How to add images to a Wikipedia page about your company


admin - April 29, 2021 - 0 comments

Wikipedia's photographer barn star is a star with a multicoloured aperture in the centre. You will not earn a barn star for adding images to a Wikipedia page about your company if you don't use the correct licensing information.
The coveted photographer’s barn-star. A fine example of open-source creative-commons content.

Creating a Wikipedia page for your company is a mammoth task. I’ve written several blogs on the subject. However, if you have a Wikipedia page you may want to add images to it. Successful image uploads need the correct licensing information. Additionally, editors need to prove that they have a reason to upload an image. Consequently, image uploads are the downfall of many paid Wikipedia projects. For example, The North Face shamed themselves when they tried to swap volunteer-created images of famous South American beauty spots with glossy branded images.

Image uploads invite extra scrutiny to pages. Images are a magnet for unwanted editors. Therefore, the content must not have any telltale signs of public relations. Nevertheless, I have put together this image upload guide. I sourced this guide from both publically available information and inside sources.

Purpose and rationale for adding images to a Wikipedia page

Copyrighted material will only stick on Wikipedia if it serves a clear purpose. Namely, illustrative purposes. In other words, demonstrating a concept not easily defined through words. Editors upload copyrighted material to Wikipedia locally. Wikimedia Commons hosts royalty-free images so that editors can share them across the different versions of Wikipedia and its sister projects. More about that in the next segment. The rationale is one of many things that you should bear in mind when you add images to a Wikipedia page about your company.

Wikimedia commons

Wikimedia Commons, also known as Commons, is an open-source image repository that hosts copyright-free files across Wikipedia’s multiple language versions and sister projects. As a rule, Commons hosts freely licensed educational media content. Obviously, “educational” is a broad term. In this instance, Wikimedia defines “educational” as “providing knowledge; instructional or informative”. You will most likely encounter Wikimedia commons when you add images to a Wikipedia page about your company.

Two vintage cameras. One on top of the other. You could use cameras like this to create images which you could then upload to Wikimedia commons using the Attribution-Share Alike License. From Wikimedia commons your images could appear on many different language versions of Wikipedia.
A picture of two vintage cameras.

License types used to add images to a Wikipedia page

Attribution License

An Attribution License is preferred for images where open access is likely to apply; ie. famous people, buildings or statues. Hence, this license allows people to use the photo, or edited versions of the photo, for any purpose. Consequently, uses could include, commercial purposes (such as for use as a photo in a textbook). However, the image’s source must be credited when you try to add the image to a Wikipedia page.

Attribution-ShareAlike License

This licence allows for fair use of the image, as long as the derivative work is also available for free use. In other words, by using the image, the image’s creator agrees it will also be free for people to use and adapt. Generally, photos with this licence are much less likely to be used for purposes other than on a Wikipedia page.

The OTRS obstacle that you must overcome to add images to a Wikipedia page about your company

An old vintage box camera which may have been used to take images to be added to your company Wikipedia page if you can get past OTRS and use the correct licensing information.
Another vintage camera

Even if the image’s copyright owner gives permission for editors to use their work on a Wikipedia page, this may not be clear to the editors reviewing the upload. Therefore, Wikimedia uses an Open-Source Ticket Request System (OTRS) to manage the in-bound flow of media. Volunteers run the OTRS. They review the supporting emails and documents sent to Wikimedia to verify ownership. OTRS review every image with unclear licensing. However, Wikimedia has limited volunteers and volunteer skills vary wildly. Therefore, photos with the correct licenses and licensing information still get rejected.

The players involved when you try to add images to a Wikipedia page about your company

Like with anything, too many chefs spoil the broth. This is especially true of paid Wikipedia editing. Involving more people increases the chances of your project failing. Consequently, when those people involved are random members of the public, the chances of encountering a troll increase four-fold. That said, these are the different groups of people involved in adding images to a Wikipedia page and their aims.

The Wikimedia Foundation

A rear view shot of a photographer carrying a camera with a long telephoto lens.
A behind the scenes photo of a photographer taking behind the scenes photos.
  • Wants quality and useful images available for use on Wikipedia pages.
  • Does not want to be sued for copyright breaches.

Wikipedia Editors

  • Administer and edit pages voluntarily.
  • Considerably more likely to delete a photo than approve a photo.
  • So used to fans of the subject and people connected to the subject submitting copyrighted material they are likely to dismiss submissions without checking them.
  • Very busy.
  • Make split-second decisions on whether Wikipedia should include something, or not.
  • Seeking clear answers on questions of copyright.
  • Do not want to spend ages administering copyright on photographs.
  • Could be anyone.
  • Mostly consisting of young men who hate business.

OTRS Team

  • Very, very busy.
  • Might take a month or longer to review an OTRS ticket.
  • Makes value judgements if documents provided to Wikimedia are genuine or not. Likely to reject a document if it is unclear.

All three groups share the same purpose. They want to be as efficient as possible at adding images to Wikipedia. Therefore, if there is less work involved in processing your file, it is more likely to stick.

The solution: bypass OTRS to add images to Wikipedia pages

Setting up a Flickr account is easy. Anyone can do it. Therefore, Flickr account must look official and established to add images to Wikipedia pages. Up-loaders should pick a username that clearly relates to the subject material. Moreover, the Flickr account’s bio must be complete.

Establish provenance through Flickr

Reviewers establish the Flickr account’s provenance through a chain linking the Flickr account from another source. Ideally, a blog post advertising the photos or a Twitter post linking to new photos. Thusly, this information should be easy to search. Moreover, up-loaders should complete file descriptions, tags and location data. Essentially, the idea is to make the account look genuine from a glance. If the account looks genuine editors are more likely to accept it a source for adding images to Wikipedia pages.

Additionally, the content type helps establish provenance. i.e photos that only an official source could have.

A sepia toned map with a few sepia polaroids spread out over it and an old camera sat next to it.
A collection of old black and white photographs.

Here are some examples;

  • Pre-published images at a higher resolution.
  • Behind the scenes content.
  • Alternate takes from a known photoshoot.
  • Image themes linked between other platforms. ie. a partial version of an image on Instagram and a full version of the image on Flickr.
  • Regularly uploading content to Flickr shows that uploaders are using the account for ongoing general purposes.
  • Establish the account for a broad purpose.

Note, additional content does not need the same licensing as the pictures you intend to use on Wikipedia.

How to repost an image from Flickr to Wikimedia Commons.

If you have followed the above steps to the best of your ability, you might be able to add images to from Flickr Wikimedia commons. Here’s how…

  1. Go to the commons uploader.
  2. Then, copy the URL to the “Share images from Flickr” section.
  3. Next, add a detailed caption aimed at bots and the blind.
  4. Also, add as many relevant categories as possible.
  5. Furthermore, link to the Wikidata page about the subject.
  6. And, match the content style to other images for similar subjects.

After you upload the file, a bot or a human will check the licensing an Flickr to see if has the correct licence. However, those in the know recommend leaving some time between uploading a file on Flickr and uploading at Commons.

Image maintenance

Monitor your uploaded files regularly. Just like with Wikipedia, editors can and will mark the images as suspicious at any point. Like on Wikipedia, files nominated for deletion are deleted after a seven day discussion. However, if the image contains copyrighted material, Wikimedia will delete it within hours. Additionally, during the deletion discussion an editor can show evidence that the source material is official. Failing that, editors might suggest that you open an OTRS ticket for the topic. If this is the case, there must be a clear way to contact the uploader, either via email or through an official website.

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