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Grants:Programs/Wikimedia Community Fund/Rapid Fund/SXSW 2024 Wikimedia Portrait Initiative (ID: 22459042)

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SXSW 2024 Wikimedia Portrait Initiative
proposed start date2024-03-16
proposed end date2024-04-30
grant start date2024-03-16T00:00:00Z
grant end date2024-04-30T00:00:00Z
budget (local currency)5000 USD
budget (USD)5000 USD
amount recommended (USD)5000
grant typeIndividual
funding regionNA
decision fiscal year2023-24
applicant• SuperHamster
organization (if applicable)• N/A
Review Final Report

This is an automatically generated Meta-Wiki page. The page was copied from Fluxx, the grantmaking web service of Wikimedia Foundation where the user has submitted their application. Please do not make any changes to this page because all changes will be removed after the next update. Use the discussion page for your feedback. The page was created by CR-FluxxBot.

Applicant Details[edit]

Main Wikimedia username. (required)




If you are a group or organization leader, board member, president, executive director, or staff member at any Wikimedia group, affiliate, or Wikimedia Foundation, you are required to self-identify and present all roles. (required)

I'm a board member or president of a Wikimedia Affiliate or mission-allied organization., I'm a group leader of a Wikimedia User Group (submitted to the Affiliation Committee).

Describe all relevant roles with the name of the group or organization and description of the role. (required)

Kevin is on the Board of Directors for Wikimedia District of Columbia. He is also a group leader for the Ohio Wikimedians User Group. This project is being organized outside of the scope and purview of these groups.

Main Proposal[edit]

1. Please state the title of your proposal. This will also be the Meta-Wiki page title.

SXSW 2024 Wikimedia Portrait Initiative

2. and 3. Proposed start and end dates for the proposal.

2024-03-16 - 2024-04-30

4. Where will this proposal be implemented? (required)

United States of America

5. Are your activities part of a Wikimedia movement campaign, project, or event? If so, please select the relevant project or campaign. (required)

Not applicable

6. What is the change you are trying to bring? What are the main challenges or problems you are trying to solve? Describe this change or challenges, as well as main approaches to achieve it. (required)

Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects prioritize and require using freely-licensed images. This presents a challenge when it comes to photos of notable people, because most published photos of notable people are press images with full copyright and non-permissive licenses. This results in a significant number of biographies with poor quality or no photos. This challenge is quite notable in itself, having been covered by various publications including the New York Times in their 2009 article, "Wikipedia May Be a Font of Facts, but It’s a Desert for Photos". While that article was written more than a decade ago, the problem persists. The English Wikipedia category, "Wikipedia requested images of people", has over 5,000 articles in it.

An effective way to gather freely-licensed photos of notable figures at-scale is to go to where they are. Gage Skidmore is particularly notable for publishing freely-licensed photos of celebrities at pop culture conventions and political events. Several Wikimedia affiliates have also organized photography at various events, such as Wikimedia DC members capturing photos of authors at the National Book Festival.

With this grant request, we will be going to South by Southwest (SXSW) 2024 to photograph notable people for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites. SXSW is a critical event because it attracts speakers and performers from tech, politics, film, music, and television at scale. This allows us to engage with and capture portraits of notable individuals from across a range of industries in one location. However, the housing at SXSW is very expensive, so getting volunteer photographers there has been a challenge.

7. What are the planned activities? (required) Please provide a list of main activities. You can also add a link to the public page for your project where details about your project can be found. Alternatively, you can upload a timeline document. When the activities include partnerships, include details about your partners and planned partnerships.

For this project, we will be doing two things at SXSW 2024, an annual conglomeration of conferences that occurs annually in Austin, Texas in March that draws in around 300,000 people each year as speakers and participants. SXSW activities span film, interactive media, comedy technology, and music. This provides an excellent opportunity for us to photograph notable individuals across a wide range of fields in a highly efficient manner.

First, we will obtain press credentials for SXSW 2024. With press access, we plan to bring at leasat 2-3 photographers to cover the duration of the conference, as well as a Wikimedian to support the photographers (identifying people to photograph, uploading the photos to the Wikimedia Commons, adding metadata, etc.). Those photographers will be seeking notable individuals with Wikipedia articles to photograph, particularly at panels and events that include or attract high-profile individuals.

