Shared Descriptions

Published: 11 November 2009


Shared Descriptions are short 'snippets' of text, which once written can easily be attached to multiple images.

As well as cutting down on duplication of image descriptions - they create a quick way of linking to and finding other images.

A shared description creates a 'collection' so one can see all the images which use the same shared description.

Key features:

When to use them

Example uses

To describe and link photos of;
To create a basic 'title only' link of similar/related images


You can create a shared description whilst submitting a new photo, or using the edit page of an existing photo, or by using your recent uploads page or the multi-editor function on a search result.

To create a shared description;
1. Click the shared description tab
2. Click 'Create New Shared Description'
3. Enter a short title, a description, and optional grid reference
4. Once you have finished click 'Create shared description'

If you wish to create more than one shared description for the same image, you can repeat the process from step 2.

Once you have added shared descriptions you will see a number beside each one. You can use these numbers, should you wish, to reference your main description using [1], [2], [3] and so on. See example

When you create a shared description the current images grid reference will automatically be assigned to the description. You can refine this to relate to the precision of the subject, eg a 6 or 8-figure reference for specific building, and a 4-figure reference for a larger area. There is also an option to not attach a location, for shared descriptions which are not specific to one location.

Style Guide / Tips

Attaching to images

Once you have created your shared description it will be available to attach to any other geograph image description.
You can attach a shared description when submitting a new photo, by visiting the edit page of an existing photo, or by using the spelling utility function.
You can attach your own shared description or one created by another contributor.

Use the search box to find a shared description, you can search by keywords, by snippet number, or by entering the image number of an image with the shared description.

- You can only attach shared descriptions to your own images.
- You can attach more than one description.
- It can take a few minutes for a shared description to become available, though usually much quicker*.
- Edits on a description may take a while to refresh on existing photos.
- You may need to wait for new images to be moderated before the snippets show up fully, and for shared descriptions created in them to show on other images.

*At times the delay might be longer - the 'shared descriptions box' on the edit/submission page is authoritative so if it shows a 'Remove' button you can be sure the description is attached to the image, even if you can't see it yet.

Attaching to multiple images

Using the bulk attach form, you can add a shared description to up to 50 images at once.

Display methods

There are a number of ways shared description(s) will be displayed along with the image.

An image with a normal description
Shared description(s) will show up below your main description, with the title as a link; which you can use to access further images using the shared description.

If the main description uses references (eg [1]) then the shared descriptions will be numbered (using the same number as shown during editing)

Title only shared descriptions
A 'shared description' consisting of only a title, ie nothing entered in the Description box, will be displayed prefixed by "View more images of ..." - this allows the Shared Descriptions feature to be used to form simple links between images. Title-only shared descriptions will show above other shared descriptions.

Images without a main description
The shared description will display much as a normal description would (but include a link to the shared description page). If you are using someone else's shared description it will then display as if it were your own. An elegant way to overcome this is to place three dots ... as your own description.

Note - for the most part the shared description(s) only shows on the main photo page, and is not currently displayed with the main description in all pages e.g. in search results.

Snippets & Searching
Shared descriptions are also displayed on their own 'snippets' page, all images using a shared description can be accessed from this page.


You can search for shared descriptions here.

Addition searching tips;
Shared Descriptions with no comment, enter comment:^none
Shared Descriptions with no title, enter title:^none

The displayed searches are limited to the first 25 results.


Once you have created your shared description, it will be linked to the original image you created it in.

You can enter the shared description section of an image and click 'edit your shared descriptions', or go directly to the search page.
Note that edits to shared descriptions can take several hours to update on all attached images.

When editing an existing image you do not need to 'submit changes', unless you are also making other changes to the image details. Doing so may open a moderator ticket. Shared descriptions do not currently go through the change request system.

Only you and moderators can edit a shared description you have created. Shared descriptions do not go through the moderation system.

There is currently no system to automatically suggest corrections to descriptions written by others. If you wish to suggest a change to a shared description by another contributor you can use the 'Suggest an Update to this Image' (please use a photograph by the creator of the shared description), or contact the contributor.



If you have multiple shared descriptions attached to an image, and would like them in order of relevance, or to relate to your main description, the best way to do so at the moment is to simply add them in the order you would like. If you already have added shared descriptions you can easily remove them and re-add them in the desired order.

Useful links

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright November 2009, Barry Hunter; licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.
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