While the foundation that runs Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, has never before paid for content, it is now planning to pay illustrators a modest fee for their works.
Wikimedia foundation disclosed that it is facilitating a project called Greenspun Illustration Project (GIP) to fund illustrators to develop illustrations for the site.
The funding for the project came from a $20,000 donation from Philip Greenspun, specifically for the purpose of creating and improving illustrations on Wikimedia.
Greenspun said “he was moved to give the money because of his experience seeing technical books he had originally published online appear in print,” The New York Times writes.
“In comparing the Web versions to the print versions, I noticed that the publishers’ main contribution to the quality of the books was in adding professionally drawn illustrations,” he wrote in an e-mail message. “It occurred to me that when the dust settled on the Wikipedia versus Britannica question, the likely conclusion would be ‘Wikipedia is more up to date; Britannica has better illustrations.’”
Cary Bass, a volunteer coordinator of Wikimedia foundation, in an email to the foundation said “This is the first time the Foundation has been directly involved in funded content creation, although the German chapter’s experience in winning a government grant to write articles on sustainable development has helped pave the way. The Foundation wants a ‘hands-off’ minimal administration role with the bulk of the work of organizing the project and creating the content to be completed by members of our community.”
The foundation wants to progress the project in stages starting out with 50 requested illustrations to be completed this month. From there the process will be reviewed and updated in the succeeding stages. Initially, the foundation plans to pay around US$40 per illustration depending on the work requirements.
According to Brianna Laugher, the coordinator for GIP, contributors will be able to sign up for an illustration and have two weeks to submit it; if it is accepted, the illustrator will be paid.
With this project, the foundation hopes to get illustrations that it wouldn’t otherwise have, or wouldn’t otherwise have had so quickly. Likewise, it can use this project as a way to encourage and launch new people into the “illustrator community”.
“At the end of this project we might have $20,000 worth of illustrations, but the value of the content creating community will potentially be a lot higher. We expect a side benefit to this project will be the creation/finding and maintenance of good documentation for specific tasks using tools like Inkscape,” the foundation said.
See the project specification for more details.