Wikipedia Summer of Monuments Project Plan

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Wiki Loves Monuments is an international photography contest organized by the Wikimedia community with the goal to increase Wikipedia's photographic coverage of recognized historic sites. Wikimedia DC has conducted the contest in the United States since 2012, with the goal to illustrate every site in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Wiki Loves Monuments USA has yielded over 30,000 photographs uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, many of which are currently illustrating Wikipedia articles.

Despite two years of these contests, there are still parts of the country where less than half of the historic sites have pictures on Wikimedia Commons. As historic sites in the United States are subject to all manner of hazards, including natural disaster and potential redevelopment, it is necessary to photograph these sites sooner rather than later. In addition, we feel that outreach to rural areas is an important mechanism to improve the diversity of the encyclopedia.

Considering the expansive nature of our outreach, we have rebranded the contest "Wikipedia Summer of Monuments." This highlights the shift from a one-month photography contest to a multi-month outreach campaign and reinforces the strength of Wikipedia's brand by moving away from the use of the generic term "wiki" as a synonym for Wikipedia.

Target regions and goals

Wikimedia DC has identified fifteen states and seven territories where less than 50% of the listed NRHP sites have corresponding pictures on Wikipedia. As ten of these states are located in the Southern United States, we have elected this year on focusing on this region of the country. The ten target states and their respective "illustration rates" on Wikipedia are as follows:

  • Arkansas: 20.4% (743 more sites to get to 50%)
  • Oklahoma: 26.2% (293 more sites to get to 50%)
  • Kansas: 28.3% (247 more sites to get to 50%)
  • North Carolina: 30.2% (547 more sites to get to 50%)
  • Mississippi: 32.9% (231 more sites to get to 50%)
  • Missouri: 33.3% (356 more sites to get to 50%)
  • Kentucky: 33.4% (546 more sites to get to 50%)
  • Georgia: 39.5% (217 more sites to get to 50%)
  • Tennessee: 42.9% (134 more sites to get to 50%)
  • Louisiana: 43.9% (83 more sites to get to 50%)

The goal of this project is to, at minimum, bring five of these ten states to over 50% coverage during the period of the campaign from June 1 to September 30, 2014. This flexibility gives us discretion to focus our efforts on a more specific region within these ten states, preventing our efforts from being spread too thin. We will accomplish this through developing relationships with local historical societies with the aid of a project manager. Though the cost-per-photograph will be higher relative to past contests, it is worth noting that these photographs have been more difficult to obtain, not having been secured despite two years of contests. These photographs thus have a higher value to the Wikimedia projects.

Project manager position and tasks

The issue with past Wiki Loves Monuments USA contests lay in the contest's broad scope. While Wikimedia DC is a regional organization with regional reach, it has borne responsibility for administering a contest at national scale. Volunteers have succeeded at running the contest, but any additional effort toward the broader goal of improving Wikipedia's coverage of historic sites requires the efforts of dedicated, full-time help. We are proposing to hire a project manager responsible for conducting this broader outreach.

The day-to-day work of the project manager will consist of developing a database of contacts with local historical societies in the ten target states and individual photographers who may be of assistance. The project manager will develop a working relationship with these stakeholders on behalf of Wikimedia DC, representing Wikimedia DC's interest in public history. In working with local institutions, the project manager will encourage them to work toward Wikimedia DC's goals, including organizing photo-walks and digitizing and uploading their historic photographs to Wikimedia Commons (including the licensing of photographs under Creative Commons where applicable), providing assistance where necessary. Outreach toward individual photographers, including those recruited through Flickr and the like, will be oriented toward recruitment to take photographs of historic sites for Wikipedia and to relicense existing photographs. The overall goal is to obtain photographs of sites not yet illustrated in the target states, though all relevant site photographs will be accepted. The project manager's work will also focus on outreach on Wikipedia, including coordinating with WikiProject NRHP to maintain statistics, to assist them in their work, and to recruit them to help review submitted photographs for quality. The project manager is additionally responsible for evaluating progress toward the goal in the middle of the project (see the timeline below).

In deciding to create this position, Wikimedia DC is very conscientious of the budget consequence for such a decision. We have twice succeeded in running Wiki Loves Monuments on budgets lower than $3,000, yielding over 30,000 photographs total. We justify the decision to dramatically increase the size of the budget by pursuing a program of targeted outreach. Past contests indeed ran on shoestring budgets, but they were not designed toward the pursuit of specific photographs. This method was appropriate at first but would not serve us well for a third time, seeing as there are still significant regions of the United States where the contest alone has done little to improve coverage. Direct outreach efforts are necessary, and we expect the outcome to justify the expense. Further, research by the Wikimedia Foundation has found that the most costly Wiki Loves Monuments project to date is $29,000; we intend on carrying out this project on a smaller budget than that.

