Proposal:Open the Archives

From Strategic Planning
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The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

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

See also: Wikibay -torrents for large mediafiles


Set up a new site, where materials from the various archives are stored and worked with.


Create a site, for example as a wiki, where scans, photographs or transcripts of materials from the world's archives are kept. We will probably have to rely on the archives to make the material available, but Wikimedia's massive collaborative editing techniques can be used to make transcripts, indexes and such.


There's much talk about the creation of free content, but I think the open content community should also work on making the free content that already exists, in the form of out-of-copyright works, actually available to the public. Good work is already being done in the area of books (Project Gutenberg, Wikisource, The Internet Archive), and Commons seems to start to become something similar for works of arts. Freeing the archives would be the next step in that process.

Key Questions

  • Are archives willing to cooperate in this? I think they will - and even if some are not, there are enough others that do want to spread their materials to a wider public.
  • Is Wikimedia the best partner to do this? Here I have a bit more doubts. Partly it could be an extension to Wikisource, but still wiki-style editing seems not to be among the main factors of such a proposal. Maybe the Internet Archive or government agencies would be in a better position. Still, with its unique capabilities, Wikimedia could be a partner whose presence is beneficial to both parties.
  • Why not improve Commons instead?

Potential Costs

  • Memory: The project might ask for a large number of relatively high-grade images.
  • Human resources: Cooperation with other parties (in particular the archives) is necessary; this might take volunteer or paid worker time that might have been used elsewhere


Proposer: Andre Engels

Community Discussion

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