Commons:Editor's index to Commons/About

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Notice This page contains Notes on special ways to use this index, and on maintaining consistency when making (or considering making) changes.

In general[edit]

The Editor's index to Commons is directly analogous to the Editor's index to Wikipedia, which came earlier. The idea is to provide editors (and uploaders) on Commons a comprehensive index to the internal documentation, tools, and procedures on Commons.

In many cases, the policies, guidelines, and procedures (project pages) on Commons differ to varying degrees from their counterparts on the various language Wikipedias. Wherever possible, this index links to pages on Commons. Links to pages on the English Wikipedia are sometimes necessary when users on Commons appear to be following or referencing a project page from there, but no corresponding page exists on Commons yet. The index does not dictate what the official policies are, but rather links to the available resources, so the reader can determine what to do.

Because Commons is newer and smaller than the English Wikipedia, and perhaps because Commons is less often a user's first wiki, Commons has a smaller set of project pages. In some cases Commons seems to implicitly inherit some standard practice from the English Wikipedia or another wiki, but no one has explicitly documented the accepted practice on Commons yet. Over time, the project pages on Commons will evolve; therefore the index is always a work in progress. If you know of a relevant project page not yet in the index, feel free to add it under a suitable heading (please follow the format guidelines).


Although this is called an "editor's index", it's really intended to be an index for anyone involved with content creation or organization on Commons. Most of the topics are directly relevant to editing pages and uploading media files, but some topics are less directly relevant to these activities, and a few are only distantly relevant.

Because the index concentrates on project pages, it does not try to act as a comprehensive index to the media file content on Commons. Where the index links to media categories, it does so because the media relate to the internal operation of Commons, or because the media categories have words in common with some of the project-specific jargon. In the latter case, it's useful to link to the categories to distinguish them from similar-sounding project jargon.

If demand exists for a comprehensive media content directory with a similar format, anyone is welcome to create one. This might provide some searching advantages not available in the existing media category structure. Another idea is to create index pages like this one for individual WikiProjects which oversee many pages.


There are basically two approaches for finding something in the index:

  • You can use the index as you would a paper index, looking in the "U" section, for example, for "Uploading".
  • You can do a Ctrl+F search in your Web browser, looking for a particular word or phrase.

For common words likely to appear as alphabetized headings, such as "copyright", "edit", and "user", the first approach may be better. For less common words, the second approach may be better: many times, a particular word (keyword) does not correspond to any alphabetized heading, but it does appear in the title of a page, in a subtopic within a major topic, or in the summary text that follows the link in an entry.

The index may not list every possible synonym for the term you have in mind, so if you don't find what you want on your first attempt, try searching for related terms. The particular words you initially think of to describe a concept may not exactly match the words other editors used to document it. Also, the first relevant link you find in the index may not tell the whole story on your topic of interest. You should repeat your Ctrl+F searches to be sure you find all instances of your search terms in the index. You may find related terms when you read the pages linked from the index, then return to the index to search for them as well.

The more familiar you become with the index, and with the jargon of Commons (often similar to the jargon of Wikipedia), the more successful your searches will be. If you cannot find what you are looking for, ask at the Help desk for the "simpler" questions, or at the Village pump for the "technical" questions.

Linking to a major topic within this index[edit]

When you are editing a page elsewhere on Commons, you may wish to link to a topic heading in this index.

A major topic has multiple entries. A topic that says "see X" or just points to a single wikilink (essentially, a topic that is only a single line in the index) is a minor topic. You shouldn't link to a minor topic, there is no point in doing so, since you can just as easily link to whatever the minor topic links to.

Every major topic has an anchor - typically three to ten or so characters. This makes it easy to post a wikilink like this:

  • For information about copyright on Commons, see COM:EIC#Copyright in the Editor's index.

The format of the wikilink in this example is:


where "#Copyright" is the anchor within the index.

  • If you know the first six characters of a major topic in the index, a six character link will usually work.
  • If the topic is only four or five characters, you can use those four or five characters as a shorter anchor.
  • If you're not 100% sure of the exact name of the major topic, one approach is simply to guess - then, after clicking the "Show preview" button, you can follow the wikilink to the index and check where the anchor you've entered actually points to.

