iNat to Wikipedia pipeline - THANK YOU and tool tutorial

Hi there!
(1) Wanted to come by (in an entirely unofficial capacity) from Wikipedia and thank everyone who uses iNat at all and especially those of you who release your beautiful, precious images of our world’s biology under a Creative Commons license.
(2) We have a tool called WikiLovesiNaturalist that we can use to move images from iNat to Wikimedia Commons with all the licenses and metadata intact. I wrote a tutorial for our Wikipedia newsletter and it was well-received–several people said they didn’t even know the tool existed! Wanted to share it here as well in case you guys are interested. We would love any and all of your images of biota!

Before and After: Why you don’t need to touch grass to dramatically improve images of flora and fauna

Wikipedia really truly does love iNaturalist and we can’t thank you enough for your good work.



I guess most people know. It is even on the wikipedia page:

There is a tutorial for another tool, inaturalist2commons:

The former wikidata iNaturalist project


Thanks for adding this tutorial. I noticed your remark about selecting a license type:

My default selection is CC-BY, since for whatever reason that one always yields me the most results.

You may already know this, but the default license offered to new iNat users is CC-BY-NC, as that allows data to be shared with GBIF. Of course, CC-BY-NC images are not acceptable for Wikimedia Commons, so people who are aware of this often choose CC-BY so that their data can be used by both GBIF and Commons. Someone choosing to license their data with CC-BY-SA would be excluding GBIF.


I’m a big fan of CC0. If I can reduce the barrier to people finding and making good use of my images, I’m all for it. I can’t take my observations with me when I die!


It would be nice if the default license was CC-BY so that more iNaturalist data could be used for wikipedia and similar projects.


Reminder to others: search your username here to see what photos have made it over


I had one guy be mad bc if he didn’t pick NC people would use his photos for calendars and I was like “heck yes! know your worth!!” so everyone has to do the best thing for them, you know?


While there are certainly people that have made an affirmative decision to choose a particular license, I believe the vast bulk of iNat contributors choose to go with the default. I’m all for allowing people to retain the control they choose over the content they provide, but I do think the defaults should be set to reflect the level of sharing that an average science-minded user might expect.

There was a long discussion here about trying to shift the default license to be CC-BY rather than CC-BY-NC. It seemed there was good support for this, but also a minority who felt that the possibility of commercial use would surprise some new users.

I would prefer to see a more guided process to selecting a license. For an example, new users could be asked this:

Which type of sharing do you want to allow for your photos by default?

  1. Attribution Required only (CC-BY). This would allow your photos to be used on Wikimedia Commons projects such as Wikipedia AND by researchers via the GBIF data exchange.
  2. Attribution Required with Non-Commercial restriction (CC-BY-NC). This would allow your photos to be used by researchers via the GBIF data exchange, but NOT on Wikimedia Commons projects such as Wikipedia.
  3. Attribution Required with ShareAlike restriction (CC-BY-SA). This would allow your photos to be used on Wikimedia Commons projects such as Wikipedia, but NOT by researchers via the GBIF data exchange.
  4. All Rights Reserved. You retain all rights to your photos. NO ONE can reuse the copies you upload to iNaturalist.
  5. A different license. Click here to see less common license options

I’d put CC0 first, if you want to make it as easy as possible for people to use your pictures that is by far the best choice.

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I imagine a lot of people (even those with a generally favorable attitude towards creative commons/open licensing) would not be particularly enthusiastic about being encouraged to choose an option that does not even require subsequent content users to credit the creator/photographer. Most of us do like to be at least acknowledged for things we have put time and effort into.


Hey, thanks for the nice letter Jennifer! I appreciate that we can help the people over on Wikipedia. :smiley:


I don’t understand this very much at all. I’d love for my data to go to both commons and GBIF along with people having to ask me to use them if they want to use it themselves. What one should I select for that? (and how)


You can’t simultaneously have both an open license (importing to commons/GBIF) and a closed license (requiring people to contact you before use) for the same content.

The idea of CC licensing is that it simplifies the process of asking/getting permission in cases where the content creator is generally willing for other people to use it. In other words, you are granting permission in advance so that they do not have to ask you.

Also note that if your content is exported to Wikimedia under a CC license, any user who finds it there is also free to use it according to the terms dictated by the CC license. So if you want people to ask you before use, you should not allow content to be exported to Wikimedia, because the idea of Wikimedia is that all of its content is CC licensed and thus available for others to use.


Hi @cs-levi. If you want to require permission before using your photos, then you cannot share them with either Wikimedia Commons or GBIF. Both organizations require you to use a license that allows shared photos to be used freely.

What you can do is to require that you are given credit for your photos wherever they are used. This “attribution” requirement is the “BY” portion of the license terms. So if you choose the CC-BY license, your photos can be shared with GBIF and Wikipedia and you should be credited whenever they are used.

If you want to limit use of your photos to just allow non-commercial use, then you would use the CC-BY-NC license. That allows sharing with GBIF, but not Wikimedia.

If you want to require that anyone using your photos is required to also make them available on the same terms, then you would use the CC-BY-SA license, which includes “share alike” terms. That one is fine for Wikimedia, but not for GBIF.


Awesome, thanks for the detailed explanation! (I wish a way existed to know everytime someone in theory credited you for something)

Also, I’m sorry for the terrible typos in my original method. I was trying to multitask. :D


For Wikimedia at least, you can see what’s been imported by searching for your name. Not everything that is imported is used, but if it has been put on an article page, there will be a link to it. It’s fun to see that a representative image is sometimes used across the many language wikis!

I have also messaged at least two iNaturalist users whose amazing photos have illustrated whole classes of articles (Cricket R’s leaf gall and tide pool images and Chloe & Trevor’s pictures of monkeyflowers and much more).