Grants:IEG/Health images for all

Health images for all
summaryTo bring quality medical images to Wikipedia and to spread the content across many languages.
strategic priorityimprove quality
amount10000 USD
advisorDoc James
contact• cfcf(_AT_)• jmh649(_AT_)
this project needs...
created on17:46, 2 April 2016 (UTC)

Project idea


What is the problem you're trying to solve?


It is often said that an image can say more than a thousand words — and a good image can convey meaning faster and more accurately than text.

Massive effort is spent to create images about health issues across the world, some of which is available for Wikipedia. Our multimedia content primarily comes from one of four sources:

  • Organizational collaborations/donations
  • Older books, textbooks, atlases
  • Modern independent open projects/government public domain content
  • Produced by Wikipedians

With all the sources and all the good-will it is increasingly possible to tie together several of these and to promote new work that can build upon previous efforts and learnings. Many editors and organizations have vast knowledge on how to create images, but a poor understanding of the frameworks of Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons — with Wikimedians at times demanding new users to jump through an array of hoops to get started. The result unfortunately is that potential collaborators give up without reaching out to those who want to help, and with those who do help being overwhelmed with work.

Wikimedians on the other hand are not always aware of the efforts put into creating image content – nor of which opportunities for collaboration there are – or even what multimedia-content is available (both on Commons and in the wider open access community).

Why medical images


A number of Wikimedian in Residence projects and collaborations with NGOs and governmental organizations has given Wikipedia access to high quality medical and health images on a number of topics. These types of collaborations have been running since at least 2006 and some of them are continuations of older open-source image projects.

This means we have excellent coverage of certain subject areas, such as: cancer, neurology, or ECGs. But it also means that quality is choppy: amazing images in certain fields, and low quality content in other fields.

Since we're already running collaborations it means set examples — inspiring projects to start in different fields.

Once you've seen it there is no mistaking strep throat in adults.

Medical images are also especially good because a single image can convey as much content as a whole page of text on diagnostic criteria. While it may be easy for someone with a medical background or higher education to understand complex diagrams of anatomy and biochemical processes — this isn't true for the lay public. Even in the developed world it is often surprising to discover how little the general public knows. Basic knowledge that can be conveyed well in image-form is lacking such as: locations of the liver, kidneys, or heart; or how to tell apart strep-throat from the common cold.

A good image of strep-throat will tell you more than the Centor-criteria do.

We need medical images in all languages and for all people in order to fulfill our goal of providing free access to knowledge for the entire world. We need to focus on understanding across all languages and all levels of education, images help us with that!

Specific problems & focus areas


Rich-media content


More and more of the web contains what is known as "rich-media": video, intractable elements, sounds, etc. A number of Wikimedians have started collaborations with organizations who produce this type of media. One which has great potential is Osmosis, an off-shoot of the Khan Academy — and Osmosis has started producing tailored content for Wikipedia.

Rich media content on Wikipedia is still in its infancy, and developing content for use on Wikipedia requires communicating with editors.

Reevaluating the use of such media and looking into ways to increase its spread by translating, reviewing scripts, or simply interacting with these organizations can help improve and expand future collaborations. Wikimedians can help with this, but there are currently too few platforms which allow for such interaction!

Other examples of rich-media that can be included on Wikipedia are scrollable X-rays such as the ones available on commons. Work is needed to bring this functionality to Wikipedia — and before this is done we lose valuable collaborators because we can't accomodate them.

Cultural bias


Medical information is needed across the world, regardless where you are from — but many images in use today are culture-specific and not easy to understand when used by someone who speaks a different language or belongs to a different culture. A number of organizations have spent considerable time researching this topic and providing understandable infographics, videos and images that could be shared on Wikipedia.

There is also information out there about how to avoid common pitfalls — and spreading existing knowledge about the questions to Wikipedia and collaborators avoids creating complicated and unintuitive images.:

Making Wikimedians aware of this helps promote medical understanding across languages and cultures. A review needs to be made of what type of images and content is most prevalent. Do the images mirror what is necessary to understand a topic — and can they be understood by the intended recipients? (For examples on tropical disease should be understood by readers in areas where it is endemic)

The ISO 7010 sign for AED – (automated external defibrillator)

A few examples of major projects with cross-cultural symbols, we should to make use of their documentation and expertise:

  • The American Institute of Graphic Arts together with the US Department of Transportation created 50 easy to understand icons, some of which relate to health-care
  • The ISO 7010 safety signs-standard was created to promote international understanding.[1]

The World Health Organization, the CDC and ECDC spend considerable time on this type of imagery when it comes to health-topics. They have suitable standards to make our editors and our contributors aware of.

