On 12 February, the third annual Picture of the Year Awards at Wikimedia Commons began the first round of voting, which will last until 26 February. All editors with at least 200 edits before 1 January 2009 are eligible to vote.
Picture of the Year is a contest that seeks to celebrate the best content that has gone through Commons' Featured Picture process in the previous year. Begun by Alvesgaspar in late 2006, Picture of the Year has become a much-beloved tradition throughout Wikimedia projects. For 2008 there are 501 new Featured Pictures, compared to 514 in 2007 and 321 in 2006.
A few changes have been made this year, due to various problems that left no-one in the committee able to pull the project together. A new committee stepped in, and a simplified voting scheme - not using the anonymous, automated vote-counting of previous years - has been implemented. To both celebrate the various types of content that go into featured pictures, and to allow voting to be tallied more easily, awards will be given in a variety of categories this year, and the top 10% of each category will go on to compete for the overall Picture of the Year award.
Voters are allowed to vote for as many images as they like, and are encouraged to vote in as many of the award categories as they feel able to judge. Voting is done simply by going to the gallery, choosing the images that you like best, clicking on the "Vote" button below those images, and adding your name to the list of votes for that image.
The final round of voting will begin in early March, once all the votes from the previous round have been tallied and confirmed.
Winners in previous years
1st place: Aurora Borealis, by United States Air Force employee Senior Airman Joshua Strang (public domain)
2nd place: Homeless man in Paris, by Eric Pouhier (CC-BY-SA-2.5)