Communications/Sound Logo/Contest proposal
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Well played Wikimedia. 2065 votes for the Sound of all Human Knowledge.
Thanks to your participation, we have a sound logo.
The Sound of All Human Knowledge
The call is out: From 13 September to 10 October, 2022, everyone, everywhere is invited to participate in the Wikimedia sound logo contest.
We have started a library of sounds for you to get you inspired to create your own Wikimedia sound logo. And don't worry, you don't have to be pitch perfect. We have a drop-in clinic for you on September 29 to answer any technical questions you may have.
Please visit the submission portal for full contest rules. Here is an overview for your convenience:
- You can submit up to 3 sound logos
- Your sound logo should be between 1 and 4 seconds long
- Your sound logo should comprise of at least two overlapping layers, textures or sounds
- You must have the rights to use all components of your submission – original sounds and / or CC0 and Public Domain samples
- To the best of your knowledge, your submission should be unique and distinctive
- Your sound logo should be in one of the following formats: MP3 at a bit rate of at least 192kbps, OGG at a bit rate of at least 160kbps, or WAV with a bit depth of at least 16-bit
What is this project about?
People around the world are increasingly using digital voice assistants to seek information and a lot of it comes from Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia Foundation would like to co-create with communities and free knowledge enthusiasts a sound logo that lets listeners know the source of their information is from the trusted world of Wikimedia. And to co-create this sound logo, we are hosting a global contest.
What is a sound logo and why are we creating it?
A sound logo is a brief collection of sounds usually between 2 to 4 seconds. This contest winning sound logo will become a new way to recognize Wikimedia content across a range of uses and platforms, providing increasing and broader identification of Wikimedia content and hopefully further opportunities to grow participation in the movement. The initial use case will be for the identification of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia content on voice-user interface technology.
How will we create this sound logo?
The organizing team is hosting a global contest to create the Wikimedia sound logo. We hope to make this an exciting, participatory moment across the movement and beyond. The contest will draw inspiration from past Wikimedia project logo contests such as the puzzle globe logo, the Wikidata logo, the MediaWiki logo, and others where logos were developed and then selected via vote based on specific criteria.
We would like the contest to be a vehicle to increase awareness about the Wikimedia movement, our values, achievements, projects, and communities worldwide. To achieve this, the organizing team will also develop a promotional campaign for the contest, inviting many users/readers of our projects to learn more about Wikimedia and participate.
What qualifies as a good submission? 
Wikimedia’s sound logo should represent what our movement is all about – a never ending work in progress, trust, neutrality, sharing knowledge, global collaboration, openness, and diversity. The ideal sound logo should feel international and not pertain to any particular culture, style, or language. It should also comprise multiple layers, textures, or sounds. Wikimedia’s sound logo should be created using all original sounds, recorded by you, or using sounds available under the Creative Commons Zero license or in the Public Domain.
How do I get creative?
Imagine how you would capture the sound of learning or what a global village would sound like to you. What sounds would bring a smile to your face after you hear a fact read out by your voice assistant, if you use one. There are infinite ways to capture, produce and combine sounds, and we are so excited to get started. The organizing team has started a collection of public domain and CC0 sounds and encourages you to share, use, and add more.
Submissions will be reviewed based on specific selection criteria including the following tonal prompts: Wikimedia’s sound logo should feel human, inspired, smart, and warm. It should not feel cold, synthetic, aggressive or overly technological. Submissions will also be reviewed based on the following creative prompts:
- Connections Forming
- Knowledge Growing
- Question & Answer
- Trusted Information
- Free & Open knowledge
What are the submission criteria?
- We encourage up to 3 sound logo submissions per person
- The entry should be between 1 and 4 seconds long
- Original sounds and CC0/PD samples only
- MP3 at a bit rate of at least 192kbps, OGG at a bit rate of at least 160kbps or WAV with a bit depth of at least 16-bit
What would disqualify a submission?
We are only accepting submissions between 1 and 4 seconds. Entries will be further disqualified if they:
- Contain offensive material
- Infringe copyright (not CC0/PD or not original work)
- Are clearly vandalism, and not a creative execution
- Contain spoken words … we are hoping for a sound logo free from language
A team of community members with support from the organizing team will do the initial screening, vandalism check, and tagging. If you’d like to be part of the screening team, we would love your support.
Where do I submit?
Please visit the contest submission page starting 13 September, 2022.
We would like to set up a simple and accessible portal that will easily accept various audio formats. Utilizing a WordPress site as a “front door” for participants is often done in the movement. We also don’t want to overburden the Commons community with possible vandalisms or potentially a surge of sound bites, which do not fall within the scope of Commons. We hope to explore and possibly develop different plug-ins and features between WordPress and MediaWiki for a smooth transition to Commons. The voting portion of the contest will happen on Commons and we hope it will be a great way to introduce new folks to our rich media repository.
