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World's largest photo competition kicks off; WMF legal fees proposal

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By Jan eissfeldt, Tony1, Effeietsanders, and Dank
Last year's winner of Wiki Loves Monuments: Chiajna Monastery, on the outskirts of Bucharest, the capital of Romania, by photographer Stratoreaper. Completed in 1790, the building is 43 m (141 ft) long and 18 m (59 ft) high, with walls between 1 and 2 m (3 ft 3 in and 6 ft 7 in) thick. The jury remarked on the "outstanding composition, fully reflecting the mysterious character of this ruin". Nearby traffic to and from Bucharest airport is apparently hastening its degradation.

2012 Wiki Loves Monuments seen as driving new contributors

Some of Wikimedia's most valuable photographs have been shot and uploaded under free licenses as a direct result of the annual Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM) event each September. Last year, the project was conducted on a European level, resulting in the submission of an extraordinary 168,208 free images from 18 countries, making it the world's largest photographic competition (winners and finalists).

In 2012, the volunteer-run competition aims to produce images of a wide range of cultural heritage sites ("monuments") across the globe. Organising the event—which has just opened and will run for the full month of September—has required input from chapters and volunteers in 35 countries. Throughout the month, Wikimedians and visitors to Wikipedia are invited to submit photographs of monuments to this competition. This year, for the first time, the project will cover cultural sites beyond Europe.

Global participation in 2012
Finalist last year ... one of two stables in Sant Ferran Castle, Catalonia, Spain. The judges were impressed by "the architectural features and the texture of this historical site", as well as the angle and lighting, although slight overexposure on the ceiling was noted.
A double spiral staircases in Grazer Burg, Styria, one of the ten pictures shortlisted by the Austrian project.
Finalist ... Church of Saint Alexandr Nevsky ("Capella") in the Alexandria Park, Peterhof, Russia. The jury praised the clarity and sharpness of KoMiKor's image, and observed that the evening lighting captures "exactly the right neogothic atmosphere for this kind of monument."
Smallbones, the coordinator of the American WLM event, told the Signpost that "the aim is to work toward complete photographic coverage by Wikimedia of cultural heritage sites around the world, giving an overview of the cultural heritage in a country or region, even though this is a goal we'll never be able to fully achieve.

"The contest is organized by teams in each participating country. In the US we might get 50,000 entries. The huge task we'll facing is to properly short-list these photos down to about 500—just 1%—so that our distinguished jury can reasonably evaluate them. They'll pick the best 10, which will go on to the international final and a global jury. We're particularly proud of the US jury, which includes people like Carol M. Highsmith and Rick Prelinger, as well as several top Wikipedians. Our main goal is to attract and keep new editors and photographers—the individuals who make Wikipedia the best site on the internet. On that count we've already been successful. I'll just point out one guy who's uploaded photos from almost half the sites in one state, all of a consistently high quality."

There are already encouraging numbers of uploads globally, only a few days since the opening of the competition. Spain has nearly 4000, Germany more than 2600, with Poland, France, and India in the 2000s.

While collecting a large number of images is the immediate aim, the underlying goals are broader. The project in part sees itself as a way of engaging the general readership of Wikimedia projects as contributors. Organisers hope that normally passive readers who've never thought of becoming Wikimedians might realise that they can contribute—even if it's something as simple as an image of a nearby building that is culturally notable. WLM is designed to make people familiar with Commons, using a simplified upload interface with fewer options; this minimises the barriers to uploading for new users. The competition is also an opportunity to improve the international collaboration among Wikimedia chapters. The event appears to be one of the best ways of encouraging collaboration among "offline volunteers" all over the world.

How WLM evolved

The idea behind WLM had its origins in the highly successful Wiki Loves Art project in 2009 (Signpost coverage) in the Netherlands. The following year, the scope was significantly changed from indoor heritage in museums to outdoor heritage such as windmills, houses, bridges and other monuments recognised by the government as significant, and attracted more than 12,500 images. This digital documentation of a significant part of the Dutch cultural monument heritage (Rijksmonument) was made possible through collaboration with several partners in the Dutch cultural heritage world.

Last year, volunteers in other European countries indicated their interest in joining the contest, so the project was expanded to a Europe-wide event (Signpost coverage). The competition was publicly endorsed by no less than the European Commission, Europa Nostra, and the Council of Europe—all significant players in European cultural preservation—with the first two institutions also contributing one of the international jury members. The 18-country event attracted more than 5,000 contributors.

