Wikipedia talk:Arguments to avoid in image deletion discussions

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This essay grew out of discussion at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Non-free content enforcement#Provide guidance about bad arguments for XfD. I am going to insist that the essay give approximately equal emphasis to keep and delete arguments, not giving an advantage to either "side". --Tryptofish (talk) 21:12, 9 June 2011 (UTC)

Notices placed at:

  1. Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Non-free content enforcement [1].
  2. Wikipedia talk:Non-free content [2].
  3. Wikipedia talk:Deletion policy [3].
  4. Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard [4].
  5. Wikipedia:Village pump (policy) [5].
  6. Wikipedia:Village pump (idea lab) [6].


  • Excellent start. Perhaps some of the images on the shorter sections need to go, but they do otherwise liven up a discussion on a debated topic. and I'm fine leaving the "usernames" as you have them to make it clear which side things fall onto. --MASEM (t) 19:10, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
    • Good and evenhanded. Two points to consider. First, as far as I know the valid argument for "historic" is with respect to the image, not the event. If an image is itself historical or iconic and is the subject of sourced commentary as such, e.g. Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima (where the photograph and the circumstances of taking the photograph were an important part of the event), that's an argument for inclusion -- see WP:NFCI. Second, vis-a-vis WP:GOFIRST it's controversial to say that WP:SOFIXIT is a bad argument in deletion discussions. I strongly believe, as do many if not most, that editors should take a moment WP:BEFORE deleting or nominating to see if the problem is not one that has a simple technical fix. The point is, the person who makes a nomination has gone first, and they ought to think before they act. Others say flat-out that they're under no obligation to make technical fixes rather than deleting images. Arguments get made on both sides and they're not going away. The power of your essay is that it's evenhanded, and something that thoughtful editors everywhere can and should agree on. I think if you come down on one side of this particular issue versus the other here it's less likely to gain acceptance in that way. - Wikidemon (talk) 19:32, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

The above two comments have been copied by me from Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Non-free content enforcement. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:29, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

Thank you both for the feedback!

Masem: I based those usernames on the ones at Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions, and in fact formatted much of this page based on what is there. As for those images, I'm going to be an inclusionist to your deletionist!

Wikidemon: Thanks for pointing that out, about historic. I'll revise it with that in mind. About gofirst, I'm not sure how to balance that, and would like to hear what others think.

Thanks again, --Tryptofish (talk) 21:35, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

Very good start. I suspect this page is going to become very influential -- the admin's cribsheet for FFD.

A couple of points or nuances that struck me though:

"It's fair use"[edit]

-- You dismiss this out of hand, saying merely that WP policy is stricter than fair use. I think that's a bit too short -- considering the legal position can be quite useful, and (for example) often influences policy discussions at WT:NFC on the nuances of NFCC interpretation. To me, the important thing is to consider how WP policy is stricter than fair use. As I (personally) see it, how we stand (and are seen to stand) in relation to U.S. Fair Use law is important, it is recognised in the discussion of the policy on page at WP:NFC, and it formed a very important part in the original crystallisation of the ten NFCC criteria. But WP goes beyond U.S. Fair Use law in two key directions: (1) the very firm principle that non-free media cannot be used if it might reasonably inhibit the upload of alternative free media; and (2) that it is not just WP's use of content we care about, but it is also that WP should be readily re-usable. In particular NFC should not prevent automated unsupervised bulk re-use of WP in full by entities who would otherwise be able to do so. In practice, that means entities who can be governed by U.S. law; since our whole assessment in the first place of what is free and what is not is based on U.S. law, so non-U.S. entities could not bulk re-use WP in an unsupervised way even if the NFC were not there. A distillation of this point is therefore to ask, "Could a commercial entity in the U.S. reproduce this page verbatim -- without relying on WP's non-profit charitable educational status, or WP's online service provider DMCA safe haven -- and still be confident that that would be upheld as fair use". That can be a useful sanity test; it also provides an operational real-world anchor for fixing policy, which otherwise can float on the disputed interpretation of undefined abstract words; and it's a useful recognition of one of the principal reasons for the policy.

"The image must address something that is discussed in the text of the page"[edit]

(Also: "the image must make it significantly easier for the reader to understand what the text discusses", "... being an ideal image to help readers understand the text of the page", "... how the image helps the reader understand that text", etc ).

-- Not necessarily true. Per policy, the image must add to the overall understanding of the topic; but there is no firm requirement that the image or some aspect of what it shows must be discussed on the page. One example of this is the allowance for logos; and for album covers. These are permitted because a knowledge of the image chosen for the product or the company to identify itself is considered ipso facto to be add relevantly to understanding about them as a topic. Other examples could also be found, where the details of what an image shows clearly add to the understanding the reader gets of the event, as discussed at FFD, even though the text does not tell the reader what to see in the image with a Lord Privy Seal slavishness. There was once a proposal, going back a few years, to modify NFCC #8 to require a better understanding of the text, rather than the topic; but it lost support in the light of Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley Limited (WT:NFC discussion), which establishes that an image does not necessarily need to be commented on for it to form part of the overall "critical commentary" of the subject.

