Sunday, July 05, 2020

The quality of all the Nigerian governors at @Wikidata

There are lists for all the governors of all the current Nigerian states. They exist on many Wikipedias. The information was known to be incomplete and based on lists on the English Wikipedia, I added information on Wikidata and as a result these lists may update with better data.

Obviously, when you copy data across to another platform, errors will occur. Sometimes it is me, sometimes it is in the data. I have only indicated when a governor was in office and predecessors and successors. 

The data is provided in a way that makes it easy to query; no information on elections (many governors were not elected) but proper start and end dates. The dates are as provided on the Wikipedia lists, articles for a governor are often more precise. People from Nigeria often are known by different names, I did add labels where I needed them for my disambiguation. 

When you want to know how many of these fine gentlemen are still alive, it will take some effort to kill of those who are still walking around according to Wikidata. It is relevant to know if a governor was elected or not. To do that properly you want to include election data elsewhere; there is no one on one relation between a position, elected officials and them being in office.

There is plenty to improve on the data. When people do, Listeria lists will update. Maybe someone will consider updating the English Wikipedia lists.
Thanks,
        GerardM

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Abstract Wikipedia, telling a story from available data

For me Reasonator is the best tool for Wikidata. It shows the data for a Wikidata item in an informative way. In my approach I am "deficit focused"; I add information for subjects that are not well represented. Additional information such as dates and successors make the information for Nigerian state governors more complete and it shows in Reasonator and Listeria lists.

Abstract Wikipedia, the new Wikimedia project is possible because of all the data in Wikidata. People who know the structure of a language will build constructs that present information in natural language. This is awesome because it will help us share widely in the sum of all available knowledge.

The objective of the Wikipedia projects has always been to share in the sum of all available knowledge. As more languages support the constructs needed for "Abstract Wikipedia", what we have in Wikidata will mushroom and evolve. It is because the data gets a purpose and, the data will be made to fit this purpose. 

The best part, Wikipedians want to tell stories and it only takes one person to add a bit of information to make a difference in the constructs for every language. My expectation is that as constructs become available for the languages of Nigeria, it will no longer be me who adds information on Nigerian politicians. It will be people from Nigeria. For them it will be Abstract Wikipedia that will show the data in an informative way.
Thanks,
      GerardM

Friday, July 03, 2020

Black representation matters, the Congressional Black Caucus

A friend asked me to help bolster the notability of black scientists. I was told of a "black caucus" with chairs and a list would help. I googled and found a black caucus with chairs and we did not know them at Wikidata. They were the chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus. Maybe not the caucus intended but of such a prominence that I added them all.

These are only the leaders and obviously over time the membership of the Congressional Black Caucus changed with the different elections. Someone else may add the data. 

The information I used could be found on English Wikipedia and is part of the article about the Congressional Black Caucus. Typically, when a position is considered important enough, it has its own article. When it does, it has more relevance and more information is available about the relevance and the history of such a position.

When Black representation matters, you want substantial lists and articles both on Wikidata and Wikipedia.
Thanks,
     GerardM

Sunday, June 28, 2020

@Wikipedia and freedom of speech

When you disagree on Wikipedia with current practices, you have to use stilted language to prevent administrators taking offence and blocking your account. 

At this time many articles of black female scientists have been marked for deletion. It is an organised effort because there are lists subdividing these articles on criteria. For the record, for many of these fine scientists I added content on Wikidata, added all kinds of information including awards.

When I learned that the article for Ayana Jordan was marked for deletion, I added the following protest: "Keep I want to stress that those !@##$ who make these proposals should be ashamed. Thanks, GerardM (talk) 05:10, 27 June 2020 (UTC)". The response came quick: "@GerardM: unlike some others here, yours is not a new account. So you should need no reminding that personal attacks and assumptions of bad faith are forbidden here. —" I replied with: " I did not use any swear words, I did express my opinion of the people who are so detrimental to what Wikipedia should stand for. That is not bad faith that is not a personal attack that is expressing revulsion. Thanks, GerardM (talk) 06:01, 27 June 2020 (UTC)". The conversation was taken elsewhere, I was blocked for a day.

For a Wikipedia administrator, it should be no news that these people who are repressive of what is not their cup of tea are widely resented. Marking articles for deletion is a form of harassment. I do not care who proposed the deletion, I do not know the person who marked Avana's article for deletion and I do not care to know him and his ilk. We have a situation where harassment is allowed and calling out such travesties is considered a personal attack and an assumption of bad faith. 

So I have been blocked for a day. I am proud to stand up against such bullies. I consider the process of deletion as rigged. These !@##$ are free to do as they wish because "we should assume good faith". Hell no.
Thanks,
     GerardM

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Hey @Wikimedia lets move the needle

The Wikimedia projects are biased. They favour only one language, the English language. When you look at Wikipedia traffic English Wikipedia is something like 50% and it does not represent 50% of our intended public. 

The objective is to improve the usefulness of the other projects and thereby increase their traffic. That is, more articles and books are read, more pictures are seen and downloaded.

