Wikimedia Commons Licensing Tutorial

November 26, 2010

I recently worked with the Wikimedia Foundation to develop an illustrated licensing tutorial for its free educational media repository, Wikimedia Commons.

The tutorial was published this month as part of Wikimedia’s Multimedia Usability Initiative enabled by a Ford Foundation grant aiming to improve the multimedia upload interface and encourage user participation.

My task was to communicate the basics of copyright and free licenses to users as their first step in contributing to Commons. As an artist who relies on both copyright laws and free licensing in the course of my work, I welcomed the opportunity to clarify the dos and don’ts of legal uploading to a global audience.

The tutorial’s wording, graphics, and comic strip format were designed to engage readers and guide them effortlessly through the information. My puzzle piece character (since dubbed ‘Puzzly’) was inspired by the Wikipedia logo and functions to lend the artwork more personality.

The project involved close collaboration with the Multimedia Usability team who provided me with insightful feedback at every stage of the creative process. The resulting product was enthusiastically received by the online community whose volunteers translated the tutorial into 20 languages within three days of its original publication alone.

The tutorial's original English version, and the flipped Arabic version.

The various language versions are a fascinating aspect of the project. The Arabic translation, for example, required flipping the layout right-to-left while the German one used more text space than English (which we anticipated and designed for). I’m looking forward to seeing the tutorial’s future incarnations as they materialize.

Much thanks to Product Manager Guillaume Paumier, Head of Communications Jay Walsh, Neil Kandalgaonkar, Alolita Sharma, and the rest of the Wikimedia crew for being a great team to work with.

And a most special shout out to David Peters, consulting designer to the Foundation, for introducing and recommending me to the project in the first place. David’s art direction was significant in guiding the tutorial to graphic and communicative success.

More about the project can be found on Guillaume’s posting at the Wikimedia blog.

One Response to “Wikimedia Commons Licensing Tutorial”

  1. […] the meantime, you may be interested in two behind-the-scenes articles about the licensing tutorial: one by our illustrator, Michael Bartalos, and one by myself, focusing on the collaboration with the Wikimedia […]

Leave a Reply