Monday, June 03, 2013

#Defending the Wiki in #Wikidata

When I was younger, #Wikipedia was the encyclopaedia everyone could edit. I could because it was a wiki. I could start new articles, make changes to articles and be happily productive in this way. Sure, sometimes I made mistakes but I was not the only one around and they were as happily productive as I was fixing things after me and others.

With the call for citations things became more formal but it is still possible to some extend to just write and edit articles.

Wikidata is about assertions. I love the definition of assertion: "A positive statement or declaration, often without support or reason". I love the definition because it is what allows Wikidata to be a Wiki. When an assertion can at first be added in Wikidata without support or reason, people can add assertions freely. Certainly when you assume good faith you will be happy when people do exactly this.

When people add information using bots, they have a source that provides them with the assertions. Quite often these assertions originate in one of the Wikipedias. Alternatively they come from sources that are happy to share their information. While I applaud the sharing of data between sources, I believe quite strongly that importing the structure and limitations of external sources will hamper the development of Wikidata.

I routinely add "main type (GND)" with the value "person" when an item in Wikidata is about a person. However, the other values that are associated with this "main type (GND)" are absolutely horrible to the extend of unusable. Adding a link to the GND database is how Wikidata can add value to its usefulness.

As Wikidata is a wiki, I use the attributes available to the extend they make sense to me. Many attributes are lacking and the procedures for getting attributes are not exactly easy or obvious. (I did request an additional attribute called "rada"). The point is that these lengthy procedures make Wikidata less of a Wiki.

Wikidata is a Wiki and consequently people are free to add "statements". Adding a requirement of sources to any and all assertions are absolutely counter productive because we can only improve assertions once they have been made. External requirements like this will effectively kill a Wikidata community. It will also ensure that the Wiki part of Wikidata is a lie.
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