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Survey: Browsing Wikimedia Commons Categories

About This Document

This second survey of use of Wikimedia Commons to host images and video resources on morris, sword and related traditional dances follows on from the “Survey: Searching Wikimedia Commons” document.

The first document provide a summary of the number of media files which could be found using a simple search for terms such as ‘morris dance‘, ‘rapper sword‘, etc.

This second survey is on understanding the types and numbers of media files which are held on Wikimedia Commons and can be found using a search on relevant ‘categories’.

The survey concludes with a discussion of the findings and a summary of further work.

About Wikimedia Commons

Many people will be familiar with Wikipedia a free online encyclopaedia which anyone can edit. Less well-known is the related Wikimedia Commons, a collection of over 75 million media freely reusable resources which anyone can contribute to.

The “Survey: Searching Wikimedia Commons” document gives more information about Wikimedia Commons and the value it can give in providing access to media files of morris and related dance traditions which can be freely used by others.

Wikimedia Commons Categories

When you go to a book shop you will find books are grouped together in a variety of categories, which may be split into several sub-categories. A similar approach is available for media files on Wikimedia Commons. Relevant top-level categories include Morris dance, Rapper sword and Sword dance.

A search for media files which use the ‘Morris dance’ category is shown in Figure 1. This includes 4 video files and 3 images of morris dance sides, together with a photograph of the Morris Dancer pub.

Figure 1: The Morris Dance category in Wikimedia Commons

However although there are sub-categories of Morris dance (primarily geographical such as Morris dance in England‎; Morris dance in London‎ and Morris dance in East Sussex) there appear to be no further categories for the style of dance (apart from Border morris).

The Morris dance and Rapper sword categories are themselves sub-categories of the Folk dance and Dance by genre categories.

Survey of Use of Categories

A summary of information held in morris and traditional dance categories is given below.

Morris dance11 (7 images
& 4 videos)
13 including Morris dance in England‎, Morris dance in Scotland‎ and Morris dance in Wales‎ as well as Deptford Jack in the Green‎ and Hammersmith Jack in the Green
Rapper sword18 image filesNone
Sword dance48 image files10 including Flamborough Sword Dancers, Grenoside Dance‎ and Rapper sword‎ 
Table 1 Summary of main morris and related traditional dance categories

A summary of information held in morris and traditional dance sub-categories is given below.

Morris dance in England2 images & 4 videos44 mainly geographical sub-categories from Morris dance in Bedfordshire‎ to Morris dance in West Yorkshire
Morris dance in Scotland1 image
Morris dance in Wales‎  6 images
Deptford Jack in the Green‎ 14 images
Hammersmith Jack in the Green‎ 17 images
Flamborough Sword Dancers 3 images
Grenoside Dance4 images2: Grenoside Dance 2015‎ (which has 191 images) and Grenoside Dance 2016‎  (which has 132 images ),
Table 2 Summary of main morris and related traditional dance sub-categories

As well as specific dance categories there may also be media files of dance sides which are listed under other categories, such as folk-related categories. Some of these are summarised below.

Folk music festivals in the United Kingdom9Includes Broadstairs Folk Week‎ (include 83 files); Cambridge Folk Festival‎ (317 files); Cambridge Folk Festival‎ (317 files) and Warwick Folk Festival‎ (36 files)
Folk culture of the United Kingdom1Includes Folklore of the United Kingdom‎ (25 sub-categories); Haxey Hood‎ (9 files);
Folklore of England 27 29 including Dorset Ooser‎ (3 files) and Wassail‎ (4 files)
Folklore of Scotland  412 including Green Man
Folklore of Wales‎ 810 including Traditions of Wales
Table 3: Summary of categories related to folk festivals, folk culture and folklore


The information summarised above, together with the information described in the “Survey: Searching Wikimedia Commons” document, provide an understanding of how content providers of morris-related media files use the service:

  • In general, little use is made of ‘categories’, so media files will have to be found using a search based on the contents in the description.
  • Such descriptions may not provide information needed to find resources.
  • The categories may be confusing (for example will the category Morris dance in Devon be used to contain photographs of morris sides from Devon, or will it be used for photographs of morris sides appearing in the Devon town of Sidmouth, which hosts the popular Sidmouth Folk Festival?
  • The hierarchical structure of categories and sub-categories can be confusing.
  • The lack of categories in some areas can make resources difficult to find (e.g. although there are categories for Rapper sword and Border morris there are none for Northwest Morris).

These issues reflect the strengths and weakness of the Wikipedia/Wikimedia culture: just as anyone can create or update a Wikipedia article, anyone can upload a media file to Wikimedia Commons or create a Wikimedia category. This means things can be done quickly (there are over 6 million Wikipedia articles in the English language version, for example) but things are not necessarily done in a coordinated way.

What Can Be Done?

As with Wikipedia, Wikimedia has a bottom-up approach to use of the service which. to put it simply, means anyone can create new categories.

In the near future it is intended that some new categories will be created for popular traditional dance styles, based on the terminology used by the Morris Federation. These categories will be created once a number of appropriate media resources are found.

We encourage others to upload photographs, videos and sound files which satisfy the Wikimedia Commons requirements for educational/cultural resources which are licensed appropriately.

We have provided documentation on how to upload files and assign licenses.

Page created: 14 Sep 2021

Date of survey: 6 Oct 2021

Page author: Brian Kelly

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