To support the MP4 standard as a complement to the open formats now used on our sites, it has been proposed that videos be automatically transcoded and stored in both open and MP4 formats on our sites, as soon as they are uploaded or viewed by users. The unencumbered WebM and Ogg versions would remain our primary reference for platforms that support them. But the MP4 versions would enable many mobile and desktop users who cannot view these unencumbered video files to watch them in MP4 format.
This has stirred a heated debate within the Wikimedia community as to whether the mp4 / h.264 format should be supported. Many wikimedia regulars have weign in, resulting in currently an even split between adding the h.264 support or not. The request for comment is open to all users of Wikimedia including the broader community of readers. What do you think about supporting h.264 on Wikimedia sites ?
Video is used widely for educational purposes on the Internet. Online videos can be an effective learning tool, particularly for people who cannot read well. However, video is not widely used on Wikimedia projects. To date, only 38,000 video files have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons — about 0.2% of the 19 million other media files in our repository (by contrast, YouTube now hosts over 6.5 million educational videos).
One of the major reasons why there are so few videos on Wikimedia sites is that we do not support the widespread MP4 standard. Instead, we rely on the lesser-known Ogg Theora and WebM standards, whose user base is vastly outnumbered by the many users of MP4 around the world. As of this writing, about 150 million of our users are still unable to view open video files on their browsers.
The request for comment is open to the public. Readers and editors alike are encouraged to share their perspective on this potential change for video on Wikimedia sites.
Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.