Multimedia:Upload wizard/Questions & Answers

From Wikimedia Usability Initiative

Please note that The Upload Wizard is released in beta version. We hope it proves useful for new participants in the simple cases, but we're still improving it and many interface changes are coming, such as a new license chooser and a different way to display help.

General QA

What is the upload wizard?

The upload wizard is a new way of uploading files to Wikimedia Commons, the media library associated with Wikipedia and all other Wikimedia projects. The upload wizard is an extension for MediaWiki, the software that powers Wikimedia's websites. This feature was realized as part of the Multimedia Usability project.

What is the Multimedia Usability project?

The Multimedia Usability Project was a special project of the Wikimedia Foundation; it aimed to improve the interfaces and workflows for multimedia uploading on Wikimedia websites. It was realized thanks to a grant from the Ford Foundation. All work documents are hosted on the usability wiki and linked from the Multimedia Usability Project hub.
Read more: Blog announcement, Press release, Original grant proposal.

Why are you changing the way to upload media files?

Principally, because the current process is highly complex; it mixes educational components conveying the principles of free culture and free licensing with process components, does not offer a simplified workflow for the most common use cases, confronts all users with very rare edge cases, and does not go far enough in minimizing user effort (e.g. for uploading multiple files or by extracting metadata). This complexity was known before the project began, and systematic user testing has proven that it is a major deterrent for new contributors.
The complexity of the current process can be attributed to the way it has evolved over time: the MediaWiki software that powers our projects only had very limited file upload capabilities to begin with, and the project communities have applied a high degree of bottom-up customization to improve both the messaging around licensing, as well as the management of metadata. This has, however, also led to rapidly increasing complexity and decreasing maintainability. There have been few stepped back efforts to review and improve the process, and they were very resource constrained.
By building a new upload system designed based on user research, our goal is to improve the uploading experience both for new, occasional and experienced users, leading to a more vibrant, active community engaged with rich media on our projects.

Will the upload wizard be available on Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects than Wikimedia Commons?

Wikimedia Commons serves all Wikimedia Foundation projects with freely licensed media files, so it has been our primary target for user interface improvements. It is possible to upload copyrighted media files that aren't permitted under Wikimedia Commons policy to some projects. For example, the English Wikipedia permits uploading screenshots of movies, album covers, brief samples of copyrighted music, etc., under the "fair use" provisions of copyright law. In order for these narrower secondary use cases to be well-supported by the wizard, we will have to further refine the workflow, and this has not been a priority of the current effort. So, these use cases will fall back to the old upload form for now.
Additionally, one of our wishlist items is to integrate the upload wizard directly into the editing workflow on projects like Wikipedia, as opposed to requiring users to visit a separate website. However, the current separation actually makes sense while the projects maintain separate infrastructure for purposes such as user-to-user messaging and change notification. Until we have improved integration of this infrastructure, it would be too risky to simply transparently send uploads to Wikimedia Commons, as users would not see new message notifications or other change notifications, and the normal interaction with uploaders on Wikimedia Commons could break down.

Will the upload wizard be available for other non-Wikimedia MediaWiki websites?

Yes. The upload wizard is available as a MediaWiki extension and released under the GPL. While it's still in beta phase, it is be possible to install it on any MediaWiki installation (1.16 and above) and it can be customized, depending on the policy requirements of the wiki regarding media files and licenses.

How can I get involved or share my feedback with you?

If your question wasn't listed on this page, we warmly welcome your feedback, comments and questions at Commons:Usability issues and ideas. We value the feedback provided by the Wikimedia community and we'll do our best to address your concerns. Please check our list of open issues first to save your time.

QA for experienced users

Why do you allow the user to upload without first asking for a license / author / description?

Our goal is twofold. First, we're trying to get closer from the user's mental model, by providing an interface they're expecting, rather than a wall of text and fields to fill in. Also, we want to be able to display a thumbnail of the uploaded files, to make it easier to add information such as a description. Similarly, uploading the image first allows us to extract as much information as possible from the file metadata. For example, the current upload form requires the user to add the date of the work in a very specific format. Our upload wizard extracts that piece of information directly from the metadata and suggests it in the form. This wouldn't be possible in all browsers if we didn't upload the file first.

What happens if the user never provides the basic required information?

The file is automatically discarded if the minimum required information is not provided.

Why did you remove all the choices such as "uploading someone else's work from Flickr" or "free software screenshot"?

Our goal is to provide a simple interface that guides the user and doesn't overwhelm them with questions. Most alternative choices on the current upload form do not actually provide any field specific to those cases. They mostly differ in the verbose documentation we impose on users, and which has been proven to be ineffective.
Some cases will hopefully be handled better in the future, for example by allowing upload from a URL, recognizing the URL and fetching metadata & copyright terms when possible. Some toolserver-hosted tools like DerivativeFX and Flickr2Commons would definitely benefit the users if integrated into MediaWiki or an extension.

Why did you remove the "traps" from the current upload form that catch possible mistakes such as fair use?

We believe it is better to provide an interface that educates the user and encourages them to do what's right, rather than setting traps for them to fall into. "Traps" currently in use on Commons aim to identify unfree content; we would like to empower users to make that choice consciously, based on the tutorial. Our last UX study, which should include the licensing tutorial, will hopefully confirm that this approach works. If not, we'll revise it.
A complementary approach we would like to consider would be some kind of technology-supported mentoring system, as well as better tools to patrol the feed of incoming files.

Why did you remove all the instructions from the current upload form? How do you expect the user to do what's right now?

Much of the complexity of the original form was in explaining how to work around various defects of the form itself. For example, we've avoided having to tell the user about proper extensions, by eliminating the extension from the interface entirely. Instead the user only has to give their file a title and the program does the rest.
There are some issues which are necessary to explain to new users, such as licensing. However, we do not believe the "wall of text" approach is helpful. Our research showed that most users were intimidated, or simply didn't read it.
Instead, where issues are complex, we prefer to suggest and explain good default choices, so the user will naturally "get it right". Also, the licensing tutorial is an essential part of this strategy.

Why do you give CC-by-sa such a prominent/default/recommended place? Why don't you use a step-by-step license chooser?

The Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA) License is the primary license used for all text in Wikimedia Foundation projects. While more licenses are permitted for media files, the set of licenses permitted is constrained by the Licensing Policy. We believe that the CC-BY-SA license represents a good default choice for works authored by the uploader, consistent with the same values and principles which led to it being chosen as the default license for text contributions.
A default choice also has significant user experience benefits. New users cannot be expected to have any mental model of licensing, and our user testing has shown that some users will click through any license chooser in the understanding that such a choice screen represents "the step where you have to agree to the site terms". This means that we are losing an important opportunity to have an elevated engagement with the user about the core principles of free culture and free licensing, by confronting users with too much detail early in the process of uploading a file. Instead of doing so, our strategy is to a) educate users through a licensing tutorial that is clearly separate from the uploading process; b) have sane default choices for the uploading process consistent with Wikimedia's principles and values, but make it easy for experienced users to change those defaults.

Where are the other licenses?

The current beta only offers the most common licensing options. We plan to have an interface to dive into the full list of licenses for people who are looking for exotic licenses. Also, you will be able to specify your preferred license(s) in your user preferences, so you don't have to go through the full list each time.

Why do you make it so easy to multilicense works?

Releasing your work under several licenses has been a long-standing tradition on Commons; it wouldn't make sense for us to use the interface to remove the ability users have to multilicense their work. Instead, we're suggesting a recommended license, for new and occasional users, and we're leaving experienced users the possibility to multilicense their work if they wish to do so.

I don't want to go through the licensing tutorial each time I upload a file! Can I disable that?

Yes, you will be able to do that soon. Our current thinking is that the last page of the licensing tutorial will include a check box to opt-out, and possibly a link to watch the tutorial again on the first step of the wizard.

I already have my preferred license, and it's not the default. Can I change that?

Yes, you will be able to do that soon. You will be able to specify your preferred license in your user preferences, and it will supersede the default recommended license.

The general messaging is confusing / inappropriate / could be improved

We still have upcoming changes, notably on the license picker. Commons participants who tested the prototype Upload wizard provided a lot of constructive feedback, and we implemented some changes as to reflect their suggestions. We will continue to refine the upload wizard, and the messaging, as the community continues to suggest improvements.

Why don't you use HotCat for categories?

The latest version of HotCat is powerful and, as a consequence, was mostly built with experienced users in mind. We have included a basic version of HotCat to avoid confusing new users, but improving the category adder is definitely on the list of things we would like to do next. Another possibility would be to improve HotCat to have both powerful features and a user-friendly interface. Also, we're trying to make the upload wizard compatible with the HotCat gadget, so that users who have it enabled can use it transparently when uploading.

What are you doing about GLAMs?

Galleries, libraries, archives and museums are important stakeholders for Wikimedia Commons. However, the tools they need to share their works are quite specific, and different from what "regular" users need. We would have loved to address the needs of this target audience as well, but it was not possible during the limited time we had.

Can you also add feature X or Y?

The scope and resources of the grant were very limited; we had to prioritize the development of features that would have the most impact. We felt the uploading process was what needed improvement the most. However, we do agree many other improvements are needed to truly improve the user experience on Wikimedia Commons. While we don't necessarily have the resources to implement them ourselves, we wholeheartedly welcome volunteer developers who would like to help us, and we'll do our best to support them, for example by sharing our sketches & designs.

Didn't find your question?

This Questions & Answers page was written based on the feedback provided over the last few months. If your question wasn't listed above, please leave your comment or question at Commons:Usability issues and ideas and we'll do our best to answer it.