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Photo Quality Rating Guidelines

Any photo and sound in the eBird/Macaulay Library collection can be rated. When you're adding the media to your checklist, you can click the star icons next to the image, or you can rate it later from the Media Search tool or when viewing images on someone's Profile Page.

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

Rating Photos

Each image has a star rating associated with it, ranging from 1 to 5. This rating is meant to evaluate the quality of the image, not the quality of the bird in the image. A great photo of a common or drab looking bird should be 5 stars, and a low-quality image of a rare or beautiful bird should be 1 star. You can rate the images you upload, but they can also be voted on by anyone signed into eBird through our community-based rating system. Be sure to add a quality rating to each photograph that you upload, using the suggestions below, and feel free to rate photos taken by others using the same guidelines. Helping to assign an accurate rating to your own images and those of others will improve the usefulness of the collection.

Here are our suggestions for each star rating:

1-star: The lowest-quality of images that are still identifiable. This might include very distant record shots (e.g., mile-distant digiscopes), images that are very grainy, extremely small in the frame, or out-of-focus. Barely identifiable.

2-star: Fairly poor images. They may be out of focus, grainy, poorly lit, and/or with much of the bird obscured. 

3-star: Mid-quality images. They may be less than perfectly sharp, only decently lit (e.g., dappled lighting, partially backlit), be partially obscured, or have something else that prevents them from reaching 4- or 5-star quality.  

4-starImages that are quite good, but not fully 5-star worthy. 4-star photos are ones that have a bird that is in focus, but it might have mediocre lighting (e.g., sidelit) or be partially obscured in a tree. It is still a great photograph.

5-starThe best images possible. The bird should be sharp and well-lit, have a clean background, nice composition, and be posed well. Please reserve this for rating for the very best photos.
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