Wikipedia in black + Adam Cuerden
This Signpost Featured content report covers material promoted between 16 June and 22 June, 2013.
Blackness Castle in Scotland. This aerial photo, taken from a camera on a kite, is a new featured picture.
- This week, the Signpost interviews Adam Cuerden, a Wikimedian who has been gathering featured pictures for years, and who constantly participates in what could be his favourite part of the project. Cuerden dedicates most of his time to scanning and restoring old, valuable illustrative works. He explains to us how the featured picture process works, its relation with other parts of the encyclopedia, and how pictures evolve before reaching featured status.
American presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln seen in a lithograph from 1860. The image was restored by Adam Cuerden.
On participating at FPC
Well ... it's sort of a moral issue. In the UK, with a strong culture of used books and well-stocked libraries, it's easy for me to come across amazing illustrations. But these illustrations can all too easily become inaccessible. It's all very well that I get to see them, but if I do the research, then hide it, or, worse, find some cheap old book in a charity shop that turns out to be an amazing treasure – which, because I got it, no one else will ever see – it just feels morally wrong. But with Wikipedia, sharing them, and making sure they get to the people who can use them becomes so much easier.
The thing to remember about Featured Pictures is that you don't have to nominate your own works, if you see, for example, a really good photograph by someone else, you can – and indeed, are encouraged – to nominate it for featured picture status. And I'm sure we'll come back to advice on how to do that later. I'm pretty sure my first featured picture was something along those lines. But I can remember my first successful restoration that got featured picture status. Bit of a story there, though.
On the relation between pictures and articles
I've kind of evolved in my Wikipedia focus: I used to be a featured article writer. and, alongside various collaborators, did a lot of the work setting up Gilbert and Sullivan-related articles as one of Wikipedia's strengths, with featured articles on W. S. Gilbert, Creatures of Impulse, Thespis (opera), H.M.S. Pinafore, and various others. Now, part of making a good featured article is finding good illustrations. If you have access to enough libraries, though – and I did – you'll find some. I began uploading scans of the illustrations, and, after a while, started to do the occasional minor edit to them. Then, one day, the edits stopped being so minor.
It was this illustration. And, if you check the edit history to that, you'll see increasing attempts to make an image that, while good, had some printing issues that drew all focus away from the main image, into something where the intent was maintained, but the problems making it awkward to use gradually disappear. And the best part is, one can always go back to the original scan, if the divisions between the woodblocks are important to the use someone wants it for.
Now, about that image. I don't find anything to be embarrassed about from it, but it makes a number of decisions I wouldn't make today. The biggest of which had to do with the crappy computer I had at the time. I literally couldn't do anything with the image unless it was near-monochrome. And I used Microsoft Paint to edit it. But, well, I was pretty much the first person on Wikipedia to really get to know engravings (Durova started around that time, but she focused on photographs and the occasional lithograph). Before Wikipedia, this sort of thing was highly specialised knowledge. Of course, there are downsides to this. Modern publishers don't always handle engravings well. I've seen expensive art books of Gustave Doré's work that were just awful. Hell, come to think of it...
An incomplete digitalisation of Dante Alighieri's Inferno
, painted by Gustave Doré. Adam Cuerden uploaded the picture, which is cropped at the left, in November 2008. He stopped working on this picture after realizing it was incomplete.
On the pre-nomination phases of a picture
This is from a 2007 edition that I started scanning in before realising it was utter crap and stopping. There's a few issues. First off, note the solid black areas. In the original, there's lots of details in those areas. The worst example was in one from this book I apparently never uploaded to Wikipedia (which is probably a good thing), in which a solid black area replaces a murderer hiding in the shadows. Secondly, look at the signature in the lower left. You may note it's signed "Doré".
The problem is that the original is signed "G. Dore", and the image continues left of the G. See, in the original printing, you had to turn the book on its side to see some of the images, such as this one, and, when you did, the caption was printed under the image after you turned the book on its side. In this reprint, they wanted all the captions to be in the same place, so just cut off the edges of the landscape-format images. They didn't even do it cleverly – they cut out nearly an entire person from the left hand side of this image but didn't crop anything from the right hand side.
We don't actually seem to have a good copy of this. Luckily, I have a horrible, god-awful beat up Victorian copy of the Inferno, but the engravings in it are fine, so I think I might make that my next featured picture attempt. Should've done this years ago, but, as was explained to me, if you made any attempt to be comprehensive, reviewer fatigue would set in, and they'd start opposing your images solely for being more of the same. Thankfully, Featured Pictures has moved on, so doing what I always wanted to do – completeness – is now encouraged.
On Commons FPC vs. English Wikipedia's
Commons FPC has very different rules. The one I dislike most is that Commons only allows two nominations by any individual at once, which really cuts down on the ability of active contributors to highlight the works of others. Commons also ignores encyclopedic value, and, while this has some advantages, it does mean that it ends up focused very heavily on photography – we have a lot of great photographers there, and, while that's almost always a good thing, it's far easier for a photographer to evaluate other photographs, and, well, as the number of supports is also based on the standard photographic nomination, it's harder for non-photographic images to pass on Commons' Featured Pictures.
Combined with the multilingual nature of Commons limiting the amount of comments you get, I tend to prefer English Wikipedia's Featured Pictures, but that's really a personal thing, based on my unusual focuses.
Air Vice Marshal Allan Leslie Walters of the Royal Australian Air Force
King Alexander of Greece, c. 1912–17
Barbadian recording artist Rihanna, singer of Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2009
General Walter Krueger of the United States Army, seen here as a three star officer
Twelve featured articles were promoted this week.
