[Wiki Loves Monuments] Russia?

Yaroslav M. Blanter putevod at mccme.ru
Sat Sep 21 12:54:49 UTC 2013

Hi Lodewijk,

I agree that this is indeed a complex situation, and the way both sides 
act is not optimal.

I just feel obliged to note that I spent the whole 2012 trying to 
resolve the situation, while lvova and putnik have chosen not to discuss 
anything on Commons and on Wikipedia. They also opposed the idea of any 
transparent discussion at all. This year, it became clear that there is 
consensus on Commons that WLM Russia can not continue any further like 
this. This is the bottom line.

Wikimedia is about crowdsourcing and collective work, and not about 
writing complicated computer programs while completely ignoring the 
community. Unfortunately lvova and putnik do not seem to understand 
this. They also need to realize that being responsible organizers means, 
in particular, being responsible - for the uploaded pictures, for the 
lists, and for the new users who are clueless and need help. So far 
their position was that all this is not their business.

Whereas I indeed have strained relations with lvova, one can easily 
check that the current Russian Commons community consists of all kinds 
of users - those who have good relations with lvova, those who have bad 
relations, and those who have never heard of her. Nobody on Commons 
supported the 2013 organization, or, in fact, had any good words 
reserved for it.

The 2013 WLM would continue per community decision. There was no 
consensus to stop it.

However, if the 2014 WLM-Russia would proceed in the same way as 
WLM-2013, a community action against it is likely to be undertaken. If 
the organizers believe that what happens on Commons is not their 
business they should go or seriously revisit their approach. The main 
problem is not the lists and not the database, these can be fixed. The 
main problem is lack of transparency and lack of responsibility.

We had the whole 2012/13 to prepare the 2013 contest - they have chosen 
to not do anything and to not discuss anything. Now we have 2013/14 - it 
would be best if they would finally start discussing.