Is there a prize?
We would love to inspire a global competition and creating sound is not easy, it takes time. We are offering the winner $2500 USD. Additionally, the winner will re-record their submission in a professional studio with MassiveMusic, our technical partner in this contest. There may be related press coverage as well, highlighting the contest, the global participation, and the winning and shortlisted sounds.
Will there be support from sound logo experts and musicians?
The Wikimedia movement is experienced at holding global competitions, often in photography, and in creating visual logos via contests. Creating a sound logo is a new and technically complex endeavour. For this, the Wikimedia Foundation partnered with a professional and experienced sonic agency called MassiveMusic. As a leading international expert in sound logos, MassiveMusic provided guidance for the contest and feedback for helping the movement find that distinctive, easily recallable sound.
What about copyrights?
MassiveMusic, our technical partner in this contest, did a final due diligence review. As part of this, an expert musicologist reviewed the top finalists – 10 sound logos – for the public vote. This review unpacked the finalist sounds and looked for possible copyright infringements. For full copyright information and contest rules, please visit the submission portal.
The initial screening on WordPress was for the length of the submission, vandalism, and any obvious copyright infringements. The musicologist review was much more in-depth, reserved for the finalists. Community members interested to be part of the initial screening team or the later selection committee are warmly invited to let the organizing team know on this page. Particularly for the selection committee, we are aiming for global representation and diversity of volunteer and affiliate contributor profiles. [Post contest addition: you can read about the experiences of volunteer screeners.]
How will the final selection happen?
MassiveMusic reviewed all eligible submissions, after initial Wikimedia community screening, and identified 40 sound logo candidates using the contest selection criteria. A Selection Committee comprising 7 Wikimedia community volunteers and 5 professional musicians and industry specialists then listened and ranked the top candidates to identify 10 sound logo submissions for a final community vote.
We are grateful to the Wikimedians who graciously served on the Sound Logo Selection Committee:
- Amrit Sufi, India
- Annie Rauwerda, USA
- Geoffrey Kateregga, Uganda
- Luis Alvaz, México
- Lodewijk Gelauf, Netherlands
- Nassima Chahboun, Morocco
- Shani Evenstein Sigalov, Israel
What is the selection criteria?
In order to make the contest as fair and inclusive as possible, all entries will be reviewed based on the selection criteria outlined below. Three areas will be used when evaluating the submissions.
- Conceptual match: 50%; Does the sound logo represent the spirit of the Wikimedia movement? Does it clearly link to the creative prompts? Does it feel human, inspired, smart and warm?
- Originality / Uniqueness: 25%; Does the sound logo feel original and unique? Is it similar to other sound logos? Does it stand out compared to other sound logos?
- "Recallability:" 25%; Is the sound logo memorable / singable / playable? How clearly can it be remembered? Is it distinctive?
Here is the checklist. So, keep in mind that:
- You can only enter the contest once and with up to three different sound logos. This way, we are hoping to encourage intentional, well-developed submissions.
- Your sound logo should comprise of at least two overlapping layers, textures or sounds.
- You must have the rights to use all components of your submission because either they are original recordings or are samples with a Creative Commons Zero license or within the public domain.
- To the best of your knowledge, your submission should be unique and distinctive from other existing music tracks, audio compositions, sound art, and sound logos.
- Your submission should be no shorter than 1 seconds and no longer than 4 seconds in length.
- Your submission must be submitted as any of the following file types: MP3 at a bit rate of at least 192kbps, OGG at a bit rate of at least 160kbps or WAV with a bit depth of at least 16-bit.
What are the steps from now until we have a sound logo?
|Community conversations||May 23 to June 10|
|To present a contest proposal to the movement for feedback and finalization|
|Preparations||WordPress portal creation|
|Commons voting portal creation|
|Outreach for community participation in the screening team and selection committee|
|Develop global contest promotional material|
|Workshops at Wikimania and elsewhere to develop basic sound mixing skills in interested community members|
|Submissions||From 13 September to 10 October|
|Submissions made on a WordPress portal|
|Community vetting, tagging|
|Review||The 40 strongest sound logo submissions will move forward to a diverse selection committee comprising 7 Wikimedia community members and 5 music industry specialists who will then select 20 candidates.|
|The top 20 candidates will undergo a due diligence and copyright check before the final 10 sounds are identified by the selection committee.|
|The selection committee will then present the 10 finalists for a public vote on Commons.|
|Voting||3 weeks; at the moment, scheduled for late November 2022|
|Announcing the winner||Likely in early 2023|
Need more info?
Ping us here on the talk page, ask us via email soundlogowikimedia.org, or join one of the conversations:
Read the summary of the May-June community conversations here.