- Poitevin horse (nom) by Dana boomer. The Poitevin is a draft horse from the Poitou area of France, found in many solid coat colors, and the only one to be found in bay dun. Since early in its history, the Poitevin has been used extensively for the breeding of mules, and they have been recorded in the area since at least the 10th century.
- Sunbeam Tiger (nom) by Dennis Brown and Eric Corbett. The Sunbeam Tiger is a high-performance V8 version of the British Sunbeam Alpine roadster, partially designed by Carroll Shelby. Two major versions of the Tiger were built: the Series I and Series II, and its production ended in 1967.
- Allan Walters (nom) by Ian Rose. Walters (1905–1968) was a senior commander in the Royal Australian Air Force. He graduated from the Royal Military College and was considered one of the service's leading flying instructors and aerobatic pilots between the wars, and was appointed to his first squadron command in 1937. Walters was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1946, and retired from the RAAF in 1962.
- Alexander of Greece (nom) by DrKiernan. Alexander (1893–1920) governed Greece for three years until his death, from the effects of a monkey bite, in October 1920. He was the second son of Constantine I, and succeeded him in the midst of World War I.
- Gather Together in My Name (nom) by Figureskatingfan. Gather Together in My Name is an autobiography by African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou. It is the second volume of a series of seven, all autobiographies. The book, released in 1974, received positive reviews and continues with the plot started on her previous release, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
- Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded (nom) by Tomica and Status. Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded is the reissue of barbadian singer Rihanna's third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad. Released in June 2008, it commemorated the first anniversary of the set, and included newly recorded material. The re-release received generally positive reviews from music critics, and featured four commercially successful singles.
- Millennium Force (nom) by Astros4477. The Millennium Force is a steel roller coaster built by Intamin Worldwide at the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. It was the fourteenth roller coaster to be built at the park, and became the biggest investment in the park's history at the time of its construction. The Millennium Force was the first complete circuit roller coaster to exceed 300 feet (91 m) high in the world.
- Deadalive (nom) by Gen. Quon. "Deadalive" is the fifteenth episode of the eighth season of the science fiction television series The X-Files. It became a story milestone for the series, re-introducing Duchovny after his abduction by aliens planning to colonize Earth in the seventh-season finale. The episode received a Nielsen household rating of 7.3 and was watched by 12.4 million viewers.
- Paul Kagame (nom) by Amakuru. Kagame is the sixth and current President of Rwanda. He ascended to office after the resignation of his predecessor Pasteur Bizimungu, who held the post since 1994. Kagame also commanded the rebel force that ended the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, and was considered Rwanda's de facto leader during the governorship of his predecessor.
- Walter Krueger (nom) by Hawkeye7. Krueger (1881–1967) was an American soldier and general officer best known for his command of the Sixth United States Army in the South West Pacific Area during World War II. Krueger served in a number of command and staff positions, and attended the Naval War College before assuming command of the Third Army in 1941. He was then sent to command the Sixth Army and Alamo Force, which he led in a series of victorious campaigns against the Japanese.
- Gospel of the Ebionites (nom) by Ignocrates. The Gospel of the Ebionites is the name scholars give to an apocryphal gospel that supposedly belonged to a sect known as the Ebionites. It consists of seven short quotations discovered in a heresiology known as the Panarion, written by Epiphanius of Salamis, and its original title remains unknown. The text is a gospel harmony composed in Greek, and is believed to have been written during the middle of the 2nd century.
- Pisco Sour (nom) by MarshalN20. The Pisco Sour is a cocktail whose name is a combination of the word pisco, which is its base liquor, and the term sour, in reference to sour citrus juice. It originated in Lima, Peru, and was invented by American bartender Victor Vaughn Morris in the early 1920s. The cocktail is recognized as the national drink in both Chile and Peru, with the latter celebrating a yearly public holiday in its honor.
The painting Ophelia
by John Everett Millais.
Six featured pictures were promoted this week.
- Blackness Castle (nom) created by Dr John Wells and nominated by Nev1. Blackness Castle in Scotland was built in the 1440s on a promontory projecting north into the Firth of Forth. It has been used as a prison, artillery fortification, and ammunition depot at various times in its history. It is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument cared for by the government agency Historic Scotland. The photo was taken with a camera suspended from a kite line.
- Caridoid escape reaction (nom) created by Uwe Kils and nominated by Dllu. The caridoid escape reaction is a complex escape mechanism of crustaceans such as lobsters and krill. It helps the crustacean to escape from predators.
- Common Blackbird (nom) created by Andreas Trepte and nominated by Nikhilb239. The Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) is a thrush. It is unrelated to the New World Blackbird. The Common Blackbird may be found in many parts of the world including Europe, North Africa, Australia, Asia, and New Zealand. It has a number of subspecies.
- Ophelia by Millais (nom) created by British artist Sir John Everett Millais (1829–96) and nominated by Cowtowner. Ophelia is part of the Tate Britain art gallery collection. The painting depicts the fictional character from William Shakespeare's well-known play Hamlet. Although criticized in Millais' time, it has since been praised by surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and Japanese author Natsume Sōseki. The painting is popular in Japan and has twice been exhibited in Tokyo.
- Abraham Lincoln 1860 (nom) created by Thomas Hicks (artist) and Leopold Grozelier, restored and nominated by Adam Cuerden. Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) was the 16th President of the United States. According to the Library of Congress, "Thomas Hicks painted a portrait of Lincoln at his office in Springfield specifically for this lithograph." The painting is held by the Chicago Historical Society.
- Tunnel View (nom) created and nominated by Diliff. Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park, California, United States, is a viewpoint on State Route 41. It is a popular tourist attraction. The photo was taken on 16 May 2013.