Page MenuHomePhabricator

Postmortem on WLM-RU photos deleted from Commons
Open, HighPublic


A postmortem to understand what went wrong that resulted in the deletion of some of WLM-RU photos [ 1, 2 ].

WLM-RU organizer(s), WLM international team representative, Commons admin(s)

To understand where we can improve our collective processes (in the WLM international team, in the local organizing team, and in Commons) to not have the same problem in the future.

Event Timeline

LilyOfTheWest moved this task from Backlog to Next Up on the Wiki-Loves-Monuments (2016) board.
LilyOfTheWest updated the task description. (Show Details)
LilyOfTheWest updated the task description. (Show Details)

I am not formally involved in the organization, but I am a WLM-ru jury member and also I have an admin flag on both ru.voy (where we run WLM and keep the lists) and Commons.

This is how the story looks from our perspective.

Russian lists are buggy, incomplete, and spread among many regional laws, not all of them are easy to find. Therefore it is very difficult to compile WLM lists. For Russia, we only really started in 2014 (before that, WLM-RU was run by people who were not really interested in quality of organization), and not all the list are even made, and some others are obviously incomplete. The lists are added every day. The bulk of the list service work is done by not more than a dozen volunteers, some of whom are only interested in their region.

Some of the monuments, which are modern monumental sculpture (basically, almost everything built after 1918) is not covered by the Freedom of Panorama. Some commons admins, in addition, tend to interpret FoP very broadly and believe for example that it covers tanks made monuments, or details of free buildings.

Most of the uploaders have no clue about freedom of panorama. Currently, we have no bandwidth to mark unfree monuments. For some monuments, research is required to determine that they are unfree.

What we did in 2015 was that all monuments were uploaded to Commons, and we promides to transfer everything which is unfree or possibly unfree to the Russian Wikivoyage until November 1. This worked, and we completed the transfer. Some trigger-happy Commons users required that everything would be immediately deleted, but finally more reasonable users managed to convince them.

In 2016, the same schema failed. A large batch of images were deleted by an admin who overruled the discussion and said that no unfree image can stay any extra minute on Commons. The discussion was closed in exactly seven days. They refused to discuss the issue and als refused to assist with the transfer of the files to ru.voy saing that I "may transfer them myself if I do it quickly enough". The admin had a previous desysop record, they were desysopped after a vote in a successful request.

We can not transfer files immediately after they are uploaded, and not even within seven days after they get nominated for deletion. We only can guarantee transfer until November 1. In practice, now I will have to undelete several dozens of files on Commons and transfer them by hand to ru.voy.

An additional reason is why we do not want the files to be deleted is that the users who get a deletion notice disappear and never come back. If they get a notice one day after they uploaded a file, they just stop contributing.

A small remark from my side: last year we promised that, should the non-free images stay intact until November 1, we will support Commons in image categorization and in making a list of non-free photos for eventual deletion. And we did this.

This year the deal was broken by one Commons admin whom Yaroslav already mentioned, and nobody else tried to overrule this decision over the next 1.5 days. Therefore, by deleting 15 or 20 non-free photos, you have gained couple of thousands that are sitting somewhere on Commons and should be hand-picked, one-by-one, because I am not going to do this for you any longer. I believe that it was not a very smart decision on the Commons side to delete these 15 or 20 photos, but I obviously don't care. If the real goal was to increase the number of non-free images on Commons, it was well achieved.

Waiting to hear back from at least one Commons admin as well as one person from the WLM international team.

Well, I think a lot of people (sysops) on Commons felt a little steam rollered. :-)
The request to keep unfree and potentially unfree images on Commons is a request we hear all the time and regularly deny. Keeping (c) media is not what Commons is for. If its a copyright violation, we delete the file. Period. So much for the general culture on Commons, which is a good culture that ensures freely usable media for anyone to use for any purpose.
IMHO the problem was the scale of the problem, which grew and grew as time passed. We tried to save some images, I even got an uploader flag on ruwiki by Atsirlin. Another problem was, as far as I remember, that some people felt that people from RU-wiki and the RU-WLM-participants don't give a dime about copyright and the rules on Commons. There was a certain amount of bad blood and lack of trust in each other on both sides. I guess that's what you get sometimes when creating a big international family.

My solution: The next time we need to be faster and transfer the files in question to another (fair use) wiki ASAP as they are tagged as NO-FOP in RU / UK whatever. There we can sort it out without having to watch the clock. Transfer to this wiki and back to Commons, voyage-ru, and maybe other wikis should, no HAS to be done by a bot similar to CommonsDelinker. Filenname, transfer to, infobox + license. It is too much work to transfer files by hand. Good information ahead of time (WLM start) and maybe a SMALL task force would be helpful. Too many cooks spoil the broth.
Anyway, absolutely necessary is information in Russian, Ukrainian, whatever language necessary about what is allowed and what is not for WLM participants. This info has to be SIMPLE and SHORT. Nobody wants to read a ton of copyright law. In addition, lists free monuments and UNFREE ones as well need to be available both at least in Russian and English so WLM participants AND most Commons admins can crosscheck. I know that such a list won't be complete and foolproof. But overtime we'll get it better and better.