Integrating with our translation community

The medical community on Wikipedia has experience in translating text and image-captions. We've come across problems that can be solved through technical means, such as the use vector-graphics. Having a guide for donators will help future collaborations draw on our translation work. I have experience in this field and as an example I took part in the localization of the following images which grace our article on pit-toilet (and are some of very few images that are localized into these African languages):

Images aren't found


Despite the wealth of images we have, little of what is available is used. Sometimes the images that are used in articles are not the best possible choice – but rather what was easy to find. Images that are very high quality aren't properly tagged and otherwise difficult to find. Different strategies should be developed to guide editors to images that exist.

Donated images aren't always in a good format


Even very high quality images will not reach their full potential without the proper format: they can't be translated, repurposed, or used to explain different topics.

We don't always know what images/content is needed


There is a tag for articles that need images on Wikipedia, but there is little knowledge about what topics have good content and which topics we should look for future collaborations in. Collaboration requires sustained effort from the side of Wikipedians — and they need to know that efforts are worth it.



What is your solution?

Guides about how to use images to spread health information on Wikipedia will help form partnerships and increase the quality of contributions.

This project will aid current and future collaborations and help content creators understand how to best help Wikipedia. I want to help organizations see Wikipedia as venue for spreading knowledge about health through images. This is also an extension of GLAM into medicine. GLAM is a good resource, but lacks the collaborations with medical organizations that is needed to build trust among these organizations. Medical and health organizations are conservative and want to what others have done before they try anything new. Showcasing good guides and examples of prior efforts by medical organizations help a lot!

I have good insight into earlier projects — and knowledge about problems they faced, and some of the different solutions. By bringing this knowledge to the table and presenting it in the way GLAM-Wiki does for GLAMs can extend use withing the health-organizations.

Showing the process from a donation to use will further help promote partnership, and also help editors find quality content.

My work will result in strategy pages and collaborative tools for donating medical images for:

  1. Employees — promoting and starting collaborations from inside an organization
    "Do you want your organization to donate images? Take a look at this page to see how some previous efforts got started."
    An inspiration page show how many major collaborations started with one enthusiastic individual who thought it might be neat to release these images under open licences or to get in touch with Wikimedia.
    This will help build the type of enthusiasm that started the UCLA Wikipedia course. Sending this type of information to professors and teachers at medical illustration schools could get such a project going to produce images.
  2. Organizations — who want to donate but don't know how
    Can be helped by a best practice guide — (not a rule-book that must be followed), which gives insight into how to achieve the most and leverage the capabilities within Wikimedia projects. It can show how best to prepare/donate images for — use in articles and translations.
    Will be inspired by a place to showcase efforts – and will want to have their names next to the big wellknown ones we already have.
    These pages will list legal concerns and questions about licensing issues. They can give a pointer on which licensing to choose, and what licenses are possible for an organization that owns/doesn't own all of its work. Much of this can also integrate with GLAM and can point to resources where they can find more information.
  3. Independent creators — students, artists, Wikimedians
    Independent artists and Wikimedians on Commons reach out to us on a regular basis — and we increasingly see the need for a place with information and guides on how to best use their expertise.
    It helps to show them where their work can be used — and to offer a place to discuss which projects they might choose to focus on.
    These pages will also focus towards the Wikimedian who want to start a personal project in the field. This information can also be spread to medical illustrators and illustration schools. Wikipedia is a good place to show off your work, and having an image that millions of people have seen is definitely a plus for your portfolio.

Project goals


For the problem areas above I want to showcase our solutions in a cohesive guide which is similar and builds upon those by GLAM-WIKI. Current information on Commons/Wikimedia does not cover health images, this project aims to create and maintain guides about health images for internal and external use.

