Commons:Image annotations

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Shortcut: COM:ANN

The ultimate goal of the ImageAnnotator and WD Image Positions tools is to improve information content of the image description. Annotations can add information that can't be easily included in descriptions. If used correctly, annotations can be a great help, but other uses might just add to the clutter. Viewing individual annotations takes more effort on the user part than reading description, so make sure that users who go to the trouble are rewarded and not disappointed.

Image annotations in general should highlight features, details, or points of interest within an image. Images that can benefit most from annotations are busy images like: group portraits, panoramas, aerial photographs, satellite images, maps, and diagrams. The type of images that likely will not be improved by notes are simple images lacking enough detail to need notes. For example: flags, coats of arms, computer icons, single person portraits, etc. Of course one can find many exceptions from this general rule. Text of the note should be relevant to the region of the image outlined by its box and as with other descriptions, "neutrality of description should be aimed at wherever possible" (see COM:NPOV). Use of links to Commons categories, Commons galleries, or Wikipedia articles is encouraged.

Examples of informative notes

  • identification of people in group photographs or paintings. Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • identification of places/objects/locations in panoramic/aerial photographs. Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4
  • highlighting important hard-to-notice details of the image. Examples: 1, 2
  • identify the various elements of a composition. Examples: 1, 2
  • zoom into more detailed images or show another angle of view. Example: 1, 2
  • transcribing inscriptions, signs, or words in the image. Examples: 1, 2. If the entire image is a sign or an inscription, this should be done in the {{Information}} template only. This can be useful with hard-to-read or -notice signs. It allows text translations and can allow search engines to find the image based on such text.

Examples of inappropriate and not-informative notes

  • talking ("I like this", "This photo is underexposed", "Hot!", "Lousy reproduction", "The description is wrong", etc.), or in general making comments about the image instead of neutrally describing features in the image. Use the file discussion page for commenting about the image (there is a "discussion" link at the top of every file description page).
  • notes containing derogatory comments of any kind, or containing any text that is not neutral. Such notes are considered vandalism.
  • notes too small to see easily. Bear in mind that you might be looking at a scaled-down version of an image, though.
  • notes with text relevant to the whole image. For example single person portraits. Such explanations are better written on the file page, typically in the "description" section of the {{Information}} table. Edit the file page directly (click on the "edit" link at the top of the page), locate a line starting with "description=", and add your text after that.
  • notes with information plainly or visually visible in the image, for example: ear (on a portrait), car (on a street scene), head (on a full shot).
  • notes on animated files where note is correctly placed only in a single frame. These types of notes are more likely to be confusing and should be used with caution.
  • notes used to point out details of the image related to a discussion, for example on COM:FPC or COM:DR pages. Please use local annotations for that purpose.
  • joke notes and notes with text not related to the image.
  • attribution notes.

Note: adding clearly inappropriate notes to images is considered vandalism and, if repeated, will get users adding such notes blocked. The types of notes described in this section should be removed. Occasionally notes contain useful information which would be better placed in the description or in the talk pages, such information should be copied prior to note removal.

Choice of language

  • If possible notes should be brief and language independent, like people/place names
  • Otherwise notes should use
  • Links without language switch mechanism should be to Commons categories or galleries (with interwiki links), English Wikipedia, or Wikipedia in the language most related to the image.
  • If links lead to Wikipedia without language switch mechanism, language templates (e.g. {{En}}) should be used.

Local annotations


The above guidelines relate to image annotations located in the file pages. Many types of inappropriate and not-informative notes mentioned above would be appropriate when stored as local annotations.