Monday, May 14, 2018

#AfricaGap - #Wikidata; its quality as Wikidata matures

Currently there are 45 countries that I monitor for their national politicians. When I add a specific national "position", I do several things; I add existing politicians that are known in a particular category and I include a definition of what that category contains.

I give hardly any attention to details; my objective here is simple I want to see how this (underdeveloped) data evolves. There is a huge gap in what we know about Africa and as it is, we hardly inform about Africa, we need Africans to help us gain the most basic facts straight for ourselves.

As Wikidata matures, we gain subsets of data that is of varying quality. The most mature living data are our interwiki links. It is live data and it serves a purpose. Changes require attention to detail it has an immediate effect in the discoverability of information. When data comes alive, when it serves a purpose, it has people who will invest their time to get the data right. They will give attention to detail because that serves their purpose.

For arcane subjects like the Ottoman Empire, even Africa, there are few people who find a purpose in the data. Arguably there is so little data that almost everything added is a 100% gain in quality (a person exists, he is a member of parliament of ***, I do not understand African names so it could be male or female I do not know). Sometimes there are whole lists of people like these people from the Bosnian Eyalet, it is easy enough to complete such a list. But will it serve a purpose? How to give it a purpose?

There is no uniform quality to Wikidata. There are whole areas where we are 100% of the mark as we do not have the data nor the ability to link to data elsewhere. There are other areas like in biomedical literature where our quality is such that it is actually useful. As this becomes known thanks to its evangelists, more attention is given by a wider public and more attention to detail is given in the process.

Arguably the quality of subsets of our data depends on its usefulness. When it is useful, people will come and give the attention to detail as it serves their purpose.
Thanks,
      GerardM

Saturday, May 12, 2018

#Wikidata - #Copyright and linked data

There are many points of view when it comes to copyright and data. In the Wikipedia world the discussion is different because each text has its own copyright. Data is different because you can not own ie copyright a separate fact.

When data is open or opened up, it follows that much of the data that exist in multiple sources is identical. When the data is the same, it has two benefits. The first is quality. When multiple sources agree on something, it is more likely to be correct. The second is copyright; whose copyright?

Every now and again, the license used by Wikidata is questioned. Typically by Wikipedians who think they know their stuff. They will be the first to tell you the importance of sources and, indeed many factoids in Wikidata do not have a source. When a factoid is sourced, a statement like John Doe died on Friday, 13th, that factoid only links to the source and hardly to the place where it came to the attention of the person or the bot adding it to Wikidata.

When I add the fact that someone is a member of the Somalian parliament, when a list is used like this one, that information is sourced, there is no added value except for a name being on a list. It has been in the news that in the last year parliamentarians have been murdered, there is no article for them and consequently even in Wikipedia it is only a name on a list, no added value, no arguable reason for copyright.

Value is in the links, it is in knowing the same data to be true in many sources. Claiming copyright, particularly in data, is predatory. It prevents people from bringing facts together. Only when facts are brought together informed knowledge exists. Only in linked data, sourced data, there is a handle on fake facts and fake news.
Thanks,
      GerardM

Thursday, May 10, 2018

#Wikimedia - What I am willing to do for the #AfricaGap

Africa hardly gets attention in Wikimedia projects. When the one project that brings together, Wikidata, does not know the people who are or used to be president of an African country, this is obvious. There is no reasonable argument to counter this.

What I can do is "watch the gap". To do this I have a growing list of African National politicians. The list is not complete, I am still adding countries. I do not add ministers and I have not included "first wives", this to reach out to people who care about that other gap, a gap that is no longer as wide.

When people add data about politicians, it will update Listeria lists. There are many of them and they will show up on my watch list. It means that I can tweet about changes as they occur.

To be perfectly honest; I expect it to be like in a railstation; typically you wait for the trains and are watching a chasm and not a divide.
Thanks,
     GerardM

Friday, May 04, 2018

#Wikimedia - Introducing the #AfricaGap

Minding the gaps is  important in all our projects. The #GenderGap program is an excellent project that shows the important and impressive results possible when we make a deliberate effort.

One area where we are weak is in our coverage of everything Africa. One area where we are particularly weak is in providing support for our readers and editors in Africa.

There are many things that can be done to improve upon the current situation and I am grateful to the people who have worked so hard to get us where we are.

To mind a gap, it starts with awareness. My "Africa" page provides some insight in the politicians of African countries. Obviously most politicians are missing and as my page links to Listeria list, every time a new African politician becomes known in Wikidata, it will show up on my watch list.

I intent to include all African countries and their national politicians. I will remain committed to bring more information about Turkey and its history, this project will show through the daily Listeria updates the extend of our African efforts. It would be cool when 1% of the humans we know is from Africa.
Thanks,
     GerardM

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

#Wikimedia - please mind the Africa data gap

A friend attended a Wikimedia conference in Africa. He asked me for the number of people known to be from Mozambique. A question like this is really relevant, I asked for a query and I am happy there is a result however, only 319 people known from Mozambique in Wikidata (that is all Wikipedias together) is a really low number. It is not an exception, countries like Rwanda or Niger, Malawi or Gabon do not fare better.

When you consider that there are more people known to be from Andorra (339) it is obvious that there is a real issue with how we cover "the rest of the world".
Thanks,
     GerardM


Sunday, April 15, 2018

#WeMissTurkey - six times #Listeria for best results

Reading about the history of the Ottoman Empire is a different experience on every Wikipedia. Typically most of the "humans" involved do not have an article and the spelling of the names differs. In English one title is pasha, in Catalan it is paixà and in Turkish and Bosnian it is paša. In all these languages it is part of the name of many dignitaries.

There are often multiple items for the same person thanks to these differences in spelling. Disambiguating the information together comparing the articles. The English, Catalan, Turkish, Bosnian, Greek and Arabic Wikipedia have their reasons to have an interest in the Ottoman Empire. For this reason I copied the Listeria list from my English user page to the ca.wp, tr.wp, bs.wp, el.wp and ar.wp.

When labels in a particular language are changed or when data is added, the Listeria list will update on a daily basis. So as we work on Ottoman information, the best effect will now show six times on my user page.
Thanks,
      GerardM

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

#WeMissGerardM - Got banned from #Wikidata

A friend of mine got into problems on #Wikidata.

The story:
She had proposed a property that was talked into something else that would not work for her or me. There was no obvious consensus particularly because of a lack of agreement how the property would function. Someone in power stated consensus and created the property and my friend proposed for its deletion.

What followed was awful because it shows how we interact. When someone says:  "This is a disruptive and bad-faith nomination" in my book this is aggressive and a personal attack. When someone else follows up with a request for a ban because of something that happens elsewhere it becomes a mob howling for blood. The arguments used were personal, had no relation to what happened at Wikidata and I objected strongly.

What else:
I objected to the language used, to the fact that you do not attack someone this personally. The language used is in my opinion not critical but overly aggressive even brutal. I object to how we behave, the language used, the personal attacks. It is not the first time that I objected to the way how we treat each other. Given that a friend was victimised this time I did not back down. Now I am banned from editing Wikidata for a week even though the admin who banned me agrees that I did not do anything that is a "banning offence". What I did was not let others "get away with murder" and not agree that the common good gets damaged by me in this way.

What next:
I do not know. I will miss working on the Ottoman Empire, I will miss working on awards, I will miss working on the BHL. But I will miss my friend most and I am sad that we Wikidatans treat each other in such an adversarial way.
Thanks,
      GerardM