Wikimedia Commons exists to further the mission of all Wikimedia Foundation projects, which is educational, charitable, and humanitarian in nature. As such, Commons adheres to guidelines of quality and scope through which the community can exercise editorial judgment to ensure that our projects are valued and supported around the world.
Commons is also used by people of all ages, and across many different cultures around the world. As a result, there can arise difficult editorial judgments about appropriateness - the more controversial or offensive an image, the more important it is that it be useful or educational. Although there is a common saying that "Wikimedia Commons is not censored," this statement should not be interpreted to imply that we do not make editorial judgments about the appropriateness of content. We do, all the time, and we must. (For example, only extremely historical or notable images of torture, beheadings, or rape are considered appropriate.)
Some content which is offensive or difficult for some readers will be included in our projects, where appropriate. However, images that are low-quality, redundant, or without educational merit may be deleted.
Guidelines for content
All media of people must be accompanied by model consent information, to ensure that the subjects of the images and videos consented to their being published.
Blanket allowed content
- Any images widely agreed to be of high artistic, literary, educational or historical merit.
- Images already in use to illustrate an article on one of the other Wikimedia projects. (if such an image would otherwise be discouraged, replacements may be proposed)
- Images that are part of a larger work that fits one of these requirements
The following media categories are encouraged on the project.
- Illustrations and photographs of difficult subjects in the educational style of a medical or forensic textbook
- For instance, medical illustrations of diseases, with appropriate permissions, or high quality images of body parts, particularly if labelled
- Most artwork - that is, paintings, woodcuts, cartoons, and so on.
- As with other images, these should pass reasonable notability standards, or serve to illustrate a type of artwork or a specific topic.
- Specifically: artwork of sexual acts
The following content categories are controversial, and should be included only with a justification of their notability - artistic, literary, educational or historical.
Content below should require model consent and proof of records required by USC 2257.
Informative, clinical, and non-violent photographs and videos of acts or simulated acts of:
- Exhibitionism: exposing genitals or pubic areas
- Masturbation and ejaculation
- Consensual bondage or BDSM scenes
- Consensual sexual intercourse between people
- Here "simulated" acts means images and videos that a reasonable person could mistake as involving actual sexual acts with real people. It does not include drawings, illustrations, or other works that would not be mistaken as involving real people.
- For images of children stricter rules might apply. See also the definition of sexual explicit conduct as applied by the record keeping act.
Torture and death
- Mutilated corpses
- Aborted children
- Torture of animals
The following media categories are generally disallowed, and should be deleted save where they have an obvious reason to be exempted.
- As above, if an image is currently in use on one of the wikipedias, it might not be a clear cut case. Example: the Virgin Killer coverart situation. Proceed with caution, and ask the community for help, say via a regular deletion nomination.
Photographs and videos of acts or simulated acts of:
- Violent sexual intercourse or rape
- Sexual images of children
- Torture of people
Attempts to use Commons as a webhost
- As with any attempt to abuse Commons as a personal webhost, photographs, films, and collections of user-created artwork -- for instance, by a user apparently using Commons as a personal pornography server -- can be deleted.