Tuesday, April 08, 2014

#Quality - #Wikipedia vs #Wikidata

Probably the most divisive issue in both Wikipedia and Wikidata is quality. It is because of expectations and insistence on what "everybody" should do.

Both projects are Wikis and as far as I am concerned, the argument was decided when Nupedia got its early grave. The clincher was when research proved that Wikipedia is as good as its competition.

Quality in a Wiki world is comparative and not an absolute. You can compare Wikidata to each Wikipedia and, you can compare Wikidata to all Wikipedias. Wikidata knows about more "items of knowledge" than any Wikipedia. Every Wikipedia includes articles that are not yet represented in Wikidata and when they are, many statements are waiting to be made in Wikidata.

To create an environment where a Wikipedia can use Wikidata for its information, there are a few prerequisites, considerations:
  • at least every article needs to be connected to a Wikidata item
  • all the data needs to be available, preferably in Wikidata only
  • the information should be presentable in the language of the Wikipedia
This all will work when there is one shared understanding, one shared ambition: to share in the sum of all knowledge. It restricts what a community can decide, it directs what best practices are and it defines where tools are needed to support best practices.

Wikidata is a game changer and, we as a community are slow getting to understand its implications. From a development point of view there is an obvious geographical divide. MediaWiki development for the application level does not consider Wikidata. Its architecture ignores it. Wikidata development is first and foremost development for its infrastructure, there is no option but as a consequence the tooling is mostly fragmented. Many in our communities consider Wikidata a service project and, while it is, it is becoming so much more. Catering to ill formed arguments and sentiments of the diverse communities will not serve Wikidata at all, it will not serve those communities either. What works is for everybody to work on the Wikidata data that is important to him or her and appreciate the considerations that make Wikidata the information platform for us all.
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