Wednesday, July 26, 2017

#Wikidata - in #defence of Erika Herzog

On Facebook, Erika made a few comments that were not well received. A few really positive things did come out as a result but there is a need to defend Erika and her central argument. She asked if there had been a process of consulting the English Wikipedia community because the user interface of Wikidata is so poor. She said:
"... But I am pretty sure a lot of En Wikipedia editors are going to be sort of upset about this shift that requires them to actually edit Wikidata without a form input method (on WikiMarkup). Is there a form input on Visual Editor for this?"
On Facebook she is attacked for all the wrong reasons. A Wikimedia functionary asks: "How is this a Wikidata matter? English Wikipedia is where you want to discuss this." Erika's answer is spot on: "Actually no it's not. I'm tired of this response. It's not helpful or realistic. This is a Wikidata item in terms of buy-in and outreach to incorporate more Wikipedia editors. It's disingenuous to posit otherwise. This needs to be a discussion on both sides, and I think the onus is more on the Wikidata side as the usability and UX is poor at best."

One positive outcome of the Facebook thread is that it is mentioned that there is a method under development to edit Wikidata from Wikipedia templates. However welcome, it is going to introduce its own problems because the primacy of the data remains at Wikidata. The user interface of Wikidata is indeed awful. As one of the more prolific Wikidata editors I only use it for editing. For displaying the data I use Reasonator exclusively. Compare this with this for instance and you will see why.

The reason for this are applicable priorities. The WMF has too many concurrent ambitions for Wikidata and the staff is overextended. When the question is if Wikidata is sufficiently user friendly for an average Wikipedian, the answer is no. At this time Wikidata cannot cope with all the changed committed to it as it is, the wise words of Johan Cruyff apply; every disadvantage has its advantage.
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