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Relaxing the tightness around “Made for” usage??
Published 12/07/2019 @ 20:01:33, By dsl
I’m posting this suggestion to try to get acceptance that in some situations we can productively allow greater flexibilities about how and when Made Fors can be tagged. This has been a mostly quiet topic for a long time with the occasional hiccup emerging, but recently burst into life with films from Iceland and Cuba with interesting contents. The aim here is to get some open discussion involving both admins and non-admins about what people want to see happening so we can avoid some of the arguments.

As I’ve said a few times before, imcdb has a unique potential as an information and research resource about vehicle sightings all over the planet, and maybe the project’s longer-term future could depend on maximising that attribute in 5 or 10 years time or whenever. No-one else can demonstrate where things are actually found in quite the same way as we can, and this Unique Selling Point is a strength we shouldn’t underplay.

We currently have a statement on the Add a vehicle page that the Made For box should be used “ (only if name is different from original one, or if there are visible changes other than LHD/RHD)”. In general terms this has worked effectively for several years including before I joined up, so I’m not proposing its removal, but that in certain situation those of us who want to use it more flexibly are allowed to do so without Big Arguments erupting.

I’m also going to post this topic within the Admins section of the Forum because there are some behind-the-scenes elements to the discussion for Admins to digest and hopefully reach some collective understandings.

So at a general level and open to all comments from anyone who wants to join in, the circumstances I’d like to see wider use for Made Fors are situations such as:

1] finding stuff in strange places, especially if we have no or minimal content highlighted for those places. I've no idea what local differences a Bloggsmobile would have there or if visible/recognisable, but there'd be a fair bit of tweaked spec. Also surprises - eg Holdens in East Mediterranean countries, RHD Ford Taunuses in funny places, and many other quirky discoveries.

2] I often highlight made-fors in places where local assembly is possible but unconfirmed at the moment (eg UK stuff in Aus/NZ/ZA/Kenya/Malta/Caribbean/Cyprus/Israel/Ireland etc), particularly if we know some models/versions made locally but similar ones as yet unknown. They can then be picked up later if better info found, plus whatever quirks (eg ZA cars being supplied from Rhodesia or vice versa, 1920s-30s US stuff in UK, US origin stuff in Commonwealth probably supplied from CDN etc).

3] Sometimes adding made-fors as we go builds up a sample which then shows differences otherwise not listed in sources - eg discovering that Elan S1 for CH seems to have 3 rear lights instead of usual 2, Herald 1200 convertibles in Europe have different grilles from UK. Without the made-for hooks to create the batch, these things would not have been noticeable.

4] Sometimes, something is found somewhere where there is no known explanation how it got there – this Triumph Spitfire in Cuba is an example. And it’s such an oddball occurrence that leaving it untagged so that it hides un-noticed within all the other Spitfires is a waste of its existence. The point – for me at least – is not whether Coventry made this Spitfire in a particularly Cuban spec (unlikely, but no-one can definitely say they didn’t) but that it did exist in Cuba in 1969. And if it’s tagged, it can be pulled up again if it or any other Spitfires or Triumphs are ever seen in Cuba.

5] Sometimes again having examples already tagged means more sightings of that particular car or batch can be linked to it. One of the other sightings could have precise info (date/plate/chassis/body ID/explanation or history) which can be transferred over.

6] I also find it useful to know that some Made Fors exist to enable me to quickly check the exact name used in a particular country at a particular time – eg mid-60s Beetles in GB etc.

So if we are too antiseptic, we can lose interesting linkages or possibilities of backfilling with more precise information as it is discovered. Tags can be valuable hooks for further investigation which can be reeled in later as our knowledge expands.

Example 1 – I think there is a strong possibility that Ford Cork assembled trucks such as the D-series in the 1960s, but can’t prove it. If we were allowed to label examples as Made For IRL, then if evidence emerges they can be quickly backfilled to recognise this; or if I’m wrong, is there really a problem of having a few of them tagged as made for IRL?

