ISA is a fun, multilingual, mobile-first tool, that makes it easy for people to add "micro contributions" in the form of structured data to images on Wikimedia Commons that have been added by Wiki Loves competitions.

ISA is originally built to provide better multilingual and structured descriptions of Wiki Loves Africa images. But it is also developed to be useful to all of the Wiki Loves competitions and, ultimately, for all media files on Wikimedia Commons.

What is Wikimedia Commons?

Wikimedia Commons (also known as 'Commons') is a Wikimedia project, a sister project of Wikipedia, and a collection of more than 40 million free media files. All the freely licensed photos, audio and video files, PDFs and other media on Wikipedia are stored on Commons.

Wikimedia Commons grows rapidly, by approximately 5 million new media files per year.

Thousands of volunteers upload files to Commons, and integrate these into Wikimedia projects, like Wikipedia, to illustrate the content there and to share that media with the public. Media files on Commons are typically:

  1. Personal photography and media uploaded by individuals, sometimes during Wiki Loves competitions such as Wiki Loves Africa, Wiki Loves Monuments, Wiki Loves Earth etc;
  2. Freely licensed media files from external websites like Flickr, YouTube, open access journals, and other repositories; and
  3. Donations from institutions and organizations with substantial media collections, large and small, ranging from UNESCO, NASA and the British Library to small local cultural institutions.
What is structured data on Commons ?

Structured Data on Commons is a project that provides the technical infrastructure to complement the wikitext, templates and categories on Wikimedia Commons with structured data. Structured data is data with a high degree of structured organization. With more structure, it becomes easier to reuse data in other Wikimedia projects and by third parties; it also allows computers to process and 'understand' it.

Structured Data is an ongoing project that was launched in 2019 ! … whilst Wikimedia Commons has been around for years ! There are literally millions of pictures hosted on Wikimedia Commons… that need attention and love. Millions of pictures that are not described with structured data at the moment.

How are we going to do that ?

Curating, or curation, in the narrow sense, means: selecting and organizing pieces of artwork and cultural heritage for an exhibition. This term can also be used more broadly, to describe any activity that involves selecting, organizing and presenting information. In the context of Structured Data on Commons, curating means all the activities performed by Commons contributors to organize and present the media files on Wikimedia Commons: administrative actions, adding more and better metadata to the files, grouping them in categories, creating galleries... does the ISA tool fit in there ?

The ISA tool allows to add two different types of structured data to set of pictures: captions and depicts (more explanations below on what captions and depicts are). It is a multilingual, mobile-first 'micro-contributions' tool, that makes it easy for people to add structured data to images contributed to Wiki Loves competitions on Wikimedia Commons.

The tool operates with curated campaigns created by coordinators. Anyone with a Wikimedia account may be a coordinator!

With ISA, the coordinator can choose a predefined set of images on Commons, select a starting date and an end date for the campaign, and provide general information about the campaign itself. The coordinator can then ask contributors to "tag" these images with multilingual structured metadata (depicts and/or captions). Points are counted for each contribution made by a participant, and therefore it is possible to organize "tagging" or micro-contributions competitions or challenges with ISA.

Anyone with a Wikimedia account can contribute to add structured metadata to a campaign. The only requirement is… to be logged-in.

Learn more about file captions and depicts

File captions are a feature part of Structured data. They are meant to store short, multilingual description about files.

What is a good caption ? and what is the difference between our good old file descriptions and captions ?

First, captions are meant to be simple and short. While descriptions can be very expansive, captions are limited to 255 characters in length, and cannot contain markup (like Wikitext links or HTML) and do not support external links.

In many cases, the caption will be similar or identical to the description. But in other cases, there is a very extensive description (858 characters, and links) and the caption is much shorter (more or less the same caption used on the Wikipedia articles using that image).

Only text which is so short that it is not copyrightable should be copied into captions, as captions are published under a CC0 ("public domain") waiver.

One of the core benefits of captions is improved language-aware searchability. Classical file descriptions are in the wikitext, and are only searchable through full-text search, which necessarily searches through the entire page contents, including categories and license templates; and it is not possible to do search search per language.

Captions are available as part of our structured data, while descriptions are not. In technical terms, a description is plain wikitext wrapped in a language template, wrapped again in an Information template; while captions are Wikibase labels.

As such, captions will be searchable through the API, making it easy to find/filter/pull captions from files as metadata. As they are searchable via the API, it is also easier for 3rd party reusers to find and reuse media and the captions themselves.

Other possible usages of captions can be:

Find more information about Captions here :

Depicts is also a feature part of Structured data. It was enabled on Wikimedia Commons on April 2019.

To add a depicts statement, simply start typing in the search box to get started. Then for each depicted item in the image, find the appropriate item from Wikidata and select it.

If you have trouble finding the right Wikidata item, test alternative spellings.

If there is no Wikidata item associated with the subject depicted, choose a more generic item which includes your subject as an example.

Be as specific as you can with the primary tag. If there are multiple items clearly and deliberately depicted by the media file, all should be added as separate depicts statements, within reason. For files that depict dozens or hundreds of items (e.g. movies) only list those items which are most prominent.

There is also an option to mark a particular item as 'prominent'. This property refers to the item's prominence in the piece of media.

More information about depicts may be found here :

Using the ISA tool

More information may be found here:

Legal and credits

ISA was developed as a collaboration between Wiki In Africa, Histropedia and the Structured Data on Commons project. It is running on, and is subject to the Wikimedia Cloud Services Terms of use. ISA is published under GPLv3. Content added through the tool to Wikimedia Commons is released under CC0.

Image used on the tool :
Fisherman on the Volta River. Alimdaihli. CC by sa 4.0