[Commons-l] [Fwd: Pikiwiki - Israel free image collection project - Starting engines]

Cary Bass cary at wikimedia.org
Tue Jan 13 17:30:11 UTC 2009

Hi, Dror asked me to forward this message on.

-------- Original Message --------


I sent this message to commons-l, but it is being halted because I
didn't subscribe. Could you please forward it, or release the original



Pikiwiki - Israel free image collection project

Starting engines


The Israel free image collection project is about to take off
(http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Picwik). We are currently testing the
system, a process which could take a while, because we've already found
some bugs and unfriendly features, to be repaired as soon as possible.
However, we started to upload images as part of the testing phase, so I
think it is time to inform the Commons' community about the project.

This is a joint project of Wikimedia Israel (wm-il,
http://www.wikimedia.org.il) The Israel Internet Association (ISOC-IL)
and the Center for Educational Technology (CET). The basic idea (as
described in details on the Meta) is to call upon the Israeli public to
look in their family albums and private collections for pictures of
Israeli-related pictures of special historical, anthropological,
archeological, geographical, zoological and/or botanical value. These
pictures should be in good quality and depict historical events,
landscapes, archeological findings, cultural events, animals and plants
as long as they are related to the State of Israel or to the
geographical region commonly known as Palestine or Eretz Yisrael (we are
going to be flexible about these definitions). For this end, we created
a localized site in Hebrew (*http://www.pikiwiki.org.il*
<http://www.pikiwiki.org.il/>). Anyone who is willing to contribute his
images can open an account there and declare that the pictures are his
own and that he is willing to release them either to the public domain
or under cc-by-2.5 license (i.e. with attribution). We also initiate
calls to local archives and collectors. Some of them have already sent
us interesting images, which we will upload to the Commons soon. Images
donated through this localized site will be accessible through the site
itself or the Commons. We would like the localized site to serve not
only as an upload site but also as an attraction to pupils, students,
teacher and the general public, where they can look for images using
Hebrew interface. This means that the interfaces between the localized
site and the Commons is quite complicated and delicate.

The localized site saves the images temporarily and eventually sends
them to the Commons. We have two main problems to overcome:
1. Users will name the images and describe them in Hebrew. We will add
the prefix "Pikiwiki" to the name, and probably an ID which will enable
us to locate the image in our own catalog. So a typical name might look
something like "pikiwiki_123456_ציפורים_נודדות_מעל_מכתש_רמון.jpg". If
friendlier names are required, we will have to think of a better idea.
2. As mentioned above, we would like to present the images on the
localized site too, according to localized categories. Therefore, we
would like to attach an ID to each image, so we could trace it easily on
the Commons. Currently, adding this ID to the image name seems the
easiest option.

Here are some technical details about the way the upload process is
handled as provided by our programmer:

A synchronization component handles all data synchronization with
WikiMedia Commons. It simulates user behavior and data posting via CURL.
The component rechecks the data of the images needed to handle, to
prevent un-needed execution
This operation has several steps:
1. Login into WikiMedia Commons
2. Uploading new images - the data is processed and posted with
appropriate tags and licensing.
3. Updating images changed since last synchronization.
4. Removal of requests for removed images, which were uploaded to
WikiMedia. A removed image is flagged in a watch list to allow future
tracking and verification of successful removal. Access to the component
is secured via hard-coded token, to prevent unwanted execution.
A Visual debugging function exists in the code, to allow fast problems
tracing Each synchronization step is rechecked based on existing data,
pulled from the output of WikiMedia, to attempt to verify successful
operations and marking of un-successful operations
1. Uploading - WikiMedia Commons does not have an API or other
completely supported interface, to allow any operations in their system,
without manual intervention. (The perl script originally provided by one
of their users also attempts to utilize existing forms on the site).
This component simulates user behavior and heavily depends on existing
WikiMedia state - once WikiMedia decide to change or block some of the
current screens in their system, the code might need to be updated or
modified accordingly.
2. Updating or editing existing user images on WikiMedia is not support
or publicized on their site. The component uses user simulation and
fetches WikiMedia security token to allow this behaviour. (The token is
originally there to prevent such operations.) Once WikiMedia create
other or additional security precautions, this operation will require
code modification and might become impossible.
3. Removal of images - as WikiMedia Commons is a system designed for
common information sharing, it does not support direct image removal,
let alone image removal via external system. This synchronization
component simulates fake JS requests and image information updates to
notify WikiMedia Commons system regarding the fast image removal demand.
Currently this allows quick (although not on the spot) removal. If
WikiMedia change their system or implement further security precautions,
this operation will require code modification and might become impossible.
* The component uses hard-coded credentials for WikiMedia Commons,
required to use their system and all the operations in their system are
done in the name of the provided user
* All the images are uploaded one by one to prevent the user from
potentially getting blocked by WikiMedia Commons

Thank you very much,

Dror Kamir,

Wikimedia Israel

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