Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2021-04-25/Changing the world

The reach of protest images on Wikipedia: Wikiepedia's retweet and share buttons


It isn't easy to predict accurately how content inserted into Wikipedia is going to be used. Over here at Signpost I have read articles about how Oxford found Wikipedia content good enough to claim as its own. But while these are examples I understood, they were third party and distant; the experience of actually being part of the process was still alien. Then this happened...

I consciously licensed an image (Image 1) I had taken into the public domain (officially CCO here). I placed this image in a timely manner into the infobox of the concerned article. Within a few weeks the image had been used by news magazines, think-tanks, university blogs and a number of other websites. Was I surprised? Yes.

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Image 1

Usage of Image 1: The Yale Globalist, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Mashable India, Outlook India (& Outlook Hindi), Observer Research Foundation, National Herald, Times Now online, Medium, OpIndia, News Nation, NewsX, Deccan Chronicle, Punjab Kesari, The Quint, Global Voices, Bhaskar, Qaumi Awaz, And more. Columbia University Library (CUL) blogs, borgenproject.org, thepolisproject.com, clarionindia.net, citizenmatters.in, Sanatan Prabhat, The Kochi Post, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), The Logical Indian, TFI Post...

When I realized what happened with Image 1, I went to another image (Image 2) I had placed in the infobox of a related article. This had also been used to an extent which surprised me. Other images from these two articles had also been used, but to a much lesser extent.

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Image 2

Usage of Image 2 and others: Columbia Political Review, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, National University of Singapore ISAS, University of Oslo, The Muslim News, Penn Libraries News, New Humanist, Economic and Political Weekly, The Siasat Daily, Youth Ki Awaaz, News18, CounterPunch, Daily Excelsior, Businessworld, The Hans India, Eurasian Times, Sciencenorway.no, Newsclick...

Image 2 was licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 and most of the websites did not follow the license requirements in relation to attribution, but that is not the point I want to raise. Going by the above two examples, this should mean that the infobox images of protest articles are hotspots, at least potential hotspots for further usage. Currently the 2021 Myanmar protests are going on. A quick google image search for the infobox images shows the same usage by websites around the world.

Generalizing this even more, infobox images for most articles are potential hotspots, provided that the article itself is viewed often enough. Take for example usage of the infobox image of Berlin Wall. This process can be likened to retweet and share buttons on social media.

The best infobox/lede image ever?

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A wrapped, unopened Valentines Day gift with heart-shaped helium balloons attached sits discarded in a dumpster.

While there are fantastic featured images, there are images which aren't featured but are still amazing. One of the best placed intro images is the one on unrequited love. When I told the uploader My Name is Madness about this she replied, "Thank you! I knew when I first stumbled onto it it was perfect for... something... took a moment to figure out what."