Grants:PEG/FF portal/Recommendations/Fotofahrt im Heißluftballon/Report

  • Once a funded project is over, Flow Funding members and funded individuals/groups/entities are expected to report separately on how the money was spent and what impact was achieved using the form copied below.
  • The Flow Funding coordinator will then seek community input to openly analyze the reports. Funds recipients will be subject to the WMF Grants Program reporting requirements.

FF project report

Photo project "Hot air balloon ride" in Hamburg, June 2013

Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?



  •   Done Develop a project site and related subsites to
    • invite Wikipedians (and start a participants list);
    • answer their questions and give the technical and process informations to the participants before and discuss further handling after the balloon ride;
    • plan the flight details (i.e. possible flight routes and interesting photo subjects on these routes);
  •   Done Find a ballooning company in Hamburg, Germany that agrees on
    • 1.) a short term contract with a fixed amount of possible flight dates from late April until June 2013,
    • 2.) reimbursing the costs if no flight is possible during the project's deadline,
    • 3.) accepting unnamed flight guests (besides the project's grantee).
Background: Normally, hot balloon flights (in Germany) are pre-booked as personalized coupons. Coupon transfer to another person usually costs 30 EUR extra.
If a flight fails because of weather conditions, a new date is arranged. The coupons expire after two years.
  •   Done Coordinate potential flight dates with the participants / Wikipedia photographers.
Background: Hot balloon flights are very dependent on specific weather and wind conditions so that flexible date planning is necessary.
The majority of the interested Wikipedians clearly favoured a Saturday morning for a balloon flight. Thus, the project was scheduled on 4 Saturdays in April and May.
These dates failed because of either strong wind, rain, or wrong wind direction (airport security zone). I organized 3 additional dates in June. Finally, the ride took place on 8. June 2013.
These templates are displayed on each image description site and offer information about the project's background and funding/sponsoring.
  •   Done Motivate additional volunteers to categorize these pictures, and use them in Wikimedia projects.
  •   Done Spread the idea and experiences/knowledge by reporting about the project, first done on 23. June 2013 in the German Wikipedia community: report in the "Kurier", the German language equivalent of Signpost.
  •   Done Gather and evaluate the photographer's feedback after the flight.
  •   Done Research possibilities for future grants or other support for similar projects in other regions.
  •   Done Start a list of "missing articles" that can now be illustrated.

Project goal and measures of success

  • Start date of project: 2013-04-01
  • End date of project: 2013-06-30

Project goal


The project's proposal defined my following goals:

  • About 1,000 aerial photographs of single buildings, landmarks etc of Hamburg, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.
  • Including close-up images of hot air balloon technique, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.
  • Evaluate if the idea proves successful and might be a pilot project for further balloon flights.

In her recommendation, the Flow Funder Poupou l'quourouce had added:

  • Contribute towards reaching the goal to increase participation.
  • Encourage diversity by supporting leaders within underrepresented groups (female contributors).

Measures of success

  • More than 2,000 pictures were uploaded at Wikimedia Commons until 30. June 2013 (project end):
    • 1,517 aerial pictures taken during the balloon flight;
    • 196 pictures of balloon technique;
    • 297 aerial pictures taken in a moored balloon.
    • As of 1. July 2103 (report date), 46 pictures are used in the global main namespace of Wikimedia projects (including this report). The number of usages in Wikimedia projects has not been a defined goal of the project; it will take at least weeks, or months until the pool of new pictures is seriously explored for Wikimedia projects.
    • A first image has been assessed under the valued image criteria and is considered the most valued image on Commons within the scope: Ellerholzhöft light house (exterior).
  • Further balloon flights were initiated already before 30. June 2013 (project end): Wikimedia Germany expressed the general readyness to support further balloon photo flights within the grant program "Treasure of images". The first successive balloon flight project has started; the flight is scheduled for July/August in Cologne, Germany. The group of photographers is additionally planning balloon flights over the close-by city Düsseldorf, and over cities in the densely built-up Ruhr area.
  • New Wikipedia articles about buildings, harbour bassins, and companies in Hamburg are written (example), or drafted (example), or planned (list).
  • On the talk page of the German Signpost equivalent Kurier, I announced my application for, and the start of, the balloon project during a discussion about the newly initiated Flow Funding in March. On 23. June I published a report of the project's results and my experiences with the Flow Funding handling in the Kurier as well. It presented by the way a woman's impact on and engagement for Wikipedia. I share the German Flow Funder's view that the project in itself was an opportunity to make women visible in the Wikimedia movement, as natural and normal as it should always be.

