Sometimes, I spend some time in Flickr looking for good quality pictures under a CC-by-SA or other licence compatible with Wikimedia project. With flickr2Commons it is really simple to do so. I usually upload a whole set, because having a set reduces drastically the risk of flickrwashing (people puting on Flickr under a free licence a copyrighted picture they are not the author of) and gives some context (I usually create one Commons category per set). Lately, I uploaded dozen of images of Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
Now that we have plenty of good quality pictures of Commons, it’s time to put some on Wikipedia articles. On his English Wikipedia’s article, there is a section called « Women’s rights », and I just uploaded a dozen pictures from the announcement of the location of a huge feminist conference. Just have to find the best one and…
This two pictures are both good quality, and relevant to the section of the article I want to illustrate. The thing is, they tell two different stories. For people unfamiliar with feminism, male feminists usually fall into one of two categories. The first category is the men who use feminism as a way to make themselves look good, and who speak so much about women’s issue that they actually talk over women. The second category is the men who empower women to use their own voices and stay in background, fullfilling a supportive role.
As you can see, each image puts Trudeau into one of the roles. I’m really talking about each picture, taken out of its context, which are what the actual words spoken at this event. None in itself is better than the other one, they just tell different stories. None of them is neutral, so choosing one or the other is an editorial choice.
Reading the section carefully, I chose to go with the second category. It felt truer, closer to the text. I created a category for the event, so if another editor adds new information to this section and thinks that actually, Trudeau belongs to the first category, they will have the power to make this choice.
Why does it matter ? Because, as Wikimedians, we love metrics (at least, I do). « higher number of files uploaded » is not the core metric the Commons now, but « higher % of usage ». This new metric is very useful: it highlights the curation work done by volunteers (images don’t magically appears on articles: someone is actively puting them there). Also, higher % of usage is often associated with high quality of metadata, especially in regard to multilinguism. But this metric has also the huge drawback of hiding the value of giving choice: for Trudeau, the dozen of images have value not despite the fact just one is on the article, but because I was able to make a conscious, editorial choice.
Is there a way to highlight this « value of choice » in metrics and reports, or will it always lie in the shadows of what is valuable but not translatable into numbers ?
Photographic credit : Women Deliver, CC-by 2.0