Re: Ebird - Rating Photos

To: Julie Clark <>
Subject: Re: Ebird - Rating Photos
From: Martin Butterfield <>
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2017 20:22:22 +0000
I had read the guidelines (and rated a few of the images) a few weeks back when it was first announced.  The issue I have with the guidelines is that they don't explicitly cover what I see as the core purpose of the photograph - showing the distinctive features of the bird.  

For example the 5 star rating is applied to a photograph with "...a bird that fills the frame, is sharp and well-lit, has a clean background, and is posed well. "   All of those attributes are about the artistic value of the photograph, and are necessary to get a 5 rating but if they don't include the key marks of the bird are not sufficient.  

By way of example I'd suggest that 
  • a crystal clear photograph of a Godwit standing alone on a sandbank which meets all of those criteria could only be rated 5 (as an example of Hudsonian Godwit) if it had its wings raised to reveal the black armpits; but
  • an image of the bird which is slightly fuzzy and has a jumbled background of several other Godwits  (satisfying "Fairly sharp, decently lit (e.g., dappled lighting, partially backlit), a busy background (e.g., branches), is partially obscured, and doesn’t fill very much of the frame" thus rating 3) but which shows the black armpits should be rated at least 4 or perhaps 5.

On 5 April 2017 at 22:34, Julie Clark <> wrote:

Just re-reading what I wrote in my original email, I realise that I didn't actually say what I meant.

I didn't mean that there were many 4 & 5 star ratings ... rather I meant that there were quite a lot of ratings that were higher than they probably should be, based on the guidelines.

I agree with David that is good to ignore other ratings when trying to rate a photo so as not to influence your own assessment, but it is definitely interesting to compare your own assessment with others once you've made your choice.

I also agree with Ryu in that people do have different standards regarding photos and that is where the guidelines are so useful and important.

I guess my comments were really meant to highlight the fact that it is important to read and follow the guidelines, so that ratings are meaningful.  

To quote part of the Guideline intro ....

"The purpose of rating photos and sounds is to help bring the highest quality media to the surface, in a rapidly growing collection. Please be conservative when rating media, and follow the guidelines outlined ....."


On Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 8:16 PM, Julie Clark <> wrote:
Hi All,

Many of you will be aware that eBird has made it possible for us to now rate the quality of photos added to eBird Checklists.I believe the purpose of the ratings is to eventually provide a means of placing the highest rated photos of each species at the top of the list, so people wanting to see that species will be able to do so quickly and easily. 

I've been browsing photos on Ebird and have found it very interesting looking at ratings that have been given to many. Before attempting any rating myself I read the guidelines.....

I'd like to suggest that anyone interested in viewing photos and planning on rating them should also read the guidelines first.

My main observation was that many photos were rated as 4 or 5 stars, but when referring to the guidelines they should have been 2 or 3 stars. (Conversely a few were probably rated slightly lower than my assessment).

Personal taste obviously also plays a part, but based on the guidelines I would expect ratings for any  particular photo to be fairly similar.

Any thoughts comments from anyone else who has noticed the ratings?


Julie Clark

Julie Clark

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