Lessons learned


What lessons were learned that may help others succeed in similar projects?

What impact did the project have on WMF mission goals of Increased Reach, Increased Quality, Increased Credibility, Increased and Diversified Participation?

The participants' feedback is taken up in this evaluation as well as my own thoughts and ideas.

  •   Contra Difficult date planning: Balloon flights heavily depend on wind conditions. For safety reasons, the flight company might cancel the flight at 9 pm the day before or even on the same day. Participants need to be very flexible. Such projects can not reasonably involve participants from far-away. The project needs a long term variable schedule. Arrangements with the flight company should involve a refund if flight dates fail too often or for a too long period.
  •   Neutral The flexible date planning needs a high amount of participants and a quite long list of "stand-by" participants; on one of the planned dates it turned out that 5 out of 10 interested volunteers (including myself) where actually tied up with other matters (this date was cancelled due to strong wind).
  •   Support Participants appreciated that they had been informed in detail and constantly about the project's conditions, technical needs, and status (weather forecast, news from the balloon company etc). I had asked them to email me their phone numbers so that I could email and text them the evening before every scheduled flight day if the flight would take place or not (additionally to a note on the project site).
  •   Contra Difficult route planning. Hot air balloons are solely driven by the wind; they cannot be navigated. Flight routes - and thus photo subjects - are only roughly plannable.
  •   Support It was useful to prepare lists of possible routes and photo subjects; they gave at least a minimum of orientation before the flight. But the flight routes are not really predictable, and the photographers cannot handle such lists during the (short) flight. One participant proposed to involve an additional person (without camera) in future balloon flights. This "navigator" could hold a map and/or a navigation device and notify the photographers of interesting buildings and landmarks. I agree that this would be helpful.
  •   Support New Content: The targeted amount of 1.000 uploaded pictures has nearly been doubled. Before this project, there were only about 130 aerial photographs of Hamburg, one of the biggest German cities, and few images of balloon technique on Wikimedia Commons.
  •   Support Increased quality: Low flight speeds result in more detailed and sharper images compared to airplane photography. Photographers have free scope and can pick a good angle for their photo. Due to the low speed they have enough time to take pictures of individual buildings and landscapes.
  •   Contra Due to thermal changes at noon, hot air balloons have to start at early morning or at late evening so that the sun always is low and causes frontlighting.
  •   Neutral A well planned category system should be prepared for an efficient processing, uploading and handling at Commons. I had prepared a project template that automatically added all uploaded files to the (hidden) maintenance project category. During the first uploads it turned out that additional templates and maintenance subcategories would help for a better handling. Not every participant had followed these discussions, agreements and instructions on the project's talk page so that additional work was caused.
  •   Contra I hadn't (clearly enough) communicated in advance that the time consumption caused by processing aerial photographs is maybe more extensive than most participants are used to. The amount of pictures taken in short time is high; the need of image processing is high (because of haze). Camera location mostly is far away from object location so that geodatas in the exifs are more a hint than a real help for subject identification. The kinds of photo subjects (buildings, streets, town districts, landscapes, rivers, ships, cars) are very diverse so that categorizing is very time consuming as well.
  •   Support Though we had to prolong the schedule for possible flight dates all participants succeeded to process and upload their pictures to Wikimedia Commons within the project's deadline, three weeks after the flight. Most of the categorizing was already done as well, only about a fifth of all pictures was listed in a hidden project subcategory of "uncategorized" images needing additional subject or location categories. The short upload deadline stressed us but I agree with another participant that a reasonable deadline helps to come to an end, evaluate the outcome, and start to choose the best results for usages in articles.
