Wikipedia:File names

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Wikipedia file names should be clear and descriptive, without being excessively long. While the image name doesn't matter much to the reader (they can reach the description page by simply clicking on the image), it matters for editors. It is helpful to other contributors and for maintenance of the encyclopedia if images have descriptive or at least readable file names. For example, "File:Skyline Frankfurt am Main.jpg" is more helpful than "File:14004096 200703230833355477800.jpg".

To avoid accidental overwriting of images or other media, very generic filenames should not be used when uploading. For example, a picture of an album cover should not be given the name "File:Cover.jpg", as sooner or later someone else will try to do the same thing and overwrite the old image. The new image will then appear wherever the old one was used – in this case, an album article would then show the wrong album cover.

Good image names[edit]

Examples of good file names:

Yes check.svg "City of London skyline from London City Hall - Oct 2008.jpg"
Yes check.svg "KDE Kicker config screenshot.png"
Yes check.svg "1863 Meeting of Settlers and Maoris at Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.jpg"
Yes check.svg "Polyhedron with no vertex visible from center.png"

Examples of bad file names:

X mark.svg "Image01.png"
X mark.svg "Joe.jpg"
X mark.svg "DSC00001.JPG"
X mark.svg "30996951316264l.jpg"

Disallowed image names[edit]

Image names may be disallowed either by page protection or by blacklisting the title. There are also a few technical restrictions on what characters can be contained in a title.

Technical restrictions[edit]

For technical reasons, file names cannot contain any of the following characters, as these would conflict with wiki syntax: # < > [ ] | : { } / . For the same reason they also cannot contain sequences of tilde characters (~~~).

Like other wiki page names, File names are case sensitive except for the first character, which will always be normalized to uppercase.

Blacklisting[edit]

Disallowing may be done via the MediaWiki:Titleblacklist and may then generate a variety of error messages - see MediaWiki talk:Titleblacklist. For example, highly generic filenames (such as those produced automatically by digital cameras) produce the error message at MediaWiki:Titleblacklist-custom-imagename.

Protection[edit]

Placeholder image.

Some generic image names are protected to prevent an image being uploaded with that name. They contain a placeholder image, informing contributors that this is the case. For example, File:Image.jpg, File:Image.png, File:Image.gif and File:Image.svg.

Administrators may upload a placeholder image, and protect it, to lock out image names that are too generic—especially those that were accidentally overwritten in the past—provided the image does not currently exist. The images File:Image.png, File:Image.jpg, File:Image.gif and File:Image.svg, all tagged {{PD-ineligible}}, may be used for this purpose.

Use the template {{protected generic image name}} as the image description. This template produces all the text, inserts all the templates and all the categories needed for such pages.

What files should be renamed?[edit]

Shortcut:

Wikipedia:File names describes how files should be named. In general, Wikipedia aims to provide stable file names as these may be being used by tools outside of Wikipedia. Currently there are eight widely undisputed uses for rename requests:

Aim Examples (old name) Examples (new name)
1. Uploader requested
2. Change from completely meaningless names into suitable names, according to what the image displays File:22785u9ob807b3c4f4.jpg
File:DSC_1342.jpg
File:Tower_Bridge_2009.jpg
File:Pretoria_Venningpark.jpg
3. Correct misleading names into accurate ones File:!My_cuTe!!_MOUSSE.JPG
File:1BIGGest_nOSE_everS33n.JPG
File:Dutch_pet_rabbit.jpg
File:John_Doe_at_concert.jpg
4. Change generic bio-names into binomial scientific names File:Unknown_insect_02.jpg
File:Unidentified_flowers_HFJ.jpg
File:Hogna_radiata_02.jpg
File:Echinops_setifer_Japan.jpg
5. Correct obvious errors in file names (e.g. wrong proper nouns or false historical dates) File:Ayres_Rock_3.png
File:Van_Gogh_portrait_1787.jpg
File:Ayers_Rock_3.png
File:Van_Gogh_portrait_1887.jpg
6. Harmonize file names of a set of images (so that only one part of all names differs) to ease their usage in templates (e.g. diagram symbols, scans of pages of a book, maps) File:Bhf-BS-Icon.svg
File:Icon_HST_bs_1.svg
File:Dst_symbol.svg
etc.
File:BSicon_BHF.svg
File:BSicon_HST.svg
File:BSicon_DST.svg
etc.
7. Disambiguate files with overly similar names (the software allows for multiple different files to have the same name, but with different capitalization (ninja example) or different expressions of the same filetype extension (bunny example), however these are not ideal situations. File:Ninja.jpg
File:NINJA.jpg
Also
File:Bunny.jpg
File:Bunny.jpeg
File:Bunny.JPEG
File:Ninja_1.jpg
File:Ninja_2.jpg
Also
File:Bunny_1.jpg
File:Bunny_2.jpg
File:Bunny_3.jpg
8. Remove pejorative, offensive or crude language that would not be appropriate in the file description File:Stupid fat bitch.jpg File:<Name of the person>.jpg

After moving the file, please replace all uses of the old file link with the new one.

If a file name on English Wikipedia conflicts with a file name at Commons, please check the File usage on other wikis before deciding which should be renamed. Renaming a file at Commons might affect 500+ projects instead of just one.

Additional naming conventions and exceptions from the above list might be discussed for specific projects.

What files should not be renamed?[edit]

As a matter of principle, it is best to leave all files with generally valid names at their locations, even if slightly better names may exist. So, for example:

  1. File:TowerBridge'09.jpg should not be renamed to File:Tower_Bridge_2009.jpg only because the latter looks a bit better.
  2. File:Thiswouldbebetterwithspaces.jpg should not be renamed to File:This would be better with spaces.jpg.

However, situations that could cause confusion are to be avoided.

See also[edit]