A: Community member. B: Contributor. The larger square (everyone): (potential) Browser.

This page describes broad guiding principles that should be kept in mind when designing the Commons interface and organisational structure.

Who uses the Commons?

Types of usersEdit


The Browser (browsing user) is using the Commons to find media related to some topic of interest to them.

Few assumptions can (or should) be made about the Browser's age, location or preferred language.

The Browser may or may not ever register an account here. Probably not.

There are two main types of Browsers that the Commons may serve: the Wikimedia Editor, or the Anon.

Wikimedia EditorEdit

The Wikimedia Editor is a registered user of another Wikimedia wiki, and is looking for media to illustrate or further support their written content elsewhere.

In the future, if m:InstantCommons is implemented, users of other non-Wikimedia MediaWiki wikis may be counted here.

  • -> they are familiar with MediaWiki syntax, and navigating a MediaWiki wiki.
  • -> they are probably familiar with (and supportive of) the concept of open content (this is not always true, unfortunately)


The Anon, or random member of the public, has no real prior assocation with any Wikimedia project. To this user, the Commons is just another stock media archive. As the name suggests, little can be assumed about this user.

  • -> they may or may not care about open content
  • -> they are probably not familiar with wiki syntax


The Contributor, or uploader, is one who uploads material to the Commons. By technical necessity, the contributor has a registered account.

There are two types of Contributors:

  • ->The Individual Contributor
  • ->The Collection Contributor.

The Individual ContributorEdit

  • -> they are probably a Wikimedia Editor (see assumptions above)
  • -> they are probably (at least initially) uploading material that is of immediate value to them (they go away and use it in their Wikimedia page elsewhere)

The Collection ContributorEdit

The Collection Contibutor contributes entire collections to Commons.. The CC my do so by using a bot, or by using commonist, or by individual uploads. The CC is alsl probably a Community Member.

Community MemberEdit

The Community Member is a user (usually registered, but not necessarily) who takes an ongoing (ie. more than once) interest in the Commons besides their own uploads.

This type of user can be found at any of these pages: COM:VP, COM:FPC, COM:QIC, COM:A, COM:POTD, COM:DEL, COM:IFC, a Commons Project, or category scheme, or translation, or busy organizing media.

This type of user is the most rare, and also the most valuable. They are the "worker bees" who try to sort and organise the Commons in order to make it more valuable for Browsers. The higher the CM:C ratio, the better for the Commons.


  1. The Commons must be organised for the ease of use of the Browser.
  2. Media organisation should be performed by Contributors. Contributors will probably not realise this and may need reminding or prompting.
  3. The most useful media organisation is performed by Community Members, who typically check Contributors' work and may re-organise if they feel it is appropriate.
  4. Media organisation methods should be as simple as possible for the Contributor in order to encourage their being performed.
  5. Methods are also required to ease the workload for Comunity Members, since they do most of the organisational work.
  6. There is a trade-off between ease of use for Browsers and the labour effort available from Community Members (who are relatively very rare). Any approach taken has to be realistic. Making media perfectly organised and accessible is ideal, but if it is only achieved for 5% of files, it is relatively useless.
  7. Nonetheless, ease of use for the Contributor is prioritised above ease of use for the Community Member, and these both should work towards ease of use for the Browser.
  8. The ultimate aim is maximum possible coverage of the Commons' files, of a maximally realistic easy-to-use method, given the constraint of limited labour effort.


For Browsers:

  1. We should ask the Browsers how they want to have Commons organized and the media presented to them.
  2. Default search should be improved massively, not only performance but also output interface and options should be expanded.
  3. Multilingualism remains a very high priority.

For Contributors:

  1. Single User Login is required to vastly improve communication between Community Members and Contributors. Contributors may not read a message on their Commons talk page for literally months.
  2. The ability to require the addition of a category, or else one-step add-a-file-to-a-gallery, should be enacted.
  3. Allowing multilingual categories (ie, category redirects to be implemented properly) should improve the efforts of our many Contributors who don't speak English, either at all, or as a first language.

For Community Members:

  1. Methods of working with galleries should be improved massively: Multilingual descriptions with images (The part behind "|"), specifying a native language in the profile, check links from wikis to the gallery using a {{Commons|gallery name}}-statement, a tab showing the list of images, together with the categories they are listed in. Ideally, there should be a checkbox for 1-step addition of the category to the checked images.
  2. Methods of working with categories should be improved massively. Many limitations currently, including invariable sort key, 200 item limit, inability to "watch" a category/be informed of new additions, inability to move/rename category, redirects don't work automatically, and a tab to check which images are not yet shown in one or more galleries.
  3. Search needs to be improved. (This will directly benefit all users.) Equivalently, Google needs to index the Commons properly and completely. If our own search engine is to be improved, it should show the name of media and a still of the media, not just the name.


The wikipedias can be said to compete with other encyclopedias. Other encyclopedias generally seem stronger in multimedia, especially sound and movie clips.

The wikis are handicapped because commons accepts only free format media. To suppurt the wikis, commons needs on-the-fly conversion of popular formats as mp3 and avi to free formats as ogg. That is, the Contributor can select his avi movie for upload, and the upload utility converts its to a free format such as ogg.

See alsoEdit