Sunday, January 29, 2017

#Wikimedia - We shall overcome

I am a #Wikimedian. I am probably one of the prolifice ones with edits in many projects. I say this not to brag but to make clear that for me Wikimedia and what we stand for is integral to who I am.

With the authorities of the United States preventing our community coming to the United States it fractures us in a profound way. It makes our head quarters problematic because many key people are no longer welcome to visit; they cannot get there.

One aspect of "the enemy" is that for many people it is not clear who "the enemy" is. Given that we are about a neutral point of view, this is an area where we should make a difference. Documenting our foe is not what I seek; that will be done but let us document all the countries and people whose citizens, whose refugees are no longer officially welcome in the USA. Let us document them with articles in Wikipedia, with images in Commons, with data in Wikidata but let us be clear we shall overcome and we are all welcome at any of our offices, our chapters and in our community.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

#Wikidata - Sultanism anyone?

The definition of "sultanism" is:
In political science, sultanism is a form of authoritarian government characterized by the extreme personal presence of the ruler in all elements of governance. The ruler may or may not be present in economic or social life, and thus there may be pluralism in these areas, but this is never true of political power.
There are prominent scientists who use the term. It  therefore must be applicable and indeed there are some who consider that any sultanate is defined by it.  The problem is that the name is very much linked to Islam but that it equally applies to monarchs like Henry VIII. King Henry started the church of England but the way that the church of England came to be makes sultanism applicable.

It does not really matter how the concept of sultanism came to be. The name chosen is extremely prejudicial. The problem we face is that words and facts matter. Both Wikipedia and Wikidata represent a neutral point of view and therefore a concept like sultanism deserves a place. However, when such a concept is to be applied, it needs to applied in a neutral way. It means that you can not point to a country and say "sultanate". It means that it applies to a ruler and it therefore applies to Henry as much as to an evil genius like Jafar.

Monday, January 23, 2017

#Wikipedia - #Sources anyone?

Sources are important. They make it obvious what is correct and what is not. For content in Wikidata Wikipedia is an important source of information. It aims to be neutral and there are loads of sources.

When you bring the information together in a tree like the one to the right, it follows that all the information has to agree with that interpretation. It all starts with "Duqaq Temür Yalığ" but he is called "Toqaq" in the article on Seljuq.

The article on the Seljuk Empire is quite wonderful because it includes the spouses of the Sultans and their lineage. Really relevant to understand the politics of the time.

I do include information where I can find and understand it. Quite often, information is problematic. Sometimes it is obviously wrong as in attributing a person to a modern country. As more data is entered, the information becomes more complicated and coherent. Errors become more glaringly obvious. It becomes more and more a matter of adding individual statements that are the difference and not so much long lists of data.

At some stage the puzzles will be left and sources will need to be sought to make the right statements, not the obvious statements.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

#Wikipedia - Support understanding the #gender gap

#Wikidata needs to mature. #Wikipedia needs to mature. They both have wishes they aim to fulfil that escapes them. The gender gap is such an issue and it can be used to illustrate how both will mature when they cooperate.

When you want to know how many articles are expected to be written at a given point you need to analyse the red links. They indicate articles that are likely notable and indicate a structural need in Wikipedia. To do that you need data and you need a tool.

When links exist for every red link to an item in Wikidata, you have both the data and a tool. This will help Wikipedia with its disambiguation, and it will show up what a Wikipedia is missing. It is a tool that may drive people to write articles about the missing links.

All the red links will now link to Wikidata and articles in other Wikipedias. It also allows for people to add statements to Wikidata so that facts about those items are known. For instance that it is about a woman. When statements to awards, professions and events are known, there is added weight to write an article.

In this way two purposes are served; researchers have better tools that help them understand the gender gap and it will help people who care about he gender gap work on reducing that gap.

Technically it is not that complicated to achieve. If there is a problem with this proposal it may be that Wikipedians need to understand that this is not a power grab but a way to improve quality and efficiency of their project.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#Wikimedia - What is our mission

Many Wikipedians have a problem with Wikidata. It is very much cultural. One argument is that Wikidata does not comply with their policies and therefore cannot be used. A case in point is "notability", Wikidata knows about much more and how can that all be good?

To be honest, Wikidata is immature and it needs to be a lot better. When a Wikipedia community does not want to incorporate data from Wikidata at this point, fine. Let us find what it takes to do so in the future. Let us work on approaches that are possible now and add value to everyone.

Many of the arguments that are used show a lack of awareness of Wikipedia's own history. There are no reminders to the times when it was good to be "bold". It is forgotten that content should be allowed to improve over time and, this is still true for all of the Wikimedia content.