Second, we will have a photo booth set up in a collaborative journalism and media house at SXSW on Congress Street where anyone with a Wikipedia page— speaker or not —may drop by and have their photo taken. We plan on publicizing this through standard SXSW channels. The house will be done in collaboration with Hacks/Hackers, an grassroots organization of journalists and technologists. This house will be used to host a variety of collaborative events, including ones with Wikipedia and Creative Commons (since the chief operating officer of Creative Commons lives in Austin). If more efficient, we can have 1-2 single social events of 4 hours where people with Wikipedia pages can stop by and have their photos taken. In addition to creating freely licensed photographs of people, this gives us an opportunity to do Wikipedia outreach with the broader public.

We also plan to take this opportunity to photograph Austin itself. Austin includes many notable landmarks, historic sites, parks, and more.

8. Describe your team. Please provide their roles, Wikimedia Usernames and other details. (required) Include more details of the team, including their roles, usernames, Wikimedia group, and whether they are salaried, volunteers, consultants/contractors, etc. Team members involved in the grant application need to be aware of their involvement in the project.

Kevin Payravi (User:SuperHamster): Kevin has contributed to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites since 2007, and is currently a co-organizer of WikiConference North America and Wiki Loves Monuments in the United States. He also serves on the Board of Wikimedia DC.

Jennifer 8. Lee (en:User:Jenny8lee): Jenny is a co-organizer of WikiConference North American 2019, an adviser to the Wikimedia NYC, a founder of WikiCred project, film producer, and an adviser to SXSW Interactive. She has organized over a dozen large scale events at SXSW including the Awesomest Journalism Party Ever over 10 times, initiating the SXSW journalism and media track in 2011, hosting film parties. She helped coordinate a similar initiative at the Sundance film festival. She is a volunteer for this project, but will help coordinate the logistics and the press credentials.

Andrew Lih (()): Lih is 2021 Wikimedia Laureate, an internationally-renowned Wikipedia expert, author, professor, GLAMs activist, and long-time Wikimedia contributor, including on Wikicommons photography.

9. Who are the target participants and from which community? How will you engage participants before and during the activities? How will you follow up with participants after the activities? (required)

The main target of this project is notable individuals who have Wikipedia articles, particularly ones lacking a photo or need a better photo taken. Our photobooth event at the house will also allow us to do Wikipedia outreach and public education with participants.

This effort will primarily be publicized through standard SXSW channels and social media of our partners. We will also attempt to see if there is any sort of official partnership with SXSW, though their official partners are all paying sponsors, so we are not overly optimistic about that.

SXSW makes it a point to bring in speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds. In the conference's panel proposals, one of the questions is to explain how the proposed panel provides racial, gender, geographical, and viewpoint diversity. The SXSW film festival is also a place where up-and-coming and diverse filmmakers are highlighted. As a result, this project can help us obtain portraits of notable individuals from backgrounds that are commonly under-represented on Wikipedia, as well as individuals who are rising in their respective industries.

As we gather photographs, we will offer to collect contact information and follow-up with information about the results of this project. For individuals with Wikipedia articles, we can inform them if and when their biography has been updated with their new portrait.

10. Does your project involve work with children or youth? (required)


10.1. Please provide a link to your Youth Safety Policy. (required) If the proposal indicates direct contact with children or youth, you are required to outline compliance with international and local laws for working with children and youth, and provide a youth safety policy aligned with these laws. Read more here.


11. How did you discuss the idea of your project with your community members and/or any relevant groups? Please describe steps taken and provide links to any on-wiki community discussion(s) about the proposal. (required) You need to inform the community and/or group, discuss the project with them, and involve them in planning this proposal. You also need to align the activities with other projects happening in the planned area of implementation to ensure collaboration within the community.

This idea was originally the brainchild of Andrew Lih, a past Wikimedia Laureate and longtime SXSW speaker, who presented on a Wikimedia panel at SXSW 2023 with WMF CEO Maryana Iskander. Andrew has done similar self-funded photography efforts and book festivals and comicons and saw the potential of SXSW for doing that on a larger scale. At SXSW 2023, WikiCred did an gathering of credibility-related Wikipedians at a rented house in conjunction with Creative Commons, funded partially by Craig Newmark. The reception to Wikipedia at SXSW with a relatively last-minute event told us there was a larger potential with more advanced planning.

Jenny then discussed the idea at Wikimania with Frank Schulenberg, who is the secretary of the Commons Photographers Users Group. He was so enthused that he decided to do something similar for Sundance Film Festival, and obtained an assignment letter from Nadee Gunasena at the WMF, which Jennifer submitted to the Sundance Film Festival press office. Frank self-funded his travel but for SXSW, we will need funding for photographers who cannot pay out of pocket.

