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Scenic view from a bench in Bath, 2017


The Open Benches website is an open knowledge project created by Terence and Elizabeth Eden. The site provides a way for amateur photographers to share photographs of dedicated benches around the world. Conventionally bench dedications are used as a memorial, and though often part of local Council street management schemes, are not part of any UK wide regulation or registration.

There is a relationship with the OpenStreetMap project, which includes benches as part of the mapped objects available; see Key:openbenches:id.

All uploads are added to Category:Photographs from Open Benches.

Naming conventionEdit

<title> (OpenBenches <bench>-<photo number>).jpg

Photo numbers are skipped for the first photo displayed (i.e. number 0). Bench number is created sequentially by OpenBenches and not reused. As a result there are unused numbers, presumably where later removed or withdrawn.


The uploads are run using Pywikibot, relying on a local image cache as the site is not URL whitelisted.

The OpenBenches host has some security protection against bots. This makes it a bit tricky to download images automatically as images will only be supplied to a correct looking live browser session. Getting around this was achieved by using Selenium to run an (insecure) Chrome browser session, opening the relevant bench image, then copying the browser session cookies to enable a URL file transfer.


Where key metadata is missing, the image will be skipped. This includes the date or title. Example 106 has no title.

Many images are not attributed, these are given an Author of Anonymous as the uploader chose to not provide a name.

At the end of October 2018, the Open Benches API was amended to make it possible to find image data via a JSON query, previously this was limited to bench data (the parent object). This made licence checks and finding the image URLs a more direct query rather than web scraping. Example:


Bench with a statue of Charlotte Mary Yonge, created in 2015. As a permanent public work in the UK, this falls under Freedom of Panorama. Were the same type of photograph taken in the USA, the copyright of the statue would be a concern.

The copyright license is given against the metadata for each photograph. By default this appears to be CC-BY-SA-4.0. Where the licensing data is missing or an unexpected format, the image is skipped. The Open Benches project accepts more restrictive licenses than are allowed on Commons per COM:L, for example "CC BY-NC-ND 2.0" and "CC BY-NC 2.0", so automated license filtering is critical for a successful upload. The code doing the license mapping is:

		if 'CC BY-SA 4.0' == license:
			license = "{{Cc-by-sa-4.0}}"
		elif 'CC BY 2.0' == license:
			license = "{{Cc-by-2.0}}"
		elif 'CC BY-SA 2.0' == license:
			license = "{{Cc-by-sa-2.0}}"

The copyright release is for the uploader's photograph. There may be exceptions where the photograph contains copyrighted works, such as when a close-up shot of an inscription includes inscribed drawings or photographs, or when the view from the bench has a focus of a copyrighted work, such as a billboard. The presumption is that these instances will be very rare and can be left for later manual review, any copyright decision may be complicated by which country the photograph was taken in and whether Freedom of Panorama applies.


After upload a housekeeping task is adding galleries to multiple photographs of the same (parent) bench. This neatly provides a way of navigating to alternative views, without creating large numbers of sub-categories for each location or bench.

A one-off housekeeping task retrospectively added the original importURL to files where this is available in the OpenBenches metadata. Where these are sourced to Flickr, the attribution was expanded to ensure the name or pseudonym of the photographer is included as an attribution. This ensures that any moral right of attribution is honoured. The remainder of the uploads had this checked for before upload.

A category key is retrospectively added to the earliest files in the upload, for later files this was done pre-upload. This ensures that the home category shows benches in bench number order. An alphabetic sort for the category is less than helpful as bench titles are so unvaried, such as "Photograph of a bench".

Mostly retrospectively, housekeeping adds the project credit line to the information box permission field.