After a month of screening and deliberations, the top-10 photos from Wiki Loves Monuments US 2012 (WLM-US) have been selected by the US jury. The images span the country and depict myriad locations, buildings, natural wonders, seasons and eras. The US contest was one piece of what has become the largest photo contest on the planet, with more than 15,000 people uploading more than 350,000 photos throughout September this year.
In total, WLM-US participants uploaded 22,069 photos of sites on the National Register of Historic Places (and the state list in California) during September. Several long-time Wikipedia contributors from the WikiProject National Register of Historic Places (WP:NRHP) then sifted through the huge numbers and each selected about 50 of their favorite photos. These 500 photos were forwarded along to the jury.
Peter Ekman, the lead organizer for Wiki Loves Monuments US, said he was thrilled that about 5,000 photos were submitted for historic sites that didn’t previously have photos on Wikipedia, as well as a number of photos from regions and states where Wikipedia coverage has been lacking. “I was impressed by the variety of subjects: battlefields, boats, carousel horses, cathedrals, cemeteries, covered bridges, dams, factories, libraries, modern office buildings, museums, outhouses, saw mills, sculptures and much more,” said Ekman, a regular contributor to WP:NRHP. “There were photos from the 1980s and photos taken on September 30 by new college freshmen. There were photos from places like Alaska, Montana, and Arizona, where we’ve had pretty sparse coverage before, and there were photos of places that I’ve visited several times but could never get the quality of the newly submitted photos.”
Ekman, like a true Wikipedian, noted that the quality of the top-10 is great, but the lasting value to Wikipedia will be all the contributions from the more than two thousand people who participated, many for the first time. “I really want to thank all the other contributors and congratulate them on all their great photos. Their main prize will be seeing the photos in Wikipedia articles and lists, and the knowledge that everybody will have some access to these sites because of their photos.”
For the judges, several of whom are noted photographers with decades of experience taking pictures, the quintessentially Wikipedia-style contest was a treat to enjoy.
“I think the images that were submitted showed me that people have come quite a distance in their understanding of photography. New cameras and image tools have helped non-professional and professional photographers work on images so that they are better than ever,” said jurist Carol M. Highsmith, a photographer who is donating over 100,000 photos to the Library of Congress, which has created a single-photographer archive of her work. “Because I have spent my career traveling all over America, it was fun for me to see different views of some of my favorite places. It even gave me some ideas for places I would like to visit.”
Over the course of two weekends, Highsmith and her fellow jury members “met” on Google Hangout and discussed the photos they liked best. There was considerable overlap among the jurists’ favorite photos and the final results reflect the consensus among the seven-member jury.
“Wikipedia has come a long way and is an invaluable tool for anyone looking for information on just about any topic. Images are key to this experience,” added Highsmith. She said she was honored to be a part of Wiki Loves Monuments and to serve on the jury. “We all love our monuments and we all love and use Wikipedia. To have Wikipedia host a contest like this brings attention to our national treasures.”
Matthew Roth, Global Communications Manager