Most major topics in the index, and some of the more important subtopics, visibly display their anchor names with the {{Shortcut2}} template. This makes it easy to copy a shortcut such as COM:EIC#Upload, and then paste it elsewhere on Commons (typically in the User:, Project: (Commons:), or Talk: namespaces). For example, this saves time when answering questions on the Help desk, since the index should link to pages that answer most Help desk questions.

Editing this index[edit]

As with any project page, evaluate any potential change you want to make to the index. Because of the structured nature of an index, changes can have wider impact than on more narrative pages. For significant changes, consider posting your proposed change on the index's talk page.

Notes on the format of the index[edit]

Asterisks and spaces[edit]

The convention in the index (note the spaces, they're important) is:

* Topic:
**[[Page name of entry 1]]
** Subtopic:
***[[Page name of entry 2]]

The space just before a topic or subtopic name is very useful when editing - it helps find one's place in the index. It's also useful when dumping the contents of the index into a word processor or spreadsheet, and then sorting. Such spaces are invisible to the reader.

Names and redirects[edit]

When the name of a page changes (that is, a page is moved), the index should also be changed. The intent of the index is to show the current name of pages, not just get an editor to a correct page when clicking a wikilink. (The current name is important when searching with Ctrl+F, for example.)

The easiest way to find which pages have been renamed is the user script w:User:Dschwen/highlightredirects.js, which highlights (in green) redirects on a page, after the (added) tab on the page is clicked. Running this once per month or so is sufficient. (This also is helpful in identifying pages which have been merged, so that entries can be removed as appropriate.)


As mentioned above, every major topic has an anchor, as a way to jump to a specific place in the index. In edit mode, these anchors look like:

<span id="Copyright"></span>

If you add more anchors, try to keep them around six characters if possible. If an anchor contains multiple words, please separate them with underscores rather than spaces.

Anchors could have been the same as topic names, such as: <span id="Naming an article"></span>. But that would have made anchors brittle: if the topic heading in this example were to change from "Naming an article" to "Naming of articles", all of the links to this anchor would break, and someone would have to find and fix them, or add an additional anchor. More importantly, it would require external (incoming) links to a major topic to spell the anchor exactly right; it's easier to just get the first six characters or so right.

Shorter anchors are also easier to remember. But anchors must also be distinct. Be especially careful when you add an anchor that doesn't begin with the same letter as the section you are editing. For example, if you are adding an anchor to the "D" section and the first letter of the anchor is "F", check the "F" section to make sure you are not duplicating an anchor already in use there. Obviously, to avoid duplications, it is best if anchor names start with the same letter as the section they are in.

Piped links[edit]

The index does not use piped links for entries, because showing the full namespace prefix and page name adds value. In some cases, this requires somewhat duplicate text, to preserve the alphabetical order of the index. An example is:

* Boldness: [[Commons:Don't be bold]] (essay)

The index uses piped links for internal navigation (as anchors, as mentioned above), and (rarely) as part of the explanatory text to the right of an entry in the index, but never as part of leftmost wikilink in an entry.

Interwiki links[edit]

It is particularly important not to obscure interwiki links with piped links in index entries. When the index links to a page outside of Commons, the reader must be aware of this. Project pages on other Wikimedia Foundation wikis (such as the English Wikipedia may not strictly apply to Commons, but are useful as suggestions when Commons has no corresponding project page to cover a certain topic which nevertheless arises on Commons. The presence of an interwiki link prefix is necessary to caution the reader to use judgment when interpreting a guideline or policy from another wiki. For example:

**[[w:Wikipedia:Consensus]] ([[w:WP:CON]]) (policy on Wikipedia; Commons appears to have no separate policy on consensus)

Ideally, the need for such interwiki links should decline as the Commons community codifies more of its policies, guidelines, and practices which it more or less inherited from other wikis. The sheer volume of such documentation makes this a slow process.


  • The index lists only one shortcut (of the format [[COM:COM]]) to a given project page.
  • The shortcut follows immediately after the name of the policy or guideline.
  • Not all project pages have shortcuts. In general, if Commons users cite a given project page frequently, someone will create a shortcut for it. Thus the index should generally display a shortcut for a page when the page itself displays the shortcut. This probably means users are citing the page, and the page is more important than pages that no one has made a shortcut for yet.

