Wikipedia’s new sound logo: Winner of The Sound of All Human Knowledge contest announced

Sound of All Human Knowledge winner announcement press release image

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28 March 2023 — Today, the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, announced the winner of its global Sound of All Human Knowledge contest, ending the search for a sound logo for Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects. Thaddeus Osborne’s submission was selected by a community vote from Wikimedia volunteer contributors as the winner.

CC by SA 4.0 by Thaddeus Osborne, also available on Wikimedia Commons

“Music has always been a huge part of my life and a way for me to ‘travel the world’ from my small town’s backyard. Every piece of music transported me to a new place and taught me something new,” said Thaddeus Osborne on winning the contest. “As a dedicated fan of Wikipedia, I strongly believe that the platform’s commitment to reliable and free information is essential to our global success. By incorporating my sound, I hope to make Wikipedia even more accessible and engaging, enabling readers [and now listeners] to embark on their own journey of discovery and knowledge. With more answers and information at our fingertips, we can tackle big problems and create a brighter future for all.” 

By day, Thaddeus Osborne works as a nuclear engineer in Virginia, USA. By night, he produces music for fun. Thaddeus’s musical experience is largely self-taught, having explored musical theory and production techniques in his free time since college. His submission, which features the pages turning of a book, keyboard clicks, and a synthesizer chime, was determined the winner after a community vote by Wikimedia volunteer editors took place in December for the contest.   

Sound logos, also known as sonic brands or sound trademarks, leverage a short collection of sounds to represent a brand in audiovisual and audio-only settings. They have gained popularity alongside the rise of audio technology globally, with the number of active voice assistant users growing from 544.1 million users in 2015 to 2.6 billion users in 2021. Wikimedia projects, like Wikipedia and Wikidata, increasingly power other websites and general knowledge queries on voice-assisted devices. A sound logo helps ensure listeners know when they are accessing knowledge from Wikipedia or Wikimedia sites anywhere online. 

“Thaddeus’s submission captures the curiosity and joy that Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects create for millions of people around the world,” said Zack McCune, Director of Brand at the Wikimedia Foundation. “We’re honored by his contribution to the free knowledge movement and grateful to the selection committee and voters for choosing a sound that wonderfully represents free knowledge.”

As part of the winning prize, Thaddeus will receive $2,500 USD and a trip to a professional recording studio to re-record the sound logo. The ten finalist candidates will also receive limited edition Wikimedia sound logo swag. After the professional recording is produced, the Wikimedia Foundation will begin efforts to integrate the sound logo for use. The Foundation is eager to collaborate with voice assistants and technology organizations over the coming months.

The Sound of all Human Knowledge contest was run by the Wikimedia Foundation in collaboration with the Wikimedia movement, the volunteers who write and edit Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects. Submissions were accepted from 13 September to 10 October 2022, and the Foundation received 3,235 entries from 2,094 participants in 135 countries. Contest submissions were screened for eligibility by Wikimedia volunteers, reviewed by sound experts, and short-listed by a selection committee of Wikimedia volunteer contributors alongside sound professionals assembled by MassiveMusic. The short-listed sounds also received a musicologist review for due diligence and copyright infringements. The top ten sounds that were presented for voting can be found on Wikimedia Commons.

“We were blown away by the number of submissions that came from around the world, and reviewing them together with Wikimedia volunteers was an amazing experience. Now that Thaddeus’ sound logo has been chosen as the winner, we can’t wait for him to join us in our London studios so that we can work on the final recording, mixing and production of his sound logo”, says Aifric Lennon, Research Strategy Director at MassiveMusic. “This is the perfect time for Wikimedia to be developing its sonic identity. In an audio-first world, there has never been more opportunities for a brand to be heard.”

The Sound of All Human Knowledge contest supports the Wikimedia movement’s 2030 strategic direction, and more specifically, the recommendation to Innovate in Free Knowledge

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About the Wikimedia Foundation 

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge, and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. We host Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible, and advocate for policies that enable Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.

For more information about the Sound of All Human Knowledge contest, visit: 

Sound logo frequently asked questions (FAQ) 

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