News and notes
Wiki Loves Monuments—winners announced
Amid great anticipation, the international prize winners have just been announced for the fourth annual Wiki Loves Monuments, now the world's largest photographic competition and one of the biggest events on the Wikimedia movement's calendar. The competition is held throughout each September, for which there are three selection criteria: technical quality (sharpness, use of light, perspective etc.); originality; and usefulness of the image for Wikipedia. To be eligible for the international finals, each photograph must (i) be self-taken, (ii) be self-uploaded during September 2013, (iii) be freely licensed, (iv) contain an identified monument, and (v) be nominated through one of the national contests.
These rules and criteria are mostly adopted for the national contests as well, which each send up to 10 images to compete at the international level. This year, 52 countries took part, up from 35 last year; an unexpected bonus was the inclusion of Antarctica, supported by Wikimedia Argentina. Many of these national competitions were made possible by Wikimedia chapters, which offered them help in promotion, legal issues, finding sponsors and partners, and the funding of prizes.
The winning photographs
The first prize has gone to David Gubler's photograph of a Swiss train crossing a viaduct. The Jury's report praised the harmony between the viaduct, the natural setting, and human life; the panoramic view with the blend of colours drawing attention to the centre; and the compositional symmetry of shadows and mountains.
The Wiesen Viaduct was built between 1906 and 1909—a single-track limestone structure 89 metres (292 ft) high, 204 metres (669 ft) long, with a main span of 55 metres (180 ft); part of the town of Wiesen is visible in the top-left corner, and the railway station is about 100 metres (330 ft) beyond the end of the viaduct. On Google Earth the structure is represented by a 3D schematic, and the vantage point appears to be on a very steep slope. We asked David whether this point was difficult to access: "Sorry to disappoint you," he said, "but there's a public hiking trail going to the viewpoint this picture was taken from. Unfortunately it's not visible on the satellite image, thus the position marker is only approximate. Some hiking equipment is nevertheless always a good idea." How planned was the timing, in terms of getting the shadows and the passage of the train right?
||Well, passenger trains are easy to predict, at least in Switzerland :) ... Given the time(s), I use a sun calculator, and together with Google Maps I can figure out the optimal time to be there in terms of lighting. If I have doubts about mountains casting shadows, I sometimes check with the 3D model in Google Earth. Unfortunately its built-in sunlight simulator is worthless for this purpose, so this needs to be done manually which is a bit tedious, but quite precise if you don't mess up somewhere along the process.
The second prize went to Chen Yi Chieh for his depiction of the Shi family abode in the small town of Lukang in central Taiwan. The jury was pleased with how the imagery, history, tradition and narration were all captured in one image. "Excellent management of lights and shadows: they give a mysterious feeling to this abode while the perspective shows an attractive view of the site."
Chieh told the Signpost: "The Shi family were local gentry who lived on Dayou Street in Lukang during the mid-Qing Dynasty, and prospered in trading and shipping businesses. The residence has more wooden purlins [horizontal beams along the length of a roof] than any other traditional building in Taiwan, and is very well preserved even today. The panelled doors and windows in the façade maintain the original architectural style, and a floor well in the foyer provides light and fresh air. Above the storefront—the residence was also a place of business—there is space for storage. The residence was listed as a Changhua County historic site in 2009."
The high-resolution version reveals a buddha in the glass case in the middle, and possibly artefacts representing ancestors or pagan gods. The dangling pot is an incense holder.
Second prize ... Chen Yi Chieh's
mystery-infused picture of the historic Shi family abode in Lukang, Taiwan.
The third prize went to Tamás Thaler for his photograph of the main reading room of the Eötvös Loránd University Library in Budapest (picture below). Taken from a corner of this magnificent room as though privately glimpsing, the image presents diagonal geometrical relationships on a number of levels, and a clever relationship between cool and warm hues. Dislodged chairs and a library official turning away from the camera present subtle variations from a pristine condition.
The top 15 images ranked by the international jury are eligible for a prize. The grand prize is a trip to Wikimania 2014 in London, including conference access, accommodation, and more (maximum value €2000), and a large-scale aluminum print of the winning photo (sponsored by Europeana). The second and third prizes are photography-related vouchers of €500 and €400, respectively. There are 12 other monetary prizes for the remainder of the most highly ranked 15: photography-related vouchers worth €300, €200, €100 (two prizes), and a further eight worth €50. The winners may choose their prize in order of their ranking. In addition, three special awards were made, for pictures from Arabic-speaking countries, and from Asian countries (both sponsored by Guiddoo); and for the best picture related to the first world war (sponsored by Europeana).
Third prize ... Tamás Thaler's
view of a university reading room in Budapest.
The sheer scale of the event is worth taking a moment to consider. Inspired by a 2010 pilot in the Netherlands alone, WLM has grown into an industry, as it were, with its own website, partners and sponsors, help desk, and Facebook profile. This year, more than 370,000 files were uploaded by nearly 12,000 photographers from 53 countries—totalling nearly 1,300 Gb (1.3 terabytes). While file sizes averaged about 3.5 Mb, the range was huge, reaching up to half a gigabyte in a potentially wall-sized image 16,072 × 20,954 pixels by Gangulybiswarup. More than 14,500 files were of at least 3264 × 2448 in resolution.
