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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



Thanks for starting this process Michael.

An initial thought, I'm sure there will be many, as I suspect you will want the discussion to run for a significant period and collect varied viewpoints:

Hopefully we can usefully clarify what we mean by "educational" without damaging the "preserve" aspect of the mission. I'll have a think about how to test out proposed changes as well as potential changes themselves. For example, I have personally uploaded a few thousand Gay Pride related photos spanning the last 20 years and many countries, it would be nice to see a scope that encouraged similar projects as part of preserving aspects of cultural diversity and social history, without encouraging the argument that "we have a thousand similar photos of <Gay Pride>, that's enough to satisfy the educational needs of Wikimedia projects, so we can start deleting the surplus and all new uploads".

-- (talk) 21:45, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

I echo the thanks by (talk · contribs), and agree with the example given, above. -- Cirt (talk) 22:38, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Further discussions on this can be found on the page dedicated to the meaning of "Must be realistically useful for an educational purpose". --MichaelMaggs (talk) 09:54, 23 June 2013 (UTC)


Could we somehow enable translation of suggestions and the review? Users who are unable to read English may be frustrated otherwise. -- Rillke(q?) 23:24, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
I'd be delighted if anyone could help with that. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 23:27, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
I was about to offer help with French, but wouldn't translating the pages just lead to parallel discussions? FormerIP (talk) 23:11, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
Translations of at least the main page would be good, even if translating all the discussions might be too much.--MichaelMaggs (talk) 11:32, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

More clarity neededEdit

There are about a bazillion RFCs over on the right hand tab, most being commented on by just a few people. (I didn't even notice them the last time I came here, thinking they were more background) They are divided into some kind of scheme which roughly - but not precisely or in order - matches the section headings in Project Scope. And many of them link to yet more discussions making me wonder which forum I'm supposed to shop at. There should be some better navigation to clarify just which RFCs a person is supposed to read to cover the entire topic, and the scope of each one should be clarified by an actual quote of all the text at issue at the beginning of each one. Wnt (talk) 21:17, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

Wnt, this is a Wiki, so do please feel free to edit and improve things. Naturally there are only a few comments on each section so far, as the review has only just been launched! You are one of the people who have been engaged with the discussion for some time, and your insights on how best to engage others in the process would be very welcome. By the way, the relevant text for each linked subtopic can be found on the corresponding project page. Did you find that not clear? --MichaelMaggs (talk) 08:34, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
I've added a note to that effect on each discussion page. Does that make things clearer? --MichaelMaggs (talk) 11:36, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
Sorry - the first time I just plain missed that these were talk pages with relevant content sections on the linked content page. Wnt (talk) 06:13, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
  • I'm afraid I must agree. A twenty-seven part RFC? I can't even take this as a serious attempt at reform. Either this is being done for process' sake so Commons can say it tried to solicit reform even thought the format pre-ruined the whole thing, or whoever set this up did not really think it through. The condescending lectures in the headers on the individual pages don't exaclty create welcoming environment either. Beeblebrox (talk) 23:12, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
Beeblebrox, I was disappointed by your posting which queries my good faith in implementing this review. You are utterly mistaken, and I hope I can say with some degree of confidence that no-one who knows me would think I could be capable designing this review with the motive you suggested. I take your point that we need to create a welcoming environment, and have moved some of the wording from the headers to a sub page, to avoid giving the appearance of a lecture. Those points arise, I'm afraid, from bitter experience as to what can and often does happen when editors start discussing highly contentious topics. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 08:34, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

I think this review needs a reboot. I agree that having "a bazillion RFCs" is really bad. The COM:PEOPLE guideline has been chopped up and we've got a dozen premature proposed additional words (one of which is huge and was proposed 4 years ago). We need a community discussion. We need discussion points. We absolutely don't at this stage need proposed words. If I've learned anything from the "appropriately licensed" proposal, is that even carefully worded text where you ask for discussion will just descend into !voting and noise. It is too easy for people to pick holes and many people here enjoy that game. I propose that we create discussion points round the hot topics. For example, for COM:PEOPLE, we have issues with Flickr, with nudity, with children, with medical images, with assumed vs declared consent, with evidence of consent given (to who? OTRS WMF?), etc, etc. Each of these topics could have a healthy discussion where people given their opinions, say how deletion review has problems or where it works well. And then after all that, perhaps, people can suggest changes. Those changes might be a few words or a sentence or might involve merging sections or even creation of new sections or guidelines or FAQs. I would love to have a large discussion on COM:PEOPLE with folk from Wikipedia coming here too, but the evidence so far is that despite advertising, this review is not attracting attention. Colin (talk) 19:51, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

