We Are The World, We Are The Paparazzi

PolarBearsOnATandemBikeFor anyone who writes a blog, creates web content, or for any reason requires images for use online, Wikimedia Commons might possibly represent both the internet’s best kept secret and the largest single repository of bad photography in our galaxy.

First, the Best-Kept-Secret category: Because much of Wikimedia Commons “database of 17,568,982 freely usable media files” is indeed free to use (sometimes only requiring a credit), it can mean the difference between a web page dulled by a wasteland of plain text and one enhanced by The Power of the Image. Just imagine what this page would have looked like if I’d not had access to a photo of zwei “Eisbären auf Tandem” (at left).

On the other hand, the Bad-Photography category: Actually, that’s an unfair characterization. The bulk of the images on Wikimedia Commons aren’t so much bad as boring. My first clue should have been the word, “wiki”, and the last few words of that same tagline, “database of 17,568,982 freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.” But that’s where you come in, because the Commons has released their mobile uploader app, making it easy for you to tip the scales away from snapshots of roundabouts in Swindon and toward more people in animal costumes. (Photo: Eisbären auf dem Drahteselmarkt in Unna, by Werner Wülfing)