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Wiki Makes Video

project contact:



Andrew Lih. Coordinated with Ward Cunningham.


Increasing community collaboration around the quantity and quality of video in Wikipedia articles through education, training and contests

engagement target:

Wikipedia, Commons

strategic priority:

Improving Quality

total amount requested:

30,000 USD

2013 round 1

Project idea


Wikipedia has dominated Britannica and Encarta, but trails the two commercial encyclopedias in terms of multimedia in video, interactive timelines and other audio/visual content. The crowd has done a good job of building Wikipedia's text-based encyclopedia and adding photos to Wikimedia Commons. However, video is still lacking and would greatly enhance the usefulness of Wikipedia content.

Wikipedia's video efforts have not kept pace with other advancements, and haven't targeted specific strategic subject-areas that could benefit from video content. This is also a potential gateway for new communities to engage in Wikimedia-related content creation.

Project goals


The goal is to vastly improve the quantity and quality of videos in the Wikimedia ecosystem, in a way that benefits all language editions of Wikipedia and other projects.

A brief study in early 2013 with Ward Cunningham found that roughly 4,000 out of 4 million articles in English Wikipedia had associated videos. Of these, perhaps only 1/3 were of high quality. Among the challenges for adding more video to Wikipedia:

  • Lack of visual literacy training in the general editing community
  • Complicated production techniques and tools for video
  • Open source tools and standards are lacking compared to popular, but patent-encumbered, standards like H.264 and MP4
  • Wikimedia Commons uploads complication and confusion

This project would create visual literacy training materials based on proven methods in video journalism instruction, but oriented towards Wikipedia editors.

The effort would also identify strategic article topic areas that would benefit from video content and create WikiProjects and contests around them, building off of successful models like Wiki Loves Monuments. This could also be a major way to engage with other communities such as Wikinews and GLAM-Wiki, which are also involved with multimedia storytelling.

Part 2: The Project Plan


Project plan




Scope and activities


This project will work primarily to create training resources to teach Wikimedians and new volunteers how to shoot video for inclusion in Wikipedia articles and Wikimedia Commons.

Outcomes include:

  • Training materials on:
    • visual literacy (rule of thirds, sequential shooting, visual continuity)
    • how to use various devices for video capture (cell phone camera, camcorder, DSLR, ENG cameras)
    • how to effectively edit and assemble video
    • export, compress and upload video
  • Create best practices document of shooting patterns, resolutions, video encoding recommendations
  • Design and execute
    • workshops, meetups and video-a-thons to help train new video shooters
    • competitive challenges for the global community to spur more video (similar to Wiki Loves Monuments)
  • Prototype a mobile video capture app for Android devices to help simplify the process
  • Stage workshops for Campus Ambassadors and video trainers across various locations
  • Measure and evaluate effectiveness of video creation efforts

For examples of articles with improved video as a pilot version of the above efforts, see:

Tools, technologies, and techniques

  • VIDEO PATTERNS. At the core of the video training is the use of "video patterns" to define visual storytelling sequences for different topics. The BBC and other news organizations have used a "five shot" pattern for video storytelling for human subject matters -- a closeup of hands, closeup of the face, a wide shot, over the shoulder shot and a side/unusual shot. This video storytelling pattern has been used widely in the journalistic setting, and the PI has used this extensively in the classroom and in a professional setting. Similarly, there are different shooting patterns for videos about food, arts, sport or that can be identified and used to help train new generation of video shooters and editors to create video content for Wikipedia. This project will adapt this for crowdsourcing the gathering of video for Wikipedia.
Example of the BBC "Five shot" video pattern used for shooting human subject matter - closeup of the hands, closeup of the face, a wide shot, an over the shoulder shot, and a side/closing shot. (Sandbag operation at Venice Beach pier in California. September 30, 2010)
  • TRAINING AND WORKSHOPS. The project will build on existing efforts by the PI to create training materials, including instructional videos and How-to guides for certain article topics. Also, part of the travel budget is to help stage regional workshops to work with local Wikimedia chapters and GLAM efforts worldwide to foster more video work, and to work with video creators in different language communities and geographies. One possibility is also to have a summit where Wikimedia Campus Ambassadors or others can meet to learn about video creation techniques and to share experiences.
  • CHALLENGES AND CONTESTS. Following on the Wiki Loves Monuments model, a series of challenges and contests can help spur participation by fostering healthy competition.
  • EVALUATION. In collaboration with Ward Cunningham, we have identified roughly 4,000 of the 4.1 million English language Wikipedia articles as containing video. Cunningham's fast parser has allowed for quick identification of OGV, WebM and other video formats and will allow us to do followup . We will also study ways to track video content additions better on the live database, using recent changes or Toolserver methods.
  • MOBILE PROTOTYPE. In order to make shooting, editing and uploading as seamless as possible, a mobile app would be ideal, so that there is a very low barrier to entry. One promising approach would be to use existing toolkits for data capture and upload. One such package for Android, Open Data Kit, shows promise, and doesn't require extensive coding to make a robust platform for uploading to Commons. Part of the funding would help to prototype an Open Data Kit solution to capturing and uploading video.