For each of the focus areas above I have outlined a number of sub-goals that I will address:

  • Rich media content creation engages editors
  • Having dedicated project pages allows editors and volunteers to interact with the creation process. This project page will build upon modules such as WikiProject X so that it can be reused for new projects where more of this type of interaction is needed.
  • We don't really know what rich media works on the different Wikimedia projects — looking into and documenting what type of rich media workswill help determine where to focus outreach to organizations. If scroll-able X-ray images work on Commons, but not on Wikipedia — can we say Why — and can we make them work on Wikipedia? If some of this functionality already exists in the Wikimedia sphere — why isn't it everywhere? I want to look into why this is — to document opportunities and to start discussions.
  • Cultural bias is mitigated through good information
  • A Wikimedia guide to the literature on cultural bias in images — summarizing materials by major health organizations such as the CDC, NHS, and WHO exists. This summary is combined with analysis specific to Wikipedia and will provide Wikimedians with a toolset to avoid cultural bias.
Focusing on images when it comes to cultural bias is important because images are used over several Wikipedias.
  • Integrating with our translation community
Our strong translation community has the potential to use their expertise to translate images and image captions — strengthened through appropriate tools and guides. I have a number of ideas about how to efficiently and effectively translate images, either through SVGs or templates. I will develop and research this.
  • Finding images is easier and we know what new images we need
With guides and materials the process from donation and creating towards using the image is clearer.
These pages can be used by editors who are looking for images — and also to show off some of our amazing content to new organizations that want to take part.
A clearer path between requesting an image and getting users to create the image will also be made.
  • Donated images are made available in the best possible formats
Guides on how to determine the best format to upload in will exist. To hammer in this point a guide needs to tell you why these are the best formats and not just that they are. It will justify what might be an extra 1% effort — showing the major benefits to reuse. This will increase the degree in which collaborators chose the best available formats.
Images will be made easier to adapt, localize and reuse. Examples of this is to promote the use: of vector images; lossless compression technologies; and releasing layered-base images for complicated raster images.

Project plan




At the end of the project I want to have created a fully functioning project page in the style of GLAM-Wiki that helps users, organizations and employees donate and create images for Wikipedia.

  • Create a functional project page with an inward facing side for Wikimedians and an outward facing side where we can refer new collaborators.
The central point of my project is to bring solutions and to spread information about them!
I will create a project landing page which covers how to go about donating, which also displays previous efforts. It helps to show how big names such as Yale, CRUK and NIH have worked with us, and may get big new names to join in.
I will create pages which exemplify how other organizations have fared, covering the massive impact image-donations can have. CRUKs images were viewed 30,000,000 times in 2014 on Wikipedia — and this information needs to be spread. Centralized documentation makes sure we don't sit on these insights without letting anyone know.
Draft of what part of the catalogue might look like here

This will require me to:

  • Code templates — Building on WikiProject X I will create a collaborative page for Osmosis that can be reused for other rich-media creation initiatives.
  • Research previous projects — Looking into why projects have been more or less successful. Understanding and developing best practice-guides requires in depth knowledge of previous projects.
By performing a review of the 100–500 most important medical articles listed through WikiProject Medicine and images used in the translation project I will be able to identify needs and propose new collaborations in these areas.
By going through articles tagged as needing images and surveying editors about what they feel are the most pressing image needs we can increase the speed at which such content is made available on Wikipedia.
Other research steps include:
  • Interviewing project members
  • Summarizing project reports
  • Searching through the myriad of collaborations that exist to identifying the best ones and promote the practices that made them good.
  • Perform outreach — The reason I want to develop best practices is so that these can be spread to new and old collaborations, and I will be promoting the pages I create through all available venues. Using WikiProject Medicine's twitter, various blogs and e-mail I hope to get in touch with organizations who can try out this material.
Making this information accessible and spread across the internet will lower the threshold for getting organizations and individuals to donate images.


  • Project management expenses
Covers the hours I devote to the project, at 20 USD/hour for 350 hours. I plan to spend the large part of the summer to focus wholeheartedly on this project, and to start evaluating and bringing in feedback during the fall. This sum is smaller than what I've requested in my previous IEG because I aim to concentrate the work towards July—September building the pages, to take a more organizing roll September to January.
  • Travel expenses
Talking to people face to face helps enormously to establish collaborations — especially with organizations that have less of an online presence than Wikipedia. Seeing a face and knowing that someone is willing to devote time and energy on our side helps build trust. I've previously been successful and as I write in my IEG round 1 final report — I've met with companies and organizations, pitching the idea to Rubric about translating information on Ebola into African languages. This led to quite a bit of media focus on us in 2014.
I want to visit universities and organizations that are interested in working with us. I travel light and have unpretentious demands, so I think this budget can go very far.
  • Promotion: stickers, T-shirts etc.
Merchandise can be acquired at a low cost and is helpful in spreading the word of the organization behind these efforts. Examples may be stickers for your computer, or some time spent developing a badge to display on your website that shows: "We donated images to Wikipedia"

Community engagement


Images across medicine and health have come from different parts of our communities. There is a great enthusiasm for images about health — and since I proposed this project many people have been in touch with me. I know it will be easy to get the community on board this project, and I believe they can help me focus my work towards the important bits.

