Geograph Knowledgebase / FAQ


Why are you introducing Geographical Context?
Geograph publishes photos that illustrate the geography of Great Britain, Ireland and the Isle of Man.

For the first six years and 2 million images, Geograph contributors have been required to choose a primary geographical category for each of their images. They could either select one from a list or create a new one if what they wanted didn't exist. Some contributors limited themselves to a small number of very general categories (moorland, lake, buildings...) while others preferred to create much more detailed, often unique, categories (church (Roman Catholic) (former), artificial fish farming pool, bat hibernaculum...). The list grew to an unwieldy 9,000 categories, mostly of detailed photograph subjects. The primary geographical categories which offered a broad-brush way of organising the archive had got lost.

The system showed its limitations as the archive grew. For example, in this subject-rich photo link the short title and description and single category (Watercourse) mean that other features go unrecorded, so will not be picked up in a search. Similarly in link the category selected was Lake. A search on Lake would return over 25,000 images not very useful. The interesting detail in the description would only be found by a very specific search. In a third example link the category Artificial fish farming pool is unique, although the image would be found by a search for Fish farm. All these images would of course be seen in browsing their respective gridsquares. Photos with the minimum information will tend to be invisible to searches because searches are text-based. The solution is to enable contributors to choose multiple categories tags and one or more primary geographical categories geographical context - that describe the content of the photo.

Of course, submitter knows best. The new system asks submitters to choose at least one geographical context from a fixed list of 46 very general options. If several of them apply, all their boxes can be ticked. At the same time, detail is encouraged with free-form tags which would previously have cluttered up the category list, and which can now be put to good use in narrowing down searches. So, geographical context and tags together should do all that categories used to, but without their limitations. In the Askern example several context boxes could be ticked: Lake, Village, Open space, Leisure; possibly Mining. From these alone a picture forms in the mind. Tags would fill in details of the birds, the tree, and the vanished historical features. The more information that can be attached to a photo the greater its value to the archive.

[edited by Robin Stott]

Photo Contributors

Can I change the category of photos submitted a year or more ago?
Yes, it is still possible to change the category on older submissions but why not embrace Tags?
The old Category system is no longer available for most contributors on new submissions and there is a plan to remove Categories and replace with a tag. You can add tags to images which already have a Category and this may be a more useful exercise.

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