Saturday, August 22, 2015

#Wikidata - recent #changes

Databases change all the time. The expectation is that these changes make things, different, better. This is true for all the online resources Wikidata connects to.

There are several good reasons to refer to an external database:
  • to indicate that the external source is about the same subject
  • to acknowledge the external source served as the source for a statement
  • to indicate whether shared values match
As databases change all the time, there is little value to indicate that a database shared the same value at a given date and time. Consider for instance the item for Mr Sudar Pichai, apparently he went twice to the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and to Stanford University. When two source states that he went there, one source may know what academic degree was achieved at the end of the study where the other does not. When you only verify if the information in the two sources match, both sources match. One source may not care about what degree or when it was achieved and the other does. When you quote them as the source for the statement, you expect them to fully endorse the current content. Mr Pichai went to either educational institution once. Having two statements for the same thing completely defeats the objective of Wikidata; the objective of Wikidata being useable.

Having references for statements make sense when statements are exactly the same. When they are not, arguably there is little point but indicate that all values for a source match. This can be done by showing the source in green. It is a lot more reassuring to see all sources in green than a lot of references that give no assurance that the values are indeed the same,

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