Commons:Deletion policy

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This page is considered an official policy on Wikimedia Commons.

It has wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that everyone must follow. Except for minor edits (such as fixing typos, or bringing information up to date), please make use of the discussion page to propose changes to this policy.

This page sets out the deletion policy of Wikimedia Commons. For simplicity, images, sound files, videos, source files and other files are referred to as “files”, and galleries, categories, templates, talk and other pages are referred to as “pages”. This page does not explain copyright issues and the Commons licensing policy. See Commons:Licensing instead.

Overview of procedures

There are three main deletion procedures. These are applied in different cases, depending on the reason for deletion:

  • Speedy deletion: in some cases, files may be deleted more or less immediately. If you are absolutely certain that the deletion of a page or file falls in the speedy deletion criteria such as an upload error of yours, a clear copyvio, “non-free” and such (more outlined in detail below) the file is a candidate for speedy deletion. All affected (tagged) files can be found below Category:Candidates for speedy deletion.
  • Deletion tagging: for a variety of situations there are specialised templates to apply, which result in deletion after a time (often 7 days) if the problem hasn't been resolved.
  • Regular deletion: If there may be the need for discussion (which is in many cases the recommended way especially if you are new to Commons and have concerns about licensing issues), the file/page should be listed as a deletion request. In any case involving doubt, use deletion request instead of asking for speedy deletion. Please tag the file/page in those cases with {{Delete}} and please don't forget to give a reason below the tag and to add the image at Commons:Deletion requests and inform the uploader.

In all cases consider using GlobalUsage to get some idea of where images are in use before deletion.

Reasons for deletion


The speedy deletion tag {{Copyvio}} is for obvious copyright violations. Use {{copyvio|1=Reason}} or {{copyvio|source=URL}} to explain why it’s a copyright violation. Note that if a media file or article is a suspected but not clear copyright violation (including all copyrighted works in public spaces), it should be placed on Commons:Deletion requests.

If there is some licensing information missing, then the file gets tagged as missing information and the uploader is informed and given 7 days time to correct the problem. After this period the file can be deleted by an admin on sight without further debate, if the information is indeed missing. All affected (tagged) files can be found below Category:Missing legal information.

Files missing source or licensing information should be tagged with one of the following messages.

  • {{subst:nsd}} (no/missing source, tagged by date)
  • {{subst:nld}} (no/incomplete licensing information, tagged by date)
  • {{subst:npd}} (no/missing permission, tagged by date)
  • {{subst:dw-nsd}} (derivative work, no/missing original source, tagged by date)

Please notify the uploaders that you have tagged the file as well (see notes on the templates after tagging a file with them). After this they will have 7 days to fix the information.

If after this period of time sufficient license and source information is provided, the tag should be removed. If it is not fixed, the file is then eligible for speedy deletion. However, you should not list such files for deletion or speedy deletion. Because they are tagged by date, an administrator can automatically see which ones are eligible for deletion by navigating subcategories of Category:Missing legal information.

Non-free licenses and fair use

Per Commons licensing policy, Wikimedia Commons accepts only free content, that is, images and other media files that can be used by anyone, anytime, for any purpose. Commons also does not host “fair use” copies of non-free content (see Commons:Fair use), other than some non-free symbols of the WMF projects.

  • Files licensed only under a non-free license (like fair use, noncommercial or permission-only) may be speedy-deleted using the {{Speedydelete}} tag (be sure to give a reason: {{speedydelete|Reason}}).
  • The speedy deletion tag {{Fair use}} is for files that have been tagged with a fair use rationale.

Other licensing/copyright issues

A file or page can be listed for deletion on Commons:Deletion requests in the following cases:

  • The file/page has an unclear copyright status but the method described at Missing legal information cannot be used.
  • The file/page violates the licensing guidelines in some other way than being a clear copyright violation.


The tag {{Speedydelete}} is available for speedy deletion nominations where there is not a more specific speedy deletion tag. Don't forget to add a reason like this: {{speedydelete|Reason}}. Such cases include:

A violation of the privacy policy.

Out of scope

"Out of scope" files/pages should normally be listed at Commons:Deletion requests.

Not educationally useful

The file is not realistically useful for an educational purpose. Examples of files that are not realistically useful include:

  • Private image collections, e.g. private party photos, photos of yourself and your friends, your collection of holiday snaps and so on. There are plenty of other projects on the Internet you can use for such a purpose, such as Flickr. Such private image collections do not become educational even if displayed as a gallery on a user page on Commons or elsewhere.
  • Self-created artwork without obvious educational use.
  • Files that add nothing educationally distinct to the collection of images we already hold covering the same subject, especially if they are of poor or mediocre quality.

