I’m happy to say that we’ve started a productive collaboration with the Internet Archive
and Wikimedia community members, to address your recommendations below about video uploads
for unsupported formats.
As a first step, we want to make it easy for people to upload videos from the Internet
Archive to Wikimedia Commons, which seems like a very realistic project. The Archive
already has all the tools needed to upload videos in a wide range of formats (1), then
transcode them to Ogg format and transfer them to Commons through their Upload Wizard.
Their developer page provides very helpful information on how to use these tools. (2)
Our current goal is to start with a very simple implementation, which would add an ‘Upload
from Internet Archive’ tool on Commons, that would work just like the tool we use now to
import images from Flickr. This button would invite users to copy and paste the URL of the
Internet Archive file they wish to upload, then take it from there. Our proposed
specifications for this first feature are posted on our Mingle card #306 (3), which we
hope to take on in collaboration with community developers next quarter.
To get the ball started, it should be pretty easy for a community developer to create a
simple tool powered by the Wikimedia Toolserver. This could be done by adapting the Flickr
upload bot (4), to perform some of its verification and file transfer functions, such as:
retrieving the metadata from the IA Metadata API, confirming that it has the appropriate
license, checking a blacklist of contributors, then uploading the file.
In a second step, we could look into a tighter integration with the Internet Archive’s
upload process, so that it could be initiated from Commons, if someone tries to upload an
MP4 video file from our sites. They could be redirected to IA in ways that make the whole
process much smoother. But this would require more development resources, and would need
more community discussions, given the controversial nature of this proprietary format.
Speaking personally on behalf of long-time video creators like myself, I hope we can get
to that stage sooner rather than later, to make it more inviting for us to donate our
video footage to the free knowledge movement. :)
Andrew Lih and Kevin Gorman have been spearheading this community-led initiative. They
would welcome the participation of a few more community members to help with this project,
particularly for the technical development aspects. Our multimedia team is also prepared
to support this project, but we like the idea of doing this as a collaboration with other
community members who share our commitment to make it happen. :)
We’ll keep you posted on this initiative as it develops.
Enjoy your weekend,
On Mar 14, 2014, at 7:30 PM, Samuel Klein <meta.sj(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Gilles, Brion, and Michael,
Thank you for the fast replies. And thanks again to Fabrice for
sharing the roadmap for the next months.
Making it easy for people to convert from encumbered to unencumbered
formats, and to share media under a free license even if they cannot
understand encodings, are unambiguously part of our mission. That
part does not seem controversial, though how best to make this happen
is debated. The framing of the RFC made it hard to discuss
transcoding in any detail.
Yes, in hindsight, we probably should have started a series of discussions, rather than
one big RfC.
The next time we bring up video with our community, we might want to start with a general
discussion on the role of video on our sites, then have separate discussions about
contributing different file formats, as well as viewing them.
We didn’t have the resources to do this full community engagement at the time, but have
learned an important lesson that complex issues like these can’t be solved effectively in
a single RfC.
As Gilles mentioned, based on the RfC results we
don't currently have a server-side solution on the table.
A strict reading of that discussion might mean that we shouldn't store
and process encumbered codecs ourselves. Nevertheless, as suggested a
few times there, we can at the very least channel uploaders through a
server-side solution that isn't hosted on our servers.
Yes, we agree on that point.
In collaboration with community members, we have initiated discussions with third parties
like the Internet Archive, and are getting positive responses from them.
Our current plan is to start with small, incremental steps, as described below.
Michael Dale writes:
[ snip many insightful things ]
The user should upload the source asset, the
server should do the encoding.
Internet archive would be a good partner.
Yes, and I believe they are willing. What might a transparent
hand-off to them look like on our side?
We’re proposing to start with a simple ‘Upload from Internet Archive’ button, as outlined
on this Mingle card:
This would be similar to what we are doing now with ‘Upload from Flickr’ tools already in
use on our sites.
So in this first step, contributors would be invited to post MP4 videos on the Internet
Archive site, then import those videos in Ogg format on Commons.
Once this first step is in place, we would consider improving this workflow by integrating
the upload process more closely between Commons and Internet Archive.
If we sketch out what this might look like in
members who care about transcoding could organize a related, low-drama
discussion about it on Commons. It should be possible to get such a
process accepted by IArchivists, Wikimedians, and even Linksvayers.
Yes, that is our general plan.
( One possibility: Detecting that the format can't be uploaded
directly, passing the upload to IA, conversion to an unencumbered
format, and upload-to-Commons with metadata mapping. Depending on the
size of the file, the uploader could "complete" the upload before the
file is available for use, and be asked to come back in a few minutes.
But the summary page, a link to the partner archive page, and the
filename for use in other WM projects, could be available right away.
Yes, that is part of the second step we would consider, once we have completed the first
step (a simple ‘Upload from Internet Archive’ button).
Keep in mind that our resources are going to be pretty limited for this
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