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Critical issues presentations/Images and NPOV: A Shaky Relationship

From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy
Submission no. 26
Title of the submission

Images and NPOV: A Shaky Relationship

Author of the submission
Country of origin




  • Wikipedia
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • images
  • neutral point of view

One of core Wikipedia – and Wikimedia – principles is the neutral point of view. This is implemented not only in which information we choose to present, but also in how that information is presented. This works fairly well for text.

However tend to pay far less attention to the stories we tell with pictures. Adding a relevant and historical image is, in itself, not wrong. But what information are we presenting when the Swedish Wikipedia article on Beijing in 2012 doesn't show one single building that isn't several hundred years old? Why is it a problem that we always tend to pick the most beautiful pictures? And why should we ask ourselves if we're really awarding the right images when we pick our Pictures of the Year?

When we talk about change, we need to challenge prejudiced views of the things we write about, and make sure our articles are reasonably representative. This presentation aims to give a very basic introduction to image rhetoric and how it affects Wikipedia articles, and what we need to think about in order to build a better encyclopedia. I hope it will give us tools to be better at avoiding image POV. It targets all Wikipedia editors who add images to articles, as well as Commons contributors.

Note: this is submitted by Julle. It is informed by my experience as a Wikipedia editor and Commons contributor. I do, however, also edit as User:Johan (WMF). This topic has absolutely nothing to do with my work at the Wikimedia Foundation and will have to be prepared in my spare time. I leave it to you whether or not you consider this a WMF proposal.



Interested attendees and comments

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