Wikimedia Commons (or simply Commons) is a media repository of free-use images, sounds, other media, and
JSON JSON (JavaScript Object Notation, pronounced ; also ) is an open standard An open standard is a standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm ...
files. It is a project of the
Wikimedia Foundation Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (WMF, or simply Wikimedia) is an American foundation headquartered in San Francisco, California San Francisco (; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and ...
. Files from Wikimedia Commons can be used across all Wikimedia projects in all languages, including
Wikipedia Wikipedia ( or ) is a free content Free content, libre content, or free information is any kind of functional work, work of art A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creati ...

Wikivoyage Wikivoyage is a free web-based travel guide A guide book or travel guide is "a book of information about a place designed for the use of visitors or tourists". It will usually include information about sights, accommodation, restaurants, tr ...

Wikisource Wikisource is an online digital library A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online databaseAn online database is a database In computing Computing is a ...

Wikiquote Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki A wiki ( ) is a hypertext publication Collaborative editing, collaboratively edited and managed by its own audience directly using a web browser. A typical wiki contains multiple pages for the subjects ...

Wiktionary Wiktionary is a multilingual, web Web most often refers to: * Spider web A spider web, spiderweb, spider's web, or cobweb (from the archaic word '' coppe'', meaning "spider") is a structure created by a spider Spiders ( order Ara ...

Wikinews Wikinews is a free-content news wiki and a Wikimedia project, project of the Wikimedia Foundation. The site works through collaborative journalism. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has distinguished Wikinews from Wikipedia by saying "on Wikinews ...

Wikibooks Wikibooks, previously called ''Wikimedia Free Textbook Project'' and ''Wikimedia-Textbooks'', is a wiki A wiki ( ) is a hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a or other with references () to other text that the reader ...

, and
Wikispecies Wikispecies is a wiki A wiki ( ) is a hypertext Douglas Engelbart in 2009, at the 40th anniversary celebrations of "The Mother of All Demos" in San Francisco, a 90-minute 1968 presentation of the NLS (computer system)">NLS co ...
, or downloaded for offsite use. As of March 2021, the repository contains over 70 million free-to-use media files, managed and editable by registered volunteers. Statistics page on Wikimedia Commons In July 2013, the number of edits on Commons reached 100,000,000.


The project was proposed by in March 2004 and launched on September 7, 2004.

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". 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 Fair use is a doctrine Doctrine (from la, Wikt:doctrina, doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification (law), codification of beliefs or a body of teacher, teachings or instructions, taught Value (personal and cultural), prin ...
content) which local project policies allow, but which would not be permitted according to the
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

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 Creative Commons (CC) is an American non-profit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a colle ...
Attribution and Attribution/ShareAlike licenses, other free content and
free software Free software (or libre software) is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty ...

free software
licenses, and the
public domain The public domain consists of all the creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art), dance, wr ...

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 Wikisource is an online digital library A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online databaseAn online database is a database In computing Computing is a ...


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. In 2012,
BuzzFeed BuzzFeed, Inc. is an American Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''inte ...

described Wikimedia Commons as "littered with dicks". In 2010, Wikipedia co-founder
Larry Sanger Lawrence Mark Sanger (; born July 16, 1968) is an American Internet project developer and philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as ...

Larry Sanger
reported Wikimedia Commons to the FBI for hosting sexualized images of children known as "
lolicon In Japanese popular culture Japanese popular culture includes Japanese cinema, Japanese cuisine, cuisine, Television in Japan, television programs, anime, manga, Video gaming in Japan, video games and Music of Japan, music, all of which r ...
". After this was reported in the media,
Jimmy Wales Jimmy Donal Wales (born August 7, 1966), also known by the pseudonym Jimbo, is an American-British Internet entrepreneur An Internet entrepreneur is an owner, founder or manager of an Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Inter ...

Jimmy Wales
, founder of the
Wikimedia Foundation Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (WMF, or simply Wikimedia) is an American foundation headquartered in San Francisco, California San Francisco (; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and ...
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.


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 (""). 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 Flickr (pronounced "flicker") ) is an American image hosting An image hosting service allows individuals to upload images to an Internet website. The image host will then store the image onto its server, and show the individual different types ...

