CIS-A2K/Outreach Programs/Commons Outreach Handbook



The objective is to build a handbook that is inclusive of best practices, standardized documents, tips and advice on how to conduct Wikimedia Commons outreach session, photothon (in Marathi, फोटोथोन) or photocontest. A Commons outreach will be able attract non-text contributors like photographers, graphic artists, animators, map makers and videographers to Wikimedia Commons.

Outreach Events

Stage 1: Get community support and consensus

A good starting point could be talking to more community members to get support and agreement to organize any kind of Commons outreach - workshop, photothon or photo contest.

  • While Commons workshop can be an individual initiative since its a 2-3 hour workshop but you'll need support from your community to handhold newbies post workshop and help them categorize photos, guide them on how to use uploaded photos etc.
  • However, an event of a much larger scale like Photothon or a Photo contest will have to be community driven as it needs reasonable amount of effort and time investment from the volunteers. Talk one-on-one with some of your community friends and get consensus if your community is ready to organise a big scale outreach event. Those with sizeable bench strength and committed volunteer reserves only should attempt initiatives of this scale.
Stage 2: Initiate an RfC

You might want to initiate an RfC for a photothon or photo contest at your Village pump to gain unanimous community backing. The discussion could be about: "shall we have a media contest this year" or something like that depending upon nature of your event. Invite your community members to provide suggestions and ideas about discussions on prize money, type of prizes, outreach strategy, duration of the event etc. This RfC will also help you frame a concrete working model for the event.

Stage 3: Coordinators & Volunteers You'll need lead coordinator(s) and volunteers(s) for the event. Call out for the community to volunteer for the event and divide responsibilities depending upon geography/skill lines. Nature of responsibilities to be divided amongst the volunteers:
  • Publicity
  • Responding to contestants queries, guiding them (onwiki, email and social media)
  • Maintain contest portal and pages
  • Post event activities (creating a report, judging and identifying + tagging copyvios)
Stage 4: Organise funds if required

Depending upon the type and level of outreach you want to conduct your community might need financial support. Your community can apply for a WMF Grant. You can refer to some of the grant applications that have been approved before:

Stage 5: Set timeline and event details Create an event timeline keeping in mind some important aspects
  • Formulation of rules
  • Selection of volunteers
  • Grant application process
  • When Grant is approved, contest/event announcement and outreach
  • Duration of the actual contest/event
  • Sharing contest/event results
  • Awarding prizes and mailing certificates (if required)
Stage 6: Announcement At this stage community should be in a position to announce the event/contest and can use several resources to make this announcement.
Outside Wiki
  • Flickr Groups
  • Local language blogosphere, Blog aggregators, individual blogs, e-Zines
  • Interested e-Mail groups
  • Educational institutions
  • Social media - Facebook, Twitter, Buzz
  • Announcements in print and electronic magazines (with the help of media contacts)
  • Local photography clubs and the photography departments of local colleges
Inside Wiki
  • Site notices in local Wiki
  • Targeted sitenotices in En wiki, announcement in India project page
  • An english version of the contest page for potential contestants who might be interested
  • Notice on the Community Bulletin Board or Village Pump of your native Wikipedia
  • Notices on the talk pages of any relavent WikiProjects
Stage 7: Supporting actual event
  • For Photowalk - Create instruction packets for photo walks. If you're planning to have everyone meet at a central location for the start of the event, it will be helpful to have printed instruction packets that you can hand out to the participating teams. Each packet should include the instructions for the event as well as a list of all the targets. Some suggested guidelines can be found here.
  • For Photo contest- Share rules of the contest and supporting documents with the participants. Some suggested rules can be found here.
  • Some more supporting documents can be found here.

Best Practices


These best practices have been drawn based on discussions on the India mailing list. Thanks to Srikanth Lakshmanan & Bala Jeyaraman.

  • Usage of photographs on Wikipedia articles
Efforts must be made to use as many uploaded files as possible in the articles. Asking someone who is attending first photo walk / uploading to commons for the first time to also add it on article may be little too much. So Wikipedians must take onus in ensuring media uploaded is being used and not unused.
  • Usage of Commons upload wizard
Train the participants to use Commons upload wizard campaign extension. It is simple and has the facility to upload multiple files at once
  • Don't fall for numbers
Most of us fall for numbers which are visible at the outset and feel happy about a a photowalk/contest or these kind of events. The organisers must ensure that the event should end only after we have used these photos effectively. Each photo hunt will have same images, so its not possible to get to 100% usage stat, but it should be at least 40% for it to call a decent success. Here is a tool server to access image usage statistics.
  • Naming and meta data
Photothon should end with an uploading function where volunteers help photographers upload pictures on commons with:
  • A. Proper name
  • B. Clear description
  • C. Proper characterization
  • D. Suggested/recommended article for image use or for creation.
  • Form a clean up team
Form a team which will help in cleaning up (eliminate copyvio/ rotating/ cropping/ description/ categorising/ watermark removal) for all the files that were uploaded as part of the photo walk.
  • Train the contestants/participants
Let contestants know where the images go and what they are used for. This will earn our wikis more active users. Contestants can be trained how one can use these files in existing Wikipedia articles or even write new articles for using their entries. Once they became involved, they might involve themselves in further activities in commons too.
  • Thanks and more
Organisers should send followup message on all uploaders talk pages (and email if their email facility is enabled) thanking them and telling them of further activities they can participate in.

Central Repository of Documents

Standardized presentation & documents

More learning resources