Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blow the war horn !!

#Commons has featured pictures. Having a picture featured is valuable on many levels. It is recognition for the picture and it means that the picture is likely to be used in many Wikipedias. Crucial in my understanding is that it is about featured pictures, not featured photos.

The issue with the current featured picture candidate process is dominated by digital photo think. A macro picture of a fly on some shit has a better chance of featuring then the picture below.

Samo man playing war horn 20017864 edit

This picture is take in Burkina Faso and show a Samo man playing the so called war horn. This picture was taken during one of the collection expeditions of the Tropenmuseum in 1970 and 1971 in preparation of the exhibition in 1971-1972 titled "Samo. An African savanna people in development".

The Samo are one of the Mandé peoples and as far as Wikipedia is concerned they do not exist. From such a perspective, the war horn should be sounded to promote the coverage of subjects in both Commons and Wikipedia. Arguments like "FP status is to notice the special qualities of a picture, not to make anthropological advertisements" mean that only modern photos will be elected.  The quality of the picture is in line with the norm of the period. The true quality of the picture is best seen here where you find a 15MB TIFF file with blemishes removed, sharpness increased, levels adjusted, slightly cropped and rotated.

When historical pictures are consistently undervalued, it degrades not only the value of the featured pictures, it also degrades the value of Commons itself. Commons is a repository of educational material. Historic pictures show events that often do not repeat. Anthropological pictures show cultures that are not our own. When such pictures are not welcomed on the front page, when featured pictures are only good enough when they fit the latest craze Commons shows how little it values what it should be about; a repository of educational images useful for the whole world and about the whole world.


Wizardist said...

I hate those motherfuckers who elect the macro-shit.

The picture you've published is much more valueable than ALL those fucking macros. And there are lots of such valueable pictures.

Steven Walling said...

I understand why the culture and criteria about featured content on Commons might be frustrating to you, but as a regular voter on COM:FPC, let me explain, since you seem to have misunderstood the criteria for the process.

On Commons, FP is for media that have great technical quality, are educational, and are visually stunning. But it's not the only class of featured-level recognition on Commons, far from it in fact.

Insect macros have a better chance at FPC because it is relatively easy to take an educational and visually stunning photo of a bug that will sit still for you. High quality, visually stunning human portraiture is harder to do, and educational portraiture is even harder still. That's just a fact.

Photos like the one you have in the post are extremely educational and invaluable to the projects, but they're not of the highest technical quality and often they're not that stunning.

That's okay though, because FP is far from the only way to get content recognized on Commons. The photo you use as an example is a perfect candidate for Valued Images!

In other words: there's no point in whining, because FP is just one out of several forums, each with their own criteria and culture. If a great piece of free media isn't a fit for one, then it may simply be the wrong forum to get recognition for it on Commons.

GerardM said...

As featured pictures have the monopoly of being featured, they represent the best of what Commons has to offer. Commons is not about critters, it is not about manipulated pictures.

The strangle hold of modern photography does Commons a disservice. As you indicate you are part of the digital snap shot brigade who does not value the images that are high quality for its day and exceed in encyclopaedic value another bug fixture anyday.

Steven Walling said...

I'll admit that the FP criteria does tend to favor modern photos over historical ones, though historic prints and photos get featured regularly.

But to say "Commons is not about critters, it is not about manipulated pictures" is to take a very Wikipedia-centric (or encyclopedia-centric) view of the project.

Commons is both service to Wikimedia projects (in which case photos like your example should be elevated in importance) and a standalone media repository that is entirely separate. For people who value it more as the latter (though that's not me necessarily), free high-quality digital stock photography is a valuable thing.

GerardM said...

I did blog about Commons as a stock photography source. I did blog about what it takes to make this happen and I am grateful that Magnus fulfills wishes ..

Stock photography is what I aim for and the YATC pictures are hardly relevant. What is needed for stock photography are expressions of emotions and behaviour.

Steven we agree that we do not need advertisement hyperbole. We need pictures that will serve both WMF projects and Commons as a source of stock photography.

Спас Колев said...

@Steven Walling: The problem is that Commons POTD are shown on many Wikipedia main pages and from my point of view they are less and less suitable for this. Maybe we need two separate lists - one emphasizing on content and one - on technical quality.

Georgios Giannopoulos said...

I don't have to add more comments here because I already made my comment here. ;-)

As you see, I agree with you.