Software development assignments

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This page is a draft. Comments and questions are welcome on the talk page.


Wikimedia Nederland aims at developing software to support large scale outreach projects. The software is designed to provide a widely applicable, simplified user interface for uploads to Wikimedia Commons and includes a wizard to guide users through e.g. copyright questions and licences. This portal-like system should be easily adaptable and extendable, in order to meet the needs of various projects and target groups. Both the visual design of the portal and the work flow of the wizard (the steps users follow) must be adaptable and localizationable. The actual graphic design is not part of this assignment and may vary per project.

The system should support an automated process to transfer newly uploaded images from the portal to Wikimedia Commons. For moderation purposes integration with en email ticket system (at the moment Wikimedia uses OTRS) is required.

The system may consist of several components, preferably based upon MediaWiki and in the form of multiple extensions. Existing extensions, including recent developments by the usability initiative, may be helpful to realise this. However, Wikimedia Nederland invites developers who have an interest in accepting this assignment to propose alternative technical frameworks and architectures. All technical design choices may be discussed. Volunteer developers who will be assigned to this proposal will receive a financial reward for their work. This assignment should be completed by the end of summer 2010, but preferably sooner.

Project background

Wikimedia Nederland is the Dutch chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation. One of its goals is to encourage people and cultural institutions to upload images to Wikimedia Commons under a free license. In order to reach out to the broad public, as well as specific target groups in that public, the chapter tries to organize appealing projects for which alternative user interfaces are required. Past experiences have confirmed the potential of the concepts used, but have also revealed flaws and bottlenecks in existing systems. Problems are related to user interfaces, moderation of uploads, workload of Wikimedia volunteers and thus also scalability.


In 2008 Wikimedia Nederland launched Wikiportrait, a website aimed at collecting portraits of encyclopedically relevant people like celebrities, politicians, sportsmen and so on. The project specifically targeted famous people themselves, their managers and heirs. In order to guide them through confirmation of ownership and license, users are presented with a wizard consisting of "yes" and "no" questions, followed by an upload advice. The software used for Wikiportrait is a PHP system. To save metadata (pictures and answers to the questions in the wizard) a MySQL database is used. Pages like the uploadforum, as well al the questions and explanations visible in the wizard, are static HTML files.

To distinguish between official uploads by famous people themselves and uploads of non-free images by fans, an email confirmation through OTRS is required by Wikiportrait. OTRS is also used to store the permissions of the copyright owner for later reference. After confirmation, an OTRS volunteer manually uploads the picture to Wikimedia Commons.

See meta for details on the upload procedure in Wikiportrait.

Problems with the existing implementation

The current implementation heavily depends on the work of a small group of OTRS volunteers for confirmation and manual upload of the pictures to Commons. This has lead to considerable delays in processing of uploads. Although the concept of the project has proven successful (over 300 pictures have been uploaded so far), the lack of scalability unfortunately prevents the chapter from promoting the website and encouraging uploads. Wikimedia Nederland is convinced that a much larger number of Wikiportrait uploads can be generated through publicity once the system is improved. Relative complexity of changes to the system has discouraged corrections in e.g. the wizard.

Alternative use cases

  • In june 2009 Wikimedia Nederland organised Wiki Loves Art/NL, a highly successful, one month photo contest in which 45 museums allowed amateur photographers to make pictures of their collections for use on Wikipedia. Some 300 participants uploaded 5000 pictures. In order to meet moderation needs and improve usability, photo's were first uploaded to Flickr and later transfered to Commons. Despite recent improvements in the usability of Commons, Wiki Loves Art projects would still higly benefit from a system as proposed, for it allows much greater freedom in graphic design of the portal, additional usability due to the wizard and the possibility of disabling all Commons licenses that are not allowed in the project. Important difference with e.g. Wikiportret are the limited license options (for Wiki Loves Art only self-made pictures may be uploaded, and only under a cc-by-sa 3.0 license). It did not require any email confirmation but it did use a gallery of the uploaded images (on Flickr) for moderation and judging.
  • Cultural heritage in the form of historic buildings and monuments have been a major subject of interest on the Dutch Wikipedia. The chapter is developing plans for outreach projects, probably in the form of competitions, to persuade the general public to make and upload pictures of such cultural heritage in their surroundings under a free license. The easy access to such nearby subject, as well as the competition element, allow for a large and diverse target group. If a simplified upload process can be applied, thresholds for large scale participation are minimal. The project could thus reach out to a large group of potential new contributors to the Wikimedia projects, and generate a great number of encyclopedically relevant images.

Walk through for Wikiportrait use (including emailconfirmation)

  1. brief roadmap > overview of the steps that follow
  2. select file
    1. option to select multiple files
  3. upload with progressbar (> from this point on metadata may be used)
    1. system checks certain (quality) requirements of the uploaded file(s)
  4. wizard: user answers questions with regard to ownership and license (image visible)
  5. fill in description of image etc.
    1. who, what, where, when etc.
    2. add category (optional, providing a limited number of categories is an option, may be adjusted later by an admin)
  6. request for confirmation is sent to user via email
  7. last page for uploader: gallery/result of upload, thank you message, request to "confirm per email"
  8. emailconfirmation is sent by user and received by the system
  9. moderation / handling of the image
    1. optional: picture quality is assessed
    2. optional: picture source is assessed (probability of uploader ownership)
    3. option 1: image is not accepted > image is removed or made invisible (additional questions/handling may continue manually via OTRS)
    4. option 2: image is accepted
      1. permission and email confirmation/exchange are moved to archive (OTRS or other)
      2. image is automatically transfered to Wikimedia Commons using (OTRS)ticket number for future reference
      3. email is sent to uploader, containing a confirmation of transfer to Commons and thank you message


The software should be usable by various projects of various chapters and therefore has to be more or less generic with respect to:

  • The graphic design of the frontpage (see e.g. the website used for Wiki Loves Art/NL).
  • The work flow of the wizard. Depending on the project more or fewer steps will be needed to guide users through the uploadquestions. In a large scale photo contest in which only 1 license and only self-made pictures are allowed, a few steps suffice. For projects with fewer limitations, it takes different and more steps to confirm ownership and advise a license.
  • Use of the email system should be optional (on or off).

Email system

The email system should be able to send and receive email. It is used to ensure an extra confirmation of ownership in projects focussed on (legally) sensitive subjects such as portraits of living persons. The system typically sends 3 emails and receives 1:

  1. An email address confirmation is sent to the uploader (containing a url the user needs to click, also to confirm ownership and release of the image. This email therefore contains additional (legal) text besides the usual email address verification.)
  2. Complete summary of the transaction, copyright information is sent to a ticket system (OTRS or other), containing a challenge code. The system then waits until it receives an automatic response containing a ticket number which is included in the upload data for Commons. The challenge code is used to match the "send" and "receive" emails.
  3. A confirmation of moderation is sent to the uploader. It contains either a confirmation of successful transfer to Wikimedia Commons, or a rejection of transfer with reason.