Total amount requested


USD $30,000

Budget breakdown

  • Equipment - $5,000
  • Training material development - $10,000 (staff time and research assistants)
  • Travel and workshops - $10,000
  • Mobile app prototype - $5,000

Intended impact:


Target audience


A community of multimedia content producers, and also training existing Wikimedians and Wikimedia Commons users to become video creators.

Fit with strategy


The crowd has done a good job of building Wikipedia's text-based encyclopedia and adding photos in Wikimedia Commons. But it has been greatly lacking in video, especially compared to Encarta and Britannica. Video would greatly enhance the usefulness of a whole range of articles, but Wikipedia's video efforts have not kept pace with other advancements, and haven't targeted specific strategic subject-areas.

By embracing the use of video, and encouraging users to shoot video in their corner of the world, this has the potential to be the largest video project in human history.

In the early 20th century, banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn started the project "Archive of the Planet" in an attempt to capture all of the world's human culture in still and moving image. He sent photographers with cameras all over the world, but ran out of money before he realized this dream. We have the chance to complete that mission in a crowdsourced way that could provide more footage than any dedicated crew of photographers and videographers could. For this, we need good training in visual literacy and the use of common video tools that exist in cell phones, and other inexpensive devices around the world.



This is meant to create a community of video creators and to live on well beyond the scope of the initial grant. The goal is to make video contests and challenges a recurring event driven by the community, and to keep seeing the addition of better tools and techniques from veteran video creators. There are also great opportunities to connect with existing video efforts, such as the Open Video Alliance and those related to the Mozilla Foundation.

Measures of success


We have taken an inventory of existing video in English Wikipedia, and we plan on continuing to use Ward Cunningham's fast parser to analyze articles that have had video additions. We also plan to examine how to better track recent changes for finding video-related activity.


  • Andrew Lih, User:Fuzheado, principal, assoc. professor, University of Southern California
  • Collaborators
  • Research assistants at University of Southern California
    • Angela Blakely
    • Rosa Trieu

Part 3: Community Discussion




Community Notification:


Please paste a link to where the relevant communities have been notified of this proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions, here. Relevant communities:



Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

  • Endorse. This is a tough thing to make work, in terms of making a lasting bump in the quantity and quality of video content we get, but Andrew has the right background for it. (Per my talk page comment, I'm not sure an independent mobile prototype for uploading videos to Commons will be necessary.)--Ragesoss (talk) 03:53, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Endorse. We need progress in the video realm, and it has been very slow in coming. The Interior (talk) 06:39, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
  • endorse video needs serious work; we've sunk to the expedient of external video links, since the open source video is so bad. Slowking4 (talk) 22:10, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Endorse There's a huge potential in video for the projects. I especially like the "Fit with strategy" vision, although it's a tough competition out there with Youtube and Vimeo. I'd love to participate in the pilot project. Bennylin 11:39, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Endorse This is a long time coming and badly needed Victorgrigas (talk) 21:02, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Community member: add your name and rationale here.