Wikipedia, through the non-profit organisation Wikimedia France, has launched an appeal for help named "WikiCheese" after it realised that its entries on French cheese lacked photos.
"If you read Wikipedia, you will notice that the articles about cheeses are little illustrated or not at all," Wikimedia France wrote in its appeal on a crowdfunding platform.
“We need your support to buy at least 200 types of cheeses, the necessary photo equipment and some books to write Wikipedia articles."
It said was having problems classifying and describing the vast array of cheeses available in France, which is estimated to have 350 to 400 distinct varieties.
“What does a Black Brie look like? A Couronne Lochoise? And what about a Tymsboro?” Wikipedia asked on its blog announcing the creation of WikiCheese.
The operation to provide more photos of mouth-watering cheese will be financed through the crowd-funding platform kisskissbankbank.com and aims to collect 5,000 euros from donors.
Those who contribute will be invited to a monthly cheese-eating session at Wikipedia’s Paris offices to learn about products such as Pont-l'évêque or Saint-Marcellin, and watch them be professionally snapped by volunteer photographers before getting to sample the goods.
They will then be encouraged to write learned articles on the participative website that is funded entirely by donations.
By Wednesday, 36 people had contributed 1,680 euros to the crowdfunding initiative that aims to collect a total of 5,000 euros before it closes in 36 days.
The monthly cheese soirées will continue for the next 18 months.
The plan is to photographically document 200 cheeses, but if the initiative makes 8,000 euros then a further 100 cheeses will be included. If donations continue after that then even more varieties will be covered and a reporting assignment to a cheese-maker will be funded by Wikipedia.
When the WikiCheese project is complete, the encyclopedia plans to make all the high-definition cheese pictures available on Wikimedia Commons, from where they can be used for free by anyone.
Some of the photos are already online here.
The WikiCheese project is part of the encyclopedia’s drive to make its site more professional.