Wednesday, December 11, 2013

#Wikidata - sorting sort off

The latest Wikidata functionality allows you to add an arbitrary order on the order of statements. Frankly, arbitrary order is not a good idea. Order and the ability to sort is a good idea.

The problem with arbitrary order is that what makes sense to some is stupid for others. It is also ground for endless bickering and implied points of view.

The other part that is suboptimal is that this implied order is on the level of individual items. Having a consistent order for items that are alike provides consistency.

When you consider data, order can be provided by sorting on a specific attribute. The name is an obvious candidate to bring order. It is however not static as alphabetical order relies on the alphabet used. When numbers or dates are available as qualifiers, they do provide order in an obvious and acceptable way as well.

If computers are good at anything, it is in sorting. If people are good at anything it is in making a mess. For me the order of things is best left to the natural order that exists in the result of sort algorithms.

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