Using iNaturalist Images on Wikipedia

Wikipedia articles that lack an image can be improved if one can be found and made available, so it is important that the most complete coverage possible is achieved by adding an iNat image.

Currently, over 99.5% of all iNat observers select a default image license that is not compatible with use on Wikipedia.1 At first glance, this sounds terrible, except that the remaining 0.5% represents over 11,000 users that collectively have observed at least 42%,2 and probably well over half of all the species ever submitted to iNaturalist.3

License types

Proportion of iNat users by image license type used:4
CC0        0.14%
CC-BY        0.27%
CC-BY-SA      0.06%
CC-BY-NC      50.76%
CC-BY-ND     0.01%
CC-BY-NC-SA    0.10%
CC-BY-NC-ND    0.09%
All rights reserved  48.58%

What is required

  • Images of subjects with existing Wikipedia articles that currently lack a suitable image5
  • Both the current need and the future demand for images is for where most English-speaking users are not present (eg. Africa6, Asia, and South America) and are often small, obscure, and uncommon species as opposed to the birds, mammals, and commonly encountered organisms that predominate on iNat observations.

Image criteria, in rough order of priority:

  • Images from Research Grade observations7
  • Shareable image license
  • Clear focus
  • Complete organism visible
  • Adult or key features visible
  • No hands, rulers, pins, containers or other objects visible
  • Good contrast with background
  • Natural setting/pose/background
  • Distinct colours
  • A live (vs dead) organism
  • Single (vs. 2 or more) organism
  • Few or no distracting objects in background
  • Organism oriented laterally, facing left
  • Large image for detail (especially if insect image is to be cropped out of original)

How to change image license

Here is a YouTube video on how to change the default image license on iNaturalist for all your images.

  • Can change default image license for all future observations.
  • Can change image license for all past observations (by clicking the little box)
  • Can also change the license on an single (individual) image - see iNat forum thread here.

Image Licenses explained:
Note there is a difference between the image license and the observation license. The observation license does not cover the use of any images attached to the observation.

  • CC0 is unlicensed material in the public domain without any restrictions on re-use.
  • The licenses with a -BY caveat (CC-BY and CC-BY-SA) require that any future use of the image retains your name as the original author/photographer.
  • The -SA caveat (Share Alike) permits re-use, but only if any new contributions or additions are also released under the same license as your original image. Images with the -SA caveat are not permitted on GBIF.
  • I believe that minor cropping is permitted under Creative Commons licenses. For more substantial changes, a -ND (No Dissemination) caveat prohibits any future user from distribution of any new product that remixes, transforms or builds upon your original image.
  • An -NC (No Commercial) caveat prevents re-use for commercial purposes. This limitation also extends to many NGOs, educational, and "Friends of the Museum/Park" etc type organizations.

A note on -NC licenses:
While the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), the organization that hosts all the Wiki projects (Wikimedia Commons, English Wkipedia, etc) is a non-profit organization and not a commercial enterprise, they have decided on a policy that all text and images hosted must be fully shareable - including for commercial purposes. Yes, this means that someone may try to use the image for profit but they then would have to create some sort of additional value to it to distinguish it from the image that anyone in the world could then download for free from Wikipedia. It also means that it is much easier for many non-profit organizations (like schools or NGOs) to download and use in pamphlets, teaching aids, etc than if the license remained as CC-BY-NC.

Alternative option
If you do not want to share a particular image, an alternative option would be to upload an additional image to the observation. Since the image would initially be used as a small thumbnail at the top of the taxonomic "information box" near the top right of the article as is typical of other organism articles, this image could be a lower resolution image of the same picture, or even another image taken that day that you do not feel has any commercial value.

Upload resources:

iNat2Commons - iNaturalist user-script in Wikidata
URL2Commons - Bulk upload images to WikiCommons


The stated vision of Wikipedia is as follows:
"Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the
sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing."

Just trying to do my part!

1. Users with a non-shareable image license type account for 2522226 out of the 2533860 total users, as of 10 March 2023. Does not account for negligible amount of duplication caused by some individual users having more than one image licence type among their observations.
2. CC-BY observations covered 177,473 species out of 418,380 as of 10 March 2023.
3. Species covered by CC0 (86,460) and CC-BY-SA (106791) observations could account for up to 193,251 additional species as of 10 March 2023. Unable to determine the extent of any overlap.
4. As of 10 March 2023.
5. Additionally, there may be a need to replace unsuitable images that are currently being used in the article. These include dead organisms (museum specimens, road-kill, etc.), small or indistinct images, and articles lacking the adult/larva/or complete organism (eg. shell/gall/nest/track only).
6. With the exception of South Africa, which has a wide coverage.
7. An exception would be to include non-RG observations of taxa of genus level or higher with a 75% majority of agreeing identifications.

Posted on Μάρτιος 10, 2023 1015 ΜΜ by loopy30 loopy30


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