On 21.09.2013 12:23, Lodewijk wrote:
> Hi Yaroslav,
> thanks for sharing your view on this matter. I also had a few
> discussions about this situation with Lvova, Putnik and Reve in
> Moscow, and later also with Spider. I realize it is a complicated
> situation - unfortunately not really helped by the longstanding
> conflicts inside the Russian community (I think it is no secret that
> you and Lvova are not exactly on good terms). 
> Based on the discussions we had in Moscow, where I was explained that
> they were in a hard situation, and there was some serious discussion
> of not having a WLM at all in Russia, we were able to work out a
> 'minimum' scenario, and I helped Putnik understand how to create the
> lists. I'm very glad he did even though he was extremely busy those
> days with non-wiki work. 
> I can't say much about community discussions here, and I don't think
> discussing that would be very fruitful on this list. However, what we
> can do is try to analyze what would be constructive steps to resolve
> the problems.
> 1) perhaps someone could take a look at how the special russian
> database - russian monument lists interaction works. I understand from
> Yaroslav that currently the database is the master, instead of the
> lists. It might make more sense to reverse that: this is how it works
> in most countries. So if someone adds a picture on Wikipedia, that the
> bot reads that, and adds it to the database (like Multichill does with
> the international database). This is primarily something technical,
> maybe Putnik can comment?
> 2) Adding commons templates: For each list, you could add a commons
> template at the bottom, with a link to the relevant category where
> these images should be added. This can be recognized by erfgoedbot,
> and then erfgoedbot can move the images linked to those lists to the
> right category on commons. This seems like something anyone could do -
> one edit per list.
> 3) If issue 1) is handled, anyone can make the fixes Yaroslav gave as
> examples of errors in the lists. Lets be clear: every list in every
> country contains mistakes and problems. It would be nice though if we
> can correct them (as long as it doesn't damage the integrity of the
> official list - for example, we should not add new monuments or remove
> them).
> For the coordinates: Yaroslav indeed is right that there are
> coordinates available for the closest big city. I actually agree with
> the decision of the organizers that it is probably better to have a
> 'clean'  list on Wikipedia, with only coordinates of the specific
> monument. Having coordinates of the nearest big city would not be
> helpful of course.
> I suggest to focus on improving the situation. Stopping the contest
> wouldn't help anyone, and wouldn't solve anything - it doesn't come
> across as a very constructive suggestion. Lets try to wok together
> where possible. Also, lets please not use this list to just complain
> about something, but primarily as a way to get more input, suggestions
> and help. I'm confident that one way or another, we'll get this to
> work even better!
> Best,
> Lodewijk
> 2013/9/20 Yaroslav M. Blanter <putevod at mccme.ru>
>> On 20.09.2013 20:38, Maarten Dammers wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> Can someone please tell me what is going on in Russia? Any plans to
>>> fix it? Please reply because this is affecting other countries and
>>> otherwise I'm forced to drop Russia.
>>> Maarten
>>> Ps Russia is not the only country with problems, see
>>> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Monuments_database/Categorization/Statistics 
>>> [1]
>> Yes, sure.
>> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:%D0%A4%D0%BE%D1%80%D1%83%D0%BC#WLM-2013 
>> [2]
>> Putnik and Lvova, the coordinators of WLM-2013 (and occasionally also 
>> WLM-2012) somehow decided that the Wikipedia community would not be 
>> interested in WLM. Therefore they decided not to make any announcement 
>> of WLM on Wikipedia or Commons. None of them have any WLM-related 
>> edits on Commons in September.
>> Last year, they have chosen to not use the lists, resorting to their 
>> own "database". This database is a deteriorated version of the 
>> official Russian monument database, which has all problems which the 
>> original database has, and a number of additional problems due to bad 
>> conversion and due to the lack of understanding what the cultural 
>> monument actually is. It only has one advantage - there are some 
>> coordinates over there, and monuments can be found according to these 
>> "approximate coordinates" which typically refer to the centers of 
>> closest big cities.
>> They were repeatedly told that this is not the way to go but have 
>> chosen to ignore this critique, calling it "unconstructive". Last 
>> year, several Commons users tried to make heritage lists of reasonable 
>> quality, which requires a lot of manual work. These lists are still 
>> available on Commons, but were not used for 2012 and 2013 contest.
>> This year, apparently after the meeting with Lodewijk in Moscow, they 
>> suddenly decided to participate and to use the lists. Indeed, they 
>> generated the "lists" from their database. As Maarten noticed, the 
>> "lists" are bot-generated, and adding the files there is useless since 
>> they are overwrited by bot. This completely excludes any community 
>> participation in the contest, except for uploading photos. On top of 
>> this, lists are full of errors. In particular, the list on Moscow 
>> Oblasts starts from three monuments allegedly located in the town of 
>> Kotelniki (all three not surprisingly have the same coordinates). In 
>> fact, the monuments are located in the Sakha Republic, 10K miles away, 
>> and this is pretty much obvious from the list.
>> When the Commons Russian community realized that we get several 
>> hundreds photos per day, which are not properly categorized and have 
>> wrong labels, and Lvova and Putnik are not available to help with the 
>> photos and also not available to help the uploaders who have questions 
>> or misunderstand smth, and the photos are not used anywhere and can 
>> not be used, I had to open the discussion which I referenced above 
>> proposing to stop the contest. Lvova and Putnik have chosen to not 
>> take part in the discussion, having a discussion instead on the 
>> internal mailing list of Wikimedia.ru to which none of the active 
>> commons users subscribed. Essentially, putnik said that we are 
>> troublemakers, and if we work on Commons with the photos, this is our 
>> problem. This is the link to the mailing list archives:
>> http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-ru/2013-September/thread.html 
>> [3] (everything that has WLM in the subject).
>> Lvova basically said she is not interested in what the community 
>> thinks.
>> On the other hand, all Commons participants who took part in the 
>> discussion came to the consensus that the 2012 and 2013 organization 
>> was substandard and it should repeat in 2014. The Russian Wikipedia 
>> participants promised that in October, they will organize a drive to 
>> add photos to the articles (not to the lists, which are unusable). In 
>> the Russian Wikivoyage, where I am an admin, we are also interested in 
>> the photos, and we might be interested in working on compiling a 
>> high-quality cultural heritage lists. This issue is currently under 
>> discussion.
>> The only strategy I see right now is to wait till October 1, and then 
>> for 2014, if there will be WLM-2014, find the organizers who do not 
>> regard community as a problem, and are more interested in doing the 
>> job and workimh together with the community. If such organizers for 
>> Russia would not be available, it is best that Russia does not 
>> participate in 2014.
>> I personally will do my best in helping with the images on Commons 
>> (we currently have six users working there every day, including me) 
>> and with compiling the heritage lists from scratch, but this is more a 
>> longer term goal. May be if everything is really planned very well, 
>> the lists would be ready by September 2014, may be not. For the 
>> current lists, just forget them.
>> Cheers
>> Yaroslav
>> _______________________________________________
>> Wiki Loves Monuments mailing list
>> WikiLovesMonuments at lists.wikimedia.org
>> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikilovesmonuments [4]
>> http://www.wikilovesmonuments.org [5]
> Links:
> ------
> [1]
> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Monuments_database/Categorization/Statistics
> [2]
> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:%D0%A4%D0%BE%D1%80%D1%83%D0%BC#WLM-2013
> [3] 
> http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-ru/2013-September/thread.html
> [4] https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikilovesmonuments
> [5] http://www.wikilovesmonuments.org
> _______________________________________________
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