In last week’s annual State of Speech keynote, WordPress project leader Matt Mullenweg announced the WordPress.org Photo Directory. Officially, it has not yet “fully launched”. However, it is live on the site and anyone with an account can submit their photos.
To date, the directory has 103 submissions and is licensed under CC0. Unfortunately there is only one single photo of a domestic cat. I may need to contribute to the commons that this project has made possible.
This is a separate project from Openverse, a search engine for finding open source media, launched before the State of the Word event. Ultimately, the images in WordPress Photos should be discoverable via the Openverse search.
Earlier this year, I was already imagining what Openverse could be. However, what I really wanted was a WordPress photo directory. I actually wanted a WordPress media directory, but starting with images is easier:
Openverse must become more than a multimedia search engine. This must be a project where the Average Joe can upload a beautiful nature photo he took at the weekend barbecue. A place where Average Jane can share a video clip of the ocean waves hitting the shore from her trip to the beach. And a place where professionals can pay it to the world.
When Jeff Chandler from WP Mainline shared his first photo, I quickly turned it into a block pattern that wrapped the image in a wooden frame (pattern and image links available via Gist). When the WordPress template directory opens its submission process, I would like to submit it or a variation.
My personalization was nothing special. I wanted to show how vital CC0 photos are for those who create WordPress plugins like patterns and themes. Having a reliable image resource is invaluable to our community of creators. It also gives non-developers another way to contribute to the project.
I also like seeing the faces of people I know listed in the phone book. It looks a lot like a photo directory created by the folks at WordPress. One of my favorites is this one one of Topher DeRosia (he has already submitted five):
Single-image posts provide additional information, categories, and tags about photos. Each photo also has multiple upload sizes.
The homepage and search might still require a bit of work. It would be useful to be able to at least be able to search for images based on orientation (eg landscape or portrait). A navigation menu with all the categories would also be handy.
The space required for the disturbance
The image storage space had to be overturned. More and more, the creators of the WordPress community have moved away from some of the sites they once loved.
Unsplash. Pexels. Pixabay. They have all had the opportunity to become the world’s largest open source photo site. These are places to hang a quick photo for free. And, for the most part, they have enabled people to give back their art.
However, those stock photo sites that previously distributed images in the public domain began to add restrictive license terms. This started with Unsplash in 2017. Pexels quickly followed, and Pixabay was in step with the others in 2019.
Most of these restrictions prohibit users from creating similar “collection sites” with those same images, essentially creating a competing service. However, they all have other restrictive conditions on the sale of photos, especially those that are not changed. Note: Pexels always allows its contributors to choose between the Pexels license and CC0 (public domain).
Many photo-sharing sites have built their empire on the open source top, only to turn their backs on it later. The open source spirit embraces competing websites. The art itself is meant to be shared. This is kind of the goal. To be fair, the aforementioned sites weren’t the only ones of this type. They were just the most prevalent in the WordPress ecosystem.
WordPress theme authors were often the champions of these sites in previous years. However, they saw service after service disappear before their eyes because they were banned from use on WordPress.org. Themers would not be able to distribute the images because the users who downloaded them would not have the same freedoms as those promised by the GPL. It was a loss for open source.
Now that WordPress has a template directory, the problem has become more obvious. In the months and years to come, designers will need high-quality photos to showcase their models.
The easiest path was to take advantage of the millions of people who use WordPress and create our own thing. WordPress Photos could very well become the de facto standard open photos on the web, and it’s something we should all welcome with open arms.
The project is necessary. WordPress.org has the resources to do something remarkable: a 100% open photo sharing site that will never change.