Self-promotion or vandalism/attack

  • Advertising or self-promotion. (COM:ADVERT)
  • Files apparently created and/or uploaded for the purpose of vandalism or attack. Pre-existing designs and symbols that are or have been associated with nationalistic, religious or racist causes are not out of scope solely because they may cause offence. Provided they are legal to host and otherwise fall within Commons scope (e.g. if they could for example be used to illustrate a Wikipedia article on a hate group) they should be kept. (COM:VAND)
  • Other files uploaded in bad faith, such as for copyright trolling

Social issues

Photographs of identifiable people

Commons respects the legal rights of the subjects of our photographs and has a moral obligation to behave ethically with regard to photographs of people. This means certain photographs are unacceptable on Commons without appropriate consent from the subject. See Commons:Photographs of identifiable people.

Courtesy deletions

Even when not required to do so for legal or other policy reasons, Commons may at times choose to delete images, for example as a goodwill gesture to a photographer who has made a mistake. For proposed guidelines, see Commons:Courtesy deletions.


General: speedy deletion

The tag {{Speedydelete}} is available for speedy deletion nominations where there is not a more specific speedy deletion tag. Don't forget to add a reason like this: {{speedydelete|Reason}}. Such cases include:

  • Corrupted, infected by a virus, unintentionally blank, etc. (if in doubt, list it on Commons:Deletion requests as an unknown format/content)
  • Has previously been deleted under Commons deletion guidelines
  • Was uploaded with the intent to be used solely for purposes of vandalism, personal attacks, and/or spamming
  • Empty and has no significant history
  • Patent nonsense, a test or vandalism
  • A user page or subpage whose deletion has been requested by the user
  • A user page or subpage of a nonexistent user
  • A redirect over which another page must be moved
  • A redirect to a nonexistent page
  • A category with no content or containing only a parent category, and obviously unusable for the future
  • A talk page of deleted content (unless they contain anything worth saving)

General: deletion nomination

Files/pages should be listed at Commons:Deletion requests if

Naming issues

  • Please don't upload files again to change file names. To rename files, use {{rename|new_name|numeric rationale|additional reason}}.


If the file is of the same file type and you're sure that it has exactly the same content (colours, quality, etc), tag it with {{duplicate|File:example.jpg}} and give for the parameter (File:example.jpg) the file that can replace this duplicate file.

Files that are not of the same file type are not duplicates, but instead possibly redundant (see below), and require a deletion request.

Exact duplicates of a file are listed at the bottom of the description page by the MediaWiki software.

  • A bitmap (PNG, JPEG or GIF) file superseded by a vector graphic is not considered to be an exact enough duplicate. Such files ought to be listed at Commons:Deletion requests so that they may be decided upon, case by case.
  • Care should be taken when the format is different: For example, it is common and useful to have both a PNG and JPEG of the same image, since (due to a long-standing issue with the thumbnailer), JPEGs thumbnail is better. However, JPEGs aren't lossless images, so progressive editing of a JPEG will destroy the quality, whereas a PNG does not have this problem. Hence, a PNG for (further) editing and a JPEG for display can be justified.
  • If one of the duplicate copies of the image was uploaded by the author, keep that version and redirect the others.
  • If there are varying descriptions in the different image description pages, ensure all the relevant information is merged into the copy to be preserved.
  • After deleting the duplicate, redirect the deleted filename unless it is misleading or a very recent upload. (This avoids breaking links from external reusers of images.)

Note: if it is a work that is very similar (or identical) to another, but not an exact duplicate, it’s a redundant file, which mandates a different procedure. See below.

Redundant/bad quality

Redundant or low-quality files only get deleted on a case-by-case basis after they are listed at Commons:Deletion requests. At deletion requests you will need to provide reasons why a particular file is inferior to the alternative version (for more information, see Commons talk:Superseded images policy).

Before requesting a low-quality or redundant file for deletion, make sure that the file is not in use anymore by using GlobalUsage. You may replace uses of the file on local projects by superior versions, subject to the local project’s policies. If at the end of the discussion period a deletion is agreed upon and the file is still not in use, it can be deleted.

Template Usage
For speedy deletion
{{Duplicate}} For files that are exactly the same or scaled down.
{{Bad name}} Use this one if YOU have uploaded a file under a bad name.
For replacement
{{Superseded}} If a better file of the same theme was uploaded.
{{SupersededPNG}} Use for GIF & JPEG that have been superseded by PNG.
{{Vector version available}} Use for raster images that have been superseded by an SVG.
{{Technically replaced}} Use for SVG (usually) that have been replaced with an inferior file.
{{Original}} To protect the original file.

In case of a redundant page (not file), consider simply making it a redirect.

Procedures in detail

Speedy deletion

See also: Commons:Criteria for speedy deletion. There are certain instances when a file needs to be "speedy deleted" and under which an administrator can delete pages, images and other files on sight. For some cases there are specific speedy deletion tags (see above); otherwise, the generic tag {{Speedydelete}} is available. Don't forget to add a reason like this: {{speedydelete|Reason}} (see Commons:Criteria for speedy deletion for acceptable criteria).

