Commons:Guide to content partnerships

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See also: outreach:GLAM/Resources/Data and media partnerships workflow.

This is a guide to content partnerships. This guide seeks to describe how to do a content partnership based on the lessons learned from previous partnerships.



A content partnership is a partnership between Wikimedia Commons and an external party, for example a gallery, library, archive or museum (GLAM for short). The main goal of the partnership is to get content (photos, movies, paintings, sounds, etc) uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. A content partnership is often facilitated by a Wikimedia Chapter. A content partnership is often an easy first step of having a partnership with an external party.

Get in touch


To encourage a partnership with an external party you first need to get in touch with them. It's good to do this on behalf of your local chapter; this gives you more credibility. Chapters also often have contacts already in the sector you are seeking to work with, removing one step of networking for you. If your chapter is unable to provide assistance, seek out the type of content partner you're looking for (for example, an art museum) and email the appropriate contacts (usually digital collections, archivists, collections managers, or registrars). Offline networking is also a great way to meet these partners; conferences, receptions, networking events and symposiums are just a start of some great ways to meet content partners. For chapter representatives, remember, there is always a networking opportunity; share the work you're doing with the world and make note of all relationships in a contact document for future reference.

Sometimes it goes the other way around. The external party reads about all the nice partnerships we're currently doing and reaches out, either to Commons, local chapters, or related individuals.

For a list of potential contacts, see the GLAM Contact List on Outreach Wiki
For sample emails to send to possible partners, see Commons:Example requests for partnerships

Meet in person


While email is great start to communicating about partnerships, taking it offline is a more empowering opportunity to legitimize your desire to work together. There might be Wikimedia Ambassadors available to assist with in-person meetings, these Ambassadors are trained to facilitate to groups and individuals about the merits of Wikimedia. And again, work with your local chapter—this provides legitimacy, referral and trust to the work you're interested in doing. You are a representative of Wikimedia, share it with pride and you're off to a great start.

Common(s) questions


What is the difference between Wikimedia, Wikipedia, MediaWiki, Wikimedia Commons, etc?

  • Wikipedia is the biggest free online encyclopedia
  • Wikimedia Commons is the online archive of free media files which can be directly used in Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects
  • Wikimedia is short for the Wikimedia movement the global community of contributors to Wikimedia projects.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is the non-profit and charitable organization that supports the Wikimedia movement. The WMF runs (operates the servers) and facilitates the Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia Foundation assists local chapters and user groups to support the goals of the Wikimedia movement.
  • Wikimedia projects include Wikipedia, Commons, Wikidata, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wiktionary, and more.
  • Mediawiki is the open-source software on which Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites run.
  • And no, we don't have anything to do with Wikileaks.

What license should the partnership use?


Example: The partner you are working with has a collection of paintings. The copyright for these paintings is either owned by the museum, artist, or the copyright has expired and the work is now in the public domain. Sometimes the copyright is unknown or the status is unclear, it's usually best to avoid these works.

  1. For works where the external party owns the copyright it's recommended to use {{Cc-by-sa-4.0}}. Be sure to clarify how the external party wants to be attributed (a pretty essential part of the cc-by* licenses, but unfortunately often forgotten, and be sure to get a release to store in OTRS. Other licenses are of course also possible, for example {{Cc-zero}} to put the works in the public domain.
  2. For works where the copyright has fallen in the public domain it's recommended to use {{PD-art}} (paintings, etc.) or {{PD-scan}} (scans of photographs). Using a cc-by* license on works in the public domain is generally frowned upon (the more radical people will start yelling copyfraud).

Why do you only allow media which can be used commercially?


One of the core values of Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons is that the content must be freely used which involves:

  • the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
  • the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
  • the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
  • the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works

This core value means that the images cannot be non-commercial in use. For more information see

Why do you need higher resolution than web resolution?


See Commons:Why we need high resolution media


No. We make copies of content. All media used in Wikipedia articles are hosted on Wikimedia sites. Deeplinking to external sites for media is impossible. We do make deeplinks to the location where they came from.