  •   Support Five persons photographing on the same route took nevertheless pictures with a broad diversity, not only shooting in different directions but also in different angles, and with different focals lengths so that in the end, duplicates are relatively rare. During the planning phase I had recommended to use zooms or - even better - two cameras, if available, to be able to take close-ups as well as overviews. Most photographers used zooms with a long focal variety. One participant now proposed to more precisely arrange the photographers' technical equipment for future balloon flights. I would even think about arranging the photographers' position in the balloon basket to ensure a broad focal coverage in every direction.
  •   Contra The project has been criticized by some (few) Wikipedia authors after I had applied for the grant: In their opinion, existing aerial photos of high or even higher quality could be gained by asking Flickr users to choose a free licence for their material (and then importing them to Wikimedia Commons), or by buying images from commercial aerial photo companies who should agree on a publication of their material under a free licence. They claim that efforts and costs of "freeing" existing photos would be comparable to this hot balloon and other flight projects supported by Wikimedia (chapters); they criticized that the participants would waste donated funds for their personal flight fun.
  •   Support In my opinion, buying contents would (besides the way higher costs per image in this case) violate the basic idea of volunteer co-operation in Wikimedia projects. I sure hope that Wikimedia volunteers have fun while working for their projects. According to my personal experience, meeting other Wikimedians and co-working in real life helps volunteers to improve their skills and to strengthen their personal commitment. Community building is priceless.
  •   Support New participants and improvement of skills: One of the five flight participants yet had very few experiences as DSLR photographer. He could use this project to improve his skills and to learn from more experienced volunteers. By joining the project he gained personal contacts for his further questions about photography and image processing. Two out of five participants didn't have any flight photography experience yet. A slow balloon ride is, in my view, a good preparation for airplane photo flights (there is a long term flight project in deWP).
  •   Neutral A short tutorial and checklist for such flight projects would be very helpful, especially for new, or few experienced, participants. The tutorial should explain the main processing steps like geotagging the images with external track data; automatized reduction of haze in the pictures; batch renaming; batch uploading (i.e. Commonist); template usage; maintenance/project categories; standard categories (i.e. "Aerial views of...", country/city districts etc).
  •   Support Outreach/Networking: The balloon flight company owner enjoyed meeting Wikipedians and used his network to balloon pilots: The group was invited to a free ride with a moored balloon in the inner city of Hamburg. We could take some hundreds of additional aerial pictures of the inner city. The balloon company owner offered to recommend reliable companies in other regions (there are some scammers on the market). This network is used by the next project(s).
  •   Support Long term effect, sustainability: The results of this pilot project encouraged other Wikimedians to plan successive balloon flight photo projects. Wikimedia Germany supports the next balloon flight in Cologne in July/August 2013. Further flights in the densely populated Ruhr area are planned.
  •   Support Long term effect, sustainability: The team took a couple of pictures of buildings and areas that deserve a Wikipedia article, accord to the strong relevance criteria at de-Wikipedia, and can now be illustrated. These lemmas are listed as "missing articles". First new articles are already written or drafted (i.e. new article, new draft). To inform and motivate regionally interested authors for writing and using the images, the list will be published on de:Portal:Hamburg, as well as on en:Portal:Hamburg and fr:Portail:Hambourg.

Reporting and documentation of expenditures


Did you send WMF documentation of all expenses paid for with grant funds?


Details of expenditures:

Will you be requesting re-allocation of remaining grant funding?

No remaining funds.

Will you be returning unused funds to the Wikimedia Foundation?

No remaining funds.

Thanks for supporting this project! --Martina Nolte (talk) 22:37, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Added VI promotion --Martina Nolte (talk) 20:02, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Changed link from toolserver to wmlabs. --Martina Nolte (talk) 20:19, 6 July 2013 (UTC)