Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#Wikidata - Wilma Boevink and the #stigma of #psychiatry

A subject like psychiatry is all too often ignored, neglected and not a topic people spend equal effort on. When people rely on Wikipedia as a primary source for information it is vital that they find concepts like recovery. It is what gives them hope. It is what tells them that even when they suffer from psychiatric ailments there is hope. They can learn to manage their situation, they can become more integrated, achieve the goals they strive for.

Mrs Boevink is a leading light in the Netherlands. She has been pivotal in a movement that empowers people to pick up their lives and make the most of it. She is a published author, published often and published with many others. A person as notable deserves an article in Wikipedia but for now, Wikidata will do.

When people talk about quality, it is easily abstract. Mrs Boevink was instrumental in the development of the HEE method. It has been proven as an effective intervention of aiding people in their process of recovery. This "intervention" has no link yet in Wikidata and, I have no clue how to indicate that it has been certified as such.

By including information like this, it is easy to learn about recovery, about HEE, about Mrs Boevink and, it enables people to inform themselves. Insurance companies make it really hard to fund the people best positioned to provide HEE. They manipulate information by informing the public just so. Such manipulations become hard when Wikipedia provides its NPOV about this topic.

Both Wikipedia and Wikidata are works in progress. They do improve their quality and it does not take a genius to understand how Wikipedias in a language are manipulated. It takes some sober reflection to understand that an existing lack of information enables manipulation as easily. Subjects that are associated with discrimination, stigmatisation are exactly where people are vulnerable and where basic, encyclopaedic information is really needed.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#Wikidata - The Anne Vondeling Prize

Mr Vondeling was a Dutch politician. A Dutch journalism award was named after him and, this award is still active. Currently there are three articles about this award; one in English, one in German and one in Dutch. Arguably there could be one in Frisian, Limburgian, Sealandish..

The problem with list articles is that they need maintenance. Having all the data in Wikidata helps. Given that many of the winners are "red links" in all languages, new items had to be created in Wikidata.

All the lists include a reference to the newspaper these people were writing for. For some of them multiple employers are known and for others I did not add the newspaper.

With a list like this, it is possible to include an award like this. It could have been any award. Maintenance is largely left to Wikidata and that is one headache less.

Friday, December 11, 2015

#MissingBassel - What to do for him and, for #Syria

#Bassel is a Wikipedian. He has been sentenced to death and according to some, there is not much that we can do. They are wrong. We can do so much even within the confines of what they think is our neutral point of view.

Bassel is from Syria, in many ways people think they Syrians are the enemy. They are wrong. Bassel is a Syrian and he is one of the 735 Syrians in all of Wikipedia. Writing about Syria, about Syrians is what we can do. Without adequate coverage of Syria there is no neutral point of view. We need to know about Syria and its history, the people that make up the Syrians without making information available in Wikipedia, it is all too easy to persist in the idea that they are the enemy.

When we write articles, we need illustrations. We need illustration about modern Syria and the Syria that once was. Particularly for this last part, our friends in the many GLAM institutions for help. When we explain our need, they are quite happy to raise to the occasion, after all it is for a Wikipedian..

At the Erasmus award ceremony we got to talk and people from the Tropenmuseum came up with the idea of checking their collection. They have a small collection of 356 images readily available for upload and, they need some assistance.. It is such a small collection because it is not easy to ask the often Syrian photographers for their permission.. the fog of war you know..

We can make a difference for Bassel, make no mistake. We can ask our GLAM friends, we can ask Syrians who live abroad, we can ask anyone for illustrations about everything Syria. We can ask ourselves what we can do and the least we can do is make a difference and write about Syria and the Syrians.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

#Wikidata - #quality and the Nansen #Refugee Award III

When a lot of effort is spend on adding data to Wikidata, when the data is correct, it is important to share the resulting information. This is why I am happy to share the information about the Nansen Refugee Award in this way.

Having a list like this on Wikipedia in this way is wonderful because when updates occur and, they may be in the way of more illustrations, or a later addition in 2016. When this happens, the new award winner will be at the top. It is a manner of presentation and arguably at this time and in this context Mrs Asifi is more relevant than Mrs Roosevelt.

Two big improvements in this list are that SPARQL is used and a new statement available in Listeria. Magnus was so gracious to add this new statement and, particularly for lists it is important to have it.

A lot has been said and done about quality and Wikidata lately. Quality is also in it being used. Lists like this represent obvious quality in Wikidata but there is little point when it cannot be used. Tools like Reasonator and Listeria enable the use of data. It is how it may reach a public in any language. This exposure entices more people to come to Wikidata to add data that is relevant to them.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

#Wikipedia Signpost? Yeah right!

First have a read of the op-ed on the Wikipedia Signpost. Then come back.

I love its notion of "one ring that binds them all", they apparently did not watch the movie; the ring dissolved in Mount Doom and that is the end of it.

