Wikimedia Commons

Last updated

Wikimedia Commons
Commons screenshot.png
Screenshot of the Wikimedia Commons main page
Type of site
Media repository
FoundedSeptember 7, 2004;18 years ago (2004-09-07)
Owner Wikimedia Foundation
Created by Wikimedia movement
RegistrationOptional (required for uploading files)
Current statusOnline
Content license

Wikimedia Commons (or simply Commons) is a media repository of open images, sounds, videos and other media. [1] It also contains JSON [2] files. It is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.


Files from Wikimedia Commons can be used across all of the Wikimedia projects [3] in all languages, including Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Wikisource, Wikiquote, Wiktionary, Wikinews, Wikibooks, and Wikispecies, or downloaded for offsite use. As of July 2022, the repository contains over 87 million free-to-use media files, managed and editable by registered volunteers. [4]


Wikimedia logo mosaic created to commemorate the one-millionth file at Wikimedia Commons WikimediaMosaicCapture.png
Wikimedia logo mosaic created to commemorate the one-millionth file at Wikimedia Commons

The idea for the project came from Erik Möller in March 2004 [5] and was launched on September 7, 2004. [6] [7]

In 2012, the National Archives and Records Administration uploaded 100,000 digitised images from its collection. [8]

In July 2013, the number of edits on Commons reached 100,000,000. [9]

Since 2018 it is possible to upload 3D models to the site. One of the first models uploaded to Commons was a reconstruction of the Asad Al-Lat statue which was destroyed in Palmyra by the ISIL in 2015. [10]

In 2020, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) started uploading its collections to Commons. [11] As of 2022, DPLA uploaded more than 2 million files. Similarly Europeana, the website aggregating European cultural heritage, shares its digitised images through Commons. [12]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of a collaboration with Wikimedia, the World Health Organization (WHO) uploaded its "Mythbusters" infographics to Commons. [13]

Relation to sister projects

The aim of Wikimedia Commons is to provide a media file repository "that makes available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content to all, and that acts as a common repository for the various projects of the Wikimedia Foundation." The expression "educational" is to be understood according to its broad meaning of "providing knowledge; instructional or informative". [14]

Most Wikimedia projects still allow local uploads which are not visible to other projects or languages, but this option is meant to be used primarily for material (such as fair use content) which local project policies allow, but which would not be permitted according to the copyright policy of Commons. Wikimedia Commons itself does not allow fair use or uploads under non-free licenses, including licenses which restrict commercial use of materials or disallow derivative works. For this reason, Wikimedia Commons always hosts freely licensed media and deletes copyright violations. Licenses that are acceptable include the Creative Commons Attribution and Attribution/ShareAlike licenses, [15] other free content and free software licenses, and the public domain.

The default language for Commons is English, but registered users can customize their interface to use any other available user interface translations. Many content pages, in particular policy pages and portals, have also been translated into various languages. Files on Wikimedia Commons are categorized using MediaWiki's category system. In addition, they are often collected on individual topical gallery pages. While the project was originally proposed to also contain free text files, these continue to be hosted on a sister project, Wikisource.

Controversial content

The site has been criticized for hosting large amounts of amateur pornography, often uploaded by exhibitionists who exploit the site for personal gratification, and who are enabled by sympathetic administrators. [16] In 2012, BuzzFeed described Wikimedia Commons as "littered with dicks". [17]

In 2010, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger reported Wikimedia Commons to the FBI for hosting sexualized images of children known as "lolicon". After this was reported in the media, Jimmy Wales, founder of the Wikimedia Foundation which hosts Commons, used his administrator status to delete several images without discussion from the Commons community. Wales responded to the backlash from the Commons community by voluntarily relinquishing some site privileges, including the ability to delete files. [18]


Over time, additional functionality has been developed to interface Wikimedia Commons with the other Wikimedia projects. Daniel Kinzler wrote applications for finding appropriate categories for uploaded files ("CommonSense"), determining the usage of files across the Wikimedia projects ("CheckUsage"), locating images with missing copyright information ("UntaggedImages"), and relaying information about administrative actions such as deletions to the relevant wikis ("CommonsTicker").

Specialized uploading tools and scripts such as "Commonist" have been created to simplify the process of uploading large numbers of files. At one time, in order to review free content photos uploaded to Flickr, users could participate in a now-defunct collaborative external review process ("FlickrLickr"), which resulted in more than 10,000 uploads to Commons.[ failed verification ][ dead link ]There exists a community-maintained Commons Mobile App which allows uploading of photos that document the world, especially notable objects findable in the map in the Nearby List in the app (displaying Wikidata items with coordinates). The app launched in 2012 as an official Wikimedia app and since May 2016, it uses the official Wikimedia Commons name and logo.

