2017 Community Wishlist Survey/Multimedia and Commons/Automatic display of attribution and license information

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  • Problem: We currently do not display any attribution, license or other common types of multimedia metadata when illustrating Wikipedia articles - we rely on the manually written contextual caption and users clicking the image to see any metadata. Yet, we expect third-party re-users of our materials (e.g. in news websites) to overtly display the free-license information, the photographer's attribution, or at the very least the words "via Wikimedia Commons" with a link. This is inconsistent. If we want people to respect free licenses and attribution metadata we should be upholding best practices ourselves.
  • Who would benefit: Readers of illustrated Wikipedia articles, Commons photographers and other multimedia creators, re-users of free-licensed materials, the 'unseen' Commons users who regularly clean up messy metadata.
  • Proposed solution: Create a UI (it could be a 'hover over', or small/semi-transparent font, or some other design) that displays the key licensing and attribution metadata for any file being embedded from Commons, on Wikipedia (or other sister-site). This includes: Author, year, license. This would not replace or distract from the contextual caption in the Wikipedia article but supplement it. When applicable this metadata could also include the relevant institution e.g. a space agency, or a GLAM.
  • More comments: Norwegian (Bokmal) has a version of this already within their standard image template called "credit line". However it is manually written, and therefore duplicates the metadata on Commons.

This builds on the work of the 2014 File metadata cleanup drive which aimed to ensure that all files, especially those used in WP articles, have machine-readable metadata. By making the metadata more visible, Wikimedia editors will be incentivised to ensure that the information on Commons is accurate.
The work of the "Structured Data on Commons" project would benefit from this as it would increase the inter-project visibility of our own metadata, decreasing barriers between the sister projects.
There would be a lot of edge cases - such as "photograph of a painting in a book, uploaded by a museum" where the licensing/attribution metadata would be multilayered. However, if there's ANY community in the world who can discuss and come to a consensus about licensing/attribution copyright edge cases, it's the Commons community!


  • Phabricator tickets:

Discussion[edit]

  • Mediaviewer already does this right ? And Wikipedia itself discourages from doing it more 'inline' of the article.. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 14:38, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
  • Is the "we expect third-party re-users" sentence accurate, or is it merely that we expect reusers to follow the terms of the images' licenses, which in the case of CC-BY licenses requires the attribution be made "in any reasonable manner based on the medium", which for traditional news sites and paper publications differs from that for MediaWiki-based wikis? Anomie (talk) 15:18, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
  • I remember this has been talked about for a long time, in cycles, on svwiki, and a solution would have saved many hours and kept a couple of good photographers from leaving. I found some notes from a meetup in 2010 where an automatic solution was discussed and liked. Ainali (talk) 17:00, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes that could be one of benefits of Structured Data on Commons effort. --Jarekt (talk) 14:36, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
    We already have structured data for this (and it's already displayed in dedicated image viewers like MediaViewer or the mobile app lightboxes or the slideshow gadget on Commons). The question is to what extent should the information be forced on the reader (who typically does not care). The status quo seems like a good trade-off to me in that regard. --Tgr (WMF) (talk) 00:46, 20 November 2017 (UTC)