Openverse and Photo Directory

You many have noticed two recent projects in the ecosystem seem to have similar goals: The Photo Directory and Openverse. While these are different projects, each with their own contributor teams and goals, they do overlap in some exciting and interesting ways.

Openverse

First and foremost, OpenverseOpenverse Openverse is a search engine for openly-licensed media, including photos, audio, and video. Openverse is also the name for the collection of related code repositories that make up the project. is a search engine and aggregator. In the same way Google Search doesn’t host your WordPress website, Openverse doesn’t actually host any of the hundreds of millions of openly-licensed images and creative works it helps users to discover. Instead, Openverse “indexes” these works by collecting crucial metadata about them into a database, and then making that metadata searchable. Openverse also offers a public APIAPI An API or Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows programs to interact with each other and share data in limited, clearly defined ways. (application programming interface) which allows users to query and explore this metadata programmatically in their own applications and sites. Crucially, this means that users do not directly upload media to Openverse. Instead, users upload their media to one of Openverse’s sources (the various collections of media that Openverse indexes) or propose that Openverse indexes their media collection by filling out this form. Some examples of sources included in Openverse are Flickr, iNaturalist, and of course…the Photo Directory!

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Photo Directory

The Photo Directory is a collection of user-submitted images by and for the WordPress community. These images are all licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) mark, which designates them as free to use under any circumstances without crediting the original author. This is the least restrictive of the Creative Commons licenses. Anyone with a WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ account can directly submit their own photos to the Photo Directory.

Because Openverse indexes the Photo Directory, all the photos in the directory are also present in Openverse.

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Comparison Table

Finally, here’s a quick comparison table to highlight some of the differences between the two services:

OpenversePhoto Directory
LicenseAll Creative Commons licensesCC0
Image typesAny (Photos, Illustrations, Screenshots, etc.)Only Photos (no identifiable faces, overlaid text/graphics/etc.)
Media TypesImages, Audio, more planned.Photography
Search filteringLicense, source, aspect ratio, commercial use, size, typeColors, categories, and tags
Accepts user submissions
Reporting (for copyright violations, explicit content, etc.)❌, not built-in, manually in trac or contact photos@wordpress.org.
Download buttons❌ Must download at the original source✅, with multiple formats offered

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