Commons:Guide to adminship

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Wielding a mop is serious business.

This page offers advice for admins and would-be admins on Commons, about how to appropriately use the admin tools.
This is not a policy page, it is an advice page!

There are two important differences between administration on another Wikimedia project and administration on Commons. They are:

  1. Unlike actions taken on most Wikimedia projects, actions taken on Commons have the potential to affect the entire Wikimedia community—hundreds of other wikis. This has implications for both file deletion and user interaction.
  2. Unlike users on most Wikimedia projects, Commons users cannot be assumed to understand a common language. Care should be taken to avoid discriminating against users who don't speak the same language(s) as you.

The similarities between Commons adminship and other Wikimedia projects are many:

  • You are expected to enact the community's consensus.
  • You are expected to act in the best interests of the wiki.
  • You are expected to consult with other admins if you are unsure about an action.
  • You should admit when you make a mistake and do your best to fix it.
  • You should be contactable on the project you are admin on.
  • You should help users when they request it, or point them to someone or somewhere else where they can get help. (Let people know when you're on a Wikibreak.)

Initial setup

  • Add Babel info on your userpage, so other users will know which languages you speak or understand.
  • Make sure you have enabled email in your preferences.
  • It is considered bad practice for an admin to ask editors to leave them messages on some other wiki. You are expected to remain reasonably available on Commons, and to check your Commons talk page regularly.
  • Mention on your user page (by userbox or some other method) what roles or rights you currently possess, such as if you are an OTRS member. When you become an admin, be sure to add that as well.

Suggestions for new admins


Impact of file deletion


Commons is serving over 106 million files to other Wikimedia wikis. Therefore, a deletion on Commons is likely to impact dozens of other wikis. You can check whether the image is used on other wikis using the GlobalUsage tab at the top of file pages.

Care should be taken when deleting files. However, this does not mean that obvious copyright violations should not be deleted because they are in use. Free media is the keystone of Commons, more than in other wikis and as such actively removing copyright violations is important work that strengthens our claims of hosting only free media.

Impact of user interaction


Commons supports the other Wikimedia projects, but we can only succeed with the support of these other projects too. (Why? Because it's the attitude of local projects towards Commons that determines whether or not those communities will encourage their users to upload locally, or to upload to Commons.) Therefore, keep in mind that when communicating with other users you may be seen as representing "Commons" in its entirety. It's important to be polite and patient.

When we perform actions whether as individuals (deleting single items) or as a community (deciding a particular license is acceptable or not), we must take care to explain the reasoning behind our actions, and accept and use the input of users of all Wikimedia projects. In community discussions, in many respects (but not always), Commons community is Wikimedia community. We have duties to all those users, not just the ones with active accounts at Commons.

Good communication and a willingness to accept feedback are not optional extras for an admin. Good communication in deletion closures is particularly important because without it decisions cannot easily be reviewed and understood.



No language should be prioritised over any other, when practicable. No user should be disadvantaged because of the languages they can or cannot speak. If you have hints that a user doesn't speak your language, make an effort to get your messages to them translated. The onus is on you, not the user. See Commons:List of administrators by language to find an administrator that does speak the other user's language.

Specific operations


Deletion and undeletion


Commons' requests for deletion are almost always backlogged. Your help is definitely needed in this area.

Note that file deletion impacts all Wikimedia wikis. As an admin, you must always be willing to explain why you have deleted a file. More specifically, you should always provide a brief justification for your deletion decision in the edit summary, and you should respond promptly and politely to any subsequent user queries that are posted to your talk page. Sometimes, an uploader who has just had their image deleted will be angry and may even be abusive. In responding, remember that you are representing the whole Commons community, and be ready to explain your decison calmly and clearly using wikilinks where needed to point the user in the right direction. More often than you might think, a clear and sympathetic explanation can convert an initially angry newbie into a useful contributor.

If an uploader returns with the relevant information after a file is deleted for having no source/license/permission, undelete quickly and willingly.

