A chemistry student from the Netherlands, Lodewijk is mainly active on the Dutch Wikipedia, and is a former steward on Meta-Wiki. Jane has been a Wikipedian since May 2006, and is interested in historical museums and reading local history. Both Maarten and Romaine also contribute to the Dutch Wikipedia, and Maarten is an administrator on Commons.
Tell us more about Wiki Loves Monuments 2011. What is its history, scope and objectives?
Lodewijk: We already learned in 2009 with Wiki Loves Art NL (5400 photos, 45 participating museums), that photo contest are a great way to get new people involved with Wikimedia, and that they make people aware of free knowledge and licensing. We continued that model in 2010, but with a more publicly accessible topic – monumental buildings. There are 60,000 of them in the Netherlands, and it has been a topic that was worked on in the Dutch Wikipedia for a few years. Editors are really motivated to cover the topic well in Wikipedia, and working with that enthusiasm and lots of outside submissions, we were able to get 12,000 submissions in 2010.
Shortly after that, we got some messages from chapters in other countries that they would like to hold a similar contest because of the impact and possibilities, and we created useful documentation on Wikimedia Commons. We held a special workshop meeting in Berlin in May 2011, and have been able to get more than 15 countries involved, with contests being organized by 13 chapters and 2 non-chapter groups. The objective is of course, the simple number of free images that will result – images that can be used in articles, on monument lists and by the general audience. But another important less direct objective is to make people aware of the fact they can contribute to Wikipedia and Wikimedia, and we hope that several of the photographers will choose to continue releasing their images, and perhaps start editing.
Jane: I joined last year, so I can only speak for my experience during the 2010 campaign. I had been contributing regularly on the English Wikipedia to articles about rijksmonuments when I got a message on my Wikimedia Commons talk page last fall from Maarten to invite me to take part in Wiki takes Haarlem. Maarten is the man behind a lot of what I call bot-magic on Commons and found me through my Haarlem photographs. He assumed because I had uploaded so many pictures of Haarlem rijksmonuments that I might be interested, and he was so right! At that time, I was mostly contributing to the English Wikipedia, but when I made photo illustrations, I usually linked them to the corresponding Dutch Wikipedia page (if it existed). I enjoy attending the Monumenten Dag in Haarlem every September and some of the pictures I have taken inside buildings on those days are used on more than two sister projects, like this one, which I took on Monumenten Dag in 2007. When Maarten contacted me, it was the first time I would meet fellow Wikipedians and I was so curious! At the time, I was totally unfamiliar with the Wikimedia chapter in the Netherlands, but I was eager to meet and "commiserate" with others about the difficulties of uploading to Commons. It turned out that most of the people who came were highly experienced Commons users who didn't have any problems at all. Lodewijk was the only one who understood my difficulties with Commons and was able to reassure me that my rijksmonument photo's would not be deleted if they had the rijksmonument id number, and he even told me about a tool to use for uploading more than one picture at a time. Thankfully, that function is now included in the new Commons uploader.
Maarten: And don't forget the windmill project! At the Dutch Wikipedia some years ago, some windmill enthusiasts started a windmill project(Dutch). Their goal – get an article with a photo for every windmill in the Netherlands (1,100+). First, they made lists of all windmills. Based on these lists, they made a clever system to track progress. For example, the number of windmills in Gelderland with a photo. This system worked really well. People want to get things complete. People want to reach milestones. With a system like this, you encourage that. Based on this system, the lists of rijksmonument were created. A lot of towns already have a photo for every rijksmonument because someone wanted to reach the 100%.
Wiki Loves Monuments 2010 was quite a success, with over 12,000 photos uploaded to Commons. What lessons did you learn from that, and how do you plan to better that effort?
Winning monument from the 2010 contest
Lodewijk: There were a few general lessons we drew from the 2010 contest, which are quite general to organizing public contests: make it really easy to participate – KISS; make it fun to do; make it nearby [one's] home – make sure everybody has something around the corner; make it clear people help Wikipedia. People love Wikipedia, and if they can help, why not? Awards are to attract attention primarily; make sure results are quick and visible – get the images on the articles a.s.a.p., seeing that motivates people to keep going. What we are doing better this year, is communication and partnering. We have some really great partners including the European Commission, the Council of Europe, Europeana, Europa Nostra and Open Images. Thanks to them, we have been able to use networks of experts throughout Europe.
Jane: Of course, the biggest lesson I learned this year comes from the fact that it's a Europe-wide photo contest, so merging the country heritage lists into a "Dutch model" has brought a whole new set of terms into the thesaurus of cultural heritage on Commons. Helping to organize this and attending the Berlin hackathon was a real help to me in understanding European cultural heritage lists and how the various countries deal with this. Until Berlin, I thought that the European Heritage Days were only celebrated in the Netherlands. On a personal level, Wiki Takes Haarlem was good for more than a thousand of the pictures taken in the 2010 campaign. That experience taught me so much about rijksmonuments in Haarlem that I suppose I could be working on articles for years, since Haarlem is still nowhere near "done" in terms of historical coverage. But Haarlem is just one of the cities in the Netherlands with more than a thousand rijksmonuments. This year, there are several "Wiki takes your city" events planned in the Netherlands, with the most notable in Amsterdam during Monument Day. The Canals of Amsterdam are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, but like many other European world heritage sites, are seriously under-photographed on Commons, in my opinion! As far as improving our result over last year, I not only hope for good photos of world heritage, but I also hope for more photos of remote sites in less populated areas, and I also hope for some interesting video footage, since in the Netherlands, there will be a prize for this. Video footage is a category that wasn't even available last year.
