Saturday, July 14, 2018

#AfricaGap - Support for "minority" languages

Support for "minority" languages was the subject of the Celtic knot conference. I have watched some of the presentations and find that there is a lot more to supporting minority languages from a Wikidata point of view than just adding missing labels. A vital strength of any Wikipedia is found in its relations between articles and that subjects of interest may be found.

Minority languages are a misnomer, what we mean is that the Wikipedias are small. They have a lack of articles, stucture is missing and subjects of interest are not found. Subjects have the same relations in any language and consequently lists expressing these relations can be shared using Wikidata in any language including "minority" languages. Missing labels need not be an issue; this is expressed nicely in this list of subdivisions of Egypt; the labels for most of them are only available in the Arabic script. A nice invite for people to add labels in the Latin and any other script.

The Welsh Wikipedia makes use of "Listeria" list in its main space and as a consequence, all items in these list can be found. They are available in a context, associated information may be available and they link to articles in other languages. The Welsh Wikipedia did implement the "Article Placeholder" and in this way they provide even more information for the ffspecific subjects.

When you consider Africa and information about Africa, there is no Wikipedia that provides adequate information. The data is incomplete, unstructured and often out of date. It is easy enough to improve on the quality of the data in Wikidata and when the information is updated in many Listeria lists on many Wikipedias, the impact is great.

The lack of coverage of subjects about Africa is huge. Less than 1% of humans is from Africa, we do not have up to date information about "administrative territorial entities" like provinces and districts. In my AfricaGap project only a limited range of subjects get some attention at this time. Obviously there is more that could be done. African cinema is one subject that is of interest to a group of Wikimedians. When they write their articles it will eventually translate to Wikidata and information about movies, actors and directors may be shown in Listeria lists in all the African language Wikipedias. This may generate interest from an African public for our projects.

There is only one purpose for Wikidata, Wikipedia and it is to find a public, a use case for the data, the articles, the information we provide. The one challenge we face is in both the quantity and quality of our articles and data.
Thanks,
     GerardM
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