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".

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.

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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

#WeMissTurkey - #Bosnia and its Otoman governors

We miss Turkey as readers and contributors of our project. In the larger picture, when we write about the history of the world, we have to pay attention to the Ottoman Empire. Its history ended only 96 years ago and its influence is underestimated.

Take Bosnia; many people from the eyalet of Bosnia have been really influential and many people were beylerbey of the Bosnia eyalet. Adding all these people can be done from a list on the Bosnian Wikipedia. The list is in Bosnian and paša is pasha in translation and that makes it a lot of work.. In Catalan, the same word is paixà and Catalan is a language that covers the history of Africa rather well. Many people known in Bosnian are known in Catalan and not in English.

The dignitaries of the Ottoman Empire often stayed for a short period before they moved on to another place. Getting the curriculum vitae for the top will help understand history. In true Wiki fashion we have a start and it will improve when we collaborate.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Dear #Vogelnieuws - more birds for the #Oostvaardersplassen

In an editorial the Dutch birding organisation is pleading for a more bird friendly Oostvaardersplassen. They specifically want room for the Eurasian Spoonbill and Eurasian Bittern. The reason why they are in decline are carp, mature carp. They eat anything including small fish and, they can live to be some eighty years old. There is no real predation on the carp.

There is only one predator that will have a significant impact when it finds its way into the Oostvaardersplassen; it is the Wels Catfish. A current proposal is to drain the Oostvaardersplassen regularly consequently most water animals will die and repeats will be "needed". When the Wels Catfish is introduced after a drainage, they will eat the maturing carp and ensure a more healthy age distribution in carp and make room for birds and other fish as well.

In this way we come to rely on ecological processes and realise a more complete (age) distribution of species. In the editorial they call for ecological connections so that animals can migrate for optimal results. Introducing such connections for fish as well would be of a huge benefit for the birds that predate on smaller fish. One of the fish that would find its way into the Oostvaardersplassen is the Three-Spined Stickleback. It serves birds like the European Spoonbill really well.

One other thing to consider; the Oostvaardersplassen was developed to support the goose, a bird that was rare at the start of the Oostvaardersplassen. When we make the ecosystem more complete, we will end up with a different environment, an environment that will be more diverse with more species finding their niche.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

#WeMissTurkey - Beylerbeys of the Bosnian Elayet .. in Bosnian

The Ottoman Empire was huge. It existed for 623 years and its armies threatened Vienna at one time. When you want to understand the existence of countries and the politics of the modern time, it helps to have a sense of the past.

The Wikimedia coverage of the Ottoman Empire is patchy. We do not have all information readily available about its geography and administrations over time.

For me, adding information is easiest when the source is the English Wikipedia but other Wikipedias are often more complete. The Ottoman Empire was for a long time divided in Eyalets and they were governed by Beylerbeys. The list of Beylerbeys for the Bosnian Elayet is linked to many articles on the Bosnian Wikipedia. Articles about people that did not include even the most basic information in Wikidata. Adding missing information was easy but labels differ from English; they show in red in Reasonator.

When all red links are linked to Wikidata, it would be easy and obvious what English labels to add. It requires just one thing; acknowledgement that list in different language Wikipedias provide the same information.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

#WeMissTurkey - Lutfi Pasha, a Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire

In October 2013 I wrote about Lutfi Pasha. I wondered if he as an author of several books would have an VIAF registration (he does) and if the information from Wikidata would end up at the VIAF registration (it does). It shows in the "personal information" that the German National Library and ISNI still call him Turkish where Wikidata knows him to be from the Ottoman Empire. At this time VIAF links to sixteen Wikipedias for more information. :)

As a young boy Lutfi Pasha was taken from his parents and under the Devshirme system brought to the palace where he was converted to Islam and given a thorough education. Lutfi Pasha had a distinguished career; he even married the sister of the later Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. His downfall? he beat his wife and was banished.