  • Asking for help
As a topic that is relevant to many communities and many editors I can hopefully get much help from the community
  • Surveying & interviewing
With formal and informal surveys and interviews I get the community on board with the project and by responding to their concerns and wishes I believe
  • Social media
Using the WikiProject Medicine twitter I can tweet about collaborations and efforts to hopefully attract new organizations and editors. We have a great following, with many big medical organizations that we can reach out to through twitter. We also have a large number of Wikimedians who follow us.
  • Newsletters
Getting a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter out to Wikimedians helps bring people into the project. It can also showcase the progress and point to which parts of the project are relevant to the community. By covering one old collaboration in each newsletter we might also be able to resurrect interest in these as well.



Once a strategy page and guides are created it will be easier to focus on promoting growth of the images and collaborations we have. I envision this IEG to end in a process similar to GLAM — or maybe one that can be contained within GLAM — but focusing on medical and health images. The point of the IEG is to make it easier for future collaborations to know where to begin.

Measures of success

  • Have a project landing page in the style of those that exist in GLAM with information on:
  • How to get started as:
  • An individual
  • An organization
  • How to promote collaboration in your organization
  • Previous major image projects
  • Best practices
So that images or rich-media that is donated is put to the best possible use
  • How to leverage Wikipedia's editors for:
  • Translations
  • Spreading knowledge
  • Start 4+ institutional collaborations about images
I want to have at least four new collaborations with organizations that donate images or rich-media to Wikipedia
  • Send tailored messages to organizations
Random messages to organizations do not work (or only rarely do) - but booking talks and discussions as well as sustained enthusiasm is able to bring in collaboration.
These efforts should be documented
  • Have created/obtained 5000 new images
The project should in the short term lead to at least 5000 images related to health being added to Commons or Wikipedia.
  • Create 10000+ new images uses
An image use means that an image is displayed somewhere in readable space on a Wikimedia-project. Most often this in in a Wikipedia article. Images should not only be uploaded on Commons, but put use so that readers and editors can benefit.
  • Have a documented on programmatic needs/opportunities for easier localization of images
Looking to the future it may be possible to integrate image translation tools into for example the Content Translation Tool

Get involved



  • I work for an organization which provides health information to Wikipedia. A project like this could help me overcome my organization's uncertainties about making an image donation to the commons. Just the mere fact of this proposal is very useful to me because it signals a shift in thought and culture. I want to participate in this project as a representative of an organization that would use the services described in this outline. This is a timely and urgent proposal. The money requested is trivial considering the likely return even in the first year. This project has a low chance of failure and a high chance of setting a precedent that would last indefinitely. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:43, 13 April 2016 (UTC)

Community notification


Please paste links below to where relevant communities have been notified of your proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions. Need notification tips?

Discussion going on the main page



Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project below! (Other constructive feedback is welcome on the discussion page).

  • great idea (project),medical images are very important, I therefore endorse Ozzie10aaaa
  • Yes please. I want to participant and also shared ideas on the talk page. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:44, 13 April 2016 (UTC)
  • The images CFCF has already uploaded on the english Wikipedia's anatomy and medical pages have already made a significant impact on the quality of the content and how it can be communicated to readers. We have been crying out for a way to access high quality images easily and I think this might be the solution. This project would have a large positive impact on this well-read section on WP in multiple languages. --LT910001 (talk) 23:34, 14 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Wonderful! I agree that images are much more effective than words. This is called picture superiority effect. Most of medical illustrations on the Internet are not open access-content. I strongly believe that this project would create a positive impact in many communities, online and offline. I look forward to organising meetups/edit-a-thons at my institution to be part of this project. --Athikhun.suw (talk) 00:17, 15 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes, this is a fantastic idea! My pet project area of women's health desperately needs more and better images and I hope this project can help. :) Keilana|Parlez ici 12:13, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
  • We need more high quality images for medical articles and other educational uses. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 14:56, 27 April 2016 (UTC) Adding, this IEG would enhance my proposed IEG Grants:IdeaLab/Effective Engagement with Health Topic Experts using Guided Checklists since health topic experts adding images could be one effective way to use their expertise. I would be thrilled if both were funded and we can collaborate to improve health information. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 18:42, 13 May 2016 (UTC)