Research:Wikipedia Workflows/Media File

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki


This page attempts to document, at a high level, the steps in Wikimedia image file creation. It's focused on Wikimedia Commons and English Wikipedia as a starting point, though information on other wikis is welcome. This is useful as a tool in Mediawiki development, as it helps generate visibility into how changes in some tools might effect the work of people who manage subsequent steps in the process.

The audience is software developers who lack a complete understanding of all the processes by which Wikipedia functions, but it could be useful to others as well.

This is not an attempt to document every step in the process. Rather "steps" are actually large categories of actions. Steps are roughly divided where an article passes out of the hands of one distinct group of editors, and into the hands of another (for example, from creation to categorization to license review).

It's almost certainly wrong in some areas. Feedback is appreciated.



There are two kinds of arrows here:

  • Solid arrows: If a change is made in the step on the upstream end of the arrow that effects the volume or quality of its output, it will have an immediate effect on the downstream step.
  • Dashed arrows: The steps are connected, but the above won't necessarily happen.



  • UploadWizard: The default application for file uploading on Commons.
  • Special:Upload: The default application for uploading on Wikipedia. This is an older, less usable tool than UploadWizard.


  • Speedy Deletion (CSD): (commons) (enwiki) Immediate deletion of content that clearly meets certain specific criteria (vandalism, copyright violation, empty file, etc).
  • Deletion Requests (Commons): For deletion requests which require legal input or community discussion prior to eventual deletion.
  • Files for deletion (Wikipedia): Files that have been listed here for more than 7 days are eligible for deletion if either a consensus to do so has been reached or no objections to deletion have been raised.


  • Categorization: Files are organized into a hierarchical category tree. This is a primary means for finding content, and for organizing work.
  • Licensing: The contributor must generally choose the license for a file.
  • License Review: Community members review the license for files contributed from external websites.
  • Flickr Image Review: The review process for flickr files is slightly different, and some tools are in place to make it easier.
  • Picasa Image Review: Picasa files are handled much like flickr files.
  • OTRS Permission Verification: If the file isn't the submitter's own work, permission must be obtained to release it under a free license. Link points to the best explanation I can find of this process.


  • Fair-use rationale submitted: When no other suitable content is available, it's possible to publish non-free content on Wikipedia using the educational fair-use clause of many nations' copyright statutes. A clear rationale must be submitted for doing so.
  • Move to commons: A long-term project to move valuable media files from specific wikipedias to Wikimedia Commons to facilitate their use by many projects.


  • Valued Image Nomination: A valued image is considered to be the most valued illustration of its kind by the Commons community.
  • Featured Picture Nomination: Featured pictures are images that the community has chosen to be highlighted as some of the finest on Commons.

Diagram Source[edit]

The original OmniGraffle 4 document for the diagram can be found here: media file lifecycle.graffle

Who's working on this?[edit]

The current diagram was created by User:Raindrift, a developer at the WMF, with a lot of help from User:Steven_(WMF) and User:Maryana_(WMF).