Saturday, July 17, 2021

Making Wikicite a success by putting the Wikipedia editor first

Wikicite as a project has come to an end after a five year run. Much has been achieved (read the article). One great follow up idea is to harvest all the references of all the other Wikipedias and have all this data together so that we can analyse our quality even better.

All the data, all the Wikicite activities have been valued; people have been thanked, accomplishments announced and it is now left open how to move on. The best way to move forward is to bring a public to the data and add value. 

Every Wikipedia article has its references and we put Wikipedia editors and readers first when we show all the known references and its relations with older and newer publications. One button that provides the latest information will create buy in, makes it more interesting. It links to papers, to authors and requested updates are not part of a serial but of a targeted process.

A similar service we can provide for the authors of scholarly works. They will find in Wikidata what we know about them, identifiers of VIAF, ORCiD, Google Scholar, ResearchGate, Twitter even Scopus. They can improve the information on their publications they can add identifiers, references to other publications, co-authors, subjects and see it improve the associated Scholia representations. What we can do for them is regularly harvest information and update Wikidata with the new or altered information.

When we truly build relationships, it is no longer essential that everything should be on Wikimedia servers. Why have a same project at the Internet Archive and at the Wikimedia Foundation? Why not share the work load. When we put our Wikipedia editors first, we provide them with the best information on literature, publications we have on offer. Most references are in the WaybackMachine anyway, we already rely on this so why not collaborate and share both the effort and the cost?

When we truly care about sharing the sum of all knowledge, it is in the eating that we find the proof, not in the dogma.

Thanks, GerardM

Monday, July 05, 2021

The pain that is in maintaining lists of African governmental politicians

At the French Wikipedia, there is a category with 16 Finance ministers of Morocco. A category is an unsorted list and the French category contains a few more entries than the English category. Both Wikipedias do not have a (sorted) list.

I maintain list of African heads of state and African governmental ministers, so this is just a next list to prepare. The workflow is as follows: I create an item for a position, on the talk page I add a template that contains the data and pointers to what is missing. Typically such information can be found on a Wikipedia list, this time I have to rely on templates on Wikipedia articles.. All my lists are "works in progress" and are on my watch list.

I have added copies of the Listeria lists to many Wikipedias. The texts are in English, the data is shown in the local language. It being in English is a reason to refuse these lists in several communities.

The Listeria functionality is replaced by Wikimedia Foundation maintained software. All the list definitions and expressions exist in one place. The data is shown in a language that can be selected. When a list changes, it is reflected on watch lists. You can watch for all data and possibly for data and labels in "your" language. A project can opt in to enable the use of these lists when they don't, functionality is available to compare a list with the centrally maintained list.

Thanks, GerardM 

Sunday, July 04, 2021

The pain that is in maintaining the same list 300 times

As you may know, the board of the Wikimedia Foundation recently changed its composition. The President of the board resigned. This was easily reflected in English. Tonight there is a meeting of candidate board members for the Middle East and North Africa.

Obviously the information in Arabic needs to be correct and at this time it is not. There are many more languages supported by Wikimedia in the Middle East and North Africa and all of them could have information about the board and what it stands for. This inspired me to come up with the following user story..
An administrative person of the Wikimedia Foundation is tasked with maintaining  specific lists relevant to the movement. The data is maintained at Wikidata and lists that exist potentially in all Wikimedia languages, some 300, are updated with software maintained by the Wikimedia Foundation. Each WMF list is on a watch list; when changes occur in the list, quality is centrally maintained.

Thanks, GerardM 

Saturday, July 03, 2021

Two "user stories" for Nigeria

I spoke with my Nigerian friend Olatunde Olalekan Isaac on Facebook about growing more interest for Wikimedia content in Nigeria. I will not bore you with a verbatim discussion we had. Bringing you two user stories is much more satisfying.

Nigerian kids looking for pictures of a fireman goto their Wikipedia and search for an "onye oku oku". The search engine knows from where the request comes and shows the pictures of Nigerian firemen first.

The pictures are from Commons, in the meta data of the picture it says where the photo was taken. Happy kids, happy teachers and happy Nigerian Wikimedians because this brings more attention for the projects they care for.

At first it is an experiment that brings more traffic in their language. They then launch a photo contest in Nigeria.

People find pictures in Nigerian languages and to increase the choice of pictures to choose from, a photo contest is launched of everyday Nigerian objects, traffic signs, shops of all kinds, professionals, "be bold and show us your Nigeria" is the mantra. People find more pictures about Nigeria and even after the contest people continue to increase the selection people use for an illustration.

