Monday, November 21, 2011

Uploading images to Wikimedia Commons

Thank you to several photographers that are currently uploading images to Wikimedia Commons.  It really adds a lot to the page.  Just want to mention that my very first edit to Wikipedia as a skeptic was uploading a image of Brian Dunning I took on a JREF cruise.  Now look at me.

I find Wikimedia Commons really confusing to use when you try to do anything other than just upload an image you took yourself.  I have no idea how to edit or delete something, so I try to get it correct the first time, otherwise I just rename the file and reload it.  I'm sure I'm not the best teacher when it comes to uploading pictures.  But I'm going to try and do it anyway, at least just the basics.

Skeptic Brian Engler sprang to action when I asked if he could add some of his images from CSICON to Wikimedia, but he asked some really great questions along that journey, hopefully the answers will be of use to others. 

First question was...

"I'm always happy to share photos with our community and ask only that I be credited (Brian D. Engler) when my photos are used.  Question:  My Wikipedia edit name is not my actual name.  With it, however, I find that I can log onto WikiCommons.  If I upload photos there, though, how do I get my actual name attached for photo credit?"

My solution was for Brian to make a user page for himself on Wikimedia, that way anyone who clicks on the contributor's name will end up going to his user page.  You can add all the images and a bio to the page.  I don't have much of a user page on Wikimedia so I guess I should get on it.  But you can click on my uploads and you will get this page.

One thing Brian did to give himself photo credit was to rename himself on Wikimedia to his real name.  The only problem I can see with that is that he will have two separate accounts,  if he wants edit the image into Wikipedia then I believe he will have to sign back in under the new name.  I use the same name on Wikipedia and Wikimedia so I can move back and forth without signing in again.  I guess it might be easier to change his name on Wikipedia to his name, and then on his old user account write that he has changed his name, so Wikipedia does not think he has a sock-puppet.

Next question from Brian...

"I followed their upload steps, adding both categories and a description, but once the photo showed up I found that it was labeled "Uncategorized" and did not show the description I'd added ("Tom Flynn at CSICON in New Orleans, October 2011").  I then tried to edit and add categories, which seemed to work except they're listed now in red under "Template." I saw no obvious way to add the description."

This is a little more complicated.   Generally when something is in red then that means it is not "linked" correctly.

When you want to upload first go to the Wikimedia main page.  On the left hand side click on "upload file" it will ask you to click on "select media file to upload".  Make sure that whatever your going to upload has some kind of name and not just the numbers that your camera named it.  I'm going to select one of my favorite pictures of Mark Edward that I took in Solvang, CA last month.  Save it as a .jpg,  it does not have to be high resolution.  Find the image on your computer and select upload.  Once it has uploaded, select "complete".

Click the "this is my own work" button.  Then "next".  It should look like this. 

There is a blank box you can write in next to description. 

Here is where you can write all the information about the image you want.  Be descriptive and informative.

Now click on the blue "add categories..." link.

Start typing something in the box and it hopefully will auto-link.  It should "suggest" categories for you.  I know "American skeptics" is a category, so I'm going to type this in the box.  When you have a category you want, hit "save category".  The link should be a blue hyper-link.  If it appears in red ink, that means that the category does not exist.  Think of all the categories you can and select them all, in this case I added "mentalist" and "mentalists" and many other categories.  Generally you can look at the bottom of the WP page and see all kinds of categories.  These are case sensitive.  When you think you are done, select "next".  It will upload and you should be left with something like this.

This blog explains how to upload the image onto the Wikipedia page. 

Keep in mind that having pictures on the WP page does more than make the page look good.  It can also be a great advertisement for the event it was taken at.  Having the podium with the event's logo really helps.  Andy Ngo from the Portland Humanist Film Festival uploaded several images that I put on WP.  Here is one he did of Roger Nygard

Barry Karr gave me the names of several people at CSICON that did a lot of photography.  I've contacted Robert Sheaffer and


Barry Karr's Wikipedia page is currently being written and not publicly launched yet.  I added one of Brian's pictures to the page for later use. 

Thank you Brian Engler.  I look forward to you looking through all your old photo albums and uploading more.  Especially helpful was the way Brian cited the images, in the description area he wrote completely the citation that was needed to insert under the image, I copied the text, changed CSICON to
[[CSICOP|CSICON]] and pasted it in. Very simple for an editor to quickly add the image and description.

Here is Brian's Wikimedia page.   

Another Edit 11/27/11

example of adding a picture to a page that already has an info box but no image.  

Here is what it looks like before I add the picture.  


I am only concerned with the areas for "image =" and "caption =" Now I'm going to take a .jpg from Brian's wikimedia page.  I'm copying and pasting exactly what he wrote.  


Now I'm going to change the CSICON in the caption to  [[CSICOP|CSICON]] so that when someone clicks on the hyperlink they will go to the CSICOP page.  

Then hit "preview" and write an reason for the edit.  Click the "add to watchlist" box so you can know if someone changes the page.  Then if you like the way it appears then click on save.  


In this case I'm not sure that this image is the best image for his page.  William B. Davis is not known for his work in the skeptical movement, but as an actor.  That should be the main image, but because there is no image on the page and Brian and I have William B. Davis's Wiki back this is the image that is going up.  

When we get something that better reflects his career then all the steps I just explained will be done again and this picture along with the caption will be inserted into the text somewhere on the page.  Exactly where?  You just try it out in different places, keep hitting "preview page" and seeing if you like it where it is appearing.  

When this picture is moved the edit will look just like this.  

[[Image:CSICON 2011-William B Davis.JPG |thumb|250px|William B. Davis participating in
"Skepticism and the Media" panel at [[CSICOP|CSICON]] 2011 in New Orleans ]]

If you think the image is too big or too small, try changing the number of px in the citation.  Try 100 or 150 to make the image a lot smaller.  The reader can always click on the image to make it bigger and get the specifics of who the photographer was.  


  1. The easiest way to be credited as the author of a picture it to say [[User:Username|Your Full Name]]. That will make your full name appear as a link to your profile page on Wikipedia.

    1. Are you saying you don't have to first upload it to Wikicommons but just insert it into Wikipedia?

      Can you give us a link or two to show us what it looks like when done correctly?

      As you are an expert at using Wikicommons can you say that the information I'm giving in the above blog is accurate?

    2. At the beginning of the article you describe issues with being credited. You talk about changing your username and all that complexity. The standard upload form lets you put in your full name when you declare that "I .... agree to these license". When you have already uploaded an image you will see the author information being formatted as I described.

    3. Categorising can be really complicated at first. I think linking to the Wikimedia Commons Help page is more helpful than posting your beginners understanding of it.

  2. "American Skeptics" is a category specifically for that organisation. The more general category is "Skeptics from the United States". Categorie names usually have two specific groups that are linked together with an indicator. Note that a group is always a plural.