Commons:Project scope/Neutral point of view

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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.

Media files

Commons is not Wikipedia, and files uploaded here do not necessarily need to comply with the Neutral point of view and No original research requirements imposed by many of the Wikipedia sites. Commons acts amongst other things as a common media file resource for all Wikimedia projects, and we stand apart from the rules that may be imposed locally by each of those individual projects.

It is not the role of Commons to adjudicate on subject-matter disputes nor to force local projects to use one version of a file in preference to another. Provided that a file falls within Commons scope, and can be legally hosted, we make it available. Whether and under what conditions it is actually used is a matter for the local communities of the individual projects to decide.

Images having particular national, political or religious significance including flags, emblems and maps can arouse strong passions, but Commons is not the place to decide which of various competing versions is the correct or official version. If you feel strongly that a map, emblem, flag or other file hosted here is "wrong" in some way, please try to persuade your local wiki community to make use of the version you prefer instead. Examples of subject matter disputes that are not appropriate here include:

  • Maps: "The author is trying to push a nationalistic/political/religious point of view by showing the national boundary in the wrong place", "the towns have been labelled with a non-approved name or in wrong language", "the map shows a state that has no legal recognition".
  • Flags/emblems: "That is not the official version", "the colours are not officially-approved", "that design is used by a terrorist group".
  • Photographs: "This is propaganda"

Such subject-matter disputes remain inappropriate even when they are expressed (as they normally are) in absolute terms: "that flag does not exist"; "that boundary is wrong"; "that country does not exist".

If an author has made a clear factual mistake about which there is no serious dispute, an unused file (as-is) may fail the test of being useful for an educational purpose and can be deleted on that basis. A file that is in good faith use on another Wikimedia project is, by that very fact, considered useful for an educational purpose and is not liable to deletion on the grounds that it is "wrong" in some way. Whenever possible, correcting such errors is preferable to simply eliminating the file from the Commons collection. Where an alleged error generates significant dispute, however, the file should be kept and the dispute left to the relevant individual wiki communities to resolve.


For the reasons given above, it may not always be possible for file names and related descriptive text to be "neutral". However, neutrality of description should be aimed at wherever possible, and in any event neither filenames nor text may be phrased in such a way as to constitute vandalism, attack or deliberate provocation.

See also

  • Commons:Disputed territories – an essay on applying this policy to the case of images relating to disputed territories
  • Commons:Evidence-based mapping – an essay summarising policies, precedents and recommendations on using reliable sources for creating maps on Commons and using them on English Wikipedia
  • Commons:Verifiability – an essay on the non-requirement of reliable sources on Commons