Reasons for this include:

  • If media is available under a free license, then it can be copied to any location; insisting on a single location for an image goes against the principles of a free license
  • It avoids problems with linkrot (where URLs are changed, but not updated everywhere)
  • It avoids problems with websites being inaccessible at different times; if an image is on Wikimedia Commons then it will always be accessible at the same times as Wikipedia (i.e. 99.99% of the time).
  • Images can be easily rescaled to avoid transferring large files if they are on Wikimedia Commons; this is particularly important to reduce the bandwidth required for mobile internet browsers.
  • Wikipedia's traffic can easily overload servers (e.g. if an image is used on the English Wikipedia's main page, then it will be viewed by over 6 million people in 24 hours - that can easily take down a website if the capacity is not available).

What do you get?


The external party will generally not just hand over their entire collection and say: "Have fun!". They want to know what's in it for them.

Eyeballs: Wikipedia gets enormous amounts of visitors. If your images are used, a lot of people will see them, you will get more traffic to your website, sometimes doubling traffic to pages.
Context: Your images won't just be items in a database; your images will be used to illustrate articles in Wikipedia, adding context to the images. The images will also be grouped with similar images on Wikimedia Commons, making them part of a bigger collection.
Multilingual descriptions: The images may not have any description, but the community will soon add one, and users can add description not just in English, but also in other languages.
Category: The images may have not been categorized, but soon they will be categorized in many ways, starting from the obvious to the not-so-obvious categories. And each of them will add value to your images.
Credit: On each image you will be credited and a nice template will be included.
Linkback: Each image will contain a deeplink to the original location of the object on your website.
Metadata: The metadata on each image page will be nicely formatted with templates like {{Information}}, {{Artwork}}, {{Book}}, {{Creator}}, {{Institution}}
Community: An active community will start adding the images to Wikipedia articles, sorting out the images, improving or translating the descriptions, reporting errors, etc. You can also see what pages use a specific image by looking at the links on the bottom of each image
Restoration: We have a small, but active group of people who do digital restorations of images.
Statistics: We have statistics documenting which Wikipedia articles your images are used in and how often these Wikipedia articles are viewed.
Partnerships: A content partnership is just one of the many ways external parties can work with the Wikimedia community. More possibilities: Events, conferences, photo expeditions, backstage passes, edit-a-thons, exhibitions, residencies

To learn more about the different approaches you can take to content partnerships, see: the Digitization and Digital Collections portal on Outreach

How can we do the upload?

A short guide to the three most common tools for batch uploading to Commons

Don't worry about that right now, let's explore what type of content you'd like to donate. If you have the files and good metadata, we have the means. Commons:Guide to batch uploading

Do we have to have a written agreement?


It's good to document the agreements you made. The external party wants to put something on Commons. Someone from a Wikimedia Chapter only facilitates this process. The chapter has no formal control on what happens on Commons, so be sure not to give that impression in any agreements. As a Wikimedia Chapter you function as a buffer between the external party on one side and the Wikimedia Commons community on the other. Be sure to keep both sides happy. It's best to have the external party write up some sort of release, have them sign it (be sure to have someone sign who is authorized and registered). Store a scanned copy of this document in OTRS. (FIXME: Add some examples)

Ok, we're in, what happens now?


So you convinced someone to do a content partnership with us. Awesome! Several steps need to happen now:

  1. Create a partnership page (see for example Commons:Tropenmuseum). Starts as a small page and will grow over time (see the standard layout)
  2. Include the page at Commons:Partnerships
  3. Create a partnership template (see for example {{Geographicus-source}}), you can find the requirements here. This might be a bit technical involving multiple templates working together. Easiest way is to copy an existing template and modify it.
  4. Include the template at Commons:Partnership templates
  5. Find someone to do the batch upload, more at Commons:Guide to batch uploading
  6. (if you have any problem with any of the steps above, you can ask someone from the community to help you with it)