I’m very happy to announce that the Ford Foundation has awarded a USD 300,000 grant to the Wikimedia Foundation to improve our interfaces and workflows for multimedia uploading. See the press release and the grant proposal as submitted (PDF).

This should give you a good idea about what we can do within the scope of this project. Wikimedia Commons , the multimedia repository shared by Wikipedia and all other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, has been a wonderful success story, having grown to more than 4.5 million educational, freely usable media files since its inception in 2004. But the combination of the complexity of free content licensing and the integration of Commons into the experience of contributing to a project like Wikipedia or Wikibooks can make for a very daunting experience for new contributors.

We want to begin to change that, and make sure that everyone who has useful educational media to share can do so easily. As part of our partnership with Kaltura, Michael Dale has already done some great work on external repository searches and transfers, and on integration of uploading into the editing interface, so we’re hoping to build on top of this to really get the workflow for licensing/upload/review/embedding of media files nailed.

We’ve also been having initial discussions with some of the Wikimedia chapters about possible models for working together on the execution of this project. For example, we want to make sure that we can facilitate fruitful face-to-face meetings with Commons practitioners, and there is plenty of technical work to be done that can be decentralized and shared. Exciting projects like Wikimedia Germany’s investment in multilingual search (German link; see Google Translation) are already underway, so hopefully over the next year, we’ll see lots of useful activity culminating in genuine improvements for Commons and beyond.

Big thanks to Sara Crouse and Naoko Komura for their work on this grant proposal, and of course we’re enormously grateful to the Ford Foundation for funding it. Wikimedia Commons deserves to grow to many more millions of free educational media files, and hopefully this strategic investment will help us to get there.

Erik Moeller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation