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Wikipedia is launching another massive photo contest to boost the number of free photos visible in WikiMedia Commons and available for illustrating Wikipedia stories.

The contest is Wiki Loves Monuments 2012, and it’s focused on photos of historic sites around the world. Last year’s contest saw 168,000 pictures uploaded by more than 5,000 photographers from 18 European nations. This year, volunteers in more than 30 countries, including the U.S., will join in as organizers attempt to surpass that total.

The Wikipedia Commons is already one of the world’s largest repositories of freely usable images, with  13.6 million media files. But there are substantial gaps in the database, according to Lodewijk Gelauff, one of the organizers of the first Wiki Loves Photos contest in 2010. No freely usable pictures exist of many world heritage sites, culturally significant monuments, and notable buildings around the world.

“Wiki Loves Monuments is an important way for volunteers around the world to showcase the cultural heritage in their countries and share these images with everyone through Wikipedia,” Gelauff said in a Wikimedia Foundation blog post.

All submitted photos will be added to the Commons, which means that anyone can use them for any purpose, as long as the photographer is credited. Ten finalists and one grand prize winner will be announced in December, and the winner will receive a trip to Hong Kong to shoot a photo tour in conjunction with Wikimania 2013.

“By uploading your photos, you are sharing our national heritage with everybody in America and in the rest of the world. The photos will be free to use, and free of cost, forever,” said Peter Ekman, the national coordinator for the U.S. contest.

A Wikimedia app is available on Google Play that contestants can use to both locate monuments of interest and enter photographs into the contest, directly from their Android smartphones.

Participating countries include India, Russia, South Africa, Argentina, the Phillipines, and Brazil, plus all of North America and almost all of Europe.

Americans can contribute here, and international contributors can submit photos at wikilovesmonuments.org.

Image credit: Sfmontyo/WikiMedia

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