The key is finding the best angle: Czech Wikipedians during a trip organized by WikiProject Protected Areas (as a part of Mediagrant activities)

The key is finding the best angle: Czech Wikipedians during a trip organized by WikiProject Protected Areas (as a part of Mediagrant activities)

Mediagrant, conceived in 2010, is an all-embracing program of the Czech Wikimedia chapter (WM Czech Republic), which aims to support photographing or acquisition of other freely usable multimedia content. Basically, it provides Czech volunteers with technical equipment, organizes photographic workshops and reimburses the volunteers‘ travelling expenses. The project’s second anniversary is closing in: what have we already achieved?

The program has been designed so that it can actively respond to the needs of volunteers. As such, it enables people to ask for their own “collection topic.” Over the two years, 8 collection topics have crystallized: documentation of Czech municipalities, vernacular architecture, Czech vernacular clothes and customs, documentation of protected natural areas and memorable trees in the Czech Republic, scientific photography, documentation of important events in the Czech Republic, water bodies of the Czech Republic and documentation of Jewish monuments in the Czech Republic.

Castle of Žichovice, one of the hundreds of castles scattered throughout the Czech Republic

Castle of Žichovice, one of the hundreds of castles scattered throughout the Czech Republic

As of June 2012, as many as 10,736 pictures were taken by volunteers, who made exactly 130 journeys to the sites of their interest. In recent months, there has been an explosion of documentation of Czech protected areas: already 55 percent of about 2,500 protected areas have been photographed (a majority of them by grant participants). Similarly, 4,356 new photographs of Czech towns and villages helped assure that 2,653 out of 6,241 Czech municipalities have a picture in their infobox. The pictures were often taken with one of our two chapter cameras and, what is more, many of the participants were trained at one of five photo-workshops that took place in different parts of the Czech Republic.

To get a better perspective, the statistics must be considered in terms of size of our photographing community. Although we make efforts to popularize the project among our fellow Wikipedians, there are still only about a dozen long-term participants. It is a serious challenge to persuade regular Wikipedians to join the Mediagrant and go take pictures in their free time.

A folk costume from the "Moravian Slovakia" region, worn traditionally by single girls

A folk costume from the "Moravian Slovakia" region, worn traditionally by single girls

From the technical point of view, a so-called Tracker has been adapted as a software tool that enables you to log every journey you have made, including your destination, travel costs and a link to the pictures. This way, no one has to ask for permission to make a journey; one just goes, takes pictures and then asks for the reimbursement.

We hope that encouraging outreach and making it so easy to participate will help the program grow, and will enhance Wikipedia with quality images.

(Note: Mediagrant is one of two current Czech grant programs (both supported by the Wikimedia Foundation), the second being Presentation&Outreach. This sister program takes care of some other missions that Wikimedia Chapters have. Each grant is maintained by a committee, a so-called “eye.” You can contact the Mediagrant eye at mggranty.wikimedia.cz, or see the (Czech-only) project page.)

Vojtěch Dostál, Wikimedia CzechRepublic