Raster images (PNG, JPEG, GIF) should never be mass-replaced by a vector image (SVG)—this has caused controversy in the past. In most cases, any superseded image should not be deleted; exceptions should only be made if there's a consensus to do so and the file is unused. See Commons talk:Deletion requests/Superseded for more information.

Always remember that it's not our place to decide what version of a file is the "correct" one to use for all Wikimedia projects. Editorial decisions like these should be decided locally. Only noncontroversial replacements should be made (e.g. replacing a scaled down image or exact duplicate). Also keep in mind that undoing a mass transwiki replacement by CommonsDelinker is not an easy task.

For categories, unless the category name is offensive or has non-standard capitalisation or spelling, consider making the old category a redirect rather than deleting it especially if it has been in use for a while (and likely linked from other projects). Although category redirects don't "work" in the sense that files aren't magically moved to the new category, their existence alerts users to the correct category and stops the old one being recreated (category "forking" is especially harmful to efficient browsing and searching).

Deletion of pages with over 5,000 revisions has been restricted to prevent accidental disruption, its deletion is restricted to Stewards. Please contact one for assistance.

Blocking and unblocking


Have your email confirmed, so blocked users can contact you (and let them know this). Blocked users are also able to edit their talk page. Keep in mind the principles of multilinguality mentioned above.

Note that Commons currently has no formal three revert rule. This doesn't mean that edit warring or upload warring is acceptable. If you notice edit warring, push the participants to discussion, warn, and finally if necessary block.

It is possible to change the local status of global blocks.

When blocking bots due to a malfunction (or unapproved bot), please remember to disable autoblocks so that other WMF Labs bots (if running on labs) are not affected. See also: Commons:IP block exemption

Protecting and unprotecting


Don't protect preemptively. Use semi-protection whenever possible. In general, avoid cascading protection.

In the case of disputes and revert wars, protect and send the users to the talk page to sort out consensus.

In the case of repeated vandalism, a short block to the user or IP is preferred because it attacks the problem at its source and doesn't disadvantage other well-meaning users.

Several images on Commons are automatically protected from edits for a short period of time due to their visibility.

Items transcluded on Commons:Cascade-protected items are considered ultra-high-use and are often critical to the Wikimedia Commons interface or used on many pages.



This tool allows for fast reverting of the last edit(s) to a page. It's similar to the undo function, however, this will undo all consecutive edits by the same user, thus restoring the latest version made by a user other than the last. It generates a auto-summary and saves automatically. (Non-admins can request this ability here.) Admins can mark rollbacks as +b (bot) using the API or a script.

Commanding bots


Some specific bots accept commands from admins on User:CommonsDelinker/commands. Admins can mass-move categories around and also universally replace on all Wikimedia projects. Admins should be very careful with these tools and only use them in uncontroversial cases or cases that have consensus acceptance.

Special MW pages


Special pages in the MediaWiki namespace. If you don't have technical knowledge please don't edit these pages.

There are also global blacklists available at meta which cannot be edited by local admins:

Abuse filter


The Abuse filter is an automated software mechanism of applying automatic heuristics to all actions (edits, uploads, moves, deletions, etc.). Please test your filter changes before saving it. All actions caught by the filters are logged. To restore autoconfirmed status you can use the debugging tools. Please create new abuse filters only if absolutely necessary to prevent issues with the condition limit. Wikimedia Commons has 2000 conditions, if the limit is reached abusefilter will no longer work correctly (not all edits are getting checked). See mw:Extension:AbuseFilter/Conditions.

See also mw:Extension:AbuseFilter/Rules format

Mass message


You can use the MassMessage tool to send a message to a list of users via a special page. This is a very powerful tool, and it is strongly suggested that you read the documentation before using it. You are fully responsible for any mistakes (including typos in the body text, inappropriate recipients lists, etc.). Avoid embarrassment and double-check that you are sending to the right distribution list. A special page to create message delivery lists is available.

Merge page histories


Special:MergeHistory page lets you merge revisions of the history of one source page into a newer page. Make sure that your change will maintain historical page continuity.

