This is our planning page for the Wikimedia Foundation's new Multimedia team for the 2013-14 fiscal year. It is still a working draft and is updated from time to time.
Please note that some of the objectives below are still tentative, and provided here for discussion purposes only.
To get a sense of the workflows we aim to support, take a look at our proposed Multimedia Vision for 2016 (see slides to the right).
Feel free to add comments, questions and suggestions on this discussion page.
Our overall goal is to increase multimedia contributions and add more media-rich content on Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects.
To that end, we aim to build software tools that enable easier viewing, contribution, curation, discovery and publishing of multimedia content to Wikimedia projects.
Specifically, we plan to address the following areas in the coming year:
- Improve the viewing experience for multimedia content
- Enable multimedia contributions in a more seamless way
- Provide file feedback and curation tools to manage contribution streams
- Help editors discover and add media files to articles on Wikipedia and other projects
- Support organizers of multimedia campaigns like Wiki Loves Monuments
- Upgrade our software architecture and repay our 'technical debt' from prior years
We propose to make some progress on all those fronts during the year, but plan to focus more on the viewing, contribution and feedback workflows this year -- shifting to curation, discovery and publishing in the next fiscal year (Jul.-Dec. 2014).
We also need to make substantial improvements to our infrastructure, from fixing the upload and storage pipelines to supporting popular video formats and deploying structured meta-data across all our sites; as a result, a good portion of our work will be devoted to repaying this 'technical debt' over coming years.
Multimedia enables users to learn about the world in vastly different ways than text articles. As modern culture shifts towards more audio-visual delivery of information, images, sounds and videos are key to engaging more users and supporting their diverse learning styles. In this changing information landscape, we can greatly improve the educational value of our sites by empowering everyone to share media, collaborate on improving that media, and using that media well throughout Wikipedia, Commons and MediaWiki sites.
Multimedia serves each of our main user groups in different ways:
- Readers expect multimedia content to enrich their experience, so they can learn more effectively.
- Contributors can use smartphones and digital cameras to capture more media-rich content and add it to our sites.
- Curators (inc. new editors) can provide invaluable feedback to surface the best content, flag issues and help curate this new stream.
- Editors can augment text articles with rich media to better inform readers and support their diverse learning styles.
At the present time, the number of Commons contributors is one of the few editor engagement metrics that are increasing on MediaWiki sites. Over the past year, Commons has seen sustained growth in contributors, and we expect that trend to continue, which requires us to support it through more modern tools and a dedicated team.
In previous years, we developed the technology infrastructure that previously was not available to support the storage and use of large amounts of multimedia. This was a necessary precondition for increased investment in multimedia participation tools in this fiscal year.
When developing new contribution streams (mobile photo uploads, improved integration of uploading into Wikimedia projects, etc.), we have to keep in mind that we are likely to receive a significant amount of low-quality or inappropriate uploads. Accordingly, we want to focus not simply on increasing the inflow of new contributions, but also on improving quality management tools, including simple means for audience feedback. We also want to provide better support to help editors discover and publish media files within articles throughout our sites.
Viewing media files on Wikipedia can be a frustrating experience for casual users. Thumbnails link to confusing file pages instead of showing a larger image -- and we don't support standard audio or video formats.
Users: most of our 500 million monthly visitors
Proposed solutions: Media Viewer, New Audio/Video Codecs
Uploading files is a complex workflow, and our Upload Wizard tool still has many unresolved issues. We need to refactor both the front-end and back-end code, as well as fix a lot of bugs. We also need to better support 'chunked uploads' of big files, as well as batch uploads of large media collections. The upload wizard tool makes it hard for casual users to categorize their new files, many of which get lost in the shuffle.
Users: about 21k monthly contributors
Proposed solutions: Upload Wizard, GLAM Toolset, Category finder
File curation on Commons is apparently done by a small group of a few hundred users, whose methods sometimes seem inconsistent with each other. Some delete a lot of files in batches, while others have more tolerant attitudes, leading them to keep content that some might consider inappropriate (e.g. 'soft porn'). Overall, content curation practices seem less developed on Commons than on Wikipedia -- and some view this free file repository in a more permissive way, particularly since curating the current backlog of 17 million files would be a formidable undertaking. This seems to be causing confusion and tension that are likely to require more deliberations with the community and the foundation. In the meantime, we may be able to provide a simple feedback tool to help surface relevant content, while the harder curation questions are being discussed.
Users: under 1k curators on Commons
Proposed solutions: Simple feedback tool, Discuss curation options with community
Only about 40% of the files on Commons appear to be used in pages on other MediaWiki projects. While some of this may be due to low-quality content, another likely cause is the lack of discoverability of relevant content and the difficulty of adding files to articles. To expand on the release of the Visual Editor's new 'Insert Media' tool, we can provide better ways to tag, find and place relevant files in articles for this critical end goal of our multimedia workflows.
Users: about 80k editors on Wikipedia and other sites
Proposed solutions: Better meta-data, Intersecting tags, geo-tags, Expand VE's 'Insert Media' tool
- Software architecture
Our multimedia software architecture needs a major overhaul, as many of our current tools were developed in recent years without the benefit of a dedicated team. As a result, we will need to devote a good portion of our engineering resources to repay this 'technical debt' this year, to improve overall performance and scaleability, as well as fix the many bugs that have not been addressed yet. This means that our velocity for new feature development will be reduced accordingly in the near-term. We have started an architecture audit to determine the scope of this effort in coming months and years.
In coming months, we plan to focus on these core activities:
- Upgrade our software architecture and repay our 'technical debt' from prior years
- Improve the viewing experience for various types of multimedia content
- Support content uploads with code refactoring and a better user experience
- Develop feedback / curation tools to surface the best media files
- Develop discovery and search tools, based on more structured meta-data and tags for files
- Provide media finder for adding files to articles, extending the Visual Editor's 'Insert Media' tool
- Improve integration between Commons and Wikipedia, as well as other client projects or third party users
- Support for media campaigns, competitions or contests like Wiki Loves Monuments
- Establish an audio/video codec strategy about licensing codecs like MPEG4
- Measure our progress through research and metrics analysis of key usage data
To learn more about projects under consideration, check out these project review slides (starting in page 52).
This is an updated outline of key milestones for fiscal year 2013-2014, based on community and team discussions. The milestones below may be adjusted from time to time, and updated on a quarterly basis, based on prior quarter's results. Some of the projects we are considering are outlined in these project review slides (starting in page 52).
Tasks for next fiscal year (2014-15)
- Implement structured data on Commons (integrated with Wikidata, add new tags)
- Provide better search and discovery tools to help editors add relevant files on articles (with VE's 'Insert Media')
- Develop file feedback tools (to report issues, add comments, using Flow and Wikidata)
- Provide multimedia campaign tools for organizers (in collaboration with mobile team)
To meet our goals for multimedia, we plan to partner with a number of internal and external teams:
- collaborate with WMF's design team for media viewer and other tools
- work with E2 team for notifications and discussions
- work with mobile team for campaigns, file curation/feedback
- collaboration with Visual Editor for media finder and publishing
- work with Wikidata for metadata, tags, geotags
- adapt Wikia code for lightbox, galleries, slideshows?
- work with Kaltura for audio visual player
This year, we are expanding our multimedia team, which now includes:
- Product Manager: Fabrice Florin
- Engineering Director: Rob Lanphier
- Front-end Developer: Mark Holmquist
- Back-end Developer: Gergő Tisza
- Interaction Designer: Pau Giner
We are also recruiting for one more positions for the multimedia team:
Please spread the word about this unique opportunity to create a richer multimedia experience for Wikipedia and MediaWiki sites!