Proposal:More photographs

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Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation

If not English, in what language is this proposal submitted?: Deutsch


This is a companion proposal to "Mehr Fotos", but unfortunately, I don't speak German.

Too many Wikipedia entries have zero photographs, and even more have frankly lousy photographs. I know it might be early, but nearly all of the new articles that I visit after seeing the main page have no photos, even ones on the order of (not real articles) "the largest of the Amanita mushrooms" or "the most unusual mandibles of any beetle in the Eastern Hemisphere".


  1. A task force should be launched to explore how one goes about getting non-fair-use photographs onto Wikipedia (and by extension to the rest of Wikimedia).
  2. A bot should be written that:
  1. explores the pedia you are on for either random articles without pictures, or articles in category x without pictures;
  2. checks to see if there are pictures on linked articles in other pedias, or possible pictures on commons;
  3. where it finds pictures shows you the article and the possible pictures.
  4. You should then have the choice as to which (if any) photograph to add to the article;
  5. what caption and alt text to give them,
  6. If there are other language wikipedias with an article of the same name, whether to add that photograph, or put a template note on the talkpage to the effect that "an editor on another language wikipedia has added this image to the equivalent article on their wikipedia."
  7. If the last also generated a category "articles without photos with a note on the talkpage suggesting a photo used in another language wikipedia" then editors in other languages might be prompted to easily add photos to their articles.
Both the bot and the resulting categories would make for a very easy noncontentious way for newbies to start editing articles and contribute to wikipedia.


I feel like I just joined Wikipedia (just over three years ago if memory serves), but there are nearly 2½ times as many articles now in the English version as there were when I joined up. My main focus is obscure rock bands and musicians, but I look at plenty of common ones also, and other folks in the popular arts and elsewhere. The photographs typically seem to be candid shots at concerts or public appearances by Wikipedians, and most of them are not bad; but a Google search will turn up dozens more that are not only much better, but also come from a part of their career that is more relevant to the article.

The one at the beginning of the article for Linda Ronstadt, for instance, is a decent shot from a 2006± concert appearance; but the major part of her career was 25 to 30 years earlier. It would not surprise me if there are not 10,000 photographs of her that are available for download at the click of a mouse to anyone in the world, most of which are undoubtedly copyrighted in some way. If these putative holders of such copyrights have no more regard than that for their pictures, then why on earth does Wikipedia have such a scorched-earth policy about what photographs can be used in articles?

Simply put, Wikipedia is no longer someone's overblown vanity project; it is fast becoming (if it is not already) the premier general reference source on the Internet. The text in most Wikipedia articles that I have seen rivals Britannica (or fill-in-the-blank) in almost every way, but the photographs for living persons are typically cheesy, and that is true on plenty of other articles as well. As the recent Supreme Court case regarding the "Hope" Obama poster has illustrated, the fair-use law is not nearly so settled as the hardcore Wikipedia guardians seem to think it is. There should be a way to get more and better photographs onto the site.

Key Questions

(1) Can holders of the copyright on photographs be persuaded to release them to the web as part of Wikipedia? That shouldn't be that hard for old pictures.

(2) Could a copyright tag be attached to the photographs if they are removed in some way from the Wikipedia article?

(3) Could the onus somehow be put on the holder of the copyright to respond to the presence of the photo on Wikipedia?

Shocking Blue 20:26, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

Potential Costs

Negligible, as I see it.


Community Discussion

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