The {{Copyvio}} template is an often-used speedy deletion tag used for files that are obvious, blatant copyright violations. Place the template at the top of the file's page, using: {{copyvio|1=Reason|source=URL}}. The source URL parameter is optional. After saving it, click on the template where it says "Click here to show further instructions", and copy the displayed {{Copyvionote}} template to the end of the uploader's talk page to notify them. A new section will be created automatically.

An administrator will delete the file/page in due time. If anyone disagrees with the speedy deletion of a particular file, please convert to a regular deletion request (see below). Always make sure that all local links to a file or page are corrected and updated before deletion. The files/pages listed for speedy deletion are included automatically in Category:Candidates for speedy deletion and its subcategories.

Please always remember: Before deleting images in speedy deletion, make sure that the user has placed it there in accordance with these deletion guidelines. If not, please modify the template, moving it off of this page. Always check the file history to determine that the proper image description has not been vandalised.

When speedy-deleting files, it is suggested but not required to run GlobalUsage in order to fix uses on Wikimedia projects.

Deletion tagging

In some cases a file may be tagged with a “problem tag”, and will be deleted if the problem is not resolved after a certain time (typically 7 days). See for example "#Missing legal information" above.

Regular deletion

The AjaxQuickDelete gadget, enabled by default, creates a Nominate for deletion link in the lefthand “Tools” menu. (Requires Javascript)

The “regular deletion” process involves starting a deletion discussion on a separate page, for which there is a standard schema, and listing the debate at Commons:Deletion requests. A “nominate for deletion” link in the lefthand toolbox is available (it requires Javascript to work) to make it easy to list files/pages at Commons:Deletion requests. This can also be done manually, however: the file/page is marked for deletion by adding {{delete|reason|day=13|month=June|year=2024}} template (replace reason by yours) and then it must be listed on Commons:Deletion requests; also, the uploader should be informed of the impending deletion.

The file/page may be deleted on decision by an admin if there were good reasons given in the debate for doing so. Always make sure that all local links to a file or page are corrected and updated before deletion. When deleting a file from deletion requests, it is good practice to run GlobalUsage and orphan the usage of that file. More information can be found on Commons:Deletion requests, and the files/pages listed for deletion are included in the Category:Deletion requests.

If you wish to nominate multiple items for deletion for the same reason (a mass request or mass nomination), please see Commons:Deletion requests/Mass deletion request.

Regular deletion requests are separate pages that are transcluded in other pages. Therefore if you wish to add one or several categories to a deletion request you should place the category or categories in the wikitext between <noinclude> and </noinclude> for the purpose that the category or categories apply only to the deletion request concerned. See also: Help:Noinclude, includeonly, and onlyinclude.


In general, requests can be closed by an administrator after seven days. Deletion requests for obvious copyright violations can be closed earlier. Problematic or complex requests (such as highly used templates) can wait longer – even for several months if necessary. Non-admins may close a deletion request as keep if they have a good understanding of the process, and provided the closure is not controversial. If in doubt, don't do it.

In addition, no user may close a deletion request as Kept which includes media they have uploaded.

Administrators are encouraged to check whether the uploader was notified on their talk page of the pending deletion request (unless the image is an obvious violation, in which case the image can be speedy deleted).

Deletion request pages are closed with {{Delh}} (DeletionHeader) at the top, with a signed summary of the result kept or deleted between a horizontal ruler ---- and the {{Delf}} (DeletionFooter) at the bottom. For a kept page {{Kept}} can be used on its talk page as pointer to the closed DR.


To appeal debates of image not deleted, you might first want to discuss with the admin who closed the discussion. If you believe the deletion was done in error, appealing deleted images can be done at Commons:Undeletion requests.

If the decision was correctly based on the current licensing and project scope pages, you should express your dissatisfaction on a respective page.


If a category should be renamed to better name or merged as a duplicate category, you can use {{move|target category name|reason|date}} as a change request. Please do not blank categories as this generally needs more checking work to avoid needless emptying of categories and vandalism.

If the name of an abandoned (emptied) category is not incorrect, misspelled nor misleading, it should be not deleted, but “redirected” using {{category redirect|new name}} or changed to a disambiguation page by {{Disambig}}.

Misspelled or misleading emptied old categories can be speedily deleted. See Commons:Rename a category. Categories that are empty and obviously unusable for the future (unlikely to be ever meaningfully used) can generally be deleted by speedy deletion. If possible, the deletion summary should contain a click-able link to the category (categories) where the previous content was moved.

If neither of the above cases apply, an entry can be placed at Commons:Categories for discussion (follow the link for instructions on how to do this).

See also