The statistics show that the 2011 competition achieved a key goal of broadening the movement's base of contributors. Most striking was that some 70% of the 5000 participants made their first edit during the competition month; 90% of survey participants said they were likely to take part in another round, and 87% said they'd recommend the project to their friends.

Volunteers from countries without their own contests, such as Portugal and the UK, can take part if they submit photos of monuments in countries that are participating in this year's competition.

Innovations in 2012

This month marks the first global WLM. Among the participating countries are Argentina, South Africa, India, Canada, and the US, and there will be a number of regional events. The 2011 competition relied on a special upload campaign; this year will also feature new apps with the help of the WMF mobile team (WMF Android) and Mair Dumont (iPhone). These apps have been developed to enable participants to easily find monuments in their vicinity—a technological innovation that is likely to be particularly important in countries like South Africa, where smart phones are the most accessible way of connecting to the internet.

WMF RfC on legal fees help

On 1 September, the Wikimedia Foundation published a proposal to establish a legal fees assistance program for volunteers in Wikimedia community support roles like administrators and arbitrators (list of eligible user groups) in the unlikely scenario where they face role-specific legal actions despite having performed their administrative community role properly. At the WMF’s sole discretion, the program would assist volunteers on a per-request basis in covering the costs of legal defense. The scheme would not involve legal guarantees, create WMF attorney–client relationships, or pay for damages awarded to plaintiffs, or their costs.

Volunteers not performing in such supportive roles, i.e. article authors, photographers, and functionaries while not performing their official roles, can rely on the general defense of contributors policy, which was reformed in July–August 2012 (changes). The community is invited to take part in the Request for comment on the new proposal, set to be open until 10 October.

