Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2022-06-26/Opinion

Picture of the Day – how Adam plans to ru(i)n it: Famed FP ace steps up to run main page outfit. Millions tremble in fear, or something.


When a new person steps up to a position, they inevitably want to make some changes. So, now that I've pulled Picture of the Day into my despotic regime, let's discuss how I'm going to ruin... um.... run it.

About me

So, I'm Adam Cuerden, I've been a Wikipedian since around the start of 2006. I work a lot on restoring historic images. For example:

BEFORE AFTER
H. M. Brock - Gilbert and Sullivan - D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Ruddigore revival 1921 - original.jpg
H. M. Brock - Gilbert and Sullivan - D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Ruddigore revival 1921.jpg
Joseph Ferdinand Keppler - The Pirate Publisher - Puck Magazine - Original LoC scan.tif
Joseph Ferdinand Keppler - The Pirate Publisher - Puck Magazine - Restoration by Adam Cuerden.jpg
Hazel MacKaye and dog by Harris & Ewing - Original.tiff
Hazel MacKaye and dog by Harris & Ewing.jpg
SMS Arcona NH 65764 - Original.jpg
SMS Arcona NH 65764 - Restoration.jpg

And, yes, that was terribly self-indulgent. Just like this article is pretty much me indulging my sense of humour because I really hate talking about myself unless I can be horribly sarcastic and poke fun of myself the whole time. I'm sure that gimmick won't get old. Anyway! In late May this year, while I approached 8% of all featured pictures on English Wikipedia,[Note 1] I was asked if I wanted to take over Picture of the Day, and apparently the mad cackling couldn't be heard all the way from Scotland, so no-one stopped me and it looks like I've gotten the position. Not that anyone else seemed to want it. It's actually apparently a lot of work and people tend to burn out on it in a few years, so, um... Thanks?

What do you plan to do?

Given I have about one in twelve featured pictures, every June will be Adam Month, where every single picture will be by me. Or... we'll go more-or-less rigidly in order, to try and keep everything fair, changing around things only to celebrate holidays and avoid multiple similar images in a row. Probably the last one. Less controversial. And I like the other image creators.

Okay, but seriously, what's your plans?

All joking aside, I do plan to try to be rigidly fair. This means:

  1. Insofar as is reasonable, images appear oldest to newest.
  2. Anyone may suggest an exception for holidays, anniversaries, and so on.
  3. I shan't undo any claims I've already made for dates, but shall severely limit myself for the future, giving others a chance to step in first. As long as "step in first" means "claiming dates in 2023", because when I came in we had empty spots a couple weeks ahead and I wanted a massive buffer so if I have a bad month, nothing breaks.
  4. To avoid runs of very similar images, some rearrangement may be necessary. This will be done in such a way that maintains order as much as is reasonable.
  5. Since it's easier to set up several similar POTDs in one batch, once a set starts, it will generally be scheduled once a month for the next X months . If this causes problems (like if it fills the schedule up with nothing but sets), I'll deal with it ad hoc. As an exception, since we have literally over a hundred featured pictures of money, pretty much all of which are older than anything else in the queue, the 28th of every month will be Money Day, where some coherent portion of these will be featured, until we clear them sometime in 2024 or so. Unless the June 28th Picture of the Day (Now with galleries!) goes horribly wrong. That's... still a possibility and would mean changing a lot of plans.

I also plan to stop a few practices I never liked. For example, occasionally sets of images would be put on the main page using a random algorithm to select one to display, meaning each image could have as little as the equivalent of a couple hours on the main page. This seems mean to our content creators, as it trivialises things that may have taken a lot of work. (Also, I'm still a little salty about the time it happened to me.) The templates are already set up to handle two images, even though this is, for some reason, not documented, and it's fairly trivial to include a small gallery where appropriate. It might mean breaking up sets into smaller parts, but that's better than dumping them in a way that hides most of the images unless people want to roll for a new random image over and over.

Secondly, I'm not going to censor POTD any more than absolutely necessary. Some things shouldn't be on the main page, but some of the decisions of the past feel rather arbitrary, especially when you consider what we've put on the Main Page without controversy. Consider these:

As such, it's rather surprising to see images had been kept off the main page which arguably aren't nearly as bad. Both of the below appeared in Wikipedia:POTD/Unused, which was meant as a place to put images that could not possibly be put on the main page, and I fail to see why these arguably tamer images would fail to make the cut.

I feel Picture of the Day should be a balancing act between potential harm and potential educational benefit, with a bias towards running the image, and I'm not seeing any significant harm from running these images. However, I do see harm in censoring them, as it sets weird precedents, makes odd value judgements (seagull poop is worse than dead people?), and just generally feels wrong. There were originally a couple sentences here encouraging people who disagreed with this decision to join in a discussion, because I am willing to change my mind, but... it turns out that I submitted this article too late for May's publication and, by the time June's Signpost comes around, my plans will already have come to fruition, so... Mwahaha?

Of course, some things were kept off the main page for a reason. In the simplest case, the image is unused, or the article it's connected to is too short. Article improvement or finding a use for them might bring these back into consideration. Similarly, Featured Pictures are as prone to going out of date as any other project, so something like File:WMAP 2010.png, which has been reduced to an infobox decoration, might have been worth main paging ten years ago, but we now have better. Likewise, File:Love or dutyb.jpg has had its scan at the Library of Congress much improved, so can probably wait on a delist-and replace nomination, especially as a nearly identical version of the same restored image has been on the main page before. (This has now happened. As I said, missed the May cutoff date for publication.)

All those, however, could theoretically be put (or, at least, have potentially been put) on POTD in some form. Some types of images have potential harms that may well outweigh any educational value. For example, one featured picture shows a lynching. Not only have such images been used for vandalism, but the specific picture has absolutely no documentation as to where it happened or who the victim was, so the harm of making whole groups of people feel unwelcome is not balanced by any significant educational value whatsoever. Something like this, while we'd probably still want to discuss it going on the main page, feels like a much better way to cover such horrific events sensitively.

It's all a bit of a challenge, but I do promise to do my best.

Oh no! What can we do to stop you?

Oh, right. The gimmick of this article!

In order to destroy Picture of the Day:

  • Don't come to me with any issues you might have.
  • Don't engage in civil discussion about any problematic pictures of the day so that we can better make decisions about what the cutoff should be for the Main Page, which can, of course, change from what it was in the past.
  • Definitely don't go to Wikipedia:Picture of the day and write blurbs for awesome featured pictures that haven't appeared yet on the main page, possibly to celebrate holidays such as Hallowe'en, Christmas, Diwali, or Eid, or possibly for anniversaries of key dates related to the subject, or just because you want that date.

But, most importantly for your goal of dooming Picture of the Day:

  • Don't nominate images and vote at Wikipedia:Featured picture candidates to help promote artwork and articles you're passionate about. We promote about fifteen to twenty-five featured pictures a month at present, while putting thirty or thirty-one pictures on the main page almost every month (one month is lazy and leaves early). So by simply not engaging in a fun content process, you can defeat my reign of terror! Rather slowly, but still.

Of course, if you want to actually help make Wikipedia a better place and help Picture of the Day (and make my reign eternal), replace all the "Don't"s with "Do"s.

Footnote

  1. ^ 8.056% at the moment you're reading this, because, yes, I have an automatically updating counter. Used to write a lot of the more complex templates on here before everything became all Lua-y. Grumble, grumble, old fart noises, 'Get off my lawn', et cetera.