The Signpost

News and notes

No further Bundesarchiv image donations; Dutch and German awards; anniversary preparations

Contribute  —  
Share this
By Tilman Bayer and Resident Mario

German Federal Archives won't extend collaboration with Wikimedia

The Bundesarchiv's main building in Koblenz, 1999 (photo from the donated collection)
It was announced this month that after its 2008 donation of around 100,000 photos via Wikimedia Commons, the Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archives) will release no more images as part of its collaboration with Wikimedia.

The donation of the images from the institution's archive of 10 million photographs under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license had been negotiated from 2007 to 2008 by members of the German Wikimedia chapter. As described in a case study on the Foundation's Outreach wiki, the Wikimedia side of the collaboration involved the improvement by Wikimedia volunteers of the Bundesarchiv's metadata set of 59,000 persons; this was done by connecting it with biographies on the German Wikipedia and with the Personennamendatei authority file of the German National Library.

In an article about the collaboration for Archivar (the most important German archivist journal) some months ago, Dr Oliver Sander from the Bundesarchiv had taken a largely positive view towards the collaboration. Apart from the improved person metadata, he noted the following benefits for the Bundesarchiv:

He also remarked that "interestingly, for many photographers and rights holders, the cooperation of the Bundesarchiv with Wikimedia is a positive, sometimes even decisive criterion when signing a contract with the Bundesarchiv!".

In the announcement two years ago, Wikimedians had expressed their hope "that this is only the start of a long lasting relationship that might serve as an example to other archives and image databases". Indeed, many other institutions and organizations in the cultural sector have followed suit with similar large-scale image donations, such as the Deutsche Fotothek, Antweb, the Mary Rose Trust, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Tropenmuseum (case study) and National Archives from the Netherlands.

However, according to "Archivalia", Dr Sander announced at a conference this month that the Bundesarchiv won't donate more images as part of the collaborations, citing two main reasons: first, a 230% increase in research requests without an increase in staff; and second, a disregard of the CC license in re-use outside Wikimedia projects, with increasingly "criminal traits", such as a sale of more than 3,000 images from Commons on eBay. In his "Archivar" article, he had already described such license violations as one of the problems of the project, noting that the Bundesarchiv had sent invoices to several re-users who had violated the license by not naming the photographer. In the case of a vendor who had offered 104 of the images as "vintage postcards" in a militaria marketplace, the Bundesarchiv had him excluded from that marketplace and charged him 4,000 euros in fees.

Criticism by Wikimedians had included the low resolution of the donated image versions (at maximum 800 pixels on the longer side), the unclear licensing status of some images (a few had to be deleted) and the attachment of metadata inside each image itself, as a small strip of text on one side (which was often removed, according to Commons:Watermarks. Sander acknowledged that this was allowed under the CC-BY-SA license, but claimed it contributed to the problems of missing attribution and an increase in time-consuming research requests to the archive).

Last week, Archivalia interviewed Mathias Schindler about the subject, the Wikipedian who had been involved in the 2008 negotiations and is now employed as the project manager for "content liberation" at the German Wikimedia chapter. Schindler emphasized that the Bundesarchiv had put a lot of effort into proper rights clearance, but noted that archives' not holding sufficient rights to release the material in their collections under a free license was a frequent and fundamental problem. He expressed regret at the Bundesarchiv's decision but hoped that changing conditions would result in more donations from the agency.

Dutch and German chapters award prizes

As reported earlier, Wikimedia Nederland held a photo contest in September, called "Wiki loves monuments", to photograph as many as possible of the country's 50,000 rijksmonuments (national monuments). On the occasion of the Dutch chapter's "Wikiminiconferentie 2010" last week (English-language report by Ziko), the winners among the more than 12,000 submissions were announced, the top three of building exteriors and interiors:

One of the Zedler medals

Also last week, the award ceremony for the "Zedler-Medaille contest, held by the German Wikimedia chapter in collaboration with an academic publisher and a scholarly society, took place in connection with the Wikipedia Academy at the Goethe University Frankfurt. The medals are named after Johann Heinrich Zedler, publisher of the 18th-century German encyclopedia Grosses vollständiges Universal-Lexicon. This year, they were awarded for the best encyclopedia articles in two categories, with prize money of €2000 each. In the humanities section, the winner was Dagobert Duck, an article by Tobias Lutzi about the German language version of the Disney cartoon character Scrooge McDuck. In the sciences section, the award went to de:Besselsche Elemente – about Besselian Elements, used in astronomy to calculate solar eclipses – whose main author, Jürgen Erbs, acknowledged the collaboration of an anonymous (IP) editor who had not wanted to be identified.