There are a number of active Wikimedia Commons photographers who would donate their time and even pay for their own travel as long as the absurd cost and logistics of housing at SXSW was handled.

12. Does your proposal aim to work to bridge any of the content knowledge gaps (Knowledge Inequity)? Select one option that most apply to your work. (required)

Other Important Topics (topics considered to be of impact or important in the specific context)

13. Does your proposal include any of these areas or thematic focus? Select one option that most applies to your work. (required)


14. Will your work focus on involving participants from any underrepresented communities? Select one option that most apply to your work. (required)

Ethnic/racial/religious or cultural background

15. In what ways do you think your proposal most contributes to the Movement Strategy 2030 recommendations. Select one that most applies. (required)

Innovate in Free Knowledge

Learning and metrics[edit]

17. What do you hope to learn from your work in this project or proposal? (required)

This project, in conjunction with our work at Sundance 2024, helps to build a repeatable and scalable template for experienced Wikimedia Commons photographers to get press credentials at well-established cultural events. Historically, volunteer Wikimedian photographers are not plugged into the media infrastructure that is built around credentials. Given the support of letters from senior leadership at the Wikimedia Foundation, we expect that the press office decision makers of these events will become more receptive to having Wikimedia photographers participate, as it only serves to amplify the cultural impact of their events.

18. What are your Wikimedia project targets in numbers (metrics)? (required)
Number of participants, editors, and organizers
Other Metrics Target Optional description
Number of participants 200 This will include the subjects of our portrait project, as well as participants in our photobooth event. This also includes people attending activities at the journalist house, where we can do outreach and public education about Wikipedia.
Number of editors 0 Bringing on new editors is not a primary focus of our event. We may, however, attract new contributors and interest in Wikipedia as part of the public photobooth event.
Number of organizers 5 At least 2 photographers, 1 Wikimedia Commons contributor, and 2 general organizers (Kevin and Jenny)
Number of content contributions to Wikimedia projects
Wikimedia project Number of content created or improved
Wikipedia 100
Wikimedia Commons 500
Wikidata 100
Wikimedia Incubator
Wikifunctions or Abstract Wikipedia
Optional description for content contributions.

We aim to take freely licensed portraits of 200 individuals. Assuming we upload multiple portaits per person, we expect ~500 photos uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons. Of these, we are aiming to improve the articles of 100 individuals and topics, as well as their corresponding Wikidata items.

19. Do you have any other project targets in numbers (metrics)? (optional)


Main Open Metrics Data
Main Open Metrics Description Target
20. What tools would you use to measure each metrics? Please refer to the guide for a list of tools. You can also write that you are not sure and need support. (required)

We would utilize a tool like BaGLAMa to measure how many pageviews our portraits receive over time through their inclusion on Wikipedia articles and other Wikimedia projects.

Financial proposal[edit]

21. Please upload your budget for this proposal or indicate the link to it. (required)
22. and 22.1. What is the amount you are requesting for this proposal? Please provide the amount in your local currency. (required)

5000 USD

22.2. Convert the amount requested into USD using the Oanda converter. This is done only to help you assess the USD equivalent of the requested amount. Your request should be between 500 - 5,000 USD.

5000 USD

We/I have read the Application Privacy Statement, WMF Friendly Space Policy and Universal Code of Conduct.


Endorsements and Feedback[edit]

Please add endorsements and feedback to the grant discussion page only. Endorsements added here will be removed automatically.

Community members are invited to share meaningful feedback on the proposal and include reasons why they endorse the proposal. Consider the following:

  • Stating why the proposal is important for the communities involved and why they think the strategies chosen will achieve the results that are expected.
  • Highlighting any aspects they think are particularly well developed: for instance, the strategies and activities proposed, the levels of community engagement, outreach to underrepresented groups, addressing knowledge gaps, partnerships, the overall budget and learning and evaluation section of the proposal, etc.
  • Highlighting if the proposal focuses on any interesting research, learning or innovation, etc. Also if it builds on learning from past proposals developed by the individual or organization, or other Wikimedia communities.
  • Analyzing if the proposal is going to contribute in any way to important developments around specific Wikimedia projects or Movement Strategy.
  • Analysing if the proposal is coherent in terms of the objectives, strategies, budget, and expected results (metrics).