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Feature: improved 'annotation' method for media (combo of galleries, categories and tags)
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Author: brianna.laugher

(Possibly this should be an extension, or a fork of MediaWiki aimed for
media-managing wikis, and specifically Wikimedia Commons.)

Neither of the current methods of organising media (primarily images), via
gallery pages (main namespace pages featuring many <gallery>s) or categories,
are sufficient. The fact that alternate methods exist divides the user community
and we cannot enforce a standard because both methods have flaws. In fact the
methods complement each other.

e.g. the advantage of galleries is that they can be arranged and annotated by
the user, unlike categories. the advantage of categories is that one file can be
added to many categories in one edit, and they are updated "automatically".

At the same time we can also compare to the popular system of "tagging" which
appears on many websites now such as blogs and

I propose a new method that combines the best of all these methods, and also
allows for Commons' multilingual needs. Since it is not exactly the same as any
of the old methods, I call it "annotation". It would replace categories (and for
wikis such as Commons, gallery pages would have no more motivation to be used).

  1. Separate editing the page content from editing the page annotations.
  1. Make uploading a multi-step (multi-form) process. Step I, locate the file.

Step II, describe the file. Step III, choose or add appropriate annotations -
some can be recommended basd on the user description in step 2. This is
compulsory annotation.

  1. Items annotated with 'Foo' appear at 'Annotated:Foo' (or just the main

namespace 'Foo'). The definition of Foo is edited via a separate page, a special
page or maybe just 'Annotation:Foo'.

An Annotation has a single canonical form, plus alternative forms, for each
language (potentially). Alternative forms may include singular/plural for example.

The presentation of the 'Annotation:Foo' page will depend on the user language
preference setting. When users add annotations to items, MediaWiki will assume
they are using the language of the preference setting, but maybe the user can
override it by typing "DE:Bar" instead of "Foo" (assumed English).

If the Annotation page says that "Foo" is the canonical form of the annotation
for English, and "Bar" is the canonical form of the annotation for German, then
an English speaking user can type in "Foo" and see all the same items that a
German speaking user sees when they type in "Bar". And these items will have
been annotated by English speaking users as "Foo", and by German speaking users
as "Bar", and it won't matter.

  1. Arrangement of material annotated with 'Foo'. Imagine something like an

extended category view, where you can choose to order items by several methods
(such as name, time of upload, size), and one of those methods is a user-defined
arrangement. This would be the default. Users who want to make an arrangement
within an annotation, can choose from all the annotated items and create ordered
subheadings for them to be displayed under. Essentially a gallery within a
category. Items that had been added since the last user-defined arrangement
would just appear in an 'other items' catch-all at the bottom of the page (much
as categories work now).

Creating this would be a huge work, but I strongly believe Commons is
constrained in its success by inflexible and incomplete annotation methods. So
an overhaul is needed.


Version: unspecified
Severity: enhancement
See Also:



Event Timeline

bzimport raised the priority of this task from to Lowest.Nov 21 2014, 9:40 PM
bzimport set Reference to bz9617.
bzimport added a subscriber: Unknown Object (MLST).

(In reply to comment #0)

I strongly believe Commons is
constrained in its success by inflexible and incomplete annotation methods.
So an overhaul is needed.

... and here we are still, ;) although I think you do have a point.

Aren't these "annotations" very similar to the "metadata" you requested a couple of years later at Bug 17503 ?

Your explanation, including the references to multilingual 'tags' sound very Wikidata to me. In fact this is how I ended up learning about

and from there jumping to a bug report that you happened to open as well, the mentioned Bug 17503

I think this report is a WONTFIX, not because of the problem (I think you are identifying it right) but because of the type of solution proposed.

brianna.laugher wrote:

(In reply to comment #1)

Aren't these "annotations" very similar to the "metadata" you requested a
couple of years later at Bug 17503 ?

No - the metadata in Bug 17503 only refers to the automatic kind generated by digital cameras that records camera settings such as ISO, ie EXIF. This is embedded in the photo (you can also embed things like author and license, and some people do that). Having it be displayed/queryable could be quite powerful, if somewhat niche.

Annotations by contrast are much more subjective and have to be manually created.

I don't know anything about Wikidata, but I'm happy for this bug to be closed given it's rather a large ask and is a pretty nebulous task. :)