In brief

2011 WLM finalist ... The central part of the ceiling of the Galerie des Batailles at the Palace of Versailles. The judges liked the simplicity and "monumental appeal" of this picture of highly significant "European heritage". (Picture by donald)
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  • While Wiki Loves Monuments is a great idea, the opportunity to improve outcomes by helping participants paying more attention to quality seem to have been missed again. If only people could stop chasing numbers, learn from past experience and be more targeted on quality. A quick look to some of the new images reveals stuff like: "Monument nr. 1", "Monument n.r 3", copyvio, watermarked copyvio. --ELEKHHT 21:18, 4 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Het Elekhh,
There are two different points you tackle. Quite rightly, you point to copyright violations and non-monumental uploads. Of course you always get several of those, and you also get them through regular uploads. That is no big problem, and as you can see already, they are taken care of by the regular Wikimedia Commons deletion procedures. These 'bad photos' do not decrease the quality of the great and awesome photos I have also seen.
The second point you mention is quality. I guess you're partially referring to 'megapixel quality' which is perhaps not always the case. Personally, I'm happy with every decent photo. If we get a few crappy photos for every decent photo that is acceptable to me - as long as those crappy photos don't end up in the encyclopedia. I think that currently the filters we built in for that are pretty solid.
The question is primarily, what approach do you take. Do you want to prevent them to be uploaded in the first place then it would also mean that as a side effect you would probably stop several great images to be uploaded too. So I prefer to take the approach we have at Wikipedia too. Assume good faith, assume people will upload good pictures, and act in specific cases if proven otherwise. I hope that answers to your worries. effeietsanders 21:49, 4 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Sorry, it doesn't. And I wasn't referring to megapixels. I was referring to badly exposed, blurred, wrong WB, poorly described, poorly composed, etc images. I am talking about the reticence of organisers to provide preliminary information about image quality, as they seem too afraid that would deter participation. This is the result of seeing success as number of uploads (BIG counters everywhere), and not number of useful uploads. I couldn't find any evaluation of the 2011 WLM in terms of usefulness. So is this news item focused on total number of uploads ("extraordinary 168,208 free images") as an indicator of success. But how many are actually used in articles? How many are featured quality? --ELEKHHT 22:25, 4 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
The old discussion about quality versus quantity. The contest awards best photos, isn't that enough? Of course you will get some bad photos, some very nice ones, and a lot of regular ones. I hope you can create a Wiki Loves Featured Pictures of Monuments contest, and get as many participants as Nupedia and Citizendium. And you forget that in places like India people don't have very good cameras. You can see bad photos in every Wikimedia Commons day, this is not an issue of WLM. Regards. emijrp (talk) 12:10, 5 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
In case you misunderstood, the issue of WLM is simply asking for more photos, instead of more useful photos. The reticence to improve on this I find remarkable. Until then for me as a Wikipedia editor WLM makes at best no difference, as I haven't come yet across a single WLM image I could use in an article. Instead in categories of popular monuments is much harder to find the good images among the hundreds. Anyway, this is just repeating the discussion from last year. Seems that the consensus is that is all fine. --ELEKHHT 23:59, 6 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I am very sorry to hear that you find all Wiki Loves Monuments pictures useless, but it looks to me that you haven't been looking too closely; see Commons:Wiki Loves Monuments 2011/Highlighted pictures for a list of 2011 Wiki Loves Monuments pictures that were highlighted by the Commons community (468 quality images + 18 valued images + 12 featured pictures isn't that bad, and I bet the list isn't complete). odder (talk) 08:18, 7 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks, I appreciate that finally somebody replies to some of the issues raised. But to set it clear I haven't stated that "all Wiki Loves Monuments pictures [are] useless", that's a misrepresentation. I haven't noticed the page which was relatively recently created (March 2012), and I think as far metrics goes,would have been relevant for the reader to know that about 500 images are outstanding in some way in terms of technical quality. I would be even more interested in the number of WLM2011 images in use. --ELEKHHT 01:59, 8 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
A quick count with the GLAMorous tool reports that of the 168,000 images uploaded as part of Wiki Loves Monuments 2011, 6,385 different images are used 8,962 times in the (main) namespace on all Wikimedia projects. For the English Wikipedia alone, 1,280 different images are used 1,580 times in total in the article namespace; but please remember that none of the countries participating last year use English as their official language, and the images are much more heavily used on the local Wikipedias than here (especially on the German, Dutch and French Wikipedias). Besides that, some Wikipedias have their lists of monuments located in other namespaces than the main one (Project, Wikiproject, etc.), so the total usage of the files might be higher. odder (talk) 21:18, 8 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks, that's an excellent tool! So that's a 0.8% usage rate for the English Wiki and 3.8% usage for all Wikimedia projects. I think that is consistent with the argument that there is scope for improvement. --ELEKHHT 22:26, 8 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  • Mebbe they thought they had contributed enough & took a break this year? (ISTR the British Isles have extensive articles on local sites & landmarks.) Some countries that should have been encouraged to participate include Greece, Turkey, & Egypt -- & to combat the chronic issue of systemic bias Japan, Korea, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, & Peru. -- llywrch (talk) 16:32, 5 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  • I would like to stress that the international team encouraged a lot of countries from the very start. I personally would have loved to have Egypt on board – however, if you remember the political situation this summer, there were more basic problems than building and motivating a Wikipedia community and converting monuments lists there. We also have to appreciate that despite of a small or missing local community (which is one of the main reason for not taking part for some countries), some communities might have different priorities and need to choose their project engagement economically in terms of human resources. --elya (talk) 17:24, 5 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
    • The main reason for no UK participation is that existing coverage of "monuments" in the UK is already very strong for a number of reasons (e.g. Geograph), making it far more difficult to determine a competition metric. Many Geograph uploads are still uncategorised, additionally. - Jarry1250 [Deliberation needed] 21:33, 5 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
      • Sorry, but this isn't right. The main reason for the UK not participating is that there hasn't been enough involvement and interest from the local volunteers (also involved with Wikimedia UK), which is a basic requirement for a Wiki Loves Monuments competition. Organising a contest like that requires a lot of effort and time, and you cannot do that without local involvement; see FAQ for more information on that. odder (talk) 08:10, 7 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
        • I believe the reason Australia is not yet involved is at least partly related to the complexity and unreliability of monument listing. Tony (talk) 08:15, 7 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
        • Hmm, it's interesting; I generated that overview by rereading the WMUK-l posts relating to WLM, but now I come to looking at the notes of the meeting I can accept there was some desire (but not the manpower) to overcome that and related issues. I'd contend, though, that already having reasonable coverage already was a significant demotivating factor, although you are probably better placed to know than me. - Jarry1250 [Deliberation needed] 18:47, 7 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]


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