Maarten: Don't try to start a new community, work together with an existing one – we worked together with the online Wikipedia community. We couldn't have done this project without the volunteers helping people, updating the lists and other tasks. We also contacted Flickr users who participated in Wiki Loves Art. Do an evaluation of your project – we did an evaluation of our project and that really helped improve this year's project. If we can all can learn from previous experience, our future projects will get better and better.
I am in Europe but my country is currently not a participant. How can I include my country?
Lodewijk: You can still participate if you submit photos of participating countries. Have you been on vacation in Austria, or on a business trip in Spain, and happen to have images of monuments lying around? Submit them! There is no need to photograph them in September, only the submission date matters. If you really want your country to participate, then it is good to realize that it requires quite a lot of preparation, and perhaps next year is a better goal to strive for. Multiple countries have indicated that they want to organize Wiki Loves Monuments next year, so you won't be alone.
Jane: Including your country is only possible if you have the heritage list, and for this you need to contact your Ministry of Culture or local European Heritage Days organization. Once you have the list, then you need to set them up. For this, I defer to Lodewijk and Maarten.
Maarten: We tried to contact people in most European countries to get the project going. In some countries, the local chapter indicated that they didn't have time for it, [and] in other countries, we didn't get any response at all. For this year it's too late, but if we do Wiki Loves Monuments next year, you have plenty of time to start organizing it.
What are some of the key requirements for participating, and who judges the contest?
Countries participating in WLM 2011
Lodewijk: The requirements are quite simple. You need to be the photographer, release the photo under a free license in September through our upload platforms and identify the monument on the picture. That's all! Then, a national jury will select the best pictures in their country (and award the national prizes) and nominate 10 images to the European jury. Then, the European jury will go through those nominees and decide who will get the main European award and [who] gets to visit Wikimania 2012 in Washington DC!
Jane: Before you upload, you need a Wikimedia Commons user account with an email address. Most Wikipedians have this through their global account. For new people, it may be easier to create an account first on their native Wikipedia and then get to Commons through their global account (because the default on Commons is always in English).
Maarten: Less is more in this case. Just a couple of clear rules. For the juries, we try to have a mix of people with different backgrounds: photographers, heritage people and Wikipedians. This way, we try to have a balanced jury.
Jane: You can experiment with looking up identifier numbers with the (English) instructions on the European website. The quickest way is to copy and paste the exact street address into your favorite Internet search engine, which will generally lead to the proper Wikipedia list with the identifier (if it's not a commercial building). The local websites have map search capabilities. If you have some old picture of some monument in some participating country, and you have been able to look up the identifier, just scan it in (if it's not digital already) and then follow the local website instructions. Once you have done one, the rest is easy. Here is a short video on how it's done for photos of "monument istoric" or Romanian heritage. Even though it's in Romanian, you can see that the "Wiki Loves Monuments" Commons uploader is the same for any other country. As far as photo-taking goes, if you are located in Europe and want to participate in your area, then I also recommend my own Haarlem tricks, such as taking a picture of the whole street and the house numbers when you are busy "taking a street". Otherwise, when you get home, you may have the proper identifier and street address, but you can no longer remember which house was which. If you want more tips and tricks from experienced Commons users, and you live in Amsterdam, come to the Wiki Takes Amsterdam(Dutch) on September 10! For local events in other countries, see those local websites.
Anything else to add?
Maarten: I'm quite happy about how we are working together with the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) to adapt the upload wizard for Wiki Loves Monuments. Last year, we used a simplified upload form for Wiki Loves Monuments. This worked really well, but it was quite a hack to get it working. This year, we wanted something cleaner and scalable. I contacted the WMF about how we can work together to improve the upload wizard and to modify it in a way that it would be useful for Wiki Loves Monuments. I made requirements together with the WMF developers. Based on that and more input, the "campaign" part of the upload wizard was implemented. It's really nice to see how all these people with different backgrounds, different nationalities and in different languages work together on one big project. This is probably the first big European project organized by the European Wikimedia chapters, and I'm very happy to be part of it.
Romaine: Another aspect of Wiki Loves Monuments are the picture tours called "Wiki takes ..." with the ellipsis being the city or town in which it is held. "Wiki takes ..." are events in which people go in several groups taking pictures of monuments, each group in another part of the town or city, and coming together afterwards and uploading and talking about the tour they made. To make it successful, someone has to make routes to go so that as much as possible, monuments are [captured in] the pictures, avoiding two groups photographing the same monuments. These "Wiki takes ..." are especially held in places where of lot of monuments pictures are missing. An important need for organizing these tours are the lists of monuments, so that participants know what our cultural heritage is and what we would like pictures of. The lists of monuments should be translated in several languages in many Wikipedias so that people from elsewhere can learn about the cultural history of the world.