Tuesday, 9 May 2017

My #100CommonsDays Challenge

Regular readers of this blog will know that I strongly support the use of Wikipedia (and Wikimedia generally) in teaching, and that I'm a member of Wikimedia Community Ireland. I'm still very nervous about editing, and until recently have only made very minor contributions to the online encyclopedia. It's one of my own development goals.

I am completely in awe of anybody who takes on the #100wikidays challenge - to write an article a day for 100 consecutive days. I first heard of this through our community member Rebecca O'Neill, who completed the challenge in 2015. Mourning my mother through a hundred days of Wikipedia editing is another, more recent, account of the challenge. Given that I've only written one article from scratch, I'm a long way from even contemplating the challenge.

However, earlier this year I saw that Rebecca had started the #100CommonsDays challenge - to upload an image to Wikimedia Commons every day for 100 days. I thought that sounded very much more manageable. I have contributed a small number of images before, mostly of the University, and have also been using the Commons as a gateway strategy for introducing academics to the notion of contributing content to Wikipedia.

And so, on 27th January I uploaded my first image of the challenge - an image of the diving board at Blackrock in Salthill, Galway.

Over the next 100 days, I added a new image every day. My final image of the challenge was uploaded on 6th May. They are mostly of buildings, or plaques, or statues, or places. They are all my own work, and are shared under the default Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license. This means that anybody is free to share or remix the images, but I (as the author) have to be attributed, and any use of the images must be shared under a similar license.

So, the images can be used to illustrate any of the articles on Wikipedia (in English or any other languages). But they can also be used for other purposes - making Wikimedia Commons a very useful resource for finding images for teaching purposes.


What did I learn from completing the #100CommonsDays challenge?

I had to be organised. While I like to take photos, not all of them are suitable for the Commons. I created a dropbox folder into which I dumped photos that might be useful. Each day, then, I had a source of images that could be uploaded.

Sharing helps. From day 1 I started to share my uploaded images with my friends and family on Facebook. This meant that if I missed a day, somebody would know! It helped to keep me on track, and also elicited some questions from friends about the Commons. So - another teaching opportunity!

I had to do my research. There's no point uploading an image if I can't remember exactly what it is of! Sometimes, I had taken a photo of a monument, but couldn't remember what monument it was. I just had a vague recollection of where I had been. Sometimes google maps was quite useful to do some detective work.

Categories matter. I quickly found out that the category structure is how files are organised and found on the Commons. Every file (image) should be associated with a category. Categories form hierarchies, and a file should be associated with the most specific category in the hierarchy. It will then also be associated with all parent categories. It took a number of edits of the categories of my files (mostly by bots) for me to figure this out!

Look for gaps. There's no point in adding yet another photo of the Empire State Building - somebody, with a better camera, has been there before me. Instead I had to do a little investigation before adding an image, to make sure the subject wasn't already well covered.

You can't upload just anything. I was careful to only contribute images that I had taken myself, and that meet copyright requirements, and that are suitable for the Commons (i.e. not my holiday snaps). Anything else may be speedily deleted!

I am still a new user. Having completed the challenge, and made some contributions previously, I now have 139 contributions - but I'm still classified as a new user and my uploads are actively monitored. A new user is anybody with fewer than 150 edits on Commons. Nearly there!

Uploading from a smartphone is a hassle. From the mobile site, although you can login, there is no option to upload an image. You have to force your browser to switch to the desktop version. There are rumours of an app, but if it still exists, it is not available on the  app store in Ireland, at least.

Would I do it again?

Possibly, but not for a little while. I want to focus on my Wikipedia editing and build up to another article there.

1 comment:

cbruen said...

Thanks Sharon - thanks for blogging and being so candid and thoughtful in your online missives - really find these inspiring and food for thought.