Upload Wizard campaigns


Admins and upload wizard campaign editors can edit the campaign configuration (stored as JSON in the Campaign namespace). See the UploadWizard campaign functionality documentation for further information.

User rights management


Special:UserRights can be used to add and/or remove users from User groups, see Special:ListGroupRights. To see recent rights changes, visit Special:Log/rights. Please welcome users granted a new right with an appropriate message. See COM:RFR for requests. As a rough guideline, admins usually require editors to have made more than 500 useful non-botlike edits, and to have been active in the last thirty days to receive autopatrolled. 1,000 and 1,500 useful non-botlike edits or a large amount of justified renaming requests at the Commons are required (as a rough guideline) to receive filemover right and users with fewer than 200 edits will not be added to the awb checkpage. User needs to file a request at Commons:License review/requests to become a license reviewer.

Tag management


Administrators can manage and delete tags via Special:Tags. System tags and tags used on a lot of revisions can't be deleted. Deletions are irreversible and cannot be undone, not even by database administrators.

Vandalism and vandal fighting


Avoid labeling people's efforts as vandalism. True vandals know that what they are doing is wrong; you don't gain much from telling them again. For people who believe they really are editing in the best interests of the wiki, calling them "vandals" is inflammatory and unhelpful. Admins can mark rolled-back edits as bot edits. Special:Nuke allows to mass delete recently created pages, you can use VisualFileChange for non recently created pages. See also Commons:Counter Vandalism Unit.

Reporting bugs


If you have detected a bug when using admin tools or if someone has reported a technical problem on COM:AN, please file a bug on phabricator:. Please try to provide an exact description of the problem, and if possible a screenshot, to allow an easy reproduction of the problem. See also Commons:Bugs.

If you speak languages other than English


Checklist of stuff you should know


This is stuff you should come across or be aware of before considering becoming an admin. It's not a complete list. (if the question doesn't have an answer in parenthesis... that's because you REALLY need to know the answer to it before you consider standing... and if you don't already know, or don't know how to find out on your own, you probably haven't been around enough to have picked up the norms here yet)

  • Does Commons allow fair use? "Wikipedia only" permission? "Educational use only" license terms?
  • Which Creative Commons licenses are accepted, which are not?
  • What is the best way to transfer files from other Wikimedia projects? (Commons:Moving files to Commons)
  • What is OTRS and how is it used? (Commons:Volunteer Response Team)
  • How to join/read the archives of the mailing list. (Commons:Mailing lists)
  • When is it appropriate to use page protection (including cascading)? (Commons:Protection policy)
  • When is it appropriate to block users? (Commons:Blocking policy)
  • What is the correct procedure for nominating a file for deletion/undeletion?
  • How to "rename" or "move" a category. (Commons:Rename a category)
  • How to split or merge a page. (Commons:History merging and splitting)
  • How to find an admin that speaks a particular language, when you need to.
  • Where users should seek opinions and help.
  • Where to see an overview of a user's uploads, including untagged or uncategorised files.
  • How should you close a deletion request relating to a probable copyvio that is widely in use on other wikis and where there is a clear consensus of stated views that the image should be kept?

Where your help is needed


purge Admin backlog


  • Copyright violations: ~3
  • Unfree Flickr files: ~0
  • Recent unfree Flickr images: ~0
  • No permission since 6 June 2024: ~3
  • Media uploaded without a license as of 2024-06: ~89


  • Duplicates: ~20
  • Advertisements/spam: ~0
  • Personal photos/selfies: ~1
  • Other speedy deletions: ~2
  • Categories for discussion: 84 months
  • Media requiring a split up: ~0
  • Requests for unblock: ~1
  • Undeletion requests: ~7

Protected edit requests:

  • Full protection: ~3
  • Interface admin: ~16
  • Technical: ~1
  • Template protection: ~38
  • Protection level: ~0

See also: DR, HMS,

Commons is frequently backlogged in the deletion area.

See also: Overview of the Admin backlog and Category:Commons admin backlog