There are probably some more things I could pick up on, but those seem like a good two to start with. Jheald (talk) 23:12, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

Thanks! I'm getting close to logging off for today, but I'm going to work carefully on those points when I come back. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:43, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

All about NFCC[edit]

First of all, congrats for getting this started. And really well started. Of course most of what will be posted here will be "criticism", but that's because we're working on improving what remains to be improved, and not because we have more bad than good things to say about it overall. That said...

An interesting point to note is that not all image deletion discussions are about NFCC. Free images may also be nominated for deletion. Sometimes the prose seem to ignore this, like in repeated variations of "In a disputed file deletion discussion, it is necessary that the file satisfy all ten of the criteria listed at WP:NFCC". --damiens.rf 01:29, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for saying that. Yes, come to think of it, of course that's true. I'll work on fixing that. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:06, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Are there any frequently-occurring "arguments to avoid" that would fall into that category and are not covered here, ones that are specific to free files kept locally? --Tryptofish (talk) 16:08, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
A couple of things I can think of that might be worth a look
Unused, no encylcopedic use -- quite often this is true; but also quite often, the nominator may not realise just how extensive a range of images Commons gathers in and categorises as an image bank, so a very real possibility might be to move to Commons with an appropriate classification.
Images intended for people's user pages -- it might be an idea to review what unencyclopedic images we do and don't encourage the use of for user pages, bearing in mind that WP is not your filespace service. Jheald (talk) 23:06, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes, maybe I should actually make some new sections for these. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:20, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
With regard to that second point, about user pages, are there problems with the use of free images in user space, either inappropriate requests for deletion of valid free images, or users wanting to keep inappropriate free images? Of course, non-free material is not allowed in user-space: are there frequent problems with people arguing based on not knowing that? --Tryptofish (talk) 20:20, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
Non-free material in user-space doesn't get to FFD, it just gets removed & then (usually) speedy'd as an orphan.
I'm not sure whether it's currently done by bots, or by Hammersoft working through a weekly list; but the removal process seems quite efficient.
As for the free images intended for user space, it does seem that quite a lot of them do get deleted at FFD. (Usually uncontested, because usually uploaded by long-gone or once-only editors). I'm not actually sure whether it's only orphaned images that are getting the chop; or whether some are being chopped that are in use for whatever reason. Jheald (talk) 21:01, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
Again, thanks so much for the advice, which I both need and appreciate greatly. Here's what I think at the moment. I can expand the part near the bottom of the page to include a new "argument to avoid", which would be the argument that free content must always be deleted simply because it is unused. I'm inclined not to get into content for user space because, although there might well indeed be interesting policy issues, I'm not seeing evidence that it's a frequent source of arguments that should have been avoided in FFDs. Reasonable? --Tryptofish (talk) 18:51, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

Misunderstanding the nomination[edit]

Is there any point for votes misunderstanding the nomination? I'm specially concerned with users that seem to believe that NFCC is multiple choice, and reply with "It's irreplaceable!" for deletion nominations that are solely concerned with criteria other than NFCC#1 (like "non-notable image belonging to an photo agency..." or "image is not helpful for understanding of the subject...". --damiens.rf 16:01, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I think so. Just to make sure I understand you correctly, this isn't about misunderstanding nominations in a general sense, but rather it is thinking wrongly that satisfying one of the NFCC criteria (not raised as an issue by the nominator) is enough to trump failing another criterion. Right? --Tryptofish (talk) 16:18, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes, you understand that correctly. --damiens.rf 18:54, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Copied from Wikipedia:Village pump (idea lab)[edit]

I am, admittedly, not an expert on Wikipedia's non-free content policy, but I am interested in that area of copyright law, and all of this seems like very good advice especially when discussing NFCC areas. I would perhaps add more about other arguments often seen that do not add to the discussion. One that comes to mind is merely "it enhances a reader's understanding" that's the equivalent of saying "it's notable" in an AfD discussion, it adds no real support to your side of the discussion. That would be the most important one I think you missed, other than that, very well done. HominidMachinae (talk) 03:52, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Nice. I wrote a similar essay Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in non-free image discussions which probably should be merged into your essay. PhilKnight (talk) 16:19, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, both of you. I'm going to copy these comments to User talk:Tryptofish/Arguments to avoid in image deletion discussions. And Phil, I didn't even know that your essay already existed! (blush) --Tryptofish (talk) 16:50, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Following up[edit]

I've incorporated HM's point into the "Educational" section, and added see also's to Phil's essay, and to Black Kite's earlier piece to which Phil's links. In the near future, I'll add material from those essays to this one, but I'll leave it to Phil whether or not to redirect his essay to this one. Thanks! --Tryptofish (talk) 19:17, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Feel free to redirect my essay. PhilKnight (talk) 19:33, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
OK! --Tryptofish (talk) 20:22, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

