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Commons talk:Project scope/Update 2013/A word on some areas of particular concern/"Neutral point of view"

  • Click on the 'Project page' tab, above to see the current policy/guideline wording that is under discussion on this page.
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{{divbox|amber|Proposal number and title|Introduction
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Commons-logo.svg Scope Review 2013 links:

Discuss stage 2 of this review



Links to current rules

Discussion: Introductory Scope wording

Discussion: Files

Discussion: Pages, galleries and categories

Discussion: Areas of particular concern

Discussion: Identifiable people

Other proposals


Media filesEdit

Proposal 1Edit

  Support. This part of Commons' policy seems to work pretty well in practice, with few day to day issues arising. It is not an area that has generated much drama since its introduction around 2007. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:15, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

The idea of a neutral point of view for media and especially for images is, objectively spoken, crap. Each image represents the special point of view of the person which made the image, let it be a painter or a photographer. Another photographer would take a picture of the same subject in a different manner, from a different point of view, f.ex. a different angle, a different day time, or whatsoever. Some would modify their images by retouching out for example power slopes in front of a monument, otherswould improve contrast and so on. There is no NPOV in photography. --Matthiasb (talk) 13:12, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Proposal 2Edit

  • One of the main reasons I've focused on Commons rather than Wikipedia in recent years is to avoid lengthy battles about what is accurate. I agree that we should not carry deliberately misleading media content of no historical significance; however, any policy against deliberately misleading media content has to allow, for example, historically significant false propaganda; also, I'd want to allow a lot of leeway for things like multiple, conflicting maps in matters of genuine controversy. For example, we do not need to all agree about the most appropriate name of a particular body of water. - Jmabel ! talk 23:55, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
    • I agree with all that, but there is a difference between your examples, and someone, for example, transcribing a table of government data into a chart, and deliberately changing some of the data. Wnt's tack of focusing on whether the annotation in the description is accurate or not might be a way to go, but I am still concerned about abuse, since the description page is not presented with the image when it is used on encyclopedia projects. If, for example, I made a fictitious chart that indicated clearly on the chart that the repeal of the US Military's "don't ask don't tell" policy has lead to a massive increase in personnel disputes filed, would that be OK so long as I put in the description that the chart was actually completely made up and false? Gigs (talk) 04:21, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
    • This idea could be interpreted in ways I could agree or strongly disagree with. It is vital that the description for files be accurate, not falsified. For example, a photo of a woman's hemorrhoids may be very educational, even if poorly labelled, but not if falsely labelled as belonging to a certain Senator from California. It is fair to make an ugly crop of someone recognizable for rhetorical purposes - for example, to show how to do it - and we should not dissuade such a thing. However, we should not have an edited conversation labelled as an unedited conversation, etc. I say people should be free to upload things with any POV, however extreme, that they want - but they have to be honest and accurate about what they are. We have such an idea of Commons as an image archive we forget that it is also an archive of annotations. Wnt (talk) 21:13, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
    • I certainly agree about blatant lies in the description (e.g. misidentification of the subject of a photo, citing something to a source that says no such thing, etc.). But I'd want to see us enumerate what sort of issues we were concerned with. For example, I really don't want to see Commons become a place where we have to argue a Palestinian nationalist's map vs. "Yeretz Israel" map vs. three other shades in between. Commons should continue to be able to accommodate all of these, without having to decide one is "true", as long as each is accurately described (in this case, preferably by citing sources that show that it is more than one random contributor's view of the matter). - Jmabel ! talk 07:00, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
      It would seem, then, that what we require is not necessarily that the image depict reality, but rather than the image depicts a viewpoint that exists in reality. Powers (talk) 13:52, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
      Yes exactly; we can always add text to description pages saying how widespread a certain point of view is, who holds it, and so on. But if a certain viewpoint can be sourced to exist in reality and have at least some minimal notability, we should have illustrations of it. Such as Category:Flat-earth theories. :) darkweasel94 15:25, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
    Actually I think that Commons' policy in this area is quite nuanced and currently works well. Prior to about 2007, editors on Commons would often get into discussions with editors on Wikipedia and elsewhere about the content and factual accuracy of images, especially maps. Editors on Commons might agree that a particular map was 'incorrect', and should be deleted, with the result that it would disappear from an article in which it had just been placed after consensus on Wikipedia. As a result, Commons developed the policy that we do not editorialize on other projects. If an image is in use eg on Wikipedia, then we accept that it is in scope, and leave it to the editors on that project to argue about factual accuracy. On the other hand, if an image on Commons is not in use on a Wikimedia project, it can be deleted if there is consensus that it is factually incorrect. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 11:54, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
    I agree, our current policies (especially Commons:Project scope/Neutral point of view) already seem pretty well developed, with nuanced coverage of the differing roles of Commons and other projects. I think they'd provide useful guidance on how to handle potentially misleading edits of 911 call recordings, for instance.
    Having said that, I think one improvement we could make to that policy would be to elaborate a bit on what we mean by "neutral" descriptions, i.e. that they reflect available sources. --Avenue (talk) 15:35, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
    Well I clearly disagree that the current policy is nuanced, considering my proposal here. To me, the current policy is just "Not our problem". This policy, taken alone, would allow any kind of fraud, libel, photomanipulation, etc. I know there's another policy on photos of people that contradicts this one, with a vague reference to the "morality" of a photo of a person, which is probably sufficient for that subject matter. But what of the rest of the media? A requirement that sourced data in a technical image actually reflect the source would be a good start, but I prefer something more like Powers' suggestion above, that images that purport to be photographic reflect reality in some form, and that maps that are intended to be factual in nature reflect at least some real-world point of view (other than the editor's), etc.
    There would need to be some criteria of intent to (mis)represent a factual matter, to still allow for art and fantasy work that falls within scope otherwise. Gigs (talk) 18:53, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
    The current policy already does what you want it to do: if it's totally wrong, it will fail the test of being useful for an educational purpose. darkweasel94 19:14, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
    Unless someone argues a lot about it (significant controversy) or is edit warring to keep it "in use" on a project, then deletion isn't an option. Deletion discussions are a critical part of resolving content disputes. At the very least, the policy should be removal from Commons and a trans-wiki back to the project where the dispute is centered, to allow a normal deletion discussion process to progress. Commons should not be a way for POV-warriors to protect their misleading or false media from scrutiny. Gigs (talk) 03:49, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
    I still don't see a major problem with the existing policy. Whether an image is misleading/inaccurate/libelous/fraudulent/etc usually depends very much on how it is being used, described or presented. If there are concerns over how an image is being used on another Wikimedia project, that usage should be scrutinised there, not here. In other words, often it really isn't our problem. We can usually help most on Commons by making sure that image descriptions are accurate and neutral, as the policy already says, and by encouraging people to upload replacements for problematic images. Sometimes deletion is the best course of action (here's a successful deletion request involving a misleading and poorly documented patch map, for instance), but other policies cover that well enough IMO.
    The Commons community hasn't taken a hard line against photomanipulation in the past. For instance, the entire sky in File:Mostar Old Town Panorama 2007.jpg seems to have been replaced (compare the original), and that's not only a featured picture, but came second in POTY2010. --Avenue (talk) 10:32, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

