In the last City Survivor post, I referenced the Wikipedia article for the Pontiac Banshee. In doing so, I found that there was no public domain photo of the car, and Wikipedia's article was less meaningful because of it. References were made to the radical styling and its impact on later GM products, but without any illustration, the car's appearance was left to the imagination of the reader.
This got me thinking. I have some old 3x5 photographs of the Banshee that I took at the Trans Am Nationals, probably fifteen years ago. They aren't museum quality, but they're clear and the color is true. It's not like anyone would ever pay for the rights to these photos, but they accurately represent what the Banshee looks like. So, the other night, I pulled the scanner out of its drawer, scanned the photographs at the best resolution I could, and uploaded them to Wikimedia Commons.
What's the point? The point is that now the Banshee article contains a picture to match the subject. I place this test before the Urban Gear Works readers: type the name of your favorite car into Google, and see if there isn't a Wikipedia article in the first five results. Google is the dominant search provider of the English-speaking world, and with Wikipedia articles ranking so high in the search results, there's a very strong chance that someone who wants to learn about a car will wind up there. Because Wikipedia is crowdsourced and not for profit, the public is responsible for images as well as textual content.
I've been going to car shows and race tracks my entire life, and every time, there are droves of amateur photographers taking hundreds photographs of every car. In my personal experience, I almost never shared those pictures with anyone until I started this site - it's rare to find another individual who's interested. No one is ever going to pay me royalties for a 35mm point-and-shoot photograph, either. It seems very unlikely that I'm alone in this. That's why I'm asking Urban Gear Works readers to do what I just did: release some of your old photos to Wikimedia, and share that little bit of your automotive knowledge with the whole world. There's nothing to lose, but the whole hobby benefits.