Submissions:2021/From sign shop to desktop

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This submission has been noted and is pending review for WikiConference North America 2021.


From sign shop to desktop


Depth & Breadth for Newer Editors, Tech & Tools

Type of session:



Everyone is welcome to this workshop!

Wikimedia Commons is home to the world’s largest collection of idealized diagrams of traffic signs, from highway shields for each Interstate highway to historic stop signs in China. Participants in WikiProject Signs and WikiProject Highways strive to faithfully depict standard signs pixel for pixel – or, in the case of WikiProject U.S. Roads, down to one-sixteenth of an inch. Sign diagrams are available in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format and almost always released into the public domain, facilitating reuse in a variety of contexts.

These graphics enrich transportation-related Wikipedia articles and Wikidata items. Readers use them to easily navigate among articles and familiarize themselves with the traffic signs on the road. Within the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project, the same graphics are a key element of training materials for mappers and documentation for software developers. Without this resource, OSM would be much less usable as a data source powering many popular turn-by-turn navigation applications.

In this workshop, you’ll learn how to contribute to this effort. We’ll author a sign diagram using Inkscape, the open-source vector graphics editor. The diagram will depict a U.S.-style sign based on a specification published by a state department of transportation. You’ll learn how to read this specification and translate it into path and text elements in SVG. Along the way, we’ll go over some differences in how typefaces and colors are represented on the Web versus real life.

This workshop assumes a basic familiarity with editing a wiki and uploading files to Wikimedia Commons.

The presenter has contributed to Wikipedia since 2003, Wikimedia Commons since 2004, and OpenStreetMap since 2008. His Wikimedia Commons contributions include diagrams of almost 700 traffic signs and route markers, most of them found only in his home states of Ohio and California.

Academic Peer Review option:


Author name:

Minh Nguyễn

E-mail address:

Wikimedia username:


Affiliated organization(s):


Estimated time:

20–30 minutes

Special requests:

Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:


If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)

Presentation (including a demo) or lightning talk (no demo, just the backstory)