How to make Wiki Loves Earth photos visible on Wikipedia: Experience of Sweden and other countries

Wiki Loves Earth aims to create a comprehensive database of natural heritage photos. Yet, it is not enough to only upload photographs to Wikimedia Commons — we should try and make nature heritage visible to readers of Wikipedia. Only around one in four photos uploaded by Wiki Loves Earth participants are used in the articles of Wikipedia and other wiki-projects. In this article, we share how Wiki Loves Earth organizers in Sweden, Ukraine, Greece, and other countries encourage increasing the use of WLE photos on Wikipedia.

Sweden: “Mission of the Month”

Prepared by Eric Bagger, User:Deryni

Aurora borealis in Abisko National Park near Torneträsk lake (Pavel.shyshkouski, CC BY-A 4.0). This image won Wiki Loves Earth in Sweden in 2018 and participated in the Picture of the Year competition on Commons.

Since 2014, Swedish Wikipedia runs a project called “Mission of the Month”, or ”Månadens uppdrag” in Swedish. In this project, you can propose missions to improve Wikipedia. It may be something which needs improvement, but Wikipedia editors typically lack the knowledge or time to make happen — or maybe something you’ve started and want other writers to fill in. Examples of a typical project would be improving an article on robotic rover Opportunity or creating an article about English entomologist Henry Doubleday. Since late 2014, more than 6500 missions have been completed within this project.

Most of the missions concern making new articles or improving existing articles in Swedish Wikipedia. But there have also been missions creating new templates and working for projects in other Wikis. To vote in Picture of the Year might be also an important mission. Notably, this project has been used to help Wiki Loves Earth in Sweden. Within “Mission of the Month”, several writers engaged in missions concerning unidentified pictures for Wiki Loves Earth last year, identifying about one hundred pictures. Volunteers have also helped put photos of natural heritage to Swedish Wikipedia, thus increasing their use.

If you try out the project in your own language version, you will discover how much fun you can have together with your fellow writers, while also helping Wikipedia and Wiki Loves Earth.

Other ways to ways to illustrate Wikipedia

Thematic marathons. Swedish “Mission of the Months” covers numerous small tasks, such as creating or expanding an article. By comparison, some Wikipedia language editions run online marathons devoted entirely to one topic or type of tasks — and illustrating Wikipedia with WLE photos can be one of them.

For example, Ukrainian Wikipedia runs the “Month of Illustrating Wikipedia” right now. It is devoted to Wiki Loves Earth, Wiki Loves Monuments and Scientific Photo Contest. So far, 13 people are working on increasing photo contests’ visibility on Wikipedia, and the event is still running.

Wiki Loves Earth organizers in Greece have a similar experience. They created lists of photographed areas and promoted them to run a small edit marathon on Wikipedia with prizes for most active participants.

Sydoriv Castle, Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine (Moahim, CC BY-SA 4.0). It’s one of the quality photos which found its way to Wikipedia articles as a result of the Month of Illustrating Wikipedia in Ukrainian Wikipedia

Edit-a-thons. Perhaps the most popular — and not the most difficult way — to illustrate Wikipedia is to run an edit-a-thon. This is the way used by a lot of countries, from Cameroon and Italy to the Philippines, Albania, and Tunisia. Create a list of unused Wiki Loves Earth photographs, invite contest participants and active Wikipedians, and organize an offline event for them to work on illustrating Wikipedia.

Article contests. Another way to promote information about natural heritage sites is by running an article contest devoted to them. This is the way used by WLE organizers in Spain and several other countries. In 2015, Ukrainian Wikipedia got 265 articles thanks to article contest “Wikipedia Loves Monuments”, which was devoted to Wiki Loves Monuments, another international photo contest organized by wikimedians. Running an article contest is more expensive and time-consuming than some other ways, but it might give more sustainable results in terms of promoting information about natural heritage sites.

Promotion on social media. Finally, why not encourage your participants to illustrate Wikipedia through social media? Pick a beautiful unused photo as an example, post it on Facebook or Instagram, and include a link to the whole list of unused photos, encouraging your followers to help discover beautiful natural heritage to Wikipedia readers.

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