Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


RYGEL, Michael C., Department of Geology, State University of New York, College at Potsdam, 44 Pierrepont Ave, Potsdam, NY 13676,

Wikimedia Commons ( is a free, wiki-based image repository that contains nearly eight million educational images. The vast majority of these images are in the public domain and can be used, reproduced, and distributed provided that proper credit is given to the author and that copies and derivative works are released into the public domain via a similar license (ideally a Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License). Anyone can upload suitable images to Wikimedia Commons by following the simple directions provided at the Wikimedia Commons Upload page.

In addition to its focus on public domain images, Wikimedia Commons offers significant benefits over other image banks (Earth Science World Image Bank, Geoscenic ,, etc.) because it can accept image, video, and audio files, the content can easily be integrated into Wikipedia and other MediaWiki-based sites, and because files can be tagged, sorted, categorized in a variety of ways. Additionally, Wikimedia Commons’ broad focus results in a variety and diversity of images beyond what would be found in a more specialized collection. Google searches include Wikimedia Commons content and search results continue to improve as more users categorize and caption images. Collections of related images can be displayed in a category gallery (ex: sedimentology collection) and individuals can showcase their contributions on a user page (ex: Dr. Mark Wilson’s user page or Michael Rygel’s user page).

Wikimedia Commons has the potential to be the premier repository for educational geoscience images. It can connect and unify contributions from professional geologists, academics, students, amateurs, and the general public and freely distribute these images and videos to anyone with an internet connection.