The reason it may not be receiving attention is because here on Commons we have so much to get done, and given that most of our current COM:SCOPE is fine with only perhaps a few things that need minor clarification (if at all), people are choosing to do what it is we normally do on Commons -- that being uploading and/or managing educational content. The general word that I am getting from editors around the traps is that the RfC in itself is somehow portraying that Commons is broken and we need to fix it; and this is simply not the case. I too agree that it is too much at once; it will take almost all an editors time for a long-extended period of time, and that takes us back to the point I just made above. The biggest sticking point that I foresee is "What is educational". Just this question alone could generate a million words and still not receive a consensus on that question. I too think that the RfC needs a reboot, with a narrowly defined scope. russavia (talk) 20:43, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
However a review is structured, we probably have to accept that engaging with the minutiae of policy is not most users' idea of fun. Reviews structured in the way I have done it may put put off casual editors, as it does make it clear that the issues are pretty complex and that a lot of thinking and reading is needed. On the other hand, an RFC such as Colin's may attract a lot of fly-by editors who don't and can't add much to the discussion as they cannot be not bothered to read it, and I'm by no means sure that attracting such editors is worthwhile. There really is no right way of doing this. I understand of course that a focussed discussion could be an option, but the reason I set up the review this way was precisely that the existing focussed discussion was not really going anywhere. We have tried that, and this review was simply the next step. Ultimately, if most users are not interested in getting involved then policy will inevitably be decided by those who do. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 12:38, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
Tell me about it. However, the current sprawling multi-RFC-fest is likely to lead to conversations between just a few editors and have no legitimacy. I wouldn't be surprised if some suggested text gets agreed, and then when applied to the actual guideline/policy page, there's a huge WTF from the community who didn't see it coming. I really don't see how this is not better handled by the existing policy/guideline talk pages + advertising. All those "Keep this section unchanged" proposals are a waste of space and very confusing. Please remove them. We don't discuss the "no change" option. Colin (talk) 14:28, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
Michael, it's not so much people are not interested, but that most people are busy keeping Commons running and growing and making Commons better by doing what it is they do; whether that be uploading and maintaining images, writing and implementing better tools, managing and operating photographic competitions, etc, etc; and they simply do not have the time to participate in a monster discussion such as this. That is the point I am making, and one that I hope you understand. russavia (talk) 06:23, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
You may well be right. More discussion of possible alternatives would be good. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 07:23, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
It may be beneficial if we identify the specific areas of COM:SCOPE and COM:IDENT that are of concern to the wider community and have a focussed discussion on those specific areas; that way we can ensure editorial time is better utilised, whilst still allowing editors to do what it is they normally do. Perhaps a "talking points" could be developed first to identify those areas, and we can streamline it accordingly. What do you think Michael? russavia (talk) 09:59, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, OK. Though I would prefer that someone other than me took the lead on such an initiative. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 05:55, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
In many points I agree with russavia. I just want to add another important point: all this discussion is in English, many users are unable to discuss or often to understand. At the same time I don't see a guiding line in the discussion which could be translated. Maybe it would be a good idea to do a sort of "poll", make a sample of the problems that need to be solved. Several short questions, following the actual treatment, the problem that occurs because of this actual way it goes. Two or more suggestions to improve it a line "other suggestions". In that case translations and participation of non-english-speakers would be possible and with some luck things advance. Traumrune (talk) 21:31, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Just to chip in and agree with those who have problems with this RfC's complex structure. Let's keep it simple, just have a few pages, divided along broad topic lines, for people to add comments and ask questions. Deciding (and !voting) on specific proposals should come at a later stage. A small number of pages would be easier to translate as well. LukeSurl (talk) 10:19, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
    • I have to agree, the way this review is done is problematic. I am also not really sure if Commons needs a centralized review. --Isderion (talk) 20:02, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

