Flickr Foundation is building a new bridge between Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Flickr Badges (poolie from Germany, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

We are pleased to announce a new partnership with the Flickr Foundation to extend the great work already done via the Flickr2Commons tool to make it even easier to upload CC-licensed images from Flickr into Wikimedia Commons. 

Wikipedia is a foundational source of information on the internet. It provides content to Google and other search engines, social media platforms, voice assistants, and, increasingly, AI applications. To illustrate that information, we have Wikimedia Commons, the central visual platform for Wikipedia and one of the primary sources for open licensed visual content online. You may not know that one of the largest sources for Wikimedia Commons is Flickr.  

Since 2004, Flickr has been one of the most popular platforms for photographers and amateurs to upload photographs, videos, illustrations, and more online. It is also one of the largest online repositories of Creative Commons-licensed content. Flickr members can assign a license to their uploads, including those Creative Commons licenses accepted on Wikimedia Commons: Attribution (CC-BY), Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA), Public Domain Dedication (CC0), and the Public Domain Mark.

Distribution of Creative Commons usage in 2021 on Flickr (P,TO 19104, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

In 2008, Flickr launched the Flickr Commons program, to increase public access to photography collections held at libraries, museums, and archives around the world. Images in Flickr Commons are shared with something a bit different from a license. It’s an assertion called  “no known copyright restrictions.”  The program supports over 100 member institutions, including The U.S. National Archives, NASA on Commons, the National Library of Scotland, and Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur.

In 2022, the Flickr Foundation was established. It’s a US 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the objective of safeguarding Flickr and its tens of billions of photos for the future. It seeks to develop and sustain “…an accessible social and technical infrastructure to protect [this] invaluable collection.” 
This bridge between Flickr and Wikimedia Commons—which we’ve started calling “Flickypedia”—is one of the flagship projects of the Flickr Foundation. Building in partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, and supported by the Culture and Heritage team, we will be building on the utility of the Flickr2Commons tool, extending it, and then tending it for the long term.

This project has been mentioned in the 2023-2024 Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan under the Equity / Culture & Heritage section, in this mailing list update from Flickr Foundation, and in the ensuing discussion on Wikimedia Commons’s Village Pump.

About Flickr2Commons

Flickr2Commons is a popular tool used by Wikimedia Commons contributors to upload single or multiple files from Flickr into Wikimedia Commons. It was created by Magnus Manske, and first launched in 2013, ten years ago! The tool allows for user authentication, checks for the required licenses, includes a metadata editing step, and then file transfer. 

Metrics important for Flickypedia

In order to gauge the possible reach of Flickypedia, we wanted to understand Flickr2Commons metrics. Magnus helped pull together the stats to show that roughly 5.4M files have been uploaded by about 2K users since launch. Using the Wikimedia Hashtags tool, we can also see how much Flickr2Commons is used today. In June 2023 only, for example, 71,689 files were uploaded by 147 users.

Number of edits (ie. uploads), with the Flickr2Commons tool in June 2023 (Hashtags tool)

We were also able to discover the most active users of Flickr2Commons in the last six months, from January to June 2023.

Most active users of Flickr2Commons January to June 2023 (Hashtags)

It’s been great to collate all these usage statistics for Flickr2Commons—both the more recent numbers, but also in total over the last 10 years. Seeing it all together gives us a clear target for the new version to try to match. 

It is also worth noting that another tool connects Flickr to Wikimedia Commons, called the UploadWizard. We’re bearing in mind that this means there will have been even more images from Flickr through that tool. Preparing these metrics has given us ideas on how we might make it even simpler to count into the future using Flickypedia.

Our timeline

The Flickypedia partnership project officially started in June 2023. We plan to spend the next six months or so building our Alpha (hopefully to show in October) and then Version 1.0 (hopefully December). Please stay in touch if you’d like to be involved in testing or have feedback about Flickr2Commons we should know about.

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