Thursday, June 14, 2012

#Wikidata can get more facts out

The big discussions that are raging on mailing lists about the infoboxes that can be populated with data from Wikidata are amusing. Amusing because it has been made plain that this is not something that is planned for in the near future. Amusing because there is more to it.

Consider the following scenario; two Wikipedias do not agree on what source to use for a specific bit of information. The result is different data in the infobox. What is passed as a solution is to override things locally. Nice thought but it is the wrong approach; it is reasonable to assume that multiple Wikipedias opt for either option. Wikidata as a data repository is agnostic to such issues. It can happily store information from multiple sources and have multiple info boxes for the same category of subjects.

You may be able to override and maintain data on a local level. Doing so does not make it a best practice. Far from it, Wikipedia has this neutral point of view and Wikidata does change the rules. It has always been recognised that the NPOV is set by a language community and its prevailing wisdom is not necessarily neutral. The info boxes will not only bring consistency to the data, it will necessarily bring home the notion that facts have sources and many sources have a point of view.

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