Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Have #Wikipedia share the sum of available #knowledge

If Wikipedia is to succeed in sharing the sum of all knowledge, it has to first share the sum of available knowledge. To do this Wikipedians have to become more inclusive. They have to realise that Wikipedia is not about them but about its readers.

Typically the question "What do readers want" is answered by what readers find. This answer has one flaw. It assumes that Wikipedia includes what people seek and it forgets what people seek and do not find. This is a lost opportunity on many levels. To start with, Wikipedia is not singular and a subject may exist in another language. As we do not know what is missed, we do not know what to write to satisfy an existing demand. Finally more and more available information does not even have a Wikipedia article but its information is available in other projects.

A partial solution to these issues was around for a long time. It extends search by adding results from Wikidata. It allows you to find data in any script from any project. If there was no article, it shows information using the Reasonator. It is relatively easy to revive this and it will make even more sense when it results are included as positive results.

Once Wikipedians consider Wikidata as a tool, they will find that both red links and wiki links may link to Wikidata items. Typically they are the same links for the same subject in any language. This is relevant to editors because it is one way to clarify what links exist to an article and, it is only one step away to annotate them as statements in Wikidata and thereby document such links. They will find a lot of erroneous links and it will improve overall quality.

The good news, the links between wiki links and Wikidata items already exist. What is lacking is a verification process that these wiki links are good. Adding links to statements for red links is technically not that hard. It will add some turmoil at the Wikidata end; many items will be added and will have to be merged eventually. One benefit of this approach is that it is not necessary for everyone to collaborate but it will benefit the people that matter most; all the readers of all the Wikipedias.

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