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Program guides/Photo contests

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There are a wide variety of photo contests, events and programs that Wikimedia communities plan and participate in with the primary goals of increasing the quality of Wikimedia projects by adding captivating images and reaching new users. Many organizations have found these programs can help build thriving photography communities.

Use the guides below to begin thinking about how to plan a program that will help your community meet their goals. Look for more detailed how-to guides and discussions in the tabs.

Plan a photo event for the first time
A learning pattern forphoto events
How to start a Wiki Loves contest
problemYou want to organize Wiki Love Monuments or Wiki Loves Earth for the first time.
solutionStart small and focus on the basics.
creatorKHarold (WMF)
created on00:37, 14 August 2015 (UTC)

What problem does this solve?[edit]

International photo contests like Wiki Loves Monuments or Wiki Loves Earth can be a good first project for volunteers to organize together. What should small Wikimedia communities or interested participants consider when planning a Wiki Loves contest for the first time?

What is the solution?[edit]

Focus on basic goals

The first time your community plans and participates in a photo contest it is a good idea to focus on basic goals while you learn to coordinate a project as a team. Photo competitions can have different goals -- to get the best photos possible on a specific topic (with the hope that they will be used on Wikimedia projects in the future), or as a way to attract new contributors to Wikimedia and your volunteer community, or both.

Learn from other communities

The list below covers the basic steps for organizing any photo contest:

  1. Find a few other volunteers to help coordinate the contest.
  2. Create a list of monuments, sites, foods, locations, objects or art that are relevant to the contest theme.
  3. Organize a jury to select local winners.
  4. Create an event page or website for your contest and set up Categories and Templates on Commons.
  5. See international contest pages for rules, tools and guidelines and mailing lists.[1]

Evaluate your results

After your community has planned and participated in a photo contest the first time, you can collect baseline metrics about how many participants and photographs to expect in future contests. You may also identify challenges that can be avoided the future.  Write these lessons down and review them when it is time to plan the next event.

Things to consider[edit]

When to use[edit]

Wiki Loves Food India - Restoring relationships with disparate communities
"Wiki Loves Food is the first major program from WMIN after a long time that actively involves [volunteers in] the pan-Indian community. While, this has helped us restore relationships with many of the communities, the friction in community engagement was also quite expected."[2] "The contest aimed to educate people about and promote donating images to Commons on a national scale. India has a vibrant photography community and we succeeded in adding 10,000+ Indian Food related photographs on Commons through this contest campaign. More than 3000 people registered for this contest from various parts of India." [3]
Improve results in the next photo event
A learning pattern forphoto events
Improve photo contest results
problemHow to improve quality, increase user retention or reach more participants through photo contests and events.
solutionMaking small changes to contest promotion, prize categories, judging and events can lead to significant improvements in photo contest results.
creatorKHarold (WMF)
created on18:36, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
Small changes in the planning phase can lead to significant improvement in contest results.

What problem does this solve?[edit]

Each time that you organize a new edition of a photo contest you may make some changes based on what you learned from past contests. Use the baseline information collected in the previous edition and set goals to improve upon past contest results.

What is the solution?[edit]

Improve photo quality[edit]

In the last edition there were many participants and photographs, but few quality images.

  • Promote photo contests and programs to experienced photographers. Consider contacting photography clubs, art schools or relevant communities on Flickr or Instagram.
  • Host photography workshops to teach participants how to improve their skills.
  • Share links to photography guides on Meta and Commons. Think about translating guides to your local language.

Increase number of images in use[edit]

Photo events have captured many important images, but very few of them are used on Wikimedia projects (other than Commons).

  • Plan an event during or after a photo event to teach participants how to add images to articles.
  • Offer a prize for adding images to articles or creating stubs using photo event images and information from monument lists.
  • Make it easy for participants to use the correct categories and descriptions when they upload photos.
  • Use Baglama to look at page views of images within the photo event category. You may be surprised to see that some images get significant page-views.