My 2 centsEdit

I decided to Google some of my images that were considered as out of scope. To my amazement I actually found three that were questioned here but are used in context to bring them within scope. This one is shown at the end of an essay to point out 'eye candy', I think. This one (sheep 1/2 way down the page) as an example of an image that violates site policy. This one I can't understand the context after translation but others may be able to. Ours is not to judge whether or not others may find images 'educational'. I see far too many DRs that are created for personal views of images and tagged as 'out of scope' as an excuse to list them. I can see this being valid for low resolution images that can be easily replaced with better images. When images and categories are taken to DR then 'out of scope' should not be the only reason to discuss them. This DR is an example of that. As soon as we see 'out of scope' on a controversial image then we should question the true agenda of the nominator. Far too much time is wasted in these DRs because of petty 'We don't like it!' arguments. If we broaden the definition of what is in scope then we will be able to provide more images for use and close many useless DRs earlier with far less discussion and thus devote our time to improving all projects.--Canoe1967 (talk) 21:51, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

Can we split this in half?Edit

It seems like there are two main reviews going on here - one of project scope, one of photographs of identifiable people. Is it possible that:

a) we can split this RFC into two entirely independent RFCs on that basis?

b) that we can stagger their timing so all the eyes go on one issue then the other?

c) that because photos of identifiable people are the narrower and more technical issue, we sort that out first, then do the scope thing?

(I'm pretty sure about a, not so much about b and c) Wnt (talk) 06:19, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

I won't be offended if editors feel that that would be a better way to go. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 07:24, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I think the scale and fragmentation of what is being asked is off-putting. If all these areas sprung serious discussion, it would be like a room where 101 people are shouting about different things. Many of these topics are very serious issues and I don't think the community has the time or patience or ability to debate more than one at a time. By all means collect together a list of hot topics (around issues, not guideline sections), and then have a "summer of debate" or something, but one at a time. Colin (talk) 07:25, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Michael, as per my comments here, I think splitting them into separate things, whilst also getting specific things that our wider community wishes to discuss, would be beneficial. Having COM:SCOPE and COM:IDENT RFC's running at the same time as Colin mentions is a monumental RFC that would take at least a year to have a discussion on. Perhaps if we can get community input on which areas of both SCOPE and IDENT are of concern to them, we could have smaller, more focussed discussions. russavia (talk) 10:04, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Support: I would be in favor of this, because even with an active interest in participating I am finding this very hard to follow & participate in. - Jmabel ! talk 15:15, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, OK. Though I would prefer that someone other than me took the lead on such an initiative. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 05:56, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Michael, from where you stand what are the most important aspects of SCOPE and IDENT that you think we should be looking at? Obviously we aren't looking at changing the scope of allowable licences, etc. From my view, and from what I am hearing from other editors, {{Consent}} is probably the most important thing we could be implementing for uploads (even requiring it as part of the upload wizard). If we can come up with some of the issues, we can probably focus the discussion on those things. What do you think? russavia (talk) 06:56, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
I would say consent first and meaning of educational value second. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 09:33, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Furthermore, can we talk first about broad intentions before we get into minutiae? I see lots of detailed new rules proposed on all of the pages, including many that could imply the deletion of large portions of our existing content. I frankly doubt we can get consensus to delete, say, 40% of everything that has been uploaded, but I fear we might have that effect by adopting something with certain ill-understood criteria that amount to that. - Jmabel ! talk 16:14, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