External links to images elsewhere[edit]

One argument that I've seen come up in deletion discussions is that it is possible to link to an image legitimately hosted elsewhere. That distinction is important, as linking to a page hosted by the copyright holder or someone allowed to host the image by the copyright holder, is completely different from linking to a copyright violating website. This is sometimes used as a deletion reason for NFCC images. It is sometimes used as a keep reason (if they can host it, why can't we). Both arguments have problems. What is less obvious, is that if you have an article about a person (for example) and one of the sources is online and includes a photograph of that person, it is perfectly legitimate to put an external link in and say "includes photograph" to direct the reader to that source if they want to know what someone looks like. There is also a template used that I forget the name of, possibly {{external image}}. That's it. Might be worth mentioning that as well and why arguments relating to that are sometimes correct and sometimes not correct. Anyway, thanks for writing this page - it was needed! Carcharoth (talk) 16:32, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

And thanks to you too! Will do. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:26, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

Some comments[edit]

A few brief comments:

  • I'm confused why the first section is titled "Mee too" as opposed to "Me too" or "Per nom". It makes the page seem less serious than it is.
  • The page is quite long, try reading over each section to evaluate whether it could be merged with another similar section, or omitted entirely. Also, read over the explanation following each example, and see if there is any way to shorten there as well.
  • While most of the images are good, every section doesn't need to have an image associated with it. Especially for the very short sections, it creates a lot of empty space on the page which increases the perception that the page is enormous.
  • I have added bolded votes to each example, to keep with the style of WP:ATA. I have also removed the double quotes from all section headings, both to keep with WP:ATA and to make it easier to link to the sections (i.e. without having a bunch of %22 crap in the link).
  • In general, this page should strive to follow the format of the original WP:ATA as much as possible.

Other than that, good job! For the most part, I think you just need to go through all of the content with efficiency in mind and get rid of any redundant, duplicative, or unnecessary material. Feel free to revert my edit if you disagree with it. Cheers. —SW— chatter 02:10, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for all of these thoughtful comments.
  • I like the way you added "Keep" and "Delete" to the !votes—thanks! I think that the section header quotes are a non-issue, because there are shortcuts to get to each section.
  • The origin of "mee" in "Mee too" is the way it was originally posed in the discussion at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Non-free content enforcement#Provide guidance about bad arguments for XfD. It's very subjective, of course, but I'm OK with using a bit of humor to deflect the inevitable strong feelings that come with contested deletions. I'm not worried about people failing to take this page sufficiently seriously.
  • The issue of page length is one that I've been concerned about too. The problem is that editors have, until now, been approaching the page only from the perspective of adding more, and I haven't added anything that I think lacks merit. I also think that, in practice, most users will end up being directed to a single section, and will read only that section.
  • And as for cutting some of the images, that has been brought up once before. I think it ends up being a sort of Rorschach test for whether one is an image inclusionist or deletionist. Per me, I find the images helpful (up to a point) in making the reader remember the take-home message of each argument-to-avoid. I also like (admittedly, an argument-to-avoid that I myself am indulging in!) the idea of using images in an essay about image use policy.
Anyway, that's what I think, and I'm very receptive to finding out if more editors have opinions about any of this. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:15, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

The difference between appropriate and sufficient[edit]

The enthusiastic and very accomplished Wikipedian (who has been involved 2 years more than I) User:SchuminWeb has twice now decided that we should change "There is a well-established consensus that those ten criteria are appropriate and sufficient to establish that usage satisfies the Foundation's requirements" to read just "sufficient" rather than "appropriate and sufficient" with the latter being "word fluff". However, the two adjectives set limits on opposite sides of the field. To say the requirements are sufficient is to say that no further requirements are necessary. To say the requirements are "appropriate" is to say that the requirments are not already too restrictive!!

In law whenever auditing someone's disability claim, one has to seek for "appropriate and sufficient evidence". The evidence is sufficient if no more evidence is needed. It is appropriate if the existing evidence really proves the case. The same distinction is used in chemistry.

We need to say these guidelines are appropriate (really needed) and sufficient (no more are needed).

I see that Schumin has a box on his user page that thinks Wikipedian's often unnecessarily use the word "appropriate". He may very well be right!! However, if you'll excuse the expression, this is an occasion in which the word appropriate is appropriate and just using sufficient is not sufficient. (Ugh! Did I really type that?).--WickerGuy (talk) 20:08, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

It needs to be kept, it is basically an "iff" ("if and only if") condition that our NFCC#8 echoes: its not only needed to support the article but its absence would hurt it. --20:27, 8 November 2011 (UTC)— Preceding unsigned comment added by Masem (talkcontribs) 20:27, November 8, 2011‎
I, too, think it might be best to keep it per the "if and only if" line of logic, but I actually don't care very much about it. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:50, 8 November 2011 (UTC)