Why Wikipedia wants its own sound

The Wikimedia Foundation is holding a contest for an original sound logo to identify when its info is used.

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The Wikimedia Foundation — the group behind Wikipedia, Wiktionary, and other projects — is on the hunt for “the sound of all human knowledge.”

It’s accepting submissions for a sound logo to identify Wikimedia properties when its puzzle-globe logo can’t, like when a voice assistant answers a question.

What’s a sound logo?

A sound trademark that identifies a brand. It’s very short and can be melodic or atonal. Some examples:

  • Netflix’s “ta-dum”
  • The “60 Minutes” stopwatch
  • McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle
  • The Windows 95 startup sound

Sound is great for brand recognition. People can hear 20-100x faster than they can see, and the right sound can trigger the right emotional response.

For example, the “Law & Order” dun-dun lets you know it’s a serious drama; THX’s “deep note,” which debuted with The Return of the Jedi in 1983, conveys a sense of spectacle.

Why does Wikimedia want one?

Wikimedia properties are often sourced without citation by voice assistants and in creator-made content.

You’ve probably listened to a podcaster or YouTuber read or paraphrase a Wikipedia article without saying so.

Wikimedia wants people to know where info is coming from so they can better evaluate it, and hopes to partner with resharers for increased transparency.

Wanna submit?

The contest is open through Oct. 10. A panel of Wikimedia volunteers, sound logo experts, and a musicologist will identify 10 finalists for a public vote starting on Nov. 29.

The winner will be announced in early 2023, and receive $2.5k, a trip to a recording studio, and, of course, internet clout.

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