Thousands of new images are now available on Wikimedia Commons thanks to recent work from numerous Indian field biologists. What began as the pet project of V.R. Vinayaraj, who took pictures of Indian flora on the weekends and used Facebook groups to help identify the plants, has exploded into a wave of uploads from citizen scientists, photographers, and botanists throughout the subcontinent.
Raju, a self-taught naturalist who has co-written a book on dragonflies, is motivated to contribute his work so that others may see what he has learned and he can contribute to global knowledge. “I love to share whatever I have. I believe the only way we can gain more knowledge is to share our knowledge,” he says.
Raju hopes to upload images of a thousand different species of dragonflies, and he happily reports that he is well on his way.
Jose became involved in uploading images to Wikimedia Commons in 2010 after friends invited him to share his freely licensed images from Flickr more broadly. He takes great joy in learning more about insects and herbs, his two primary categories of uploads, and views Wikimedia Commons as an outlet to do just that. He shares that he has connected with prominent scientists to help identify species in photos he has taken … in one case, a photo Jose captured could not be identified and may be a new species of crane fly.
For Jose, the motivation is intrinsic: “Every time when I photograph and share a work, I’m learning something new from the experts who commented on it. It can be a new record from my place or an interesting behavior documentation of an existing one”, he says. “My experience is the more I’m willing to disseminate my works, the more my opportunity to get such friends and learn from them.”
In the future, Jose hopes to establish a fund to help procure equipment for aspiring photographers to contribute images to Wikimedia Commons. His equipment came from a Wikimedia India grant. Jose also would like to see a partnership between Wikimedia and India’s forestry agency to facilitate collaboration in identifying and documenting native species.
To get involved or see more work from the collaboration, check out the WikiProject that has formed on Commons.
This post was originally published in the Signpost, a community-written news journal about the Wikimedia movement. It was slightly edited for publication on the Wikimedia blog. Any views expressed are not necessarily those of the Wikimedia Foundation; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section below.
You can read more about Jeevan Jose in this blog’s profile of him.