Much of the Spaarnestad collection of some 2.5 million images dating back to the late 19th century narrowly escaped destruction in the mid-1980s, when the original publishing house experienced a financial and housing crisis. But prompt action by the newly formed non-profit Spaarnestad Foundation saved this priceless record of modern Dutch history. Private benefactors and the City of Haarlem provided funds for the interim location of the collection, which was transferred to the National Archives in 2008.
The donation is part of the Archive's Images for the Future project to preserve and digitise visual materials, and to make them publicly available, and was the result of a collaboration with Wikimedia Nederland. One of the most significant gifts of historical images ever made to the Wikimedia Foundation, it was marked at a public event in The Hague attended by several current and former politicians, who shared their personal memories surrounding specific images now freely available at Commons. A spokesperson for the Archives said, "Wikipedia is a good, reliable and social platform, and our goal is to disseminate our materials as widely as possible."
Lodewijk Gelauff, Vice Chair of Wikimedia Nederland, said "This generous release will provide photos for many related Wikipedia articles that until now had no image to accompany the article.... One of the best ways to get a good photo is through partnerships like this. [I hope] that soon more institutions will follow the example of the National Archive.... I invite everybody to incorporate the images on their language projects as they become available in the near future on Wikimedia Commons."
Paris to Cape North "raid": 300 nordic images for Commons
In July, French-speaking Wikimedians Ludo29 and Inisheer took part in the "Raid Paris – Cap Nord", a photographic challenge where competitors are ranked by a jury on the basis of the pictures they take during the trip. The journey starts in Paris, goes through Finland, Sweden and Norway, up to North Cape in Norway, the northernmost point of Europe, and ends back in Paris. Over the four weeks, the raiders drove 12,000 km in a car branded with the logos of Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Wikimédia France. The French chapter provided financial support.
New Pending Changes poll: Following his announcement about the Pending Changes feature (see last week's News and notes) and ensuing discussions, Jimbo Wales has started a "Straw poll on interim usage". The new poll will run until September 27 and is about deciding whether the current implementation of the feature should remain in place until the release (planned for November 9) of a new version that is to address some common concerns. See also a collection of earlier Signpost coverage of the Pending Changes trial since June.
Controversial content: Robert Harris and Dory Carr-Harris, commissioned by the Board to provide recommendations on how to handle material on Wikimedia projects that may be considered objectionable (Signpost coverage), have posted a draft of the first part of their "study of controversial content". It identifies "intellectual openness" and "service to the public" as two basic Wikimedia principles which may sometimes be in conflict, and posits that "Wikimedia projects serve the information needs of individuals, not groups", meaning that intellectual openness should not be restricted on the basis of demands from institutions. Comments and questions are welcome on the talk page.
Community Fellows: The Wikimedia Foundation's recently formed Community Department has announced a new "Community Fellowship program", following its earlier "Community hiring" call (see Signpost coverage), which according to Chief Community Officer Zack Exley has received almost 2000 submissions. Fellows are to "lead intensive, time-limited projects focused on key areas of risk and opportunity", with some of them possibly joining the permanent WMF staff later. The first Fellow is User:Steven Walling, a longtime Wikipedian and administrator on the English Wikipedia and Commons. As of September 15, the projects for his year-long fellowship hadn't been announced yet, but last month Walling already started to collaborate with the Foundation on the Contribution Taxonomy Project (see Signpost coverage).
Transparent language discussions: The Language Committee, which deals with requests to establish new language wikis, announced that its discussions will be publicly archived by default, starting from September 12. Previously, two of its members had objected to the publication of their comments, which had led to much criticism in a Foundation-l thread last month. On his blog, committee member GerardM said that "the reason for our confidentiality has been largely taken away".
IRC office hours: The log of Sue Gardner's public chat on September 16 has been posted.
Portrait photos donated: Earlier this month, Danish photographer Erling Mandelmanndonatedalmost 600 pictures in low-resolution versions from his four-decade career as a photojournalist and portrait photographer. They are expected to be useful as illustrations in many articles about notable people.
GLAM conference: Wikimedia UK has announced the "GLAM-WIKI conference" on collaboration between the cultural sector and Wikimedia, which will take place on November 26/27 at the British Museum, earlier this year the host of a "Wikipedian in Residence" (Signpost coverage: June 7, March 15). The keynote speakers will be author Cory Doctorow, Wikimedia's Sue Gardner, and Kenneth Crews, director of Columbia University's Copyright Advisory Office.
New chapter director: Wikimedia Hong Kong has announced that Tango Chan has become the chapter's new Director and Commissioner for Communications, after the previous Director, Morgan Chan, stepped down to concentrate on his academic planning.
Wikipedia Goes To Africa: A press release by Wikimedia Israel, titled Wikipedia Goes To Africa, describes how the chapter supported a group of Israeli students on a three-month humanitarian expedition to Benin and Cameroon, by providing them with computers containing a static version of the French language Wikipedia.
Supporting free knowledge outside Wikimedia projects: Wikimedia Germany has started a "contest of ideas" to promote free knowledge, promising grants of €500–5000 for projects that generate, collect, or disseminate free content (announcement, in German: WissensWert, Google translation). The scope appears to be deliberately wide, naming OpenStreetMap or free software as examples, and the conditions explicitly exclude proposals whose sole purpose it is to generate content in Wikipedia or its sister projects.