The efforts of the most prolific contributors were impressive: more than 1000 images were uploaded by each of the 56 most productive photographers; of them, nine uploaded more than 4000 images each. The largest number of entries was an extraordinary 8386, by Barbara Maliszewska from Poland. This competition-fuelled output by the top uploaders was a factor in boosting the national figures significantly. In the race among countries, Poland was first, with 48,000 entries (figure rounded), of which the top three Polish contributors uploaded 36%. Ukraine was second (36,000, of which the top three contributors uploaded 25%), Germany was third (36,000; top three 39%), Armenia fourth (24,000; 45%), Spain fifth (23,000; 54%), France sixth (21,000; 30%), Russia seventh (19,000; 11%), the UK eighth (12,000; 26%), India ninth (12,000; 37%), Austria tenth (11,000; 41%), the US eleventh (10,000; 22%), and Italy twelfth (8,000; 36%). WLM has provided full statistics here, with links to breakdowns country by country.
Fourth prize: a staircase in a 17th-century weaver house at 2 Nadrzeczna St in Nowa Ruda, Poland (photographed by Andres Knotaktowy
The international jury comprised five members, each bringing different expertise. The jury faced an enormous field of more than 500 images—up to ten from each national competition. Did this field present any surprises? Jurist Diego Delso told the Signpost:
||Well, always, that's why this is fun. Some pictures were really original, while others played very well with shapes, colors or contrast. From the other side, some pictures had a very small number of megapixels; they looked nice as thumbs but were definitely too small to show in full size or to print out.
We asked jurist Heta Pandit—a writer, academic, and heritage expert—whether she has any advice for next year's aspiring prizewinners in relation to the criteria for technical quality and originality: "Yes, if there was one thing missing, it was originality. I would have also liked to see some more human element. The relationship between monuments, nature and people is so important." She stressed that the centrality of "the magic of the symbiosis between man, nature and man-made monuments was missing. A lot of the pictures were like tourist brochures for the originating country; that was a little disappointing." Diego Delso told us:
||This year we focused more on technical quality and only deviated from it when the 'wow' effect was very significant. I think that a minimum threshold of quality is a must. I think this should be the direction for future WLMs. Regarding originality, well, you recognize it when you see it. Those are the pictures I've never thought of or seen before and they give me new ideas for my future work.
Was choosing the winners a relatively solitary process, or did it involve contact with the other jury members? Diego Delso said: "Yes, there was interaction among the jury members, especially in the phase to decide which pictures, shouldn't make it to the final phase, ... That was the most interesting part of the deliberations of the jury, with intensive exchanges. After we filtered the candidates for the final round the results were just the sum of each jury member's marks." Heta Pandit told us: "There were three jury members who were more active than others and I was happy to consult with them, but not about the merits and demerits of a particular entry. We just shared our opinions across the board without any fear of contest."
The international competition has been facilitated by an organising team comprising Lodewijk Gelauff, Cristian Consonni, Tomasz Kozłowski, Monica Mora, Karthik Nadar, Platonides, and Romaine. The Signpost asked Lodewijk Gelauff how the competition is evolving, in his opinion:
||I'm especially excited by the diversity in the countries participating. Much more than last year, countries from South America, Asia and the Middle-East have joined us, increasing the diversity of the cultural heritage represented in the submissions.
We did note that in some countries enthusiasm is decreasing because the first time is most exciting—which is a reason to start thinking about the future of Wiki Loves in an open way. I encourage everyone who would like to help organise in the future to participate in this discussion on Commons. One of the things being considered is to change the exact scope of the contest every few years—for example, to natural heritage.
Lodewijk said he is particularly gratified by the dedication of the hundreds of volunteers involved around the world: "In many cases it was one of the first projects they had organised that aims for a more general population; I hope this can be a catalyst in more fruitful collaboration in and outside the movement."
Fifth prize: the magnificent Friedrich von Thiersch Hall in Wiesbaden, Germany, built in 1905–07 and seating 1350 people (photographed by Martin Kraft
). Another photographer can be seen capturing the room from a different angle.
- WMF trademark status changes: The Wikimedia Foundation's legal team has closed the community consultation on the Wikimedia community trademark. Based on the feedback, they will recommend to the Foundation's Board of Trustees that they "withdraw trademark registration and protection for the Community logo."
- Two FDC applicants launch appeals: Two Wikimedia entities who applied to the Funds Dissemination Committee in this round (see last week's Signpost coverage) have appealed the committee's recommendations to the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees. Wikimedia Israel believes that the US$200k it would receive under the FDC's current plan is not enough, as approximately $185k of it will be mostly taken up by two paid positions and office space. They told the Board that "to continue improving in realizing the Movement’s Goals, WMIL now needs more resources to scale up". Wikimedia India, which asked for $176k and would receive just $53k, stated that "Recommendations should be targeted at achieving mission goals of the movement. The point held against us is not that we are straying away from the 5 year goals or targets of WMF, but we are planning to grow very ambitiously towards it. If we can not be allowed to grow faster, is that not against the focus in the global 5 year plan on Global South about?"
- ArbCom election voting closes: The English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee elections have closed for voting. After the scrutineering period, which is conducted by four stewards that are not based on the English Wikipedia, the results will be announced.
- Arbitration report: The evidence phase of the "Ottoman Empire–Turkey naming dispute" case is closed. The workshop phase closes 16 December.