"Essay", "Guideline", "Policy", etc.[edit]

Generally, the index tries to identify pages by their type in parentheses, for example:


immediately after the shortcut, if there is one, or immediately after the page name if there is not.


  • If the name of the guideline or policy includes "guideline(s)" or "policy/policies" within it, there is no need to repeat it after the name

What isn't in the index[edit]

The index omits the following:

  • Most templates. Only a few are in the index, out of the thousands that exist.
  • Most categories. Only a few are in the index.
  • Some failed proposals. A failed proposal may appear in the index, for example, if it addresses some issue that remains unresolved yet may still confront editors, and Commons has no other project page covering the issue. Then at least the reader may find the old discussion on it.
  • Most WikiProjects on a particular topic (again, too many). To find WikiProjects on a particular topic, the most complete list appears to be: Special:PrefixIndex/Commons:WikiProject.
  • (Most) entries solely to point to another place in the index. These are not necessary because Ctrl+F search lets you find keywords anywhere in the index.
    • The index is searchable in ways that a paper index is not; it therefore doesn't have to absolutely mimic a paper index to be fully effective.
      • There are a few exceptions, generally because (a) a term that is common isn't used in a page title (rare), and (b) where the term is so common that searching the index for it could be frustrating. (Example: "As of")
  • Essays in user space. As of February, 2009 no one has gotten around to searching user space for pages worth adding to the index.
  • Humor pages. These can be confusing to new editors, and to editors for whom English is not a native language.

Also, the index does not list every possible topic as a topic.

Links to websites outside of Commons, and other "unofficial" entries[edit]

The purpose of the index isn't to dictate what is official, it's to help editors be more effective and efficient. The index therefore contains these "unofficial" entries:

  • Tools, even if in userspace or completely outside of Commons
  • Statistics and similar factual information, regardless of location
  • Project pages on other Wikipedias (especially the English Wikipedia) if they seem applicable to Commons, and no corresponding project page exists on Commons yet

Editors who have created a new page or are otherwise highly involved with a page should think carefully before adding their own pages to the index. Rather, please suggest, on Commons talk:Editor's index to Commons, that someone else add such a page (if this in fact seems appropriate), and let other (uninvolved) editors decide. (For the reasoning as to why authors shouldn't add links to their own pages, see w:Wikipedia:Autobiography and w:Wikipedia:Conflict of interest.)

  • This guideline of not linking to one's own pages probably does not need to be as strict on Commons as it is for the Editor's index to Wikipedia. Commons has fewer project pages than the English Wikipedia, so the index isn't as big, and thus there are more content holes to fill. If controvery erupts over what "should" be in the index, we'll deal with it when we get there.


This index follows the basic structure of the Editor's index to Wikipedia on the English Wikipedia. Developing the index on Wikipedia required over one year, whereas adapting the index structure to Commons took only about one month to get to a first usable draft.

  • Notes about the initial port of this index to Wikimedia Commons are in w:User:Teratornis/Notes#Editor's index to Commons.
  • The porting procedure basically consisted of determining which policy/guideline/procedure pages linked from the Wikipedia version of the index have counterparts on Commons, deleting the inapplicable links, and adding more links to pages on Commons that have no counterparts on Wikipedia.
  • Some templates from Wikipedia required porting over to Commons (e.g., {{Keypress}}, {{Shortcut3}}) to work with the index here.
  • Thus this index required only a small fraction of the development effort that went into building the original index on Wikipedia:
    • A large amount of content to start the index on Wikipedia came from the page w:User:SP-KP/Wikipedia Topics, copied on November 22, 2006
    • A number of important concepts in the index, most notably the anchors, were suggested by Teratornis, who also contributed significantly to the first drafts of this /About page.
    • The majority of work on the index on Wikipedia between November 22, 2006, when the index was started, and January 8, 2008, when it was moved from userspace to projectspace, was done by John Broughton (who also wrote w:Wikipedia - The Missing Manual).
  • Teratornis did the initial port of this index to Commons, and the first draft went live in the Commons: namespace on 8 February 2009.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • mw:Extension:IndexFunction - a MediaWiki extension that lets you build a simple index automatically by adding indexing code to the pages you want to index (i.e., embedded indexing). That is opposite to the method used to build the Editor's index (i.e., manually editing a page of links to other pages).