February 2022

Wiki Club Gathering February 1, 2022: Roberta’s Sum-Up on Illustrations

This month we looked at images, principally photographs, but including maps, drawings, diagrams and graphs. The same principles hold true for any image you create, including original artwork such as oil or digital paintings; different rules apply for images you discover and believe to be out of copyright, e.g. the illustrations in old books. We also looked at how you can use all the millions of images that other people have created.

NB A re-cap of the basics is at the bottom of this document.


  • Open source: something anyone can modify and share; originally referred to software, but now used more broadly. 
  • The commons: the body of work freely available for legal use, sharing, repurposing, and remixing; analogous to the village common, which everyone shares.
  • Wikimedia Commons (or Wiki Commons): a repository for such images (and video, audio, etc.); a sister project to Wikipedia, also supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. Images on encyclopedia pages are pulled from Wiki Commons.
  • Creative Commons (CC): a separate organisation, providing free legal tools (licenses) to enable you to share your work globally, while asserting your copyright.

Adding your work to Wikimedia Commons

  • Remember, if you have an account on Wikipedia, you automatically have one on Wiki Commons too, with the same name, thanks to global log-in.
  • Wikimedia Foundation have a handy PDF booklet called “Illustrating Wikipedia: A Guide to Contributing Content to Wikimedia Commons”
  • Here is the information page on uploading images. 
  • Start with your own work
  • Take a photograph (of something you’ve cooked, or an ingredient or a kitchen implement, etc.) and upload it. 
  • The easiest way is by phone app. Download “Wikicommons”.
  • Or, from your computer, use the Upload Wizard
  • Label the image with useful information.
  • Here’s a  tutorial for Visual Editor
  • Here’s a tutorial for wiki mark up (source editor)

Using images from Wiki Commons

  • You can use your own image, of course, but there are millions of others.
  • Use the search inside Wiki Commons. Use normal terms. (My example: Vietnamese food)
  • Select a promising-looking image and click “More details”
  • Notice five options immediately above the image: Download, use this file online, use this file on Wikipedia, email a link, information.
  • Click “use this file on Wikipedia”
  • If you use Visual Editor (the one that looks like a word processor), copy “image”. Go to your desired article. Click insert → images and media. Paste the image..
  • If you use wiki mark up (source editor – the one that looks like HTML code), copy “thumbnail”. Go to your desired article. Open the appropriate section. Paste the thumbnail. .
  • Remember to check/preview before you save/publish changes. Does the image appear as you wish? If not, tweak its size or caption or position on the page.

Add descriptive text to your images

There’s a fundamental rule of the internet which says that someone else will find a better and more creative use of anything you upload, probably something that you can’t even imagine now. So do that future person a favour, and write helpful information in the textbox that asks you to describe your image. The future person may excerpt some of this for context or as a caption. I was drawn to the image of a Vietnamese family preparing food for the holiday (above) not just by the quality of the photo, but also by the evocative and informative text, far longer and more detailed than that provided by most photographer or uploaders. Thank you, User:This is Thảo.

English: A Vietnamese family is making bánh tét (or bánh đòn, Vietnamese sticky rice cake) on the biggest traditional holiday of Vietnam, Tết holiday, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.

Bánh tét is one of a must tradional food that is made and eaten only on Tet holiday by families in the South and the Central of Vietnam. In the North, they make bánh chưng. However, nowadays, this kind of food is still available sometimes at some shops and markets during the year, especially at markets in small towns. However, the quality is not as good as the ones that made by families for themselves.

In the past, families usually made bánh tét on the day before Tết. They cooked it and celebrated the New year’s Eve at the same time. Gathering together to make bánh tét is a very beautiful tradition of Vietnam. It’s not only the time to make bánh tét, but also the time for family members to bond and come together by talking, recalling memories, laughing together and celebrating the holiday spirit after a long hard working year that they might even not meet each other. And also, it’s a special time for the kids to learn about the Vietnamese traditions and the legend of bánh tét. This way, historical values are reserved. However, it takes a lot of time and techniques to make bánh tét so nowadays, many families choose to buy bánh tét in stead of making it by themselves. This somehow makes the beauty of the traditions and customs of Tet holiday in Vietnam is not as how it used to be in the past anymore.

