Thursday, March 15, 2018

#Wikipedia - throwing the baby out with the bath water

Dear Asaf; there are no pet peeves. There is only my wish for us to be the best we can.

When YouTube is to use Wikipedia to give a background to its offerings, there will be a lot where Wikipedia falls short. We do not offer information on May Ying Welsh for instance. We do not know about the Pardes Humanitarian Prize and, do we report on the current Dalit protests in Maharashtra?

It is not a peeve when I notice how many errors can be found in Wikipedia, particularly in lists, and people do not concentrate on the differences of what Wikipedia knows and what is known elsewhere. This is particularly sad because time invested curating these differences is well spend and it is imho the most effective defence against fake news and fake facts.

When my question is "will YouTube use more than just English", you know as well as I do that English Wikipedia is less than 50% of what our audience read. When the other half does not deserve consideration, it is more than a peeve. It is in these other languages where the danger of fake news is even worse.

Basic facts on any NPOV article are the same in any language.  When they differ, they are where you can expect misinformation. With curated basis information available, it is possible to use natural language technology to provide at least some basic information. You have expressed that this is not something for the Wikimedia Foundation to be interested in (Cebuano remember?).

Asaf; you may hold the keys to what I post on the Wikimedia mailing list and you may privately consider me problematic. However, it is your excess in public ridicule and lack of arguments that is a disservice to what we aim to achieve; it is why we face of. In this you represent an attitude that will not see us provide the best we can offer in a changing landscape where we now have an opportunity to become relevant in debunking the worst of what YouTube has to offer.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Oostvaardersplassen - unintended consequences

When there are too many animals and there is too little for them to eat, they die. This happens regularly in winter in the Oostvaardersplassen, a nature reserve in the Netherlands.

The Oostvaardersplassen were created to provide a place for geese to feed. It takes deer, cattle and horses to prevent the development of a wood. Geese like grass short and it is why these animals were released in the Oostvaardersplassen

In the past there have proposals to provide more room for the animals because in winter they die in huge numbers. Providing room is not possible by an unending cycle of adding new grounds to the Oostvaardersplassen but it is possibe to make a connection to the Veluwe and extend this to the nature alongside of the Dutch rivers connecting even further to Germany. This plan that was actively developed was at the last moment shot down by politicians.

Given that "animal lovers" are bringing hay feeding some of the animals, it resulted in such an upheaval under the animals that Staatsbosbeheer prefers to feed them themselves. In the past they pronounced what they would do when pressed. They will shoot the animals and bring the numbers down by half maybe even more. Nature will respond positively after such a catastrophe. It will invigorate nature and make the Oostvaardersplassen less of a meadow.

Natural predation like by a pack of wolfs would make a difference. Wolfs are finding their way into the Netherlands, they only have to find their way to the Oostvaardersplassen and call it home.

Friday, March 02, 2018

#Wikidata - Vikram Patel and missing awards

Mr Patel received many awards; for one of them you see illustrated what the award looks like. This award was missing in the Wikipedia article. Another award, the Chalmers Medal by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, was mentioned but there is no information about other award winners.

Other awards for this society had their own item but no enrichment had taken place. They are now at least linked and award winners with a Wikipedia article are now also linked.

Linking people through awards, through their employers, their education provides an entry point to a subject like "Tropical Medicine and Hygiene". When this is a subject that matters to you, Mr Patel is the first one listed to have received the Chalmers award; this award started in 1923 so you can add all of them to Wikidata or write Wikipedia articles to these notable people.

When you consider notability, would it not be an argument to use against the Wikipedia deletionists when there is plenty of information at Wikidata?

Thursday, March 01, 2018

#Wikipedia - Why the deletion of a George Polk Award winner?

There used to be an article for May Ying Welsh. She received the George Polk Award in 2011, wrote a script for a film she directed Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark, a film that was well received.

The article is gone. But it is not because there was no notability. May Ying Welsh remains notable at Wikidata because she won the Polk award, wrote and directed a movie.. Structural need is why many people are added.

I could ask to see what the article looked like. But what is the point? My point is that Wikipedia fails itself and its audience because of a self imposed lack of information. A message that is not allowed to be raised on the Wikimedia mailing list.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

#Wikimedia - The George Polk Award winners; how to catch them all

It is this time of year again; the George Polk Awards have been announced. Last year I spend a lot of time adding information to and cleaning the data at Wikidata. There are over 500 award winners known so Reasonator does not catch them all.  Listeria shows more data but multiple entries are an issue.

There are multiple reasons to complete a list like this. In this way celebrated journalists like Michael Winerip  or Michael Schwirtz finally get their presence in the Wikimedia world. It is a way to celebrate journalism, important enough in this time of fake news and, it is a demonstration how data at Wikidata can extend the quality of Wikipedia's information.

Given the amount of award winners, it takes too much time to do all the work in one go. It is now largely a matter of adding the red and "black" linked award winners. At this time it is the 2014 award winners who are being added.

The problem is that time spend on one award takes away time from other projects, equally deserving. Projects like completing information on US governors or British governors. How to register information like epidemics because their impact is not fully appreciated. How to make plain that a source has a negative impact when it is actually retracted..

Anyway, congratulation to the George Polk Award winners for 2017; that their career may blossom with this recognition.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

#Wikidata - William Gorges, first colonial governor of the Province of Maine

Mr Gorges was born in Britain, he died in Britain. He was tasked to oversee investments for two years by a nephew and as a result he was the first colonial governor of the province of Maine. Consequently he is said to be a citizen of the USA, (he died in February 1658)..

The problem with nationality and citizenship is that we tend to adopt people as belonging to something that did not exist at the time and consequently it is a falsehood. It is the same with all these generals, governors of the confederacy; they did not identify with the United States of America, they had their own state they swore allegiance to, so why call them citizen of the USA? How dare we?

It is the same for people from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland. They may have opposed the Brits but from a nationality point of view, their behaviour was judged by the British laws.

Associating people with states / nations that may not even have existed at the time are false facts, pure and simple.

Friday, February 09, 2018

#Wikimedia and #Cochrane - sharing resources and sharing results

Jane Falconer, a medical librarian, wrote a real interesting blog post. She writes about the importance of reliable information to front line health professionals and stresses the importance of systematic reviews that are conducted according to recognised and tested methodologies.

The big problem: what to include in the systematic review, and what to exclude in projects like are PRISMA and Cochrane. This is the same problem we face when we seek sources for Wikipedia articles and, the Wikimedia solution to provide sources is the "The Wikipedia Library Card Platform".

Cochrane and the Wikimedia Foundation are partners and one scenario I can see is one where this partnership is intensified. When Cochrane shares its results with Wikidata, they can have all the data of Wikidata anyway the quality and the relevance of the Wikidata data improves. When Cochrane volunteers may share the Library Card Platform, it would bring a major contribution to the volunteers at Cochrane. The relevance of the data at Wikidata will improve substantially. This in turn will help us verify the content of medical information and the quality of the sources in all our Wikipedias.