What are your questions?
Ok, that was a lot of information. What do you think? What are your thoughts, comments and questions? We would love to hear from you.
Are you a musically-inclined Wikimedian? Are you a sound enthusiast? We’d love to hear from you.
Other than submitting a cool sound logo, there are other ways to get involved:
- Volunteers can contribute original or CC0/PD sounds to the growing collections or find existing sounds and tag them for everyone’s use.
- If you’d like to be part of the screening team, we would love your support. This involves vetting the initial submissions as well as tagging, flagging, and uploading onto Commons. If this interests you, please let us know.
- If you’re interested, please put your name forward to be on the selection committee with musicologists and industry specialists.
Frequently Asked Questions from previous phases
What is a sound logo?
A sound logo is a brief collection of sounds, such as a short musical mnemonic, usually between 3 to 5 seconds long used to identify content in an audio setting. A sound logo offers us a new way to identify Wikimedia content across a range of possible uses and offers flexibility in that it can be adapted over time to fit different content types while continuing to build association with Wikimedia. This will provide increasing and broader awareness of Wikimedia content, the work of the Wikimedia community, and further opportunities to grow participation in our movement.
How will the sound logo be used?
The main use case is to improve identification of Wikimedia content for data searches using voice-user interface technology. There is broad strategic value to Wikimedia in increasing public recognition of its content as it is re-used in third party platforms and a wide number of audio settings. We hope that the long term benefits will be significant.
While the immediate intention is for use in voice assistant searches, there are other use cases, including notifications in Wikimedia apps and third party apps that reuse Wikimedia content, audio feedback on Wikimedia and third party UIs, and branding on audio and visual content from and licensed by Wikimedia across video, TV, film, podcasts and events. Our objective is to co-create this sound logo with our communities. Adoption of the sound logo will be pursued once this project is complete. We welcome suggestions of other general and community use cases.
Why are we creating a sound logo for Wikimedia?
We have known for a while that direct traffic to our projects has changed over time. A few years ago, we had to accommodate changes reflective of the world around us and adapt to mobile technology. Information seeking has continued to change since, with voice emerging as a leading interface.
The voice assistant market has become substantial and appears to be on the cusp of major multilingual growth. In 2015, there were some 544.1 million unique active voice assistant users worldwide, from consumer and enterprise markets. By 2021, the number of active users has grown to 2.6 billion. Currently, 27% of the world’s online population uses voice search on their mobile devices and many more use non-mobile voice assistants via smart speakers.
Technology companies that offer voice search such as Google, Apple, and Amazon tend to answer general knowledge search queries by scraping data from a variety of sources. Wikimedia content is featured heavily among these sources. One study found that Wikimedia content was used to answer between 81 and 84% of common desktop knowledge queries through Google’s search engine, and that rates were similar for searches on Bing and DuckDuckGo. In the absence of identification of Wikimedia content, users often assume that the knowledge actually comes from the search platform, for example Google. Creating a sound logo for Wikimedia is an important way to preserve Wikimedia’s global reputation, particularly in audio settings.
What about "according to Wikipedia?"
Sound logos generally benefit from simplicity, flexibility, and platform adaptability, and most avoid text or language for this reason. A sound logo based on sounds other than spoken words will be workable across many content types and not be limited to voice search results, as may be the case with “according to Wikipedia”.
Search platforms can help us reach new audiences and achieve our mission of being the infrastructure of free knowledge, but not all companies consistently or effectively identify that certain content comes from Wikimedia. Currently, identification of Wikimedia content through voice assistants is inconsistent. Particularly in:
- Sourcing, specifically the extent to which various large technology platforms use data from Wikimedia content to answer audio queries.
- Identification, specifically the extent to which major technology platforms communicate to knowledge consumers when they are providing content from Wikimedia.
- Identification style, specifically how information is acknowledged as coming from Wikimedia when it is done at all.
When Wikimedia content is used in response to voice searches, it is important that users know where their information comes from. A sound logo will help improve listeners' awareness that the knowledge they receive and value comes from Wikimedia — and from the thousands of volunteers across the world who create and share this knowledge.
How will we create this sound logo?
The organizing team at the Wikimedia Foundation would like to host a global contest to create the Wikimedia sound logo. We hope to make this an exciting, participatory moment across the movement … and beyond, where everyone is invited to create and participate. This contest will draw inspiration from past Wikimedia project logo contests and perhaps other contests. Other Wikimedia logos, such as the puzzle globe logo, the Wikidata logo, the MediaWiki logo and others were developed by community members competing in contests and voting for each other’s work based on specific criteria.
