Many Stack Exchange questions and answers embed images from Wikimedia Commons. It is probably the most used image source here.

Good news

Thanks to their license, all images from Wikimedia Commons can be legally used inside Stack Exchange.

Bad news

The only requirement is to cite the author/license (example), an easy task, but we are totally failing at it, only maybe 1% of Commons images used here are properly cited. That makes our use of these images illegal, and could expose Stack Exchange to various legal threats. Not my problem, you could say, but this is also important because without that we can't claim that Stack Exchange data is open data, bringing Stack Exchange closer to closed-data sites like Yahoo! Answers or Experts-Exchange.

Proposed solution

When using the image addition widget, the widget should detect whether the image's URL has a *.wikimedia.org domain, and if yes:

  1. (optional) Transfer the image to imgur, for perennity reasons.
  2. Retrieve the author name and license name from Commons (there is a very reliable API that gives that).
  3. Concatenate into a proper citation, maybe something like "*Credit: [" + author + "](" + commonsPageURL + ") , [" + license + "](" + licenseURL + ")*"
  4. Insert the citation at the same time as the image's MarkDown.


  • Remove a large part of Stack Exchange's copyright violations.
  • Makes us a good citizen in the open data world. Remember what happens to sites who disregard ethics (Experts Exchange).
  • Consistent citations.
  • Zero added burden for the users.
  • No problem. However, it means it's quite pointless to add external links to images, as those links will break at some point. Adding the author and license as plain text can be a good idea though. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 4 '18 at 8:57
  • 3
    @ShadowWizard: I totally agree, that's why I added Step 1 "Transfer the image to imgur" too, even though it is not the main topic :-) – Nicolas Raoul Dec 4 '18 at 8:59

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