Wikimedia Commons

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Wikimedia Commons
The Wikimedia Commons logo (in German)
description Wiki project , collection for free media files (images, video, sound)
Registration optional (necessary for uploading files)
languages multilingual with lingua franca English
owner Wikimedia Foundation
Originator Group of logged-in users and third parties
Published September 7, 2004
status active

Wikimedia Commons is an international free collection of pictures , videos and audio files . The database is linked to Wikipedia and other projects, so that the files, mainly images, are integrated into Wikipedia directly from Commons . The media archive is free of charge and can be accessed without registering. The name is derived from the English word “ commons ” (German: “ Allmende ”), in the sense of a place that all villagers can use.

The operator is the Wikimedia Foundation (USA). The media archive was established on September 7, 2004 to hold material for all Wikimedia projects, such as Wikipedia . In October 2019 there were almost 8.2 million registered user accounts.

Only media (content) may be uploaded that meet the requirements of free knowledge . This means that they can be used worldwide in Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia. However, anyone else can also use the media, free of charge and without permission, whereby the specification of the license valid for the file is necessary and, in some cases, the name of the author.

In terms of copyright , there are two categories:

  • Public Domain : Content is no longer protected by copyright, for example because the author died more than seventy years ago. An example of this is a picture of the Mona Lisa . Other authors have deliberately published works without claiming copyright. All of these works can be used without any requirement.
  • Free license : In this context, a license is a legal text that describes what can be done with the works licensed in this way and under what conditions. For example, if the author has published a work with the free CC-BY license, it can be used under two conditions: The author must be named and the license in question must be named.


The German computer scientist Erik Möller proposed the project in March 2004, and it was implemented in September of the same year. Commons went online on September 7, 2004.


Number of files over time

With more than 60 million media files, Wikimedia Commons is one of the largest free media collections in the world. 86.2% of the files are images in JPG format.

One year after it was founded, it held over 250,000 media files freely available. The total volume of the collection is over 229  terabytes , of which 208 terabytes are images. On July 14, 2013, the number of edits reached the 100 million mark. Approximately 20,000 new files are uploaded every day.

Depending on the upload tool, the maximum file size of a file is 100  mebibytes (104,857,600 bytes) or 4  gibibytes (4,294,967,296 bytes, using "chunked uploads").


The common and cross-language file management for all Wikimedia projects has the advantage that the media files no longer have to be uploaded individually for each Wiki. Mainly, the files can be accessed or found using the search functions, categories and partly also through galleries (similar to the articles on Wikipedia). In many Wikipedia articles there is a link to the corresponding gallery page or category at Wikimedia Commons at the end of the section "Web Links". This way, Wikipedia readers can quickly check which media files are available on a topic on Wikimedia Commons.

The project framework states that the media files included should have an educational character, whereby educational in the sense of “providing knowledge; instructive or informative ”should be understood. They should therefore be useful, for example, in Wikipedia or another Wikimedia project. Other media files are useful for the work of the Wikimedia community itself.


Screenshot of the main page

Photographs make up the majority, as well as maps, graphics, animations and scans. There are also several thousand audio recordings of words to demonstrate correct pronunciation. These are mainly used in the Wiktionaries , but also in the language versions of Wikipedia. In addition, most of the audio files are stored for spoken Wikipedia editions.

There are hundreds of recordings of classical music by composers such as Bach , Brahms , Beethoven , Mozart and Tchaikovsky, as well as a growing number of film recordings of historical speeches, excerpts from public domain films and short scientific videos.

Even digital copies of all the books are on Wikimedia Commons, for example, the 2006 digital arithmetic book of Andreas Reinhard from the 16th century. Text files are more of a smaller group.

File formats

Wikimedia Commons only uses open source and unpatented standards. (→ See commons: Commons: File types )

The approval of the patented MP4 video format on Commons was rejected by a large majority in a request for comments initiated by the Wikimedia Foundation's multimedia team in early 2014 .