Audio is a fundamentally different medium than imagery and will require different technical means of production, format, and contest criteria. This project will follow similar principles of community consultation, contribution and participation while adapting for the new audio context. This is new for everyone and we are excited to learn together. The pre-launch community consultations (May-June, 2022) will form the backbone of the subsequent phases while ensuring the final selection meets professional sound quality and legal criteria.
How does this project align with the Wikimedia movement?
Our reputation matters so that we can continue to grow participation in our movement, expand our content, and ensure our platforms are trusted and used. Knowledge users should know that the information that they are receiving comes from Wikimedia and associate it with our values and practices: open and free knowledge, global volunteer content creation, trustworthiness, neutrality, and reliability.
As knowledge consumers — our readers, and now also listeners — increasingly source our content via third party search platforms rather than directly from our website or mobile app, we need to find new ways to shape our reputation in these spaces. A sound logo will improve the frequency and consistency with which our content is identified while also linking our content to important values and ideas about Wikimedia.
Our movement strategy recommendation to Innovate In Free Knowledge calls for more initiatives that “Support more diverse modes of consumption and contribution to our projects (e.g. text, audio, visual, video, geospatial, etc.).” In this way, supporting consumption of our projects requires not only that we make our content freely available and easy to access on our platforms, but that we engage users with new forms of technology and help them know and value where the content comes from.
How will communities be impacted?
Sound impacts people on a great visceral level, deeply engaging the listener. It has the power to trigger both positive emotional responses and associative memories as studies have shown that the same parts of our brain are used when listening to music.
Effective sound logos are powerful in that they trigger a positive response in the brain and over time, strengthen their positive association with what they represent. Another advantage of sound logo is helping build memory structures, increasing the likelihood of new users remembering in a positive and non-invasive way that the knowledge they are being served comes from Wikimedia. This is crucial when converting a reader into an editor.
We anticipate that the sound logo will not change the processes by which editors create and curate knowledge on our platforms, but it will positively impact how their collective work is identified when it is used on audio platforms. In the long term, we hope that improved identification of our content will motivate more people to become editors and share in the sum of all knowledge. We invite all sound enthusiasts and musically-inclined community members to participate in creating the Wikimedia sound logo. We hope that the sound lab is a starting point that we can build together over the subsequent weeks and months as the contest begins.
Will the sound logo cover all Wikimedia projects?
For parity across use cases, one sound logo will cover all language versions of Wikimedia projects. We believe it is important to have a singular sound logo to represent all projects, because our goal is to improve recognition of Wikimedia content globally — across millions and potentially billions of knowledge users — where a single signature is much easier to identify and engage with. A singular sound logo can be adapted over time to fit different content types while continuing to build association with Wikimedia without fatiguing or confusing the listener.
Are we partnering with any organizations for this contest?
Creating a sound logo is a new and technically complex endeavor for the Wikimedia movement. The movement has great experience in organizing large, open contests, like for photography or for project logos. However, none have been related to sound. To assist with some of the novel technical needs of this endeavor, the Wikimedia Foundation has partnered with a professional and experienced sonic agency called MassiveMusic. As a leading international expert in sound logos, MassiveMusic will provide guidance and feedback for finding that distinctive sound with movement pride, wide appeal, and a high level of recallability.
Can a sound logo provide attribution?
Wikipedia articles and most other project content are published under Creative Commons licenses that require attribution for reuse. Most Wikimedia projects use a CC BY-SA 3.0 license, with exceptions being Wikidata (CC0) and WikiNews (CC BY 2.5). The Creative Commons licenses and the guidance from the Creative Commons organization (in English) do not explicitly consider how attribution can or should work in an audio context, though they do specify that attribution can be done "in any reasonable manner based on the medium, means and context."
The sound logo is not meant to replace proper Creative Commons attribution when Wikimedia content is used by audio devices. The primary use case is in circumstances when attribution may not be legally required (such as when Wikidata content is used), but we would still like end users to know that information is being sourced from Wikimedia projects.
In many cases, the type and amount of content that an audio device uses may not be enough to trigger an attribution requirement. Mere facts are not copyrightable, and a certain amount of use is permitted by fair use, fair dealing, and similar limitations on copyright. Even if attribution is not legally required, it is a good and considerate practice for audio devices (and everyone else) to identify their source when they find information on the Wikimedia projects. By creating a sound logo, we will provide a new, easy way to identify Wikimedia content. Attribution on audio platforms is a vital and interesting topic and one that we will explore in the future.
How does this fit into our current licensing rules?
Most content created at the Wikimedia Foundation, with very few exceptions, is released under a CC BY-SA 3.0 or 4.0 license. We go a long way to share accessible brand guidelines with individuals and groups across the movement. We would protect a sound logo as a trademark. Although sonic trademarks are a new practice area for the Foundation, our legal counsel will explore this and provide guidance around copyright protection and ways for the sound logo to be reused by Wikimedians.