Structured Data on Commons

Structured data statements for a picture of some sugar cubes Screenshot of various structured data statements of a photograph of sugar cubes.png
Structured data statements for a picture of some sugar cubes

Structured Data on Commons (SDC) is a three-year software development project funded by the Sloan Foundation to provide the infrastructure for Wikimedia Commons volunteers to organize data about media files in a consistent manner. This data is structured more and is made machine-readable. The goals of the functionality are to make contributing to Commons easier by providing new ways to edit, curate, and write software for Commons, and to make general use of Commons easier by expanding capabilities in search and reuse. [19] [20]


Successful featured picture nominations per month (2004-2019) Featured picture nominations per month in Wikimedia Commons.svg
Successful featured picture nominations per month (2004–2019)

There are three mechanisms on the site for recognizing high-quality works. One is known as "Featured pictures", where works are nominated and other community members vote to accept or reject the nomination. This process began in November 2004. Another process known as "Quality images" began in June 2006, and has a simpler nomination process comparable to "Featured pictures". "Quality images" only accepts works created by Wikimedia users, whereas "Featured pictures" additionally accepts nominations of works by third parties such as NASA. A third image assessment project, known as "Valued images", began on June 1, 2008, with the purpose of recognizing "the most valued illustration of its kind", in contrast to the other two processes which assess images mainly on technical quality.

The three mentioned processes select a slight part (less than 0.1%) from the total number of files. However, Commons collects files of all quality levels, from the most professional level across simple documental and amateur files up to files of very poor quality. Generally, Commons is not a competition but a collection; a quality of the description and organization of files and their descriptive and informational benefits are often more relevant than technical or artistic perfection of the files. Files with specific defects can be tagged for improvement and warning or even proposed for deletion but there exists no process of systematic rating of all files.

The site held its inaugural "Picture of the Year" competition, for 2006. All images that were made a Featured picture during 2006 were eligible, and voted on by eligible Wikimedia movement members during two rounds of voting. The winning picture was a picture of the Aurora Borealis over snowlands, taken by an airman from the U.S. Air Force. The competition has since become an annual event.

Wikimedia Commons Pictures of the Year

The Commons Picture of the Year (POTY) is a competition that was first run in 2006. It aims to identify the best freely licensed images from those that during the year have been awarded Featured picture status. [21] [22]

Content figures

As of January 2015, there are well over 5.2M geolocated images in Wikimedia Commons. Mapping these shows significant variance in image numbers over the globe. Geolocated images in Wikimedia Commons 2015-01-07.png
As of January 2015, there are well over 5.2M geolocated images in Wikimedia Commons. Mapping these shows significant variance in image numbers over the globe.
Growth of Wikimedia Commons Commons Growth.svg
Growth of Wikimedia Commons

Source: commons:Commons:Milestones


See also

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">MediaWiki</span> Free and open-source wiki software, used by Wikipedia

MediaWiki is a free and open-source wiki software. It is used on Wikipedia and almost all other Wikimedia websites, including Wiktionary, Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata; these sites define a large part of the requirement set for MediaWiki. It was developed for use on Wikipedia in 2002, and given the name "MediaWiki" in 2003. MediaWiki was originally developed by Magnus Manske and improved by Lee Daniel Crocker. Its development has since then been coordinated by the Wikimedia Foundation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wikisource</span> Wikimedia Foundation project, an online digital library of free content textual sources on a wiki

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DjVu is a computer file format designed primarily to store scanned documents, especially those containing a combination of text, line drawings, indexed color images, and photographs. It uses technologies such as image layer separation of text and background/images, progressive loading, arithmetic coding, and lossy compression for bitonal (monochrome) images. This allows high-quality, readable images to be stored in a minimum of space, so that they can be made available on the web.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wikispecies</span> Wiki-based online project for Linnaean taxonomy

Wiki species

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Danish Wikipedia</span> Wikipedia in Danish

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metadata management</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wikimedia movement</span> Global community of contributors to Wikimedia Foundation projects

According to the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia movement is the global community of contributors to the Wikimedia projects. This community directly builds and administers the projects. It is committed to using open standards and software.

Freesound is a collaborative repository of Creative Commons licensed audio samples, and non-profit organisation, with more than 500,000 sounds and effects, and 8 million registered users. Sounds are uploaded to the website by its users, and cover a wide range of subjects, from field recordings to synthesised sounds. Audio content in the repository can be tagged and browsed by folksonomic means as well as standard text-based search. Audio content in the repository is also analysed using the open-source audio analysis tool Essentia, which powers the similarity search functionality of the site. Freesound has a RESTful API through which third-party applications can access and retrieve audio content and its metadata.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Latvian Wikipedia</span> Latvian-language edition of Wikipedia

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Whirled</span> 2007 virtual community

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wikivoyage</span> Free travel guide that anyone can edit

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Radiopaedia</span> Collaborative wiki-based educational reference for the field of radiology

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">National Portrait Gallery and Wikimedia Foundation copyright dispute</span> Legal dispute dealing with copyright law

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wiki Loves Monuments</span> Annual international photography contest

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Licence laundering or license laundering occurs when a creative work under copyright is copied by another party, who then replaces the original licence with a different one. This party then illegitimately distributes the work with the new licence.


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