Example 2 – this “Thames 5cwt Van [308E]” found in Greece. I have real doubts if either Thames or 5cwt names would have been used there – maybe Ford Thames and/or ¼ Ton would have been more likely – but again no info at the moment. If someone finds eg a Greek brochure in the future, tagging it now means a better chance of retrieval and correction later. Also noted that this example is a LHD [308E], not the usual RHD [307E] so there’s a back-up argument for allowing a Made For tag.

At a wider level, I’ve often spent time going through lists of different models, cleaning up and standardising entries (mostly UK things 1950s to recent because it’s what I know) and those batches now have fairly consistent levels of attached info, including many Made Fors. So now someone looking at their listing can see amongst other things where they all occurred around the world. That should be a fascinating additional dimension to the info resource we can offer.

There are two problems to recognise. The first is that we have a huge collection of existing items without Made Fors, and these will most likely never be changed. So consistency across all examples will never be achievable. To me that’s the way it is, but at least we could highlight some examples as we go, so that there is a visible pool of Bloggsmobiles in Gondwanaland even though it’s unlikely to be every example there. The second is that some groups are just too big or boring to be worth the effort – there’s no point for instance in ever trying to add Made Fors for every Opel in Spain because no-one will ever care. So my proposed more relaxed regime is never intended as a universal device, only when it adds usefulness/interest/precision. A small evolution in certain selective situations, not a revolution.

End of message. Comments welcome, from contributors (would you want to see a less restricted policy?) and admins (do we need to enforce Made Fors so tightly? Am I underestimating problems for the future?).
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Relaxing the tightness around “Made for” usage??
Published 12/07/2019 @ 21:38:00, By Sandie
My feeling has always been that they were originally intended to have a research value, researchers could visit and learn from the site fairly quickly that a particular model was named a certain way or modified in a particular way for a country using the tags and page comments. Now, bluntly, they are so many vehicles given a made for tag just because they happen to be in a country, the database no longer has that research function and the oddball namings and modifications no longer stand out. That was probably the reason that Made-for-GB was never used for RHD as it made the genuinely interesting GB spec cars stand out and most European and many Asian cars are generally built with a view to being available for either-handed traffic.

The other big problem is that just because a vehicle is in a country, it wasn't necessarily a vehicle specced for that country or sold there new. Russia seems to get cars from every corner of the globe, as do many African countries. "Oh this should be made for GH, we don't have many films from Ghana" is an innocent comment but most of that country's car parc is second hand imports. Sometimes a second hand import isn't obvious either, so we end up in the scenario that we have wrong information because we're not basing it on a reason (visible change, change of name). Even with the visible changes there are the grey area ones. A lot of American cars were never sold officially in Europe but when they make their way here they have to be modified to meet lighting standards etc.

The whole thing is now a bit of a mess. I think we're risking getting to the point that Made-for-Tags have lost their value and would probably be most effectively replaced with a box that simply states the country the vehicle was filmed in, which would resolve all the problems and allow us to pull stuff out when required, but such a change of policy isn't really practical when you have nigh on 1.2m listings to deal with.

As for a nuanced policy, I'm not convinced it's useful to change the nuances of a policy depending on the preferences of who happens to be active on the site at a given point. People make this point whenever someone fancies changing the naming conventions on a few dozen Datsun Dogturds, this is a lot bigger than that. The current policy - for its flaws - is clear, we change it and who is going to arbitrate for evermore as the supreme overlord on what is a "useful" made for? Who is going to update thousands of vehicles if necessary?

For me, it's making big problems out of a problem that isn't really one of the site's biggest problems.
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Relaxing the tightness around “Made for” usage??
Published 13/07/2019 @ 01:13:56, By Mystery Man
Indeed, it might be too late to make it uniform to the whole site. But if you don't see RHD as something special, the small NA-spec sidemarkers aren't special, too, after all. And aftermarket changes from US cars for EU laws shouldn't get a 'Made for' tag (and EU cars in US, too) but have to be mentioned in comments. A 'Spotted in' tag sounds nice (I noticed in my last series project, when a Nissan Prairie was in East Berlin, of course it's clearly explainable).
Relaxed yes, but not unfounded free setting of such tags.
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