, users could participate in a now-defunct collaborative external review process (""), which resulted in more than 10,000 uploads to Commons.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

Structured Data on Commons (SDC) is a three-year funded by the
Sloan Foundation The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is an American philanthropic nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and ope ...
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 Software is a collection of instructions Instruction or instructions may refer to: Computing * Instruction, one operation of a processor within a computer architecture instruction set * Computer program, a collection of instructions Music * I ...

for Commons, and to make general use of Commons easier by expanding capabilities in
search Searching or search may refer to: Computing technology * Search algorithm In computer science, a search algorithm is an algorithm (typically involving a multitude of other, more specific algorithms ) which solves a search problem. Search al ...
and reuse.


The site has three mechanisms for recognizing quality works. One is known as "
Featured pictures Feature may refer to: Computing * Feature (CAD), could be a hole, pocket, or notch * Feature (computer vision), could be an edge, corner or blob * Feature (software design) is an intentional distinguishing characteristic of a software item ...
", 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 #redirect Wikimedia movement#redirect Wikimedia movement The Wikimedia movement, or simply Wikimedia, is the global community of contributors to Wikimedia Foundation The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (WMF, or simply Wikimedia) is an United St ...
members during two rounds of voting. The winning picture was a picture of the
Aurora Borealis An aurora (plural: auroras or aurorae), sometimes referred to as polar lights (aurora polaris), northern lights (aurora borealis), or southern lights (aurora australis), is a natural light display in the Earth's sky, predominantly seen in high- ...

Aurora Borealis
over snowlands, taken by an airman from the
U.S. Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphe ...

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 Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting competitive relationship. Rivalry is the "against each other" spirit between two competing sides. The relationship itself may also be called "a ri ...
that was first run in 2006. It aims to identify the best
freely licensed Free content, libre content, or free information is any kind of functional work, work of art, or other creative Content (media and publishing), content that meets the definition of a Definition of Free Cultural Works, free cultural work. De ...
images An image (from la, imago) is an artifact that depicts visual perception, such as a photograph or other Two-dimensional space, two-dimensional picture, that resembles a subject—usually a physical physical body, object—and thus provides ...

from those that during the year have been
award An award, sometimes called a distinction, is something given to a recipient as a token of recognition Recognition may refer to: *Award, something given in recognition of an achievement In science and technology In computer science *Pattern r ...

ed Featured picture status. File:Alcedo_atthis_-_Riserve_naturali_e_aree_contigue_della_fascia_fluviale_del_Po.jpg,
2020 2020 was heavily defined by the COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global pandemic A pandemic (from , , "all" and , , "local people" the 'crowd') is an of an that has spread across a large region, for insta ...
2019 2019 was designated as International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements by the United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six pr ...
File:Evolution of a Tornado.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2018, 2018 File:Perereca-macaco - Phyllomedusa rohdei.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2017, 2017 File:Jubilee and Munin, Ravens, Tower of London 2016-04-30.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2016, 2016 File:Pluto-01 Stern 03 Pluto Color TXT.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2015, 2015 File:A butterfly feeding on the tears of a turtle in Ecuador.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2014, 2014 File:Glühwendel brennt durch.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2013, 2013 File:Pair of Merops apiaster feeding.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2012, 2012 File:Lake Bondhus Norway 2862.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2011, 2011 File:Laser Towards Milky Ways Centre.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2010, 2010 File:Sikh pilgrim at the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar, India.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2009, 2009 File:Biandintz eta zaldiak - modified2.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2008, 2008 File:Broadway tower edit.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2007, 2007 File:Polarlicht 2.jpg, commons:Commons:Picture of the Year/2006, 2006

Content figures

''Source: commons:Commons:Milestones'' * November 30, 2006: 1 million media files * September 2, 2009: 5 million media files * April 15, 2011: 10 million media files * December 4, 2012: 15 million media files * July 14, 2013: 100,000,000 edits * January 25, 2014: 20 million media files * January 13, 2016: 30 million media files * June 21, 2017: 40 million media files * October 7, 2018: 50 million media files * March 18, 2020: 60 million media files * February 15, 2021: 70 million media files * Current figures: commons:Special:Statistics


* EuroOffice Online Clipart extension to use images from Wikimedia Commons

See also

* Creative Commons – a project providing a set of content licenses and a directory of works using them * Internet Archive – an online collection of videos, documents and webpages * Project Gutenberg – the largest freely accessible collection of documents (including books and sheet music) * Reporting of child pornography images on Wikimedia Commons


External links

* c:Special:MyLanguage/Main Page, Commons' Main Page
Mirror of Wikimedia Commons
by WikiTeam {{Authority control Advertising-free websites Articles containing video clips Free content Image sharing websites Internet properties established in 2004 MediaWiki websites Multilingual websites Open content projects Photo archives Stock photography Video hosting Wikimedia projects Stock media