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Old maps in Commons need curation
Which old map images does Common contain? How to find them?
contact emailHispalois
idea creator
community organizer
created on22:49, Saturday, March 5, 2016 (UTC)

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

Old maps are a valuable resource to illustrate Wikipedia articles about history, geography or art. Commons contains thousands of images of old maps but how many exactly? Difficult to answer accurately. Of which regions, centuries and authors? Even more difficult. Crucially, we don't know which are the main gaps in Commons' "old map collection". If tomorrow a major library offered to digitize 1,000 old maps for Commons, which ones should we choose?

The main attempt to date to identify old maps in Commons has been the creation of Category AOMC (which stands for All Old Maps Categories). The idea is that any category that contains old maps should be tagged with a template that makes it a subcategory of AOMC. This is a good start but the result so far is imperfect because when one searches the category tree under AOMC, images pop up of maps that are not old, old things that are not maps and others that are neither maps nor old (examples below).

What is your solution?[edit]

First step: Make sure that the subcategories of Category AOMC contain all old maps and only old maps. When that goal is achieved, we will be able to answer questions like how many old maps Commons contains, how many are used in Wikipedia and other WMF projects, and which are the main coverage gaps. This in turn would inform us on which collaborations should be set up with map libraries and museums.

To exclude incorrect subcategories, CatScan is a great tool that should make the work relatively easy.
On the other hand, identifying all the old maps that are not yet contained in AOMC is challenging. Large numbers of images are uncategorized. Multi-lingual skills likely be required to categorize files with descriptions written in languages other than English.
Identified old maps should also be added to the appropriate categories for date, geographical scope, author, etc.

A second step would be to take advantage of Category:AOMC to create an "old maps in Commons" search engine that would give results only from its subcategories. Finding an old map would become more efficient than with current options like Commons search engine or Google Images.

Project goals[edit]

  1. Comprehensive inventory of old maps in Commons, with statistics about usage in Wikipedia, dates, locations, etc
  2. Insights for future GLAM collaborations regarding old maps.
  3. Easy search for old map in Commons.

Get involved[edit]



  • Support Support there is also a problem with subcategories, as far as I can see. There are many old maps of Italian cities at the same level where "old maps of Italy" is. i.e. the first one. Maybe you should try to organize a competition.--Alexmar983 (talk) 13:28, 7 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support The Wikimaps project has recently added a feature to the Wikimaps Warper that is used to align the old maps on current ones. Now the warper can upload a Wikimedia Commons category of map sheets and create a mosaic of them. It would be helpful to do preparatory work for this in Wikimedia Commons. I would be happy to think about this together! /Susannaanas (talk) 08:08, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

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