Picture of the Year results declared on Wikimedia Commons
is a media-file repository for public-domain and freely licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips). It acts as a common repository for Wikimedia Foundation
The community chooses some of its finest photographs, computerized graphics, animated media, and related media as featured pictures. All pictures that are promoted to featured picture status are voted on at the Annual Wikimedia Photo of the Year competition. This time, 742 Wikimedians voted to select a Picture of the Year from 890 pictures that had been promoted to featured picture status during 2009. The results were declared last week, and The Signpost congratulates the three winners: User Paulrudd (1st), Forest Wander (2nd), and Chad J. McNeeley of the US Navy (3rd).
The Signpost interviewed Juliancolton and miya of the 2009 Organizing Committee to find out more about the Competition. Julian edited Commons on and off for about a year, mostly uploading pictures for enwiki articles. In April 2009, he voted on a few featured picture candidates, and he was promoted to administrator status shortly after, while his activity on the site was increasing. From March 2010, he has been a bureaucrat, and has made more than 15,000 edits at Commons and uploaded hundreds of his own photographs. "I feel Commons is one of the more successful Wikimedia projects – it's able to induce collaborative efforts between editors who barely even speak the same language, much less have the same interests." This was his first year participating in the Competition process. Miya arrived at Commons in 2005, looking for images to use in articles on the Japanese Wikipedia. "A little later, someone moved one of my photos from the Japanese Wikipedia to Commons; then I started to upload images directly to Commons by myself, mostly of plants, animals and building constructions in Japan. Categorizing images is one of my favorite activities, as well." This was miya's third year as a Competition organizer.
Both editors are impressed with the international aspects of Commons. Miya says, "Just as Commons is multilingual, the organizing team is strongly international. As you can see here, the team includes native speakers of Norwegian, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Finnish, German, Russian, and Czech, as well as English-speakers. Some people are more active in their native language (such as Kwj2772, MGA73, Kaganer, Jklamo, and myself), while others have more edits on English Wikipedia or meta than in their native-language wikis (such as Kanonkas and The Evil IP address). Native English-speakers [on Commons] are also active on English Wikipedia, such as Julian and Lx 121." Julian believes most established Commons contributors are active at other projects. He is well-qualified to judge: although he considers enwiki to be his "home" project, Commons is just one of around a dozen projects he edits or on which he has served as an administrator.
Julian says that Commons, like all large-scale Wikimedia projects, has received its fair share of criticism, "in some cases rightly so, based on the often-questionable quality of its content, [particularly our] unfortunate reputation for saving low-value content at all costs." He also points to recent media criticism regarding potentially explicit photography. The value of the Competition, and of featured pictures as a whole, is that they "showcase and distribute our most valuable, educational, and visually appealing images to both active contributors and outsiders. On the other hand, the Picture of the Day recognizes new high-quality images on a daily basis – allowing for content from more sources and photographers to be celebrated – although at a much quieter level than the Competition." To Miya, "the winning photographs stand as prominent symbols of the featured pictures at this huge site, selected by Wikimedians. Featured pictures in Commons are so wonderful, and the Competition is a chance to show them off. It's a great way to attract new people to the site."
The 2009 Competition faced significant technical hurdles. Miya says, "the checking process was tedious!" She recalls the history of the process: "In 2006, there were about 300 candidates. In 2007, there were about 500 candidates, and special voting software was prepared and implemented by the core members of the Organizing Committee. In 2008, there were about 500 candidates, but the voting software could not be prepared. As the result, checking votes manually became a big job. In 2009, there were nearly 900 candidates and again no software. Checking this many votes manually without software is really hard work! A team-member proposed that we use SecurePoll, but it was too late to adjust the rules; besides, SecurePoll doesn't support images. In the end, we had to run the Competition without voting software. Of course, Pathoschild's voter-eligibility checking tool was a great help. And there was also Kalan's script for voting buttons, which looks magical to me. Many thanks to both! If only we could compile these into an automatically checking tool!"
Julian is keen to see the Competition better organized next year. "It took several months to get 2009 off the ground, and several weeks of preparations and delays. We almost lost all interest and decided to scrap the idea, but nudges from a few contributors to Commons got the ball rolling once again. More automated tools and bots would be especially helpful, as I had to create over 900 voting pages semi-manually using AWB." Miya agrees that better organization in the future is very important. "Yet we believe the Competition will continue in some way or other. Why? Wouldn't you like to know which will become the picture of the year of all the featured pictures every year?" Julian stresses that the Competition is a year-round process. "If you think a particular image should be included next winter, help by nominating it for FPC at Commons, and voting on existing nominations."