The article suggests a lot of things, it is all based on what others had to say and it asserts that the quality of Wikidata is bad. This is only based on the assumption that because there are so little sources it must be bad.  In the whole article it is not acknowledged that Wikidata is a wiki and consequently its implication is ignored. There is no notion that quality is anything but "it has a source" and doom is predicted not only by using the "one ring" but also in "the tower of Babel" as an analogy. For me it qualifies as FUD.

When you strip away all that has nothing to do with Wikidata and its quality, there is not much left. There is no definition of quality, there is no notion of the current quality, it is suggested that it will get worse but not why. It is a sad piece of prose pretending to have an answer. It is all about elsewhere and others.

Quality can be many things. It can be an error rating in percentages, it can exist in comparison to what other sources hold, it can be in the way errors are dealt with, it can be in the completeness of the data. It can be in the way you connect to others and in how you deal with the work of others. It can be in how your data is considered by others. Finally there is this most restricted form of quality where everything has to be perfect. Quality of this type is so far away from what a wiki stands for that it only deserves a shrug, it is patently foolish even when it is what we aspire to. Ironically when Wikidata came into being, it started as an important quality improvement for Wikipedia. It largely solved its interwiki mess and made it manageable.

When people add data to any project, they make mistakes. This has been studied a lot and depending on the manner of the edit, quality is up or down. When people or processes check on what has been done some of the errors are easily spotted and remedied. This is one way of improving quality. Once data is fairly complete, it is the context of the other data that gives an indication of the likelihood of new edits. It is for instance unlikely that an American Football player received an international refugee award.

Wikidata is severely incomplete. The statistics show that things are improving. The biggest problem is with the number of items that are not identified for what they are about. When this is known a lot of additional work can be done.

One of the qualities of Wikidata is that people already find an application for it. VIAF, the database of the OCLC, for instance links to Wikidata in preference to the English Wikipedia. In this way they link books and authors in any language to all Wikipedias.

Originally, Wikipedia had operational values like "be bold". It was ok to stand on the shoulders of giants and make incremental changes or wait for other giants to continue where you stopped. It is these values that enabled the growth of Wikipedia. As a wiki, Wikipedia has degenerated and it now has policy wonks determined to impose their notion of quality. Wikidata is immature and it needs to fight for remaining a wiki. If anything it is this anti wiki sentiment that is holding Wikidata back.

When Wikidata is to have more quality, what can we do. We can import more data for instance from Freebase. Like in Wikidata, volunteers have spend considerable time adding data. It has been a sincere effort and it deserves appreciation. It may have its issues but these are the problems we have to deal with anyway. By doing this we finally reach out to the people from Freebase and recognise their effort. The least we can do is recognise their contributions that make it into Wikidata by citing Freebase as the source.

We can compare data from other sources. This is the most obvious way of finding what may be in error.  As a rule, the differences are where most likely an error can be found. This is where it makes sense to go find a source to identify what is likely correct. This is where collaboration from Wikipedians is helpful because the source for Wikidata is most likely a Wikipedia. Adding sources while curating differences is most effective and makes a real difference.

The argument for adding data is easily explained from set theory. When there is no data to show, we have a 100% failure. When new data is 90% correct and when when we have processes in place to compare sources, we have a 90% improvement and work to do. When of the 10% we can identify 80% as statements with issues, we can flag those and work on improving the data.

The beauty of Wikidata is that is may be used in many languages. This is not without its issues but as a consequence, any item in Wikidata can be found in for instance the Tamil Wikipedia. By only adding the label in Tamil the information may be nicely presented in Reasonator. In this way it is easy to start to build information building in a language and consequently work towards a Wikipedia article.

Given that Wikidata is based so much on Wikipedia data, it is obvious that Wikipedia has most to gain from quality improvements in Wikidata. Those American Football players are still in the Wikipedia article, there is more information in Wikidata for all the red linked winners. There are 14 Wikipedias that could already benefit from the data at Wikidata and for other Wikipedias it makes it easier to include this award because there is no longer this maintenance requirement.

The same is true for mayors, is the mayor or your town correct on every Wikipedia? Does it show who he or she is on every Wikipedia? It is not for mine.. Is the number of inhabitants still correct? Wikipedia has a problem with such facts, there are too many of them and given that facts may exist in 290-ish Wikipedias who is going to do it all for all the cities, municipalities wherever in the world?

What Wikidata has to offer is collaboration. It is growing fast, its data is improving constantly and arguably as more data becomes available, more eyes will see what is good and what is bad. As our tools become increasingly sophisticated, it is not that we do not people to make a difference it is that we are increasingly able to point to them how they can make a difference. This will increasingly make Wikidata a place where we improve the sum of all available knowledge and share it widely.

Monday, December 07, 2015

#Wigi - are these gender indicators about #Wikidata or #Wikipedia?
Wigi is a wonderful project. As you can see, it stands for "Wikipedia Gender Indicators" and when you think it is Wikipedia as you know it, it is not. The data is from Wikidata and the data included represents all the Wikipedias and all the other projects that include people.