Last thought: If we do nothing we will lose many (potential) contributors to Commons AND local wikis.

A reverse CommonsHelper (a tool which can transfer files from Commons to the projects) would definitely be extremely helpful, especially if it could work with batches of files.

Hedwig, let me remind you that fair use entails the actual use of images in the main namespace. Blind transfer of unused images will violate this basic principle. It is very unlikely to gain any support anywhere.

Let me also remind you that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. I have a script that transfers as many images as you want when they are sitting in a dedicated category on Commons and when they are properly used in the project where they are transferred to. The main bottleneck is not image transfer, but a pre-selection of photos that has to be done manually. Last year we did it for nearly 2000 photos, and we did it within the agreed time frame of 2 months, before November 1, 2015. Let me focus your attention on this once again. We. Have. Done it. And it was a terrible amount of work that we were never thanked for.

If we are to follow the same strategy, I see only two possibilities:

  1. We stick to the same time frame this year, and no photos are deleted before November 1, 2016. Yes, I have heard many times that Commons can not tolerate any non-free photos for any period of time, but, you know, I am not daft. You have thousands and thousands of such photos sitting on Commons for years. Fierce opposition of the Commons community to a small fraction of such photos that are carefully pre-selected and, on the other hand, the complete ignorance of many other non-free photos hidden somewhere among 30 million images makes me believe that the community is a bit... naive and childish, to say the least.
  1. Commons provides additional manpower that will speed up the pre-selection and facilitate the transfer process. It basically means that every Commons user or admin who chooses to nominate non-free photos for deletion should also perform all manual operations that are required for the file transfer. And there has to be a Commons admin who controls this thing and makes sure that people are doing what they are supposed to do. The majority of Commons users believe that their only job is to press "Nominate for deletion" button, while people from other projects should run around and do the rest. This is not going to happen any longer, at least not with us.

Finally, you are welcome to propose and implement a completely new system. I will happily sit and watch this, but I will not help, because I am fed up with this whole story. In the meantime, I would rather make sure that Commons (and not other wiki-projects) lose as many contributors as possible. You deserved this.

Finally, you are welcome to propose and implement a completely new system. I will happily sit and watch this, but I will not help, because I am fed up with this whole story. In the meantime, I would rather make sure that Commons (and not other wiki-projects) lose as many contributors as possible. You deserved this.

Sasha, what are you talking about then? I deserve it? After hanging my head out of the window for you and your ideas? Thanks a lot.

I am out of here since you think you can unload your frustration on me or others. I am not a punch bag nor part of the "Dear Abby" column. Seriously offending that is.

Long story short: You started the discussion = you want something. Figure it out w/o insulting other people. BTW: I don't give a dime if you block me on wikivoyage or whatever. I guess I deserve that as well.

Over and out.

I think we can close this thread because no compromise solution is going to be found. Running WLM on Commons with a direct opposition from the Commons community is very weird, but doable.

@Atsirlin This task is about understanding what happened in the past, and improving the process moving forward. This needs to happen to help us avoid getting to the same problem, with Russia or some other country in the future.

@Hedwig_in_Washington I'm sorry that I have not been able to attend to this task earlier. I will ping for your help when we are ready to start tackling this with more specific questions. Of course, if you are not comfortable/willing to participate at that point, I respect that. I found your earlier comment on this thread very helpful for us to understand the Commons component better.

I am just wondering what 'Declined' means in this context. Do you think that the problem does not exist?

Effeietsanders subscribed.

@Atsirlin My mistake, I was cleaning up and was a little too quick (misidentifying the scope)

Aklapper subscribed.

This task has been assigned to the same task owner for more than two years. Resetting task assignee due to inactivity, to decrease task cookie-licking and to get a slightly more realistic overview of plans. Please feel free to assign this task to yourself again if you still realistically work or plan to work on this task - it would be welcome!

For tips how to manage individual work in Phabricator (noisy notifications, lists of task, etc.), see for available options.
(For the records, two emails were sent to assignee addresses before resetting assignees. See T228575 for more info and for potential feedback. Thanks!)

This open task is tagged with Wiki-Loves-Monuments 2017 which was three years ago. If this task was/is resolved, then please update the task status. If this task was not resolved but is still valid, then please update the project tags to include at least one active project tag, so this task could be found when looking at that other project. (Without reaction, this task might get declined at some point.) Thanks a lot!

Removing Wiki-Loves-Monuments 2017 tag as that was three years ago; adding general Wiki-Loves-Monuments tag.