Therefore, there’s nothing to make sure that images like this will still available to catch in the future when life has been getting more and more modern and people tend to choose convenient things.

Full credit for the image:

Tet holiday in Vietnam. By User:This is Thảo. Licence: CC-BY-SA 4.0

Useful stuff

  • Introduction to Wikipedia” tutorials – especially good for images
  • Wiki Loves Monuments is a global photographic competition, with spin-offs e.g. Wiki Loves Nature.
  • Edit-a-thons” are events held to encourage (relative) newcomers to contribute. Some are in-person, depending on your country’s Covid situation, and some are online and open to global participants.
  • Women’s History Month is celebrated throughout March; Wikipedia organises events.
  • Monthly “Women in Red” editathon at the University of Edinburgh (Eventbrite link – Zoom)
  • Connected Heritage events for the GLAM* sector (Eventbrite link – Zoom) 
  • Events organised through Wikimedia UK ( list)
  • Events organised through Art + Feminism (list )
  • The Wikipedia Library – free access to paywalled sources (mostly academic and journalistic). You qualify by building up your Wikipedia contributions; this can be a real incentive to freelancers and independent researchers, who can then use the access for their own projects too. 

*Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums. GLAM is an acronym I first heard at a Wikimedia event.

Things to do

  • Look at the list of hundreds of articles identified by the Food and drink project as needing photographs. 
  • Can you add a photo to an article that needs it?
  • Look at some of the articles where you have expertise. Can you improve their images, either by adding or replacing existing ho-hum ones, with better images from Wiki Commons (by you or by other people)?
  • Remember that “featured” is a Wikipedia understatement for “excellent” (about 1 in 1000). Look at Featured pictures: Food and drink. Can you add these outstanding images to any articles that would benefit? Think beyond the obvious. E.g the photo of  roasted coffee beans might fit in the article on coffee, or perhaps roasting, or Coffee production in Brazil. But are the beans actually from Brazil? You’d better check the written description of the image.
  • Remember to explain your changes in the edit summary
  • Keep editing!  


The place to go for 24/7 help is Wikipedia:Teahouse – as in, a calm environment to relax and learn. “A friendly place where you can ask questions, to get help with using and editing Wikipedia.”

If you can’t remember the link you need, use a search engine. Wikipedia’s behind-the-scenes pages are often difficult to find. Its internal terminology can be obscure.

What next for Wiki Club?

The dates are fixed and ongoing; the subjects are fixed only for the next two months ahead. .

  • Tuesday 1 March – as this marks the beginning of Women’s History Month, we will focus on how to write a biography. All are very welcome!
  • Tuesday 5 April – Links and categories – making your article findable

What would you like to see for future months? 

And a re-cap of the basics:

If you are a complete newbie, start with the hour-long video I made for the 2020 Symposium. Some people then like to dive straight in; others prefer to learn more first. Here is a list of short how-to videos; most are 3-5 minutes long.

Beginner Training (from Art + Feminism, a group created to combat systemic inequalities ) 

Userpages and the Sandbox

Basic Rules of Wikipedia editing

Adding Citations

Anatomy of a Page

Creating New Articles

Wikipedia Training Video Part 1 – followed by parts 2 & 3

Produced by the Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikipedia Adventure – long but light-hearted

Various sources

Editing Basics (Visual Editor) – this is the option that looks like a regular word processor

How to Create a Wikipedia Account – Tutorial

How to Edit a Wikipedia Article

These are all videos. If you prefer your training in writing, use the titles above to search for an equivalent written how-to.