A new search is now live on Commons, a search created specifically for Commons. Special:MediaSearch has been in development for the past year to complete the goal of building an easy-to-use, media-focused, multilingual search for Commons. Special:Search remains 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.
Media Search is just one part of the larger Structured Data Across Wikimedia project, which aims to structure content on wikitext pages in a way that will be machine-recognizable and machine-relatable, to make reading, editing, and searching easier and more accessible across projects and on the Internet. If you’d like to learn more about the project and get involved, the next focus is around image recommendations. The Structured Data team looks forward to continuing work on opening up Wikimedia content.
Partial funding for this work is provided by a follow-up restricted grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to further the work done by the first round of funding to develop Structured Data on Commons.