One Million Images

Stockholm Palace. An entry from last year’s Wiki Loves Monuments. Photo by Arild Vågen CC-BY-SA 3.0.

One million images uploaded so far to the world’s largest photo contest – Wiki Loves Monuments.

In this year’s competition so far 150,000 images from 40 different countries have been uploaded. This means that since Wiki Loves Monuments started four years ago more than 1,000,000 photos of cultural heritage have been shared through Wikimedia Commons.

Wiki Loves Monuments is the world’s largest photography contest, and aims to collect images under a free licence for use on Wikimedia sites to document historic sites and monuments. Now in its fourth year, 5,000 people from around the world have taken part this month.

Volunteer Wikimedians organise the contest in each country, with the winning photos from national contests elevated to an international jury in November. The international jury will announce the top ten international photos and the overall best picture winner in December.

“With over one million free images of heritage sites across the world, Wiki Loves Monuments is one of the world’s most important projects dealing with history today”, says Deror Lin, the international coordinator of the competition. “Year after year, volunteers document hundreds of thousands of heritage sites across the world, upload the images to the Internet under a free licence, for the benefit of the current generation and the next generations. These people display the splendor of creativity and culture in their countries”.

The photos will be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under a free licence, so they can be used by anybody, for any purpose, as long as the photographer is credited. Many of the photos will appear in Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia, and all will be available to download at no cost.

What happens when you release photos on Wikimedia Commons?

The London Eye at night. Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net).

This post was written by Mike Peel

I started making my photographs available on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons licence in 2006. Since then, I have uploaded over 3,500 photos to Commons, and I plan to upload many thousands more in the future. The main reason I started to upload my photos was to illustrate Wikipedia articles, and that’s still a big reason why I have continued doing so. However, only 16% of the images I’ve uploaded are currently used on the Wikimedia projects. So, why am I continuing to upload so many images?

My hope is that, in the long run, my photos will help preserve history. I hope that they will provide a record of the state of things today to others looking back at this time in the future, in a similar way to how we look at 50-year-old photos today. I want to make sure that those looking back on our history don’t have to worry about the copyright of those images, but can freely use them in their own projects.

However, there is a great shorter-term outcome that keeps me motivated to continue uploading my photographs: how people have been making use of my photos today in ways I never anticipated when uploading them. Some examples of this (amongst many others) include:

 

Michael Nielsen. Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net).

  • In December 2007 I took a photo of the London Eye; I uploaded it to Commons a month later. I was taken aback in August 2008 when I got an email out of the blue from a couple who had recently gotten engaged on the London Eye – they’d found my photo and loved it so much that they had it printed on canvas. Due to a mistake by the delivery company, they accidentally received two copies of it – so they got in touch with me and sent me the extra copy! To this day this print acts as a focal point for my flat.
  • At Science Online London 2011, which took place at the British Library, I took a photo of Michael Nielsen. The photo was subsequently published by the New York Times, with Michael Nielsen letting me know that this had happened.
  • More recently, I was contacted by Nature Cymru who wanted to let me know that they had used one of my photos in their latest edition – a picture of seagulls nesting in Conwy Castle. I uploaded this photo as part of a series of photos I took of Conwy Castle, and this was the photo I expected to be of least use – but it turned out to be the first of this set of photos to be reused.

 

Seagulls nesting at Conwy Castle. Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net).

One of the lessons I’ve learnt throughout this is that, realistically, no-one respects the licence that your photo is licensed under – they’ll simply use it for their purposes. If you try to keep full copyright of your photo and deny people the use of the image, then you’ll be ignored – but if you release it under a free license then you’ll be able to reasonably ask for proper attribution. Also, people will generally go out of their way to let you know that they are using your image under a free license, if you ask them to, but if you restrict the use of the image then they’ll simply use it without letting you know.

Wiki Loves Monuments returns to the UK!

After a very successful first year in 2013, we’re pleased to announce that the UK will be taking part in the Wiki Loves Monuments photo contest again this year. This time we’ve broadened our range of eligible subjects to include all grades and categories of Listed buildings, plus Scheduled Monuments. See our eligible subjects page for full details.

If you want to get involved in organising this year’s competition, please join the mailing list.

Remember that only photos uploaded during September 2014 will count towards the competition, but they can be taken at any time so feel free to get snapping now!

Common errors – camera handling

Please try to avoid these common errors, as they make your photographs much less useful.

Click on the right of the main image to step through the errors.

Common errors – auto settings

Please try to avoid these common errors, as they make your photographs much less useful.

Click on the right of the main image to step through the errors.

Common errors – subjects

Please try to avoid these common errors, as they make your photographs much less useful.

Click on the right of the main image to step through the errors.

Why are we doing this?

This article was originally posted to http://www.wikilovesmonuments.org on 29 December 2012 by , one of the international organizers.

In the past year, we’ve often had the question “why are you doing this?”. Many people outside the Wikimedia movement assume at first that this must be a professional job for me, as one of the organizers – and when you explain that we’re doing this almost fully by volunteers, and hundreds of them, people are often flabbergasted.

Volunteers who helped organize Wiki Loves Monuments. Photo: Pierre Selim, CC BY-SA

Wikipedia is written by volunteers, and Wiki Loves Monuments is primarily organized by volunteers. In that sense, both are very much the same. But Wiki Loves Monuments doesn’t stand on itself as a project, like Wikipedia does. So when people think about why volunteers are working on organizing this mega photo contest, they first assume that it must be about all the photos we’re collecting – because we all love photography.

And of course, that plays a role. But there’s more to it. For example, it is a great way to develop more skills and enthusiasm in our chapters. Wiki Loves Monuments is a well documented initiative, which makes it easier to organize. Some infrastructure is already in place, and it is a good excuse to get in touch with potential partners who are into cultural heritage in their country. The combination of promoting local cultural heritage, a competition element and Wikipedia has proven to be a golden one.

But more importantly, as a movement we have been working to get more people involved in contributing to Wikipedia and its sister projects. And that is just what Wiki Loves Monuments is: an easier and nicer way to contribute content to Wikipedia! You can upload photos which you know will be useful, and you can see the result of it rather quickly. The interface is simplified and if you get the hang of it you already know a topic you can move forward. We get in touch with people we’d normally hardly meet: people who love cultural heritage you can find on the streets: houses, churches, temples, castles or other tangible heritage. Some of these people, often a bit older than the average Wikipedian (27 year old man), might become more interested in editing on cultural heritage topics on Wikipedia.

But maybe the key reason why we’re doing this all is awareness. Making people aware that Wikipedia is run by volunteers. Making people aware that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone. Making people aware that they have much valuable material that can be shared under a free license. Making people aware that they can choose for their photos and writings to lie on the shelf, unused, or to be published under a free license, be re-used by others and built upon. Working, step by step, to that world where every person can share in the sum of all human knowledge.