Since Wikimedia DC has no full-time office, the project manager is expected to work independently, meeting with Wikimedia DC officers (usually the president) and reporting on progress on a weekly basis. The project manager may use the resources of the office as needed, with coordination of the Secretary of Wikimedia DC.

Job description

Wikimedia DC is looking for a project manager to run its Wikipedia Summer of Monuments campaign in 2014. This will be a paid contract position that will begin on May 15 and end on October 15. This position is based in Washington, DC, but some travel (with expenses paid) will be required as part of the job.


  • Outreach to county historical societies and individual volunteers to contribute photographers
  • Coordination with WikiProject NRHP


  • 1–2 years project management or field organizing experience
  • Excellent interpersonal and collaboration skills, a demonstrated aptitude for building professional relationships
  • Candidates should be very well organized and capable of operating with little direct supervision
  • Must provide own laptop computer

Preferred, but not required:

  • Strong preference for candidates with experience on Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia
  • Photography experience, owning a professional-grade camera
  • A strong sense of logistics and the ability to interpret visual data would be helpful
  • Demonstrated interest in history and historic places, existing relationships with historical societies

An expanded upload campaign

The efforts of the project managers and of volunteers (including volunteers from Wikimedia DC and WikiProject NRHP) are to culminate in an upload campaign organized on Wikimedia Commons. As Wiki Loves Monuments focused on uploads during the month of September, Wikipedia Summer of Monuments will accept contributions from June 1 through September 30—an additional three months. This represents a significant departure from the classic Wiki Loves Monuments model. This is a necessary course of action, seeing as we are looking more to emphasize building relationships with likeminded institutions, which necessarily takes longer than one month.

A "campaign" in Wikimedia Commons parlance refers to a specialized upload page catered toward a specific project. As we secure photographs as part of this project, we will direct them to this specialized upload page so that we can keep track of uploads. Though the campaign will technically be in operation for four months, that does not necessarily mean we will advertise it for all four months. For the first three months, the campaign will serve as a tracking tool for uploads obtained as a result of the project manager's efforts. In the final month, September, we will begin advertising the upload campaign on Wikipedia, as in Wiki Loves Monuments contests of past years. It is likely that this will take the form of a nationwide geonotice. There is also potential in a regional geonotice campaign, however, where geonotices targeting specific geographies (including parts of states) encourage users to take pictures in fulfillment of a specifically identified site or series of sites. Our ability to carry out such targeting will depend on whatever technical expertise is available to us.

The uploads will be judged by a contest jury as in past years, but more effort should be made to process uploads as they come in. The upside of an extended upload campaign is that we have more time to process these photographs. In essence, the jury should not have to judge more than around 1,000 pictures; the efforts of volunteers will help narrow down the field of potentially tens of thousands of photographs. The project manager should work with WikiProject NRHP and other volunteers to help carry out this review.

The top three photographs will win prizes of $500, $300, and $150, as with Wiki Loves Monuments 2013. However, photographs contributed from the archives of institutions will not be eligible for these prizes, as they are targeted toward individual photographers. Rather, the institution that contributes the most valuable collection will be awarded a $1,000 donation. The standards of judgment used for Wiki Loves Monuments will be used for the Wikipedia Summer of Monuments contest.

Benefits to the Wikimedia movement

  • Providing encyclopedic content on rural areas, and on under-represented regions of the United States
  • Acquiring photographic content that is not available though current means
  • Expanding relationships with cultural institutions not currently participating in GLAM efforts
  • Experimenting with different methods of outreach to Wikimedians and cultural institutions in less populated areas

Project budget

  • Compensation: $12,500 ($2,500/month for May through September; based on standard pay for a field organizer)
  • Travel budget: $2,010 ($402/trip for five trips; average trip cost calculated based on a two-day (one-night) trip to Memphis, which is in the geographic center of the outreach region)
  • Prizes: $1,950 ($950 for individuals, $1,000 for institutional prize)
  • Total: $16,460


  • February: Internal review and approval of proposal; submission to WMF
  • March/April: Proposal will be presumably approved and disbursed; start hiring process
  • May: Job begins; get in touch with historical societies; begin the Summer of Monuments
  • End of June: Mid-project report
  • July/August/September: Continued outreach with historical societies and photographers
  • September: Massive online photo-drive, including either a national message and/or geo-targeted messages
  • October: Entries are judged and prizes are awarded