One of the next phases of the Structured Data project is building and deploying a new search on Commons, a search created specifically for Commons. Special:MediaSearch has been in development for the past year to complete this goal, keeping Special:Search available for users for cases when its purposeful wikitext-based search may be more appropriate to use.
Special:Search, as a tool designed and built for the text-heavy side of the projects, has always struggled to properly find and display media from Commons without some of the more advanced features like Category search. Special:Search also functions at its best in English, and is not necessarily friendly to other languages. Special:Search has been the default search experience since Commons was launched over fifteen years ago.
Special:MediaSearch–in addition to using Commons categories and wikitext from templates–uses structured data on Commons and information from Wikidata to find the most relevant and extensive results. This is a new back-end approach to search for Commons, combined with a new interface that makes the media results larger and the prominent focus of the page, accessing some file information like licensing and description information directly on the page as well as various ways to filter results. Special:MediaSearch also natively supports all languages supported by MediaWiki, and utilizes Wikidata’s concept-linking abilities and multilingual labels to find relevant results regardless of the language of the search term.
The Structured Data team plans to release the new Media Search in two parts. Anonymous users/users not logged in will start being directed to the new landing page at the end of this month, March 2021. If everything goes well, the team expects to start sending logged-in users to Special:MediaSearch at the end of next month, April 2021. The team will keep watching for feedback in case there are areas to improve the search experience, and are looking forward to bringing a new way to find media to Commons.
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