Focus on new user retention[edit]

Your community wants to grow, but participants disappear after a contest is over.

  • Invite new users to participate in the judging process.
  • Keep in touch with new users after the contest. Invite them to participate in future events.
  • Start a mentorship program.

Things to consider[edit]

Goals and outcomes will be different for every community. On average, individual WLM contests generate 4,000 images, 13% images in use, 153 participants of which 68% were new users. New user retention and quality image rates are both below 1%.[4]

When to use[edit]

Try a new concept to avoid burnout
A learning pattern forphoto events
Adapt Wiki Loves contests to prevent burnout
problemHow to change Wiki Loves contests to maintain volunteer and participant interest.
solutionFocus on specific regions, add incentives for capturing hard to reach monuments, focus on a different theme or scale back the size of your contest.
created on18:36, 14 August 2015 (UTC)

What problem does this solve?[edit]

Over time, volunteers and participants may become less interested in Wiki Loves contests for a variety of reasons. For example, it may be difficult to reach the remaining unphotographed monuments or wildlife, volunteers may be tired of organizing the competition, or the concept of cultural heritage may not be well understood or important in your country.

What is the solution?[edit]

Lago Trafu Wiki Tour Argentina - Winning photo

The best solution for your community will depend on the reasons why volunteers or participants have become less interested in participating in Wiki Loves photo contests.

Focus on a specific region[edit]

There are fewer participants and photos each year, even though there are many monuments that still need images.

  • Focus on a specific region that is missing many images. Work with partners in that region to reach new participants.[5]
  • Market the competition with more focus on different parts of the country so as to get more photographs from the more distant regions.[6]

Add incentives for participants[edit]

Unphotographed monuments are difficult to reach, or participants feel discouraged because only skilled photographers win prizes.

  • Add incentives such as a special prize or additional points for photographing monuments that are difficult to reach.
  • Plan a WikiExpedition or WikiTour to locations that are difficult to reach. Ask local authorities to help access closed monuments.
  • If there are many unphotographed monuments in your country, consider offering a prize for most monuments photographed. This allows participants who are not experienced photographers or photo editors an opportunity to win a prize.[7]
  • Consider offering photo workshops to teach participants how to improve their photography skills.

Focus on a different theme or add a writing contest[edit]

Most monuments have already been photographed or the community is losing interest in photo contests.

  • Host a writing contest where participants create or improve articles on Wikipedia or Wikivoyage about previously photographed monuments.[8]
  • "When working with many languages and different writing systems, the use of Wikidata Q numbers makes things much easier. Q294252 is a multilingual way to call what some people name Catedral de Palencia, others पालेनसीया िगरजाघर, பலன்சியா பெருங்கோவில் or Katedraśw. Antoninaz Pamiers w Palencji."[9]
  • Focus on a different theme, such as public art, local foods, or places of geological interest.

Scale back the size of the contest[edit]

Your community wants to participate in the contest, but it is difficult to find enough volunteers to organize it.

  • Reuse templates or make minimal updates to the event page from previous year competitions to save time.
  • Try to work with the same partners from the previous year, this will reduce the number of meetings or emails neccessary to coordinate.
  • Invite experienced judges to participate again.

Things to consider[edit]

When to use[edit]

Repte Monument Challenge - Host writing contest instead of WLM
"Amical Wikimedia has collaborated in the organization of three editions of Wiki Loves Monuments, from 2011 to 2013, and also in Wiki Loves Earth 2014. There was the potential risk that participants, partners and organizers felt saturated of photographic contests. Amical decided to do not participate in the 2014 edition of Wiki Loves Monuments, but September has become the month of monuments, so we decided to switch to a writing challenge. An analysis of the editions shows different motivations of participants. Some photographers had participated in Wiki Loves Monuments and they were interested in developing articles of monuments they know and apreciate most. Some users uploaded new photos while creating a new article. Other participants were interested in their local heritage while others in a group of thematic monuments."[10]
WikiTour Argentina - Adapted WLM concept to fit local context
"Wiki Tour focused on emphasizing the cultural wealth of the country, understanding it as a concept that involves a lot more than just monuments. Latin America’s contextual wealth is very different to that found in Europe or other countries, and the concept of “monument” is linked to the correct understanding of the context in which we are working.In this regard, with Wiki Tour we aimed at highlighting the cultural wealth of the country differentiating the images in three categories, with the idea to provide Wikimedia Commons with newer and richer photographic material of Argentina. Cultural expressions, architectural representations and landscape images tried to portrait Argentina’s wealth through its intangible heritage." "Wiki Tour Argentina provided 2042 images for Wikimedia Commons, and at least 96 articles were improved in any of the Wikimedia projects as a result. Even though the number of images uploaded is comparatively lower than that achieved in 2013 and in the WLM competition -4119 participating photographs in 2013- we substantially increased the number of participants, with 350 participants next to the 150 participants of 2013. 11 of these were new participants, and after the end of the competition 20 editors remained active users contributing more than 5 edits after 3 months."[11]
Wikiviajes por Venezuela - Adapted WLM concept to fit local context and added incentives for participants
"Our contest was aimed at rescuing photographs of Venezuela tourist type that may be of value for illustration of the contents of the proposed tour guide in es.wikivoyage.org free license (not limited to this). For purposes, it is understood as a tourist photograph that shows attractive landscapes of visitable sites or destinations recognized by Venezuela, Venezuelan cuisine, moments of festivities and traditions, pictures of the flora and fauna found in tourist areas, cultural events, city and other local urban elements." "Wikiviajes por Venezuela provided 14236 images for Wikimedia Commons, and at least 8 articles were improved in any of the Wikimedia projects as a result.
Shared Knowledge - Conclusions towards resolving burnout
Our Wiki Loves Monuments 2015 was a modest success, but burnout was evident due to the failings of the current model. This year, we scrapped the awards given for prolific photographers, and suitably raised the quality awards, hoping that this will bring us quality, rather than the large quantity of relatively poor quality images, part od which were not of official monuments. Neverheless, Many listed monuments were not covered, as people generally seem not willing to go the extra mile to get to them. Considering our situation, we have come up with a new paradigm (explained below), to make WLM work for us.

We will still keep the general outreach, but from now on, we will pay special attention to reaching to photography groups and societies, cultural research groups etc. and their forums. We will also approach individuals whom we know to be members of such communities and can also spread the word of mouth. These are the people who are both concerned with quality and with content, and are in the habit of going to heritage sites not covered in the competition so far.[12]

WLM Ireland 2016-Added a Category
2016 was the centenary of the Easter Rising, a significant event in Irish history. To capture the public excitement about this anniversary, we added a 1916 category to the 2016 contest. The category was comprised of monuments relating to the Rising including the places of birth of the leader who were executed, the train stations named after them, and the spots in Dublin where the fighting took place. It was a nice way for us to reinvigorate the WLM contest and celebrate an important historical event. [13]
Support a community of photographers
A learning pattern forphoto events
Support a community of photographers
problemGet experienced photographers to continue to contribute quality images after photo contests have ended.
solutionProvide resources, plan programs and events that appeal to photographers.
creatorKHarold (WMF)
created on04:15, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

What problem does this solve?[edit]

Photography contests often attract talented photographers who may not have contributed content to Wikimedia before. Plan programs and events that will motivate talented photographers to continue adding valuable images to Commons.

What is the solution?[edit]

Help photographers access important subjects and quality equipment

  • Reimburse photographers for travel related expenses
  • Arrange for press credentials to photograph events
  • Start an equipment lending program

Plan regular photography events

  • Plan WikiExpeditions and photo tours
  • Start an aerial photography project
  • Invite talented photographers to judge future contests

Things to consider[edit]

When to use[edit]

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