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CC Search Celebrates Its First Birthday!


At the end of April, CC Search officially celebrated its first birthday! After releasing the search tool last year on April 30, we eagerly watched as it was put to use. Now, with a year behind us and over 2.8 million users across 230 countries and territories, we’re gathering and examining search data to better understand what content our users value and how we can serve them better.

Here’s a look at the top 25 queries this past year:

  1. dog(s)
  2. cat(s)
  3. music
  4. amphibian(s)
  5. book(s)
  6. flower(s)
  7. food
  8. frog
  9. car
  10. computer
  11. school
  12. football
  13. beach
  14. nature
  15. people
  16. basketball
  17. money
  18. video
  19. art
  20. tree
  21. space
  22. soccer
  23. animals
  24. fish
  25. fortnite

Animal lovers and nature buffs

Butterfly in nature

WOW Nature – The World Of Web” by TheWOWClub is licensed under CC0 1.0. This image was found via CC Search.

The top two search queries were dog and cat; users were 25% more likely to look for a photo of a dog than a cat. (We found this surprising since the internet was obviously invented for cats…) Other popular queries in the animal family included amphibian(s), frog, fish, and animals more generally. In fact, perusing the Animal Diversity Web collection is a great way to get an at-home natural science lesson! Coming in sixth place were searches for flowers, with beach, nature, tree, and space on the list as well. Since we’re all traveling less and staying closer to home, how about living vicariously through imagery on CC Search! Imagine observing this beautiful butterfly while out for a hike in nature!

Music, books, and videos

With dogs and cats winning gold and silver, you might be wondering what query won bronze? Well, it was music! This is a strong indicator that our community of educational and creative users is ready for CC Search to provide audio content—and we’re happy to share that we’re working on it! However, this is no small undertaking, so the update won’t be available until later this year. In the interim, we are building a bridge to CC-licensed audio directly within the CC Search interface that will be available in the next few months. (Can’t wait that long? The Free Music Archive is a good alternative!)

We also saw plenty of users looking for books and videos. Once we provide support for audio search, we’ll move forward with plans to serve up more types of media you can confidently reuse. Until then, we recommend visiting Gutenberg for downloadable versions of books in the public domain, or LibriVox if you’d like to be read to instead.

We serve educators

Lucky number eleven on the list is none other than the query schoolWe were not surprised to see that school was a top search query, given that one-third of our users identify as “educators,” and one quarter as “students.” Recently, a CC Search user, who is a professor at a North American university, told us, “As an educator, I value and am grateful for the free and open exchange of creative efforts and materials, which I believe helps to empower all persons in furthering their education.” We’re glad to be of service, professor!

People, sports, and dancing bananas

Turns out us humans like each other too! Our fifteenth most common search query was none other than people, and we also served up a lot of results for some popular sports, like football, basketball, and soccer. Coming in at number twenty-five is Fortnite, and these days, that’s considered an athletic endeavor. If we can’t go outside to play sports together, at least the internet can bring us closer together to look at sports, write about sports, and play electronic sports. (At the very least, we can floss six feet apart!)

Banana Fortnite

Banana Fortnite” by Jesús Dorado is licensed under CC BY 4.0. This image was found via CC Search.

Looking for more CC-licensed 3D models and animations? Check out Sketchfab!

Galleries and museums

Coming in the nineteenth place is art. For us, that’s great news! Since the beginning, artistic collections have been a major focus of CC Search, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Cleveland Museum of Art! In the coming weeks, we’ll unveil the addition of some stellar collections from major cultural heritage institutions. Until then, take a look at the museum collections we’ve already made discoverable.

Food, cars, computers, and money

This last batch of queries makes us think that CC Search is often used for daydreaming. Who doesn’t want a delicious meal, a fast car, a good computer, and piles of money? With this in mind, we’re challenging you to find us one picture on CC Search that features all four queries (food, car, computer, and money) and tag us on Twitter @creativecommons with your result. We expect at least one image of someone ordering drive-thru in a Tesla!

This next year of CC Search is going to be a big one, and we can’t wait to share some of the exciting updates we’re working on! Be sure to follow the CC Open Source website and @cc_opensource for regular updates. You can also help fund CC Search by becoming a CC supporter. Thank you! 

Posted 29 May 2020