unless there's also some additional aggravating factor (such as being hoaxing or hatemongering etc.). Your usual response has been just to adopt an ostrich head-in-sand approach and brazenly deny that this long-standing practice or de facto quasi-policy exists (which does nothing to conciliate the people who know from personal experience that it does in fact exist), accompanied by pedantic bureaucratic technicalisms derived from the literal wording of Commons policies. To be convincing, and persuade the broader Commons community to do things differently than it has been doing things for some time, you're really going to have to go beyond all that stale rhetoric this time (though as I said, I'm not sure how a conversation conducted on a sub-page of your user talk page can have any standing or authority). AnonMoos (talk) 15:26, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
@AnonMoos: I was not invited here, nor am I anyone’s “wiki-friend”: I happened on the link while talk-page stalking and thought I’d put in my two cents’ worth, heraldry and vexillology being among my interests. I’m not cognizant of the question‘s previous history, and assumed this to be a ‘sounding out‘ exercise. I certainly wouldn’t regard anything said here as having authority or being actionable, which would require making some kind of formal proposal to the community at large—nor do I see any comments above to the contrary.
Regarding the format, it’s a more common practice to write a discussion-starting proposal or position-statement on the subpage proper, using its Talk page for discussion, but people can generally organize their user-space as they wish.—Odysseus1479 (talk) 01:12, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Odysseus1479 -- I have no reason to doubt the purity of your motives. However, unfortunately the same cannot be said of User:Antemister. He seems to have the expectation that this will set some kind of binding precedent (despite being conducted on a sub-page of his user talkpage), and his apparent choice to invite some of those who agree with him -- but none of those whom he has exceedingly good reason to know have plenty to say on the other side (such as Fry1989 and myself) -- is very unfortunate, and has already started the discussion off on the wrong foot... AnonMoos (talk) 01:44, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Of course, this discussion is only a starting point and a new general policy is still far away. Shall I move that page?--Antemister (talk) 11:58, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
I'd suggest you do. Maybe you could start the discussion more neutral? :) Don't forget to remove the RFC template afterwards.--Hedwig in Washington (mail?) 18:11, 12 April 2014 (UTC)