Wiki Loves Monuments was a crazy idea: ask people to get out of their houses and take a picture of the cultural heritage around them, of monuments and buildings!
In September 2010, however, the idea proved far from crazy – 250 people participated in the Netherlands and submitted 12,500 photos. Last month, during the pan-European 2011 contest, we crushed that number.
In the past few months, volunteers throughout Europe have worked hard to organize this public photo contest in 18 countries throughout Europe – from Portugal to Estonia – and with great success. More than 5,000 people participated, submitting an amazing 165,000 photos– all available under a free license, and usable on Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia and other places on the internet. As a comparison, the current record for the largest photography competition according to the Guinness Book of World Records stands at 126,501 images.
This project has been a success in so many different ways already. Not only 5,000 people participated, but an estimated 4,000 of these are ‘new users’ to the Wikimedia projects and through this contest they made their very first contribution to Wikimedia as a registered user. Now it is up to the community to cherish and welcome these people and help them find their way on the projects, supporting them and encouraging them to further contributions.
In 14 cities, related ‘Wiki takes the City’ events have been organized, and two of those are most interesting. Thanks to Wiki takes Andorra (a very small country between Spain and France) and the work of Amical Viquipèdia, we have now over 1,000 images of Andorra’s cultural heritage – covering 100% of the listed buildings! And in Wiki takes Cologne the organizational skills of the German chapter and volunteers were once again proven; the event was highly successful with more than 70 participants.
Wiki Loves Monuments is not finished yet – it’s a continuous project, but the contest that ran through the month of September is now over. The national juries will deliberate in the coming month over the best photos from their countries, and submit 10 winners to an international jury by the end of October. By the beginning of December, the winners of the European contest will be announced, and the 2011 edition will come to an end. But the volunteers who have been working so hard on this will keep working to check, categorize and use the images in Wikipedia, write the articles, improve the monument lists and do all the other work that still lies ahead.
I would like for all of us to take a minute and thank all the people who have worked so hard to make Wiki Loves Monuments 2011 a success. Our partners on both the national and European level – cultural heritage organizations, chapters, sponsors and others – have worked hard to enable us to pull this off. But even more importantly, all the volunteers who have worked so hard to connect with the partners, create the monument lists, write background materials, write manuals, prepare contest rules, find jury members, find sponsors, prepare press releases, answer press enquiries, help with technical challenges, set up the wizards and banners, help the uploaders where necessary, check the incoming files and make sure that everything keeps on going – they deserve a big cheer and hug.
I really hope this has not worn you out, and that you consider helping to organize and support this crazy idea again next year.
Lodewijk Gelauff – international coordinator of Wiki Loves Monuments