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5000 portrait photo’s of famous Dutch and Flemish people on Wikimedia Commons

Geplaatst op 22 juni 2020

By User:Ellywa

Today, we reached 5000 uploads of portraits of famous Dutch and Flemish people through the website These are all correctly licenced by the owners of the copyright. The images are of high quality and almost all are in use on Wikipedia articles.

How did we manage to do this? Over 10 years ago, in 2008, I wondered whether it would be possible to obtain more pictures on Wikipedia of ‘notable’ people. People Wikipedians did not easily meet in person to shoot a picture. Photos of these people were much needed, as many biographies on Wikipedia did not have a portrait picture.

At the time I was chairman of the Dutch chapter of Wikimedia. Together with among others [[User:Husky]] we developed the idea to make a special web-based interface to enable easy uploading of images. Wikimedia Commons already existed, but at that time it appeared difficult to upload images for inexperienced users. So we made an easy tool intended for photographers outside the user group of Wikimedians.

It worked. Almost daily new photos are uploaded to be used in Wikipedia articles.

However, I still have a dream. The Wikiportret system is currently available in Dutch only. It could be introduced on other Wikipedia’s. The software is already localised to make an easy translation possible. What is needed, are some enthusiastic users including some OTRS-volunteers, who like to incorporate the system in their language project. I would be very happy to help and to explain the system in more detail.

How does Wikiportret work?

The interface of Wikiportret is easy to use. After answering a few questions about the authorship of the photo, the photographer can click a button and upload the photo from their computer. They include their email address.

The photo is not uploaded to Wikimedia Commons at this stage. The photos are stored at a local server and the email address of the photographer is kept confidential. Together with the upload to Wikiportret, an automatic email is sent to the OTRS-system of Wikimedia. Volunteers of the OTRS-system check the situation of the copyright, and will ask the photographer for a final confirmation of authorship and of the licencing. After this confirmation has been received, volunteers upload the photo to Wikimedia Commons including a link to the ticket on the OTRS system, to enable other OTRS-agents to check the authorship and the licensing.

All steps of this process are automated as much as possible. The only work done by hand is the check of the authorship. Helpful people from the general public like to upload images they found on the internet through the Wikiportret website to improve articles on Wikipedia. These copyrighted images cannot be used on Wikimedia Commons. Therefore, these are filtered out by the volunteers of the OTRS system and the uploaders will receive a polite “thank you” through a set of standard emails. These emails explain why these images cannot be used.

Husky made the first version of the software, which was later extended by other volunteers and with financial support by the Dutch chapter, Wikimedia Nederland.

The last few years, we have been receiving useful images at the rate of 1-2 per day. This is due to the fact that on many biographies without images on the Dutch Wikipedia a link is presented which leads to the Wikiportret website. This link is automatically included in the infobox. This link is currently present on more than 60.000 biographies on NL Wikipedia, which do not have a picture yet.

The function of Wikiportret does not end at 5000 images. More biographies are added to the projects on a daily basis without a portrait picture…

Success story

Today, 5000 images of famous people is quite a success. We are especially proud that several professional photographers are uploading their images on a regular basis. We asked two of them to comment on their experiences.

"As the management of actors and directors, it is important for both our clients and us that there are good, recent rights-free photos of them in circulation, which are also easy to find. Wikiportet is the ideal way for us to make these photos available. We are fortunate that there are two employees in our company who also work as photographers, so it is no problem for us to make a good press photo available free of rights."- Janey van Ierland, talent manager, photographer and owner of number19 management

“When supporting a charity, donors often have no idea where their contribution is going. But in the case with the free public availability of photos on an encyclopedic platform such as Wikipedia, it is totally clear." - Filip Naudts

You can see the contributions of these two on Wikimedia Commons:
*[[c:Category:Photos by Janey van Ierland|Photos by Janey van Ierland]]
*[[c:Category:Photographs by Filip Naudts|Photographs by Filip Naudts]]

I am personally very satisfied with these results. Some of the images, especially those of famous Dutch sportspeople, appear in many Wikipedia’s in other languages.

Recently I added this photo of football player Arnout Groeneveld to articles in 16 Wikipedia’s. This photo was made in Bournemouth by Corne van Rossum.

If you are interested in Wikiportret, please get in touch! You can put a message on my user page. Or you can send an email to

Some numbers

Images used in the various Wikimedia projects (top 10, from glamourous tool, main namespace only):

Images used in the various Wikimedia projects (top 10, from glamourous tool, main namespace only)
Images which are used most
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