Thousands of new images are now available on Wikimedia Commons thanks to recent work from numerous Indian field biologists. What began as the pet project of V.R. Vinayaraj, who took pictures of Indian flora on the weekends and used Facebook groups to help identify the plants, has exploded into a wave of uploads from citizen scientists, photographers, and botanists throughout the subcontinent.
The Signpost spoke to two Wikimedians who have uploaded images: David Raju and Jeevan Jose.
Raju, a self-taught naturalist who has co-written a book on dragonflies, is motivated to contribute his work so that others may see what he has learned and he can contribute to global knowledge. “I love to share whatever I have. I believe the only way we can gain more knowledge is to share our knowledge,” he says.
Raju hopes to upload images of a thousand different species of dragonflies, and he happily reports that he is well on his way.
Jose became involved in uploading images to Wikimedia Commons in 2010 after friends invited him to share his freely licensed images from Flickr more broadly. He takes great joy in learning more about insects and herbs, his two primary categories of uploads, and views Wikimedia Commons as an outlet to do just that. He shares that he has connected with prominent scientists to help identify species in photos he has taken … in one case, a photo Jose captured could not be identified and may be a new species of crane fly.
For Jose, the motivation is intrinsic: “Every time when I photograph and share a work, I’m learning something new from the experts who commented on it. It can be a new record from my place or an interesting behavior documentation of an existing one”, he says. “My experience is the more I’m willing to disseminate my works, the more my opportunity to get such friends and learn from them.”
In the future, Jose hopes to establish a fund to help procure equipment for aspiring photographers to contribute images to Wikimedia Commons. His equipment came from a Wikimedia India grant. Jose also would like to see a partnership between Wikimedia and India’s forestry agency to facilitate collaboration in identifying and documenting native species.
To get involved or see more work from the collaboration, check out the WikiProject that has formed on Commons.
Go Phightins!, Signpost contributor
This post was originally published in the Signpost, a community-written news journal about the Wikimedia movement. It was slightly edited for publication on the Wikimedia blog. Any views expressed are not necessarily those of the Wikimedia Foundation; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section below.
You can read more about Jeevan Jose in this blog’s profile of him.
Social media award goes to Wikimedia Sweden: Wikimedia Sweden, the independent chapter organization that works to advance the Wikimedia movement in that country, has won an award for 100,000 krona—a bit under 12,000 US dollars. The award is given annually by the city and University of Borås to individuals or groups who have made “significant contributions in social media viewed from a societal perspective.” Wikimedia Sweden was honored because of how it “innovatively collects and presents user-generated knowledge in the digital landscape.” Anna Troberg, the chapter’s executive director, said in a press release that “knowledge creates new opportunities, but often the knowledge is not particularly accessible to people. The more knowledge that is free and available online, the more doors open for people.” How to use the money is a question being left to the community via the comments section on their official blog post. Troberg will officially accept the award on 19 October.
Wiki Education Brazil starts fact-checking: Wikimedia Community User Group Brasil‘s education program has entered into a fact-checking partnership with Agência Lupa. Their first edit-a-thon was held on 7–9 October in São Paulo.
Africa Destubathon: This impressively neologized contest aims to improve the English Wikipedia’s articles related to the African continent. It runs through 27 November, and there will be “significant prizes” for those who can improve (“destub”) the most articles on geography and wildlife, and/or the most improved or created about women. The contest is related to the 10,000 Challenge, a broader effort.
New Signpost out: In addition to the story republished above, seven sections of the Signpost were published on 14 October. It included a discussion report about the Wikimedia Foundation’s Leadership Development dialogue and a technology report on upcoming tech projects in 2017.
Community Wishlist Survey status update: The Wikimedia Foundation’s Danny Horn has posted a status update on the Community Wishlist Survey, where the Wikimedia community can submit ideas on things they would like to see fixed. A quick run-down is available on Wikimedia-l.
Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate