Grants:IEG/Consolidate wikiArS to involve art schools/Midpoint

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Welcome to this project's midpoint report! This report describes the progress and lessons learned in the Individual Engagement Grantee's first three months.


  • The wikiArS initiative has been further consolidated. More schools have gotten involved and a significant number of contributions have been made.
  • In our image-production efforts, we have received guidance from experts in a wide range of fields, including geology, physics, biology, history, healthcare and construction. The images obtained have been used in various Wikipedia articles in multiple languages.
  • Various types of graphics have been created (infographics, portraits, scientific illustrations, educational animations, story illustrations) using various media on paper (pencil, watercolor, acrylic paint, oil paint, etc.) as well as digital techniques (bitmap editing and processing, 3D animation and modeling). Graphics have also been created for two sister wikis, Wikibooks and Wikispecies.
  • A growing number of people (students and lecturers) are now involved in the project and a network of collaborators (tutors, advisers, online support) is being consolidated.
  • WikiArS's online documentation —in particular in the Outreach wiki— has been improved and the initiative has been promoted among the Wikimedia project communities.
  • Various experiences undertaken as part of this initiative can be used as models for future replication or adaptation.


With this grant, I am committed to consolidating wikiArS, which was launched in Catalonia last year, and doing everything I can to document this initiative so that our experience can be replicated elsewhere. The IEG period overlaps the end of the 2012-2013 academic year and the first quarter of the 2013-2014 academic year. The initiative is based on a pilot project conducted during the 2011-2012 academic year and collaboration arrangements established during the 2012-2013 academic year.

The art schools' involvement in the project has taken the following forms:

  • Students create graphics for Wikipedia (and sister wikis) as part of an internship, a final project or an in-class assignment.
  • The schools organize parallel activities aimed at raising awareness of Wikipedia and improving the website's content.

Drawing on the conclusions of the pilot project, we have taken the following approach to the creation of graphics:

  • We kept the assignment in which students draw portraits of 20th-century figures of whom no freely usable image is available. However, this assignment was limited to a single school (Llotja), where we stressed to students that they must not create works that are derivative.
  • We made it a priority to recruit subject-specific advisers who guide students in the creation of educational graphics. The various assignments were defined in collaboration with these advisers. Students worked on assignments of this sort at all five participating schools (Llotja, edRa, Serra i Abella, Manresa and UCA).
  • Specific graphics were created for the sister wikis, e.g. edRa students illustrated stories for Wikibooks and Llotja students made scientific illustrations of animals for Wikispecies.
  • UCA students created animations in addition to illustrations.

My attention has been primarily focused on consolidating and assessing the three-way model (art lecturers, subject-specific advisers and Wikimedian tutors) for supervising the students' image-creation process to ensure the production of visually well-crafted images that are free of subject-specific errors.

See also: Some of our assignment instructions could be used as a template in future initiatives.


My work during this first stage of the IEG has consisted of the following tasks:

  • Maintaining or initiating contact with the art schools. Eight schools have agreed to participate and four have already done so (Llotja, edRa, Serra i Abella and Manresa). The University of Cadiz (UCA, advertising degree program) has also joined as a participant and the Open University of Catalonia (UOC, multimedia degree program) will do so next year.
  • Coordinating and supporting the Wikipedians who have joined the initiative as tutors: Roger Fuentes (Galazan) in Catalonia and Manuel Palomo (El Pantera) in Cadiz. Keeping the associations I belong to (Amical Wikimedia and Wikimedia España) up-to-date and asking them for feedback and contributions.
  • Meeting with potential subject-specific advisers and working with them to prepare assignments that are both subject-appropriate and useful to Wikipedia. Five people have acted as advisers this year, and three more plan to come on board next year. There are seven advisers for UCA. A total of 23 assignments have been completed. Additional assignments were developed but not ultimately used; these assignments will be used next year. Various individuals helped to develop the assignments.
  • Tutoring students directly (I've worked directly with 16 students, while also providing support to other tutors) and working with lecturers and advisers to monitor students' progress.
  • Following up on published images (categorization, use in different versions of Wikipedia, nominations and arguments in the voting process).
  • Preparing the initiative's basic documentation pages at Outreach:wikiArS as well as complementary pages. These pages are currently being translated into several languages thanks to the Translate extension.
  • Contacting suppliers of printed materials and other materials for our traveling exhibition. Requesting quotes and technical solutions.
  • Writing texts about the initiative for education and GLAM newsletters as well as case studies. Working with UCA faculty members to write an academic text on innovation in universities.
  • Keeping the Wikimedian community informed via the IEG timeline and messages on the Village Pump pages. Responding to feedback from these communities.

See also: Timeline and progress

Midpoint outcomes[edit]


During this academic year, the participating students have produced and published more than 70 graphics and animations as part of 23 different assignments (some of which are still underway). Including the images created last year, the art schools have contributed a total of more than 100 images.

A total of 13 students from four different art schools have participated in internships at Amical Wikimedia. At one art school, four students did a final project as part of this initiative. In one university subject, an optional assignment for this initiative was assigned and seven students chose to do it.

Escola Llotja (Barcelona)

  • Nine students did an internship at Amical Wikimedia. Illustration course.
  • Five students made portraits of 20th-century figures (writers, philosophers, politicians). Lecturer: Alícia Gallego. A total of 25 portraits were completed.
  • Students: Núria Martínez, Hakima El Kaddouri, Antonio Climent, Manuel Redondo and Diana Francitorra.
  • Four students have made scientific illustrations of extinct or endangered animals under the supervision of adviser Alistair Ian Spearing Ortiz (scientific translator and Wikipedian). Lecturer: Luis Casado.
  • Students: Edgar Sánchez, Daniel Burch, David Fernández and Miquel Borrull.

Escola Serra i Abella (L'Hospitalet)

  • One student, Naara Riveiro, is doing an internship at Amical Wikimedia. Illustration course.
  • She did two historical-reenactment illustrations with Roger Fuentes of Amical Wikimedia acting as tutor and historian F. Xavier Hernández (University of Barcelona) acting as adviser. Lecturer: Mariapaola Piscitelli.

Escola d'Art de Manresa

  • Three students are doing an internship at Amical Wikimedia. Illustration course.
  • The students are doing scientific illustrations of geological phenomena with geologist Fidel Grandia (amphos21, Technical University of Catalonia) acting as adviser. Lecturer: Roser Comas.
  • Still underway. Slated for completion in July and September.

Escola edRa (Rubí)

  • Four students did a final project. Final Art course.
  • Two students have made infographics about the Naica Mine with geologist Àngels Canals (University of Barcelona) acting as adviser. Lecturer: Jaume Ferrer.
  • Two students have made wikibooks about the Naica Mine for children aged six to eight with geologist Àngels Canals (University of Barcelona) acting as adviser. Lecturer: Jaume Ferrer.

University of Cadiz (UCA), Jerez Campus

  • Seven students created 3D animations as a class assignment. Publicity and public relations degree program.
  • Manuel Palomo of Wikimedia España acted as tutor. Lecturer: Lorena Gutiérrez. Each student worked with a different subject-specific adviser.
  • Students: Daniel Torres Sánchez, Manuel Jesús Arteaga Rico, Cristobal Sánchez Ruiz, Carlos Calvo Luna, Federica Brigida, Miguel Angel Rodríguez Vázquez and David Marín Sánchez.
  • The students were expected to complete a weekly progress-report rubric and were encouraged to post about their progress on social media.

Other schools and universities

  • Escola d'Art del Treball (Barcelona). Lecturers: Jordi Catafal and Gemma Guasch. Four students will do an internship at Amical Wikimedia next year. They will create botany illustrations (with biologist Pep Cuello acting as adviser) and historical-reenactment illustrations (with history professor Ramon Serra acting as adviser).
  • Escola Pau Gargallo (Badalona). Lecturer: Jordi Badal. Students are expected to do internships with the initiative next year.
  • Escola d'Art de Vic. Lecturer: Mireia Baurier. Students are expected to do internships with the initiative next year.
  • Open University of Catalonia (UOC). Lecturers: Irma Vilà and David Gómez. Students from the multimedia degree program are expected to do final projects with the initiative next year.
  • Escola BAU. Librarian: Sergi B. García. Activities to improve Wikipedia's content on typefaces and design are planned for next year.
  • Institut Tres Turons (Arenys). Lecturer: Pere Planells. 3D recreations of buildings will be published on Commons.
  • Escola d'Art de Tarragona. Lecturers: Daniel Uzquiano and Angel Sauret. Students will do an internship at Amical Wikimedia next year. They will create historical-reenactment illustrations about ancient Rome (with advisers from the National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona). The Wikimedian Lluis_tgn will be the tutor.

Online resources[edit]



Disseminated texts[edit]


I have not yet spent any money on the exhibition or on printing. Therefore, most of the expenses incurred correspond to project management for this period. I have committed to spending €138.16 ($182) on WMF merchandise for our students and collaborators. This sum will be deducted from the second outlay of funds. I have also committed to spending 714.51€ on the translation of this text and related content.

I have requested several quotes for printing and for other materials and services related to our exhibition. Click here to see a summary of these quotes.

I do not expect the expenses to deviate from the agreed plan. At the very most, it might be necessary to make minor reallocations between budget items, for example between exhibition materials and printing. The project as a whole, however, will not be over-budget.

Lessons learned[edit]

What is working well[edit]

  • The three-way supervision model (art lecturers, Wikimedians and expert advisers) that we introduced with a single pilot project in 2011-2012 has worked well (with adaptations for each specific case) during the 2012-2013 academic year in all of the participating schools and with a wide range of different assignments. This model provides an enriching experience for the students and guarantees the subject-specific quality of their contributions. It is important that this model be maintained.
  • After we announced on the Village Pump pages of the Catalan-language Wikipedia that some of the artwork had been published, an anonymous user pointed out an error in one of the animations, which was subsequently corrected by the student. This shows that, in addition to relying on the advice of experts, it is important to pay attention to input from the community. Expertise + community = quality improvement.
  • Portraits of politicians made by one student in 2011-2012 had to be taken down as they were deemed to be direct copies of specific photographs. After this experience, we have made sure to stress to students that they must not make copies or derivative works based on published photographs. Instead, we instruct them to draw unique portraits by consulting multiple references and truly "making the subject their own." The students have done well in this regard. In my opinion, the portraits they have drawn this year cannot be considered derivative of any specific photograph. We must continue to inform students who draw portraits of this issue.
  • One animation was created by a UCA student using images created the previous year by a Llotja student, in addition to fragments from a freely usable animation that had already been posted on Commons. This example demonstrates the potential of copyleft to transform derivative works into a form of deferred collaboration.
  • Galazan joined wikiArS as a tutor during his stint as a Wikipedian-in-residence at the Catalan History Museum. In addition to tutoring a student, Galazan recruited the historian F. Xavier Hernández as a subject-specific adviser, developed various history-related assignments for students and made contacts with other museums. This example of synergy between GLAM-Wiki and wikiArS was a positive experience and should be repeated.
  • Leptictidium, the leader of WikiProject Mammals on Catalan Wikipedia, acted as an adviser to Llotja students who made illustrations of animals. This experience was a good example of how wikiArS can be useful to highly specific WikiProjects that already have a rigorous background in their scope of activity. Perhaps links of this sort could be encouraged with other WikiProjects.
  • Geologist Àngels Canals's guidance regarding the giant crystals in the Naica Mine gave rise to two different types of works: 1) Infographics that are useful for explaining the phenomenon on Wikipedia, and 2) Stories for explaining the phenomenon to children aged six to eight on Wikijunior (see here and here). With this second edition of the initiative, we have seen that art school students are also capable of contributing to sister wikis that target children. Moreover, during this process they consulted with children from a primary school and used their input to modify certain aspects of the stories. We should continue to explore this channel.
  • We have found that releasing images sometimes also entails providing access to source files, without which derivative works could not be created. We urged the students to do this and link to the files. Because not all formats can be published on Commons, we recommended the use of or other repositories. When Blender files were uploaded to Commons, we would get an error message. We reported this to the administrator and the problem was corrected. Some students have already published their source files with a link to the image description page (example here). We will include this recommendation in the support materials we plan to produce.

What are the challenges?[edit]

  • I had expected most students to complete their works in late May and the rest in mid-June, but this was not the case. Many students delivered their works in July. This happened for two reasons: 1) Some schools joined the initiative well into the academic year, and 2) The students themselves extended the process, sometimes—though not always—for justifiable reasons. This problem could be addressed 1) by launching the initiative at the start of the academic year and agreeing on a shared timeframe, and 2) by using more formal supervision strategies, such as periodic rubrics or progress-report forms.
  • The creation of the exhibition has fallen behind schedule for two reasons: 1) This year's results were delayed, I was engaged in personally monitoring students' progress and no materials were ready for exhibition, and 2) We did not find a suitable supplier of cardboard, cutting and printing services. We will redouble our efforts to produce the exhibition and have it ready at the beginning of the coming academic year.
  • I find creating and updating the Commons Cultural Partnership pages for the schools to be rather tedious. Perhaps this task could be (at least partially) automated via a bot in order to ease the burden.
  • The Translate extension has proven very useful for translating wikiArS's Outreach pages to various languages. However, the extension only allows an English version to be used as the source text. If a text was originally written in a language other than English, it remains nearly invisible until it is translated into English; however, because the text is not very visible, there is less chance of it being translated. Wikimedia's language support technology relies on English as the language of transit between other languages and as the primary language in which texts are written, despite the fact that it would be technically possible to start with an original version in another language if no English version is available.
  • In addition to the aforementioned portraits that were taken down, two portraits made by other students in the 2011-2012 academic year had to be taken down as well (to date, no portraits from 2012-2013 have been taken down). In this case, I believe the portraits' categorization as derivative works was more debatable, but they were taken down so quickly that were was no chance to discuss the matter. I have tried to urge the Commons users involved in this situation to allow time for cases of this sort to be discussed, on the grounds that the line between a derivative work and a work that draws on other works as documentary references is not entirely clear. I believe that such a discussion could help us to establish criteria for students to follow. Perhaps we will need to get input from legal experts who are familiar with international laws, in particular the laws that affect Commons. It seems logical that we should be able to create portraits of deceased individuals using existing images. However, such portraits are difficult to make, and it would be absurd to go to all this effort if the final product cannot actually be used. It is possible that a "Commons paradox" has arisen, in which the community, in an attempt to discourage derivative works, applies a more stringent standard than what is required by law in terms of limitations on artists.
  • The nomination of images (or sets of images) for community distinctions (Featured Picture, Quality Image, Valued Image) provides us with much knowledge about assessment criteria, which we can subsequently use to improve our assignments and the guidance we provide to students. However, most images that are nominated on Commons are photographs (followed distantly by public-domain graphics and custom-made graphics), and some of the assessment criteria seem to be written specifically for photographs. Not many criteria seem to be in place for judging illustrations. Besides factors such as resolution and whether or not another freely usable image is available, the decision largely seems to depend on each voter’s personal judgment or preferences. I think we need to mature as a community in the assessment of illustrations in much the same way that we have matured in the assessment of photographs. It is therefore important that illustrations continue to be nominated.
  • Despite the existence of a specific wikiArS guide, many students still have trouble posting, describing and categorizing their work. The students who had already registered prior to working with the wikiArS initiative have less trouble, as they received more information about the Commons environment. We need to 1) help students by offering preliminary workshops on Commons, 2) improve the uploading guide, 3) customize the Upload Wizard, and 4) look for ways to encourage students to become involved on Commons.

Next steps and opportunities[edit]

  • Exhibition. Procure materials and cutting services. Set up easels. Design panels with the images produced to date and provide them to the printers. Establish an itinerary for the traveling exhibition for the 2013-2014 academic year.
  • Printed materials. Design support materials for students, lecturers and advisers. Publish these materials on the Outreach wiki and have them printed.
  • Assignments and collaborators. Prepare new assignments for the coming academic year with the help of our advisers and collaborating Wikipedians. Define new types of assignments. Confirm the participation of the advisers, tutors and other collaborators. Find out their availability and preferences.
  • Schools and 2012-2013 academic year. Confirm the participation of the schools and work with them to plan for the upcoming academic year.
  • Graphic creation workshop on Commons. Prepare a graphic creation workshop on Commons that groups of students at the respective schools can complete at the beginning of the year so that they will require less support later and will be better acquainted with the community. Set workshops dates for each school.
  • Adaptation of the Commons Upload Wizard to the needs of the wikiArS initiative using the "campaign" editors functionality, thereby minimizing the need to help students with their uploading problems.
  • WikiArS Outreach pages. Continue to provide additional documentation. Create a case-studies page and highlight specific experiences that may serve as examples to follow.
  • Monitoring. Create or compile methodologies for improving the supervision of students. Create progress-report forms to facilitate the relationship between the tutors/advisers and the students.
  • Tutoring. Reinstate the tutoring of participating students once the 2013-2014 academic year begins.
  • Internationalization. Coordinate with anyone who wishes to implement the wikiArS initiative elsewhere in the world.

Possible opportunities:

  • I want to try to increase the involvement of the schools' educational communities through other activities besides the students' assignments. I have already discussed with some of the schools the possibility of organizing collective activities such as edit-a-thons.
  • I would like to see the images created by the students used outside of Wikimedia projects. For example, I believe that museums and schools could put these images to good educational use. This possibility has yet to be explored.
  • It would surely be possible to create more synergies with the GLAMwiki initiative. WikiArS could support projects that are currently underway. In addition, providing guidance to art students could be one way in which cultural institutions participate in the dissemination of knowledge in society.
  • We also need to explore technical resources that could facilitate wikiArS and make the initiative more sustainable. Such resources may include using bots to perform repetitive tasks and providing forms to encourage online work.
  • A better definition of what is and is not a derivative work, established with input from legal experts, would be very useful to the wikiArS initiative. Unfortunately, this falls outside the scope of my expertise, but we will be alert to opportunities to get this sort of input.

Grantee reflection[edit]

  • I am learning a lot about what Commons and Outreach are like and how they work. I have made an effort to reach various project communities and get feedback from them (something I had never done previously).
  • I am also learning about art schools, in particular about the good training they provide, but also about the different ways in which they operate. Having been in contact with close to 10 different art schools, I have gained a broad perspective.
  • Being an IEGrantee has given me peace of mind about devoting a significant portion of my time to wikiArS. I do not feel that my involvement in the initiative takes time away from my other projects, or that I have exceeded the amount of time that I can reasonably volunteer each month. However, I do feel a sense of urgency: I want to get as much as possible out of this opportunity.
  • I have been especially pleased to work at the intersection between artistic creation and knowledge dissemination, building bridges between art students and lecturers, on the one hand, and scientists and experts, on the other. One of the most stimulating aspects of this entire experience is the chance to help people convert knowledge into images that make that knowledge more comprehensible, and then to ensure the accessibility of those images by making them freely available.