The Wikimedia Foundation has another challenge, there are copycats all over the world and the public use of Commons increases by 200% in a few months time.

Thanks,  GerardM 

The promise of things to come that is in @Wikicite

Wikicite is for me the biggest disappointment of all the Wikimedia projects. A disappointment not because it is not worthwhile, not because it did not bring us insights about what happens in English Wikipedia but because all the papers, conferences and data did not result in a transformation into active user stories. Closest comes Scholia where it identifies Wikipedia articles where a scholarly paper is used as a reference. 

Wikicite conferences have come and gone. They brought the best and brightest minds together discussing all kinds of ideas, all kinds of research. Once the papers were presented, the assertions discussed and analysed, when the conference was done they went home. From what I can observe in Wikimedia land, not much has changed.

Wikimedia Foundation has a real good friend in the Internet Archive. It already does much of what Wikicite could do. It archives everything that is used as a reference. When a reference goes dark, it links the reference to the backup. In FatCat it has information on scholarly papers and many of the papers, in Open Library it has information on books and many of the books. Many bots originating from the IA run on many Wikimedia projects. 

When it is up to me, I would have Wikicite as a joint project of the Internet Archive and the Wikimedia Foundation. A joint project will be based on the existing reality that is in the Internet Archive. Wikicite and Wikimedia projects bring it additional data, a public and additional user stories. Funding from the Wikimedia Foundation enables the development that such a synergy brings.

Data for all the citation in English Wikipedia linked to scholarly papers was available. We know in Wikidata, in FatCat, in Orcid, in Scopus how to disambiguate authors. When all this data gets integrated, a user story mentioned in a previous blog post is not fancy and easily becomes best practice. Thanks to collaboration with the Internet Archive there is less duplication of effort and the sum of the shared knowledge we hold is so much bigger; we can provide an even better service to our public. 

Friday, July 02, 2021

Calling a spade a spade and the "friendly space policy"

In my previous blog post I established that facts supported by science trump personal opinions, even community consensus. It follows that pointing out a biased opinion can be hugely unpopular and considered offensive. The "friendly space policy" is applied on the spot and at best can be later appealed at the "trust and safety". This is after the fact, it takes a huge time effort and it is why I did not bother. One other reason is that I told the respected Wikipedian that what he said was biased and I did not make excuses for saying so after prodding by a trusted officer of the Wikimedia Foundation. I am sanctioned and can no longer use certain functions.

I run for a seat on the board of the Wikimedia Foundation and even though it is a popularity contest, I am not in it to be Mr Wonderful; I will not kiss babies. My platform is to improve our service particularly to the projects other than English Wikipedia. To be successful, I have established that this is doable and I have to undermine accepted opinions that prevent us from improving on our service.

I truly respect the Wikipedian who made the biased remarks but I will not apologise for pointing his bias out. 

When I am to establish my aims at board level, there must be acceptance that we do not serve everyone with the sum of all the knowledge we have when there is this persistent bias towards our English speaking public. The recent developments at the Croatian Wikipedia show that "community consensus" can be overridden when this is necessary to establish our accepted global Wikimedia policies. It follows that the board should be mindful of the evolving science about the "gender gap" and insist English Wikipedia to consider its recommendations (aka clean up its act). It follows that even the most respected English Wikipedian and in the light of the "friendly space policy" can be called out for such bias.

As to the organisation of the WMF; its director reports to the board and is to inform about the development for other languages and the effects on the traffic in other languages. 

Thanks, GerardM

Thursday, July 01, 2021

What science has to say about the English Wikipedia gender gap

Why Men Don’t Believe the Data on Gender Bias in Science
 A respected Wikipedian expressed the opinion that people have it wrong when they say that English Wikipedia is biased against women. In the same week a professor stated on Twitter that her students no longer edit Wikipedia because of the toxic reception they get. As an example she mentioned a quote from an award winning scientist that was removed because "that scientist lacks relevance".

In this same week the  American sociologist Francesca Tripodi published the paper: "Ms. Categorized: Gender, notability, and inequality on Wikipedia". The paper is a scholarly read with 55 references. Most of these references are previous scholarly works, some are references to Wikipedia resources like the notability page. The references have been included in Wikidata and this is visualised in the Scholia for the paper. Please read at least the Discussion and conclusions of the paper. 

This and previous research leaves no room for evasion: English Wikipedia is biased. A personal opinion of the respected Wikipedian may differ, the consensus of the community may differ but both are biased.