Thursday, December 14, 2017

A purposeful #strategy for #Wikidata

A strategy for Wikidata? Obvious, it is all about having a purpose. It is not about policies, it is not about what we need or expect of others but it is about the purpose you, I and others have for us to collaborate on in an inclusive Wiki and data project.

The implication of making the purposes of our community rule supreme are huge. Purpose like so many other things can be measured. When people have a purpose for Wikidata and actually use it, their need for quality is self evident. They will invest their time and effort in fulfilling their purpose. The one question is how to fit in the many purposes that exist for Wikidata.

Take for instance the objective of Lsjbot for a rich Wikipedia in the Cebuano language. He uses data from an external database to create articles. Data from these articles are imported later through the Cebuano Wikipedia in Wikidata. This is seen by some as controversial because of the need to integrate data that often already exists. The purpose is obvious; rich information in the Cebuano language. The solution is obvious as well; let Lsjbot use the data at Wikidata to generate the information for the Cebuano Wikipedia. GeoNames is happy to collaborate with us on this, so when we care to collaborate and welcome its data at the front door, we can mix'n'match the data into Wikidata, curate the data where necessary and share improved quality widely, not only on the ceb.wp.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library Consortium is working extremely hard to expose their work to the general public. Over a million illustration found their way to Flickr. Fae imported many of these to Commons and most if not all the associated publications can be read on the Internet Archive or on its website. Their content is awesome, check for instance their Twitter account. We can import all the BHL books in Wikidata, we are importing all associated authors using Mix'n'Match. The images are in Commons but how is this brought together? How do we add value for the BHL and as important, for our shared public?

The Internet Archive is a Wikimedia partner. It provides essential services for us with its "Wayback machine". It is how we can still refer to references that used to be online. One other venture of the Internet Archive is its Open Library.  What we already do for the Open Library is linking their authors and by inference books to the libraries of the world through VIAF. We could share this information with the Wikipedias so that its readers may find books they can read. (Talk about sharing the sum of all knowledge).

Both the IA and the BHL want people to read. They (also) provide scientific publications that may be read to prove the points Wikipedia authors make in articles. Both can be big players strengthening the value of citations in WikiCite. At this time its strength is particularly in the biomedical field and it is already attracting bright people to Wikidata. As data from other fields finds its way, people like Egon and Siobhan will find their way. This will make Wikidata even more inclusive.

To make this future work, to become more inclusive, we should trust people more particularly when they indicate why they use Wikidata. The Black Lunch Table is a great example. The description at Wikidata says: "visual artists of the African diaspora initiative that includes Wikipedia editathons and outreach". One way of knowing how effective this initiative is is the history page of its listeria list. It shows a steady growth of information added. When you analyse it further you find artists added and selected for new editathons. Truly a great example of Wikidata having a purpose.

A strategy based on purpose, is a strategy based on trust. Not blind trust, but the kind of trust where it is seen that people are committed to improve both quantity, quality and usefulness of the data they identify with.

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