Illustration of the focus stacking technique

For the first time, the Zedler medals also involved a photo contest, which however did not receive enough high-quality submissions, according to the jury. A third prize was awarded to the best entry, an illustration of the focus stacking technique by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, who was unable to attend the awards ceremony in person, but will have his prize (a camera and books) sent to India. (See also last May's Signpost interview with Muhammad and other photographers.)

Preparations for Wikipedia's tenth anniversary gearing up

"Wikipedia 10" mark, created by design consultant David Peters for the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia on January 15, 2011

The preparations for Wikipedia's tenth anniversary on January 15, 2011, which started around April (when a separate mailing list was set up), have recently intensified. As reported last week, collaboration on the preparations was moved from the Outreach wiki into a new, separate wiki at (While "ten" is also the ISO language code for the extinct Tama language, this coincidence is not considered to be a concern, because a Wikipedia version in this language is unlikely to be created.) A FAQ has been set up for the anniversary celebrations. According to Steven Walling, the Community Fellow tasked with facilitating the preparations, the priorities at this point are to set up a single list of events "that we can point interested people to," integrating the celebration across the community, providing resources for organizers, and setting up and documenting the project's "first double digit anniversary" on the ten wiki. Design ideas (based on a concept by a design studio that has also done other work for the Foundation) and preliminary merchandise kits, consisting of sets of 50 shirts and other memorabilia to be handed out to organizers, have been created.

Jimmy Wales is expected to attend various events in the UK on the occasion, one of them at the University of Bristol on January 13. A writer of the local Ignite Bristol blog seemed rather excited about the opportunity: "for me this is akin to getting the chance to see Gutenberg 10 years after he made his first printing press".

In brief

+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

These comments are automatically transcluded from this article's talk page. To follow comments, add the page to your watchlist. If your comment has not appeared here, you can try purging the cache.

Preparations for Wikipedia's tenth anniversary gearing up

Why not That would avoid the potential (though unlikely) clash with the Tama language Wikipedia, and would also be more internationally recognizable. — SMUconlaw (talk) 09:03, 23 November 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Steven Walling said "Our first choice was actually the more culturally-neutral, but MediaWiki is unable to handle having numerals at the beginning of a domain name at this point, so there was no way around it." I was not aware of this issue and I don't see anything about it in Bugzilla. Reach Out to the Truth 14:42, 23 November 2010 (UTC)[reply]
It's not in Bugzilla because no one filed a bug at the time. Operations staff simply emailed me and said that a numeric domain makes MediaWiki go haywire without describing the problem further. A bug should be filed though, so I'll ask about the specific error it produced. If it could be fixed we could migrate it, or at least set up a proper redirect. Steven Walling at work 16:58, 23 November 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Could there at least be a redirect from to, without involving MediaWiki? – Minh Nguyễn (talk, contribs) 17:26, 23 November 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Minh, I answered on the tenwiki Main Page talk, where you asked first. Cheers, Steven Walling at work 19:16, 23 November 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Interesting that there was no problem with ten.wikipedia, but the creation of a "COM:" namespace for Wikimedia Commons has been denied for two years based on potential conflict with a hypothetical Comanche-language Wikipedia... AnonMoos (talk) 15:56, 23 November 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Not to negate the idea (which personally I think is a good one) but Comanche is at least nominally a living language with a writing system. Bit of a different case than a language that's officially extinct and had no written script. It's ultimately Langcom that has a hold on this issue, and they're the ones that told me that it was not a problem to have tenwiki. Steven Walling at work 16:58, 23 November 2010 (UTC)[reply]

German Federal Archives won't extend collaboration with Wikimedia

All in all it sounds like a very successful pilot project, evaluated in both its seen benefits as well as the costs. This means that the Bundesarchiv or any other similar organization has good background for a new decision for such cooperation. It seems to be a matter of will and funding. Also here I have to say that 800-pixel wide images -- not much to store for the future -- is ok for a pilot project for Wikimedia but not a real cooperation. -- Sverdrup (talk) 10:51, 23 November 2010 (UTC)[reply]


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0