Lets pick one language, Yoruba, as an example. There are currently 32,624 pages in its Wikipedia. There are some 40 million people speaking the language. So what can we do for Yoruba editors and readers. How can we track what makes a difference and also what makes a difference and what can the WMF do to achieve this.

* We can improve list support. 
Currently the best support for supporting lists in a Wikipedia is "Listeria". It is supported by Magnus.. Listeria lists have been shown to be more up to date then manual lists on English Wikipedia, for less resourced projects this will be even more true. When existing lists can be easily included in an article, it will expand available information hugely.. Here an example of Listeria lists on the Yoruba Wikipedia. Content of these lists show in Yoruba. Lists are better supported and adopted when it is WMF supported functionality.

* Choosing pictures for illustration
When people look for a picture, they have to goto Commons or they visit Wikipedia articles on the same subject and use these same pictures. When the Special:MediaSearch is available as a tool from every Wikipedia article, a much richer palette of pictures becomes available to choose from. (The search is for "Agbègbè Ìjọba Ìbílẹ̀ Mushin")..

The cool thing is, when this tool is available when writing an article, it is easy to more pro-actively add labels to Wikidata. This will improve the performance for the Special:MediaSearch even more.

What would truly support Special:MediaSearch is disambiguation. It is unreasonable to expect that we get descriptions in all the 300+ languages we support. What Reasonator supports are automated descriptions. It makes it easy and obvious to choose the right item in any language.

For the Wikimedia Foundation to support other languages, for it to move the needle on any and all languages, we need to measure what is meaningful. The number of searches by Special:MediaSearch and what language was used. The number of pictures used in each Wikipedia. The effect lists have on the writing of new articles.

When we did not measure such numbers so far, it is what we should do to move the needle. One needle is the total number of reads quite another is the number of reads for each project. Same for the use of Wikidata and Commons.
Thanks,
     GerardM

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Marketing @Wikimedia but first some SWOT analysis

The Wikimedia Foundation has a 2030 strategy, it intends to increase its reach, increase its budget and rename projects into "Wikipedia something" in order to improve its visibility.. 

Wikipedia is one of the most visited websites on the Internet, its quality is good and is mostly edited by older white males in the first world. Typically when people mention Wikipedia they refer to the English version but it is only 50% of Wikimedia traffic. From a marketing point of view the English market is saturated, growth can be expected from Wikipedias in other languages and from other projects.

The Wikimedia Foundation is very much tied to the United States. Given the current regime and the possibility that it will prevail in November, this reliance is an existential threat. It is likely that the US government will want to intervene in Wikimedia content after 2020. I doubt it is possible, given the current hardware configuration, to move away from the US and still serve the rest of the world with a NPOV.

At this time the Wikimedia Foundation is centrally led, there are satellite organisations in many countries who are limited in what they can do; their budgets are centrally managed. Fundraising is mostly done from the USA and most of it is raised in the USA. That is problematic in its own right because many "Wikipedians" feel that too much money is raised, money not needed to support their project and people in other countries do not get to feel that it is "their" project because of "their" contributions. As a professional fundraiser, I am convinced contributions from the Netherlands could increase at least tenfold within a year.

The bias for English is huge and it is compounded by the bias for English Wikipedia. At a conference a Dutch professor stated that research not about or linked to the English Wikipedia is unlikely to get published. It follows that the data used for the 2030 strategy includes this same bias. The MediaWiki software is developed first and foremost for English Wikipedia and it is expected to work for other languages and for other projects. There used to be a development team specialised in language technology.. it was dissolved. 

There was a time when English Wikipedia did support the other projects. Because of an anti Wikidata stance by some this changed. There is no solution for false friends and lists are not as well maintained as they could be. When we link to the Wikidata item for an article and no longer to a title for that same article this will change. It is easy enough to build functionality that allows for both and by opt-in projects will understand the benefit and choose to adopt.

When marketing is the reason for changing the name of projects, it is important to consider the ramifications. The "Wikipedians" among us claim ownership of the Foundation, insist on actions in their image. They represent a staid community representing a saturated market. With a strategy in place it is possible to disregard them. This makes only sense when the WMF tackles its bias for English as a priority. This is what is needed to realise the 2030 strategy.
Thanks,
       GerardM

Sunday, June 14, 2020

@Wikipedia is old news, it could point to new sources

Wikipedia provides the best text on many subjects. It being static is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing when it is a topic that is very much in the public eye, it attracts many people willing to edit and come to a neutral point of view.

It is a curse when the topic is no longer popular. No longer is there an interest to maintain the information, new publications are not integrated in what used to be a neutral point of view.

In the references section of an article you find the underpinnings of what is stated in an article. It may be newspaper articles or science papers. Both newspapers and science have a hard time attracting attention and this endangers the availability of quality sources for future updates.

In Scholia information is continuously updated about the latest papers by authors and or about subjects. As time goes by, papers become available dated later than the latest reference. When such papers are clearly marked, it is an invitation for the Wikipedia community to revisit a subject and learn if what was a neutral point of view survives as such vis a vis the latest information.

Every subject should have its own Scholia.
Thanks,
       GerardM