Its purpose is to inform about the gender gap and, it relies on the quality of Wikidata to do so. This is not a bad thing because a lot of effort goes into the information about people, their gender, their "ethnicity" and the dates of birth and death. This information is mostly based on information from Wikipedia and by giving it this name, WIGI gets the attention it deserves.

The aim of this project is to show what progress is made regarding the gender gap. It shows the change between periods. In this way we get a feeling how much effort goes into writing articles and how it affects significant numbers regarding the gender gap. When some articles are missed, it does not make much of a statistical difference because as the quality goes up, it is unlikely to change the variance much.

It is however important to understand that in this data other biases are hidden. The number of people dying in Syria or Iraq is suspiciously low. It demonstrates a lack of awareness of the culture and the people who live there. With the approach of WIGI it is fairly easy to produce these biases as well and it is obvious that implicitly the NPOV of all Wikipedias is in doubt.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

#Wikimedia and what it could do with money

Some say that the Wikimedia Foundation is having enough money and does not need as much as they do. Some who say such things are fairly influential and are so convinced of their opinion that they happily give their opinion to the Washington Post. It is one way of making their opinion count most and it is sad for numerous reasons.

It is as easy to argue that the Wikimedia Foundation deserves more money. It could do with more money and it would be obvious if the point of view differs just a little. These people are active in the English Wikipedia and they are involved in policies, they do not take it kindly when they are ignored or opposed. The Wikimedia Foundation has as its aim to share in the sum of all knowledge. When we are to evaluate if the WMF has enough money, it should be in the light of what it aims to achieve.

I can imagine that Wikipedia suffices for some Americans, America is relatively well described. I can imagine when young professionals find that their subject is well described in English that because of this they are content, do not see the need for more activity. If that describes there point of view, then they are not aware of the discrepancies with other countries, with other cultures and in other languages. When we are to be afraid of Syrians, Wikipedia shares the blame because it does not cover Syria and Syrians with the same quality it does for Americans.

People may express their point of view. However, when are they held to account for their actions? When Joe Public reads that these fine Wikipedians arguably find that WMF is a fat organisation not worth the money it asks for, the WMF and its fundraising effort suffer. From the point of view of these precious Wikipedians, it is fine. They voiced their opinions before and they may have evaluated what others have to say.

However, they are in their own circle, they will not suffer the consequences. So my question to them is can you convincingly prove, not suggest but prove that we are done, that we do not need more money to do a better job, a job that is to deliver the sum of all knowledge.

In this blog I have said it time and again, we do not even share in the sum of all knowledge available in the Wikimedia Foundation. So I am sad to say that these precious Wikipedians costs us a lot of money, money that we could spend effectively in the quest to bring information to the world.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

#Wikidata - #quality and the Nansen #Refugee Award II

My objective is to add high quality data for the Nansen Refugee award to Wikidata. At this time there are 70 people and organisations registered as receivers of the award. One way of understanding quality is in bringing people closer together.

In the picture you see Mr Ruud Lubbers and Mr Akio Kanai. Mr Lubbers was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and he is presenting the Nansen Refugee Award to Mr Kanai. The only article for Mr Kanai is in Japanese, I do not read Japanese and thanks to Wikidata and Google translate, I was able to learn that the item in Wikidata does represent the recipient of the award.

Mr Kanai and his company have provided glasses to refugees for decades. It is just one of those things people need and refugees are people.

Mr Lubbers is just one of the UN High Commissioners for Refugees. All the others are now also known to Wikidata. Because of this Mr Kanai and Mr Lubbers are easily linked through two steps of separation.

This is a work in progress :)

PS I wish Bassel was a refugee, it would be safe to discriminate him but he would be alive and well. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

#Wikidata - #quality and the Nansen #Refugee Award

Many people consider quality to be of a paramount importance and, for all I care I like what John Ruskin had to say: "Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort". For this reason I like to work on things that connect Wikidata items. It is very much the "steps of separation".

At the Wikipedia awards & prizes project people are interested in cooperating on awards in Wikidata. We agreed that I would make the Nansen Refugee Award an example of what can be done. The starting point is the article. The wiki links enabled me to import information using the Linked Items tool. I did this on two Wikipedias, French and English. After this  I was left with a number of red links. In Wikidata I started added dates to the award and nationalities.

All this improved the information as seen in Reasonator significantly. I had to curate two items because two American Football players were incorrectly identified as a recipient of the award. As I searched for "red links" in Wikidata, I found one Wikipedia redirect and added information for Princess Princep Shah of Nepal. Arguably she is notable enough for her own article. When I could not find an item, I added an item for the missing person or organisation.

This is a work in progress :)

PS I wish Bassel was a refugee, it would be safe to discriminate him but he would be alive and well.