(Possibly this should be an extension, or a fork of MediaWiki aimed for
media-managing wikis, and specifically Wikimedia Commons.)
Neither of the current methods of organising media (primarily images), via
gallery pages (main namespace pages featuring many <gallery>s) or categories,
are sufficient. The fact that alternate methods exist divides the user community
and we cannot enforce a standard because both methods have flaws. In fact the
methods complement each other.
e.g. the advantage of galleries is that they can be arranged and annotated by
the user, unlike categories. the advantage of categories is that one file can be
added to many categories in one edit, and they are updated "automatically".
At the same time we can also compare to the popular system of "tagging" which
appears on many websites now such as blogs and del.icio.us.
I propose a new method that combines the best of all these methods, and also
allows for Commons' multilingual needs. Since it is not exactly the same as any
of the old methods, I call it "annotation". It would replace categories (and for
wikis such as Commons, gallery pages would have no more motivation to be used).
- Separate editing the page content from editing the page annotations.
- Make uploading a multi-step (multi-form) process. Step I, locate the file.
Step II, describe the file. Step III, choose or add appropriate annotations -
some can be recommended basd on the user description in step 2. This is
- Items annotated with 'Foo' appear at 'Annotated:Foo' (or just the main
namespace 'Foo'). The definition of Foo is edited via a separate page, a special
page or maybe just 'Annotation:Foo'.
An Annotation has a single canonical form, plus alternative forms, for each
language (potentially). Alternative forms may include singular/plural for example.
The presentation of the 'Annotation:Foo' page will depend on the user language
preference setting. When users add annotations to items, MediaWiki will assume
they are using the language of the preference setting, but maybe the user can
override it by typing "DE:Bar" instead of "Foo" (assumed English).
If the Annotation page says that "Foo" is the canonical form of the annotation
for English, and "Bar" is the canonical form of the annotation for German, then
an English speaking user can type in "Foo" and see all the same items that a
German speaking user sees when they type in "Bar". And these items will have
been annotated by English speaking users as "Foo", and by German speaking users
as "Bar", and it won't matter.
- Arrangement of material annotated with 'Foo'. Imagine something like an
extended category view, where you can choose to order items by several methods
(such as name, time of upload, size), and one of those methods is a user-defined
arrangement. This would be the default. Users who want to make an arrangement
within an annotation, can choose from all the annotated items and create ordered
subheadings for them to be displayed under. Essentially a gallery within a
category. Items that had been added since the last user-defined arrangement
would just appear in an 'other items' catch-all at the bottom of the page (much
as categories work now).
Creating this would be a huge work, but I strongly believe Commons is
constrained in its success by inflexible and incomplete annotation methods. So
an overhaul is needed.