To expand on that: we are getting into lots of specific proposals, but it seems that there is dispute over some very fundamental questions, and we need first to resolve the answers to the fundamental questions so that specific proposals can be judged against a concrete set of goals. I suspect that this is not exhaustive, but the fundamental questions I've seen raised include:
  • Does Commons exist simply as a common media repository for Wikipedia projects, or should it also host some media that are not relevant to those projects?
    • If the latter, what is the further scope? The term "educational" seems to be the current term of art, but it is possibly under-defined, and there is talk of making that more concrete. If it is to be made more concrete, then the question becomes whether we say that certain things are in scope by definition and others are subject to discussion, or whether we say that some substantial categories of what Commons has contained to date are actually out of scope.
  • Is there media that, while legal to host, and at least vaguely within scope, can become a liability, making Commons in some ways less useful (either "drowning out" useful content, damaging Commons' reputation, or making it so that Commons is widely blocked). Some of the following have been suggested as being liabilities; for almost any of these, the decision could presumably be "in scope", "out of scope", "criterion is irrelevant to scope", or "yes, in scope, but we don't want large numbers of such images so our bar for quality will be much higher in this area than it is in general. Some objections seem to center on intersections of categories (e.g. "nude photos without explicit consent of subject"). Also, most of these seem to be of concern mainly for photos or for material that could be mistaken for photos:
    • Example areas
      • Human (and perhaps primate) sexuality.
      • Nudity (with various more specific distinctions possible, e.g. photos specifically of genetalia).
      • Photos taken without explicit consent of subject
      • Photos of minors (again, more specific distinctions are possible, relating to consent)
      • Photos of non-notable people, where there is no other specific reason the photo would be in scope
      • Photos of common pets (dogs, cats); this is an area where no one has suggested an outright ban, but the issue of redundant low-quality images has)
      • Political cartoons etc. by non-notable individuals
      • Certain politically-associated regalia (e.g. Nazi regalia, replica Nazi regalia)
  • Do note that there are possible ways many such concerns might be addressed short of banning material: e.g. some sort of tagging to make it possible to filter one's view of Commons.
- Jmabel ! talk 20:10, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Coup de gueuleEdit

This address several points that I have seen in the discussions. The fact that the discussions are split in many pages is not helping the contributors...

I think that saying "We only need one picture of a living person" or "400 pictures of a parade is too much" is, excuse my french, complete bullshit and completly missing the point.

People are giving time and money to participate in a great adventure, often without any reward, sometimes with a "Your picture of a motorbike going 200 kmph is blurry, you piece of shit.". People are travelling, taking days off, buying gear, etc. to try to provide media for what they think is the greater good. For the free culture. So that anyone can freely access knowledge... And you want to thank them by deleting their work, because "there is to much pictures" ?

In Switzerland, there is a thing called "Living traditions". This goes from parades in the street for the end of school to the Bern bears. One of the tradition is the Neuchatel lace making. There is only a few persons left handcrafting lace in Neuchatel. Two contributors have traveled (on their personnal time and money) to Neuchatel on february of this year to document this tradition. They have made pictures of lace and of people working. This is unvaluable. Who is going to say "There is too much lace photos, let's delete those" ? Not only would this be an affront to the said contributors (who have produced many valuable media for years), this would also be an error according to the goal of the Commons project and the Wikimedia movement in general.

While I agree that we don't need hundreds photos of the Eiffel tower from the Trocadero, I want to point out that a building, a parade, a demonstration, a sport event, a fair, is like a living organism. They change. They live. What is at a time may not be at another. The sun will cast shadows that will change the shape, movements in the crowd will change a demonstration, weather will change the way a sport is played, etc. We really need to document such things.

To avoid any trial regarding my motives, I haven't selled any pictures, ever, and I do not plan to. I'm not seeking anything in the field of photography, and do not work in a related field, far or close.

Pleclown (talk) 10:56, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

  • Thank you. Well put. I can't claim never to have sold a picture, but I can claim it's less than 1% of my income, and otherwise I concur entirely. - Jmabel ! talk 16:13, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

What is to be fixed ?Edit

Focussing over "changing the rules" make sense only if what is to be fixed are the rules themselves.

In the real life, what is to be fixed is more than often the way the rules are applyied, not the rules themselves. May be this could be also the case here. Therefore I have provided two case studies in the section Examples. Case 1: when rules are applied. Case 2: do we need to have a rule saying that rules are to be applied ? -

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Pldx1 (talk • contribs) 22:47, 27 July 2013‎ (UTC)
Return to the project page "Project scope/Update 2013/Main".