The Wikimedia Commons: A Massive Free Photo and Picture Archive
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The Wikimedia Commons: A Massive Free Photo and Picture Archive

The Wikimedia Commons boasts over 6 million images which are freely available for distribution, and it provides a valuable resource for online writing.

New sources of photos are always good things to find. The Wikimedia Commons is a verifiably safe source of over 6 million and counting pieces of media. Much of this media comes in the form of pictures, and there are some very compelling ones available on Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia has a number of interesting ways of promoting free media on its site, including publishing a picture of the day on its front page. The picture of the day for March 17th, 2010 was the compelling scene of the Lagoon Nebula. Pictures of the day usually feature some variety of awe-inspiring or spectacular images that are particularly pleasing to the eye.

The Wikimedia Commons is great for Factoid writing or any other posting which uses pictures as supplements, because it satisfies the standard policy requirement of imagery utilization only with permission for distribution. If a Wikimedia image does not have this permission attached to it, then it is quickly red-flagged and removed. Obviously, the antenna galaxy pictured above and other universal phenomena might not be suited to normal topics such as exercise, depression, or healthy eating, but Wikimedia's service includes many ordinary pictures which are useful for everyday Factoid topics.

I chose to share this source with the Factoidz community (and anyone else who reads this article) because the Wikimedia Commons has been an immense help to me in writing my articles. There are a number of free services available across the web, but it never hurts to have access to one more. Many photo sharing services require small royalties or a cost to sign up to take advantage of their service. The Wikimedia Commons does not require any of these things; in fact, the Commons does not require any signup at all! The link to the main page is here: Since the pictures are considered free media, there is no need to cite the source, but I have cited source pages anyway as a credit to the Commons for being willing to provide such great material.

Like all Wikipedia resources, the Wikimedia Commons relies heavily upon volunteer resources for its work. All photos have come from some sort of freely available resource, such as public domain pictures created by or for government agencies. Currently on the Wikimedia Commons are two gigantic recent sources of donated pictures (mineral collector Robert Lavinsky and Tropenmuseum have each donated tens of thousands of images). These sources highlight the volunteer nature of the Commons, because they are currently advertising for help in translating, transferring, and cataloguing the recently-acquired resources. The mission of the Commons to provide free images cannot go on without constant volunteer contributions.

I posted information about the Wikimedia Commons in the hope that it would provide additional resources to other authors looking for free media, and help make writing easier. I hope that you find this resource as valuable as I have!  


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Comments (7)

valuable info

Valuable indeed--and I often think it's harder to find an appropriate picture of something ordinary than of something spectacular.

Jan Ainali

"Since the pictures are considered free media, there is no need to cite the source.."

This is not the case for all the pictures at Wikimedia Commons. Most of them are actually under Creative Commons or GFDL license for which it is mandatory to attribute the author. Every single image has it own license. A good starting point for further reading is

That's a good, important point.

Very interesting, thanks for posting.

I just posted a question about this , and low and behold the answer is here straight away! Thanks

Excellent. Thanks for posting