What problem does this solve?
A picture is worth a thousand words.
When we send to media our Wikimedian press releases or write materials for our Wikimedian blogs or channels in the social networks, we should always try to illustrate them appropriately. Sometimes, this is intuitive and natural, because the event or the topic has been visually covered, while in other cases the topic can be more abstract and illustrating it may not be so easy of a task. We may need something more abstract and artistic, or promotional, or simply a piece of stock photography...
For instance, if you cover a particular event like an edit-a-thon in a museum, or awards ceremony, the event itself will produce the necessary visual content. Or if you announce in your text the results of a photo contest like the "Wiki Loves Earth" or "Wiki Loves Monuments", the winning photos from the contest will serve as your best illustrations.
However, if you have to announce that the Wikimedia Foundation has started community consultation with respect to the strategy for the Wikimedia movement and the Wikimedia Foundation in 2016, you may find it more difficult to illustrate that. This consultation takes place onwiki, not on a real-life meeting, the Wikimedian community is too amorphous and dispersed in order to be personified adequately, and just placing the logo of Wikipedia or Wikimedia is a trivial solution, not so visually appealing and interesting. (By the way, here is how we solved the problem in the blog of the Bulgarian Wikimedia community)
This learning pattern is specifically aimed to give ideas about illustrating texts, requiring more abstract visual solutions.
What is the solution?
- The Logo!
- Due to its global recognizability, the logo of Wikipedia is always an option (though, not always the best one). Some other Wikimedian logos may not be so 'loudly speaking' to the general audience, so promoting them together with the logo of Wikipedia may help them get better recognition.
- However, just placing a logo of a Wikimedia project next to a text related to the project is a trivial solution. The logo is the synonym of the project itself. Hence, look for a version of that logo, containing some small but substantial addition or modification, which will add value.
- For instance, a blog post about a one-month long competition for improving the Wikipedian articles and removing problem tags (stubs, missing references, etc.). This initiative in Bulgarian Wikipedia is named "Wikipiad" like the sport "Olympiad". We found a nice modification of the logo of Wikipedia to symbolize the competition and illustrate the blog post.
- Patchworks / mosaics / collages, showing the diversity of Wikimedia projects
- Sometimes we emphasize in our texts on the diversity of Wikimedia projects or its communities, which means that illustrating such a text with an image related with just one of these projects is not okay. We need synthetic images, which visually convey the meaning of the text.
- Collages are also a good option in cases when we have so many equally important images to select from, that selecting just one or two would be treated like giving undue weight, while showing more of them would give the reader a better understanding of the topic or the aspect of diversity.
- Close-ups of branded objects
- While the logo itself may be well known and predictable as an illustration, a still life with an object branded with that logo (or a display showing Wikipedia page and logo) is a different and more interesting image. And one relatively easy to produce.
- The photographed object itself may have an added value and "speak" about some aspect of Wikimedia, e.g. mobile editing, free knowledge, welcoming newbies, Wikipedian lifestyle, etc.
- People in action
- Sometimes people will gladly pose for a photo in the course of an action, like browsing or editing Wikipedia. Sometimes just a photo of Jimbo Wales will perfectly do, as he is the publicly recognizable face of Wikipedia. And sometimes what we need to illustrate is the huge number of people who are involved in Wikipedia (good idea is to use a group photo from large event like Wikimania).
- And sometimes it is the action that needs to be illustrated, not the people performing it. Not all activities can be personified (e.g. anonymous editing), and not all people are willing to "lend their faces" and pose in front of the camera. In these cases, it is a good option to show the results of the action, or people performing it without their faces being shown.
- Animals, Mascots and Lolcats
- While people are sometimes sensitive to being photographed, animals, plush toys and lolcats will never object. :) This is a touching, sweet way to illustrate certain topics, though context dependent, hence, rarely available.
- Objects of recognition
- Images of tokens of recognition to Wikipedia/Wikimedia can successfully illustrate texts on broader topics. Such an image can add an extra layer of interesting detail to the text, even if it is not directly related to the particular award, event or form of recognition.
- Indirectly related objects
- Images illustrating love for knowledge, for reading, or meticulous referencing or search for information, etc. can come very handy sometimes.
- Tag clouds / Word clouds
- Tag clouds are a nice way to outline the most important keywords in a text. They usually contain single words, and the importance of each word (tag) is shown with font size (or color). There are many online tools for generating tag clouds (as well as tricks how to obtain the exact tag cloud that matches your goals.)
- And of course, Their Majesties, the Statistics.
When to use
- Topics, which do not easily permit personification, including: strategy, policy making, community consultations, gender gap, diversity, anonymous editing, tendencies, etc.
- Topics which are not related to particular real-life events or people.