Wikimedia Commons: Two million files and a bright future
Wikimedia Commons, the multilingual free-content media repository managed by the Wikimedia Foundation, reached the milestone of two million uploaded files on October 9, 2007, less than a year after it reached one million. This makes Wikimedia Commons the fastest growing large Wikimedia project. The rapid growth reflects the young age of the project, launched just over three years ago in September 2004. Since March 2007, Wikimedia Commons has routinely had over 100,000 files uploaded every single month. It is now not uncommon for over 5,000 files to be uploaded in a single day. The largest single-day figure so far has been the 9th of September 2007, when a huge 9719 files were uploaded in a mere 24 hours.
Two million is a minor notch on the statistical belt for Wikimedia Commons, as the community focuses on technical and social tools and measures to make the collection easier to use and navigate. Since the one millionth upload in November 2006, numerous inventions have dotted the Wikimedia Commons landscape. They include the following:
Picture of the Year competition - the world's largest open content images poll
In 2006 Wikimedia Commons held its first ever Picture of the Year competition. Wikimedians were invited to vote on all the images that became recognised as Featured Pictures during that year. The competition provided a great opportunity for casual users to celebrate and enjoy the jewels in Wikimedia Commons' crown. Over 600 Wikimedians voted in two rounds of voting.
- 2: Sans domicile fixe in Paris, by Wikimedian Eric Pouhier (CC-BY-SA-2.5)
Equal #3: Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) bird, by Wikimedian Mdf (GFDL)
Equal #3: Hoverflies (Melangyna viridiceps) mating in midair, by Wikimedian Fir0002 (GFDL)
An archive of all the images that were entered in the competition (over 200) is available for download.
The Quality Images project, which was started in June 2006, passed over a thousand images in less than a year. In fact the milestone passed so quickly no one noticed for another 160-odd images!
The Quality Images process is similar to that of Featured Pictures in recognition of high quality work, but lacks that process' requirement for "particularly extraordinary, impressive or outstanding" works. It also only accepts self-nominations by Wikimedians, rather than (for example) public domain material or works from a third party.
Quality Images are growing at a fantastic rate as more and more Wikimedians warm to the simpler criteria and easier process for getting involved. In the last two months alone over five hundred new Quality Images have been recognised, which speaks for itself as an outstanding success on behalf of the users who participate in this process.
No, not the ship... although this Mayflower does help you navigate. One of the most exciting tools to accompany Wikimedia Commons, Mayflower is a custom-written image search engine for the media database. Decent up-to-date search capability? Tick. Image thumbnails? Tick. License, author and file size/dimension information? Tick. Ability to require or exclude specific categories? Tick. Search by file type? Tick. Search by file size? Tick. Search by upload date? Tick. Available in over a dozen interface languages? Tick. Open source? Tick.
Mayflower is a giant "tick" for Wikimedia Commons and a now indispensible tool for any user. The only tick we can't give, sadly, is for full integration into the MediaWiki engine. Feeling inspired? Then please let us know.
Bookmark it now: http://tools.wikimedia.de/~tangotango/mayflower/
Ever seen a mashup with data stuck on interactive maps? Wouldn't it be cool if Wikimedia Commons images could be indexed that way?
Geocoded images can be browsed spatially either directly in the web browser using the new WikiMiniAtlas feature or in the popular Google Earth software. Compared to other online image services with geographical coordinates, changes and additions to Wikimedia Commons are visible instantly, or as soon as they get through to the database. Corrections to geocoding can be done directly by the person who notices an error, instead of suggesting a correction. As is common in a wiki environment, every change is reviewed by a number of editors.
People who enjoy looking at photos and satellite images will be at the right place on Commons. A large part of the well described encyclopedic media on Commons is still without exact geographical coordinates, and enthusiasts are needed to compare the available data and give the media a location.
- GeoCommons integrates directly with Google Earth: http://tools.wikimedia.de/~para/GeoCommons/
- WikiMiniAtlas is available as a standalone page: http://tools.wikimedia.de/~dschwen/commons_geo/map.html
Read more: Commons:Geocoding
Improved video and audio playback
Wikimedia Commons uses Ogg as the free format for encoding audio and video files. However a lack of built-in support for Ogg in many media players has rendered much of the multimedia content virtually invisible. But no more! Thanks to MediaWiki extension that uses a Java applet for Ogg playback, the "dark matter" of Ogg has become light. This is likely to greatly increase both the uploading and use of Ogg audio and video.
Really Simple Syndication...get the latest content added to a particular category via your feed reader...be nice, wouldn't it? Or maybe a feed of a particular user's uploads? Well this particular dream has arrived, and not a moment too soon.
The answer is Catfood: http://tools.wikimedia.de/~magnus/catfood.php
Not a very exciting topic at the best of times, good documentation is nonetheless an essential aspect of any tech community. While always a work in progress, one key document that has had particular attention is Commons:Reusing content outside Wikimedia. Navigating the world of free licenses can be bewildering to even the most legally-minded of us, but there's no escaping it. Keeping this guide at hand will hopefully make it just a little easier.
The Wikimedia Commons upload form has also undergone a makeover, with special purpose- or source-specific forms introduced. While not to everyone's liking, it is hoped that different forms can be tailored to different purposes, thus avoiding the problem of overloading a single form to cater for every possible situation. (Those who dislike the new process can still find the old one directly at Special:Upload.) Thanks to the vigilant local community, over a dozen translations already exist.
With the new form comes the Contributing your own work guide. This brief, to-the-point guide offers "self-contributors" a shortcut through the sometimes frustrating process of Commons familiarisation.
Other milestones anticipated soon are the 1000th Featured Picture (a community-voted process recognising "the best of the best" in free content images), and the second annual Picture of the Year competition.