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Sharing images across projects

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

This page is a collection of the ideas on the mailinglist to create a central Image- and File-Database for all Wikipedias.

WikiImages.org was an initial proposal. See the WikiImages.org/Archive for other Ideas that helped to come to the current proposal and Wikimedia Commons for a similar proposal.

The Problem


A user, contributing an image to Wikipedia, and working in 4 Wikipedias, has to give the one image 4 names and upload it 4 times and describe it 4 times. All the other Wikipedias have then to download the image, translate it, and upload it again. This is:

  • A waste of time
  • A waste of diskspace
  • Updating an image is a lot of work
  • ...

Possible synthesis (by Tim)

  • Files share a common namespace
  • Image pages are language-specific. That is, clicking on an image takes you to a local image page.
  • Interlanguage links automatically generated. A central DB stores a list of languages which either have a non-blank image page, or have links to that image.
  • Images can optionally be marked that they are not used under fair use or with special permission and that they are under the GFDL.


  • Changing one day to files.wikimedia.org as a central image-database should be fairly easy (If I understand your proposal right)
  • Could be up and running soon :-)

Problems (and Solutions)

  • If a image is updated, the user will not be able to update all languages. A lot of "wrong" information will then be on the local image-description pages.
    • Could maybe be solved by including in every language the english text non-editable as reference (en as meta-language ;-)
  • How can I translate the Image name?
    • Can we create "Image-redirects" to include the image in an Article?
    • Could images be renamed, but only for one specific language?
  • The upload-username is not enough in the other languages to find out who really uploaded the image
    • The language-code should be added to the upload-user name
  • Image not allowed in one wikipedia for copyright reasons or similar
    • the image-description page can be used to state "not allowed in this wikipedia" or similar.
  • How do we solve the thumbnail-problem? (500 image-uploads with thumbnails = 1000 uploads with the same description two times...)
    • Adding a function that creates, yes yes when uploading, automatically an imagename_thumb.jpg linked to the description page of the image, so no extra upload an no extra description is needed.
      • But then how do you determine how big it is? This thumbnail issue seems to be disconnected with the issue of sharing images between wikis.
      • Yes, but when we create the Image-DB, I would recommend to look at this issue at the same time, as it is more difficult to solve the later we look at it. Fantasy
  • Image-update in different languages: What happens, if a french user uploads a new image (eg. Chat.jpg), an improved Cat image, but the original Cat was saved in english as Cat.jpg. Do we have then two Cat-Images or Can we replace the old "Cat.jpg" by a redirect to the new Chat.jpg?

Please update this list, Thanks :-) Fantasy 19:29, 3 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Examples (to understand the proposal)


To see, if I understood your proposal, I try to write down an example:

A table to store the files sharing a common namespace
FileNameLanguageReal FilenameDescriptionGFDLfair useVfDTo be deleted
Germany.jpgenAllemagne.jpgA map of Germany.X..
Deutschland.jpgdeAllemagne.jpgEine Landkarte Deutschlands....
Cat.jpgenKatze.jpgA picture of a sleeping catX...
Katze.jpgdeKatze.jpgBild einer schlafenden KatzeX...

It would work like this:

  • [[Image:Germany.jpg]]
  • [[Image:Deutschland.jpg]]
  • [[Image:Allemagne.jpg]]

would show in all wikipedias the image saved at Allemagne.jpg and

  • [[Image:Katze.jpg]]
  • [[Image:Chat.jpg]]
  • [[Image:Cat.jpg]]

would show in all wikipedias the image saved at Katze.jpg

The Description page at de.wikipedia.org for Image:Katze.jpg, Image:Cat.jpg and Image:Chat.jpg would look something like:

  • Title: Bild:Katze.jpg
  • Names in other languages: en:Cat.jpg, fr:Chat.jpg, ... (links to the other languages)
  • Description English (non editable): A picture of a cat sleeping
  • Description German (editable): Ein Bild von einer schlafenden Katze
  • Image History: (the usual)
  • Image Links: (a list of ALL Wikipedias links)

Have I understood your proposal correctly? Fantasy 16:55, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)

This all seems to be very well thought out and I think it would work. However, I'm not sure a developer will get around to this anytime soon. But this page will be most useful for the day that that happens. --Maveric149 22:04, 16 Nov 2003 (UTC)~

A Plea for Simplicity


Do we really need localised file names? Wouldn't localised descriptions be good enough? As a user, i would like using and uploading images to be as hassle-free and predictable as possible.

Interlanguage image usage scenario:

  1. I see an image on the English wikipedia that I want.
  2. I copy the the wiki code that has the image
  3. I go to my Malay wikipedia article
  4. I paste the code and localise the caption

Could we have something that makes this scenario possible?

It seems like relaxing the localised filenames requirement would

  • make implementation easier (faster)
  • make things more predictable (less chance of bugs, no weirdness to explain)

-- Kowey 16:46, 18 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Storage in the DB vs. Network Filesystem


I'm much in favor of keeping the current technique of storing the image files (or other media for that matter) in the filesystem- the upload dir should be mounted via NFS, AFS, Coda or Intermezzo. The DB servers could provide the NFS share for the time being (images are about 3 Gigs at the moment), with the option to give this a dedicated server later. The images will usually be served by the Squid anyway, so NFS speed is not an issue.


  • Scaling operations are simplified (no changes to current code, no copying from DB to tmpfile for each scaling operation,...)
  • keeps DB size down- very important, especially with the DB really being the bottleneck at the moment.


Sounds great, but...


Well, if I wake up tomorrow and see that everything discussed above works, it's fine. Otherwise, I recommend not wasting our time on trivial things. I see no reason either for traslating names (they are often technical), or for translating descriptions (if you've uploaded image, then probably it has some value for Wikipedia, then its description can be found on some Wikipedia page, which can and should be translated).

What should be done, however, is a possibility to link images between different Wikipedias:

  • either create a single namespace for images (now, until there aren't so many)
  • or code something like en:Image:cat.jpg (note, that it's not hard; there will be no problems, for example, if IMG tag was allowed in WikiMarkup)




Currently on Meta external images can be embedded:




That's not a bug. All MediaWiki wikis can use external images in this way unless they explicitly disable it. It has been disabled on many of the larger Wikipedias to prevent vandalism and bandwidth theft from other sites, but it is still allowed on many others, including Meta. Angela 10:38, 22 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I see, thanks.--Patrick 10:46, 22 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Another solution(?)


why not just use a Pipe to link an image found in one Wiki project to another, including the description page?

Cornelius 20:33, 20 October 2005 (UTC)[reply]