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User:Stifle/How to help OTRS volunteers

This is a work in progress

I don't know if userspace essays are allowed much here on Commons, but hopefully they won't mind.

When you submit an image to Commons that you didn't create yourself, it's usual to send through email verifying that the image is available under a free license. The best free licenses are, in my opinion:

You should also probably send in an email when you choose to use an image that you created yourself but was previously published elsewhere.

These emails are sent to, and get dumped into a system called OTRS, which is short for Open-source Ticket Request System. The inner workings of OTRS aren't important; suffice it to say that it allows multiple people to access that email address.

When requesting permissionEdit

  • Make certain you ask for permission under a specific free license, like one of the three above.
  • Provide the text of the Commons:Email templates if you think it would help.
  • Remember that "permission to use on Wikipedia" is useless to us.
  • If the copyright holder sends a reply from a free email address (gmail, hotmail, etc.), please make sure that it is displayed on the website where the image came from. Otherwise, the permission is unlikely to be accepted.

When you send the email to OTRSEdit

  • Make sure you send it to the right address appropriate to the language of the email. For example, permissions-commons-fr for French. Other options are permissions-commons-he, permissions-commons-de, permissions-commons-pl, permissions-commons-es, and permissions-commons-pt, as well as permissions-it, permissions-sr, permissions-el (Greek). If you're not sure which address to send it to, the normal permissions-commons is fine, although it might be useful to put a big notice in English at the top stating what language the message is in.
  • Upload the image to Commons first. Don't attach it to the email; that just wastes space on Wikimedia's servers. If you don't upload the image and just attach it to the email, it'll be sent to the photosubmission queue, which has a backlog of about 6 months.
  • Please provide an exact link (including the part) to the image. Including the filename only, or a link to, will still work, but will take OTRS agents longer to process. Omitting the file extension (.jpg etc) may prevent processing of the permission. Linking only to an article on which the file is used, or a category, is also likely to delay the processing.

When you upload an imageEdit

  • Place the text {{OTRS pending}}, and nothing else, in the "Permission" field.
  • Choose the exact license that the copyright holder has specified in his email to you, either from the "Licensing" drop-down menu, or by inserting the copyright tag (from the list at Category:License tags) in the Additional Info section.
  • Make certain you indicate the source of the image, that is to say where/how you got the image. If it's on a website somewhere, you should include the URL of a page displaying the image, in preference to a direct URL to the image. A URL of the homepage is pretty much useless.
  • Forward the email permission to permissions-commons, making sure that:
    • You include the exact name of the image or images referred to. If there is a large number of images, it's acceptable to link to a gallery page or to a category, as long as all the images and no others are in that gallery or category.
    • You forward the email headers (From/subject/etc.), and not just the text of the email.
    • You check again that the email specifies a named free license and comes from an address associated with the source of the file.
  • Wait for a reply.

When you receive an email reply from OTRSEdit

  • Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the email. By default, the email will begin "Dear [name], Thank you for your email", will quote the email you sent in, and then give the reply.
  • If your permission was validated successfully, you should see a message like "We have received the permission for the image and have made the necessary changes to the image page. Thank you for your contribution to the Wikimedia Commons". In this case, the OTRS volunteer should have added a grey {{PermissionOTRS}} template to the image page.
    • If the template has not been added, you should reply to the email and point this out. Adding the template yourself is generally a bad idea, because OTRS templates added by users other than OTRS users will attract suspicion.
  • If your permission was not validated, the email will explain what the problem is, and how you can resolve it. Usually, the OTRS volunteer will add a blue {{OTRS received}} template to the image page in these circumstances, which will delay the image from being deleted while the matter is still pending.

If you have any questionsEdit

  • The best place to ask questions is on the OTRS noticeboard. But please check first that the question isn't answered at the FAQ. When posting to the OTRS noticeboard:
    • Quote the ticket number, if you have one (this is a sixteen-digit number in the subject of the email you receive from OTRS).
    • Quote the exact image name.
    • Explain your problem clearly.
  • You can also ask me, or any other OTRS user on our talk page, or reply to the OTRS email.


If you find an image on Flickr that you want to use, please get the uploader to change the licensing information on Flickr to CC-BY or CC-BY-SA. Then you can upload it using the special flickr form and it will be automatically checked by a bot or trusted user. There will be no need to submit an email for this.

We do not accept flickrmail transcripts to provide permission for images. This is because they are too easily forged. We accept emailed permission for flickr images only if there is clear evidence that the email originates from the flickr user.

Therefore, it is much easier to get the flickr user to update the image permission on flickr.