      Oppose. Gigs, we probably just need to accept that we disagree on this. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:12, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

    Gigs, your proposal would mean that people start bringing content disputes here. That is bad for everyone: The Commons community (esp. admins) have more work, and other projects may be mad at us because we decide for them which version of e.g. a map is wrong and which one is right. It's just not our job to decide what points of view other projects may write about. darkweasel94 10:23, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
    • People already are bringing content disputes here, by using Commons as a place to get immunity from normal deletion processes. This is one of those cases where not making a decision is a decision in itself. I agree that it would be extra work to do the right thing, which is why I proposed that Commons be separated from the interwiki media sharing function. To me this is the only long-term solution to allow Commons to avoid taking sides in encyclopedia disputes. Gigs (talk) 15:37, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
      • If anybody, on any project, uses "it's on Commons, so it must be accurate" as a reason to do anything, they are using a fallacy. darkweasel94 15:59, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

      Oppose There are good reasons for the current policy, and it seems to work well. Maybe some minor improvements could be made, but there's no need for a complete rewrite as proposed here. --Avenue (talk) 02:23, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

      Oppose There is no NPOV in photography. Per se, a photography represents the photographers point of view at the moment of taking the image. It's the photographer's choice of time, angle and other parameters. --Matthiasb (talk) 13:17, 6 July 2013 (UTC)


    Proposal 1Edit

    • Please discuss the above proposal here
    Return to the project page "Project scope/Update 2013/A word on some areas of particular concern/"Neutral point of view"".