Tuesday, January 03, 2017

#Wikidata - Biblical truths and Wikidata practice

When you deal with historical figures, what is known for them is often because of material of a historic nature that is left to us. There is a wealth of material in the bible. It tells us about kings and kingdoms and finding references outside of books like the bible helps us get a more historic picture.

The names of kings from other historic countries are often spelled in many ways and it takes a lot of hard work to research such issues. I do no research; I reflect what I find in Wikipedia in Wikidata. At that I am restricted to what is possible in Wikidata.

At this time I am working on kings of the kingdom of Israel; this is a breakaway country that split off and the country that remained with the ruling dynasty; the descendants of David and Solomon were called the kingdom of Judah. The Wikidata practice is: we can not use names that change over time. We have only one prevailing label. This makes David and Solomon kings of Judah.  The counter argument is that biblical categorisation has it that there were multiple kingdoms. The problem is that when Rehoboam lost part of his kingdom, he was not made a king anew. He just lost part of his country and consequently it is the same country.

Both Wikipedia and Wikidata practice have room for improvement. It would be nice when we could have a label and associate it with dates. We cannot. What we can do is not have a king of Israel as a citizen of the modern Israel but as a citizen of the kingdom of Israel. In Wikidata it is easy to remedy because no modern Israelite died before 1948 and we can query for it.

The problem is that Biblical truth means Biblical expectations and Wikidata is not able to provide it. The question is how to resolve it for the time being.

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