Proposal: Replace Pixabay with Openverse (an opensource community driven alternative)

In my mission to go pro privacy, I have been making the move from many Big Tech, privacy invasive products to those that respect my privacy online (and more freedom/independence) such as Google to Mojeek and MacOS to Linux. It has been a fun journey and in this journey, I have found an alternative which some of you may already be aware of; Openverse, and I believe it should replace Pixabay in Mojeek as the default image provider, why?

As we know, anything that isn’t Google Images, or Bing images won’t be as good and even though it could be as close as it could be for what it is, many alternatives may bring trade-offs (that continue to be ironed out as tech improves). But my point here is, since the beginning, I have always not been a fan of Pixabay, even though it’s much better than using the big bad Msft’s Bing Images. But the thing is (and now that I have discovered openverse, more on that later here), if I am to trade-off just even a tiny bit of convenience to support an alternative, shouldn’t there be more good reasons? For one, Pixabay is owned and run by the Canva corporation and two, all of their software (are pretty good but) proprietary. Yes, it’s still an alternative and I absolutely appreciate the mojeek team for not outright slapping Bing images like many alternatives do by default. But at this time of writing, there seems to be a great alternative called OpenVerse run by the Wordpress foundation. What’s to like about it?

It’s open source and very much community driven. Not only that, all of their content is under the **creative commons license ** which means anyone could much more easily re-use it and share it without copyrights and other issues which is a great +

As for the image results quality:

  • Pixabay currently says it has over 2.6 million images and content in it’s website, which is def very impressive! But at the time of this writing, Openverse has grown a lot now in 2022 with over 600 million content
  • Image quality is also selectively better in openverse compared to pixabay, if not equally as good.

The reason I said selective in the last point is because if your search is more accurate instead of a more general query, openverse excells at it while pixabay is clearly behind, atleast in a few of my tests based on personal experience.

A good example was, as a car fan, I curiously searched up for “electric cars” in both pixabay and openverse, and both did relatively good with providing images related to electric cars that are relatively new and some old ones as well (Note: Pixabay actually pulled up and showed some icons of animated electric car related images, but I never searched for icons, just electric cars, openverse on the other hand, just focused on the actual images of electric cars more, it def feels a little bit more accurate in general queries, even though the different isn’t “that” big). The big difference though, comes at accurate search queries, when I searched up “ioniq 5” in pixabay which is a very popular, hot new hyundai EV alternative to Tesla, mojeek said: no image results found matching: ioniq 5

But impressively, openverse provided images of the ioniq 5 with no watermarks, great quality under the creative commons license:

The experience may wary depending on the user but at the end of the day, Openverse is a much bigger service with over 600 million content while pixabay is a great service but compared to openverse, has a much smaller library of 2.6 million content apart from being closed source and much less open in general, while it’s clear that openverse is also clearly benefiting from a more open, community-driven approach (especially being open source). This doesn’t mean openverse may be as good as Google or even Bing, so expectations should be in check, but t’s def a much better alternative in the sense that it’s more community-driven (they actually have their community on platforms like slack so people can easily get in touch and contribute), open source and the platform itself is more open when it comes to licenses and use of images (Creative commons) and it’s consistently being improved!

So i’d highly recommend the Mojeek team to look into this and possibly (really do hope! :slight_smile: ) replace Pixabay with the Openverse API while keeping bing as it never hurts to keep a fallback option as always, even though openverse could be a great improvement and step forward from pixabay. I’d love to hear others thoughts on this as well! (cc @Colin @Josh)


Thanks @Archit. Openverse is a good call and indeed one that we have already high on our list of ones to look at. Others include Unsplash and Imgur. You brought up Image search before, but this detailed suggestion is appreciated. For convenience, I’ll post my reply to your previous more general query here:

Hey @Colin, and yep i remember that discussion which was about Bing potentially replacing pixabay for better image quality but that didn’t resonate with our values and we def don’t want to support the big boys jn any way, the big difference is, openverse does resonate with our values, infact much better than pixabay or any other alternatives you mention as all of them are closed source while openverse, as far as I know at the very moment, is the only viable open source alternative with a much more community driven and open efforts with a library thats much bigger, just like i have outlined in my post along with other infk. It’s also the highly suggested and voted alternative on, an extremely popular crowdsourced website to find alternatives to the mainstream ones.

Appreciate the consideration and hoping to one day see openverse on Mojeek possibly!

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