Development of the number of excellent images

It accepts files that are either in the public domain ( Public Domain ) or are the rights holder under a Free license were asked. The Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA, under the z. For example, the texts from Wikipedia are also available, is the license most frequently chosen by uploaders. Since the servers are in the United States , the file must be legal there and in the country of origin. Due to their free license, files from Wikimedia Commons are also used outside of the Wikimedia projects, including outside the Internet.

Awards and competitions

Particularly good media can receive an award, such are:

  • Precious pictures ( english Valued pictures ) Valued image seal.svgcurrently has over 31,500 valuable paintings and 283 valuable paintings groups ( Valued image sets )
  • Quality pictures ( English Quality pictures ) Quality images logo.svgcurrently over 228,570 pictures and
  • Excellent pictures ( English Featured pictures ) inlinesince November 2004 - "the best on Commons", currently 12,951 pictures
  • Excellent Videos ( English Featured Videos ) Featured videos logo square.svg- based on videos that are considered the best on Commons. Currently there are just over 90 copies.
  • One picture of the year has been chosen every year since 2006. In addition, a picture of the day and a multimedia file of the day have been presented every day since 2004.

All awards are given by vote, this also includes the excellent images from Wikipedia language versions.

Origin of the media

The people who always upload and sometimes produce media data without remuneration do so altruistically according to the wiki principle . This is partly promoted or encouraged by the Wikimedia associations such as Wikimedia Germany, for example with the Wiki Loves Monuments initiative .

Organizations and private individuals have made large parts of their collections available several times. Among other things, the YorckProject donated around 10,000 digital copies of works of art by old masters in April 2005. In December 2008, for example, Wikimedia Commons received a donation of over 100,000 photographs through a cooperation with the German Federal Archives - mostly on the subject of German history . An example of a large private donation is the photo collection of the mineral dealer Robert Lavinsky from the USA, consisting of around 50,000 photographs of minerals .


With the exception of a few blocked pages, anyone can edit without registering. A screening process was introduced in March 2010. Uploading media is only possible for registered users. Various utilities help to transfer files with suitable licenses from Flickr and other photo websites to Commons.

See also

Web links

Commons : Wikimedia Commons  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The original name is English media file repository . See Commons: Project Scope
  2. Erik Möller: The secret media revolution. How weblogs, wikis and free software are changing the world. Verlag Heinz Heise , Hannover 2005, p. 187.
  3. commons: Special: Statistics . Accessed October 13, 2019.
  4. Discussion thread in mailing list wikipedia-1
  5. Wikimedia Commons celebrates its 10th anniversary , Wikimedia Foundation, September 5, 2014.
  6. commons: Special: Statistics , as of March 18, 2020.
  7. commons: Special: Media Statistics . As of December 9, 2019.
  8. Commons: Village_pump
  9. Other Projects Statistics Commons (column: Articles / new per day), accessed June 12, 2018
  10. commons: Commons: Maximum file size / de
  11. commons: Commons: project framework
  12. commons: Category: Spoken Wikipedia , Wikipedia: WikiProjekt Spoken Wikipedia
  13. Andreas Reinhard's arithmetic book at Wikimedia Commons.
  14. Torsten Kleinz: Wikipedia Community votes on MP4 ,, January 10, 2014
  15. Commons: Requests for comment / MP4 Video , February 14, 2014
  16. Quote: “Valuable images are representations that are most valuable of their kind for use on the Internet, within Wikimedia projects. The technical requirements for valuable images are usually much lower, cf. commons: Commons: Valuable images ; commons: Commons: Criteria for valuable images "
  17. commons: Commons: quality images . Accessed November 16, 2019.
  18. commons: Commons: Excellent pictures . Accessed November 16, 2019.
  19. commons: Commons: Featured videos . Accessed November 16, 2019.
  20. commons: Commons: picture of the year . Accessed February 7, 2014.
  21. commons: Commons: picture of the day . Accessed February 7, 2014.
  22. commons: Commons: Multimedia file of the day . Accessed February 7, 2014.
  23. ^ Commons partnerships
  24. ^ Commons: 10,000 paintings from Directmedia
  25. Commons: Federal Archives
  26. commons: Commons: Robert Lavinsky / de .
  27. commons: Commons: Patrol