The problem is that every Wikidata provides a service to every Wikimedia project and as a consequence there are parts of a project where Wikidata will never comply with its policies. Arguably, all the policies of all the projects including Wikidata service what the Wikimedia Foundation is about it is to provide "every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge".  When the argument is framed in this way, the question becomes a different one; it becomes how can we benefit from each other and how can we strengthen the quality of each others offerings.

Wikidata got a flying start when it replaced all the interwiki links. When all the wiki links and red links are associated with Wikidata links, it will allow for new ways to improve the consistency of Wikipedia. The problem with culture is that it is resistant to change. So when the entrenched practice is that they do not want Wikidata, let's give them the benefits of Wikidata. In a "phabricator" thingie I tried to describe it.

The proposal is for both red links and wiki links to be associated with Wikidata items. It will make it easier to use the data tools associated with Wikidata to verify, curate and improve the Wikipedia content. Obviously every link could have an associated statement. When more and more Wikipedia links are associated with statements Wikidata improves but as part of the process, these links are verified and errors will be removed.

The nice thing is that the proposal allows for it to be "opt in". The old school Wikipedians do not have to notice. It will only be for those who understand the premise of using Wikidata to improve content. In the end it will allow Wikidata and even Wikipedia to mature. It will bring another way to look at quality and it will ensure that all the content of the Wikimedia Foundation will get better integrated and be of a higher quality.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

#Wikipedia - Who is Fiona Hile?

When you look for Fiona Hile on the English Wikipedia, you will find this. It is a puzzle and there are probably two people by that name that do not have an article (yet).

One of them is an Australian poet. When you google for her you find among other things a picture. When you seek her information on VIAF you find two identifiers and in the near future she will have a third: Wikidata.

From a Wikidata point of view it is relevant to have an item for her because she won two awards. It completes these lists and it connects the two awards to the same person.

When you asks yourself is Mrs Hile really "notable", you find that the answer depends on your point of view. Wikipedia already mentions her twice and surely a discussion on the relative merits of notability is not everyone's cup of tea.

Why is Mrs Hile notable enough to blog about? It is a great example that Wikipedia and Wikidata together can produce more and better information.

The Peter Porter Poetry Prize

For me the Peter Porter Poetry Prize is an award like so many others. There is one article, it lists the names of some of the people who are known to have won the prize. Some are linked and some are not. For one winner I linked to a German article and for a few others I created an item.

This list is complete, it has a link to a source so the information can be verified and I am satisfied with the result up to a point.

What I could do is add more awards and people who have won awards. The article for Tracy Ryan, the 2009 winner, has a category for another award that she won.  This award does not have a webpage with all the past winners so the question is; is Wikipedia good enough as a source. I added the winners to the award, made a mistake corrected it and now Wikidata knows about a Nathan Hobby.

Jay Martin is the 2016 winner of the  T.A.G. Hungerford Award. It has a source but it is extremely likely that this will disappear in  2017. The problem I have is that I want to see this information shared but all the work done to improve on Wikidata data is not seen at Wikipedia. When we share our resources and when we are better in tune with each others needs as editors, we will be better able to "share in the sum of our available knowledge".

Is #Wikipedia the new #Britannica?

At the time the Britannica was best of breed. It was the encyclopaedia to turn to. Then Wikipedia happened and obviously it was not good enough, people were not convinced. When you read the discussions why Wikipedia was not good enough, there was however no actual discussion. The points of view were clear, they had consequences and it was only when research was done that Wikipedia became respectable. Its quality was equally good and it was more informative and included more subjects. The arguments did not go away the point of view became irrelevant. People and particularly students use Wikipedia.

Today Wikipedia is said to be best of breed. It is where you find encyclopaedic information and as Google rates Wikipedia content highly it is seen and used a lot by many people.

The need for information is changing. We have recently experienced a lot of misinformation and the need to know what is factually correct has never been more important. What has become clear is that arguments and information alone is not what sways people. So the question is where does that leave Wikipedia?

The question we have to ask is, what does it take to convince people, to be open minded. What to do when people expect a neutral point of view but the facts are unambiguous in one direction? What if the language used is not understood? What are the issues of Wikipedia, what are its weaknesses and what are its strength?

So far quality is considered to be found in sources, in the reputation of its writers. When this is not what convinces, how do we show our quality or better, how do we get people to reconsider and see the other point of view?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

#Wikidata - Clare Hollingworth and #sources

Mrs Hollingworth was a famous journalist. She recently passed away and as I often do, I added content to the Wikidata item of the person involved.

Information like awards are something I often add and it was easy enough to establish that Mrs Hollingworth received a Hannen Swaffer Award in 1962. I found a source for the award and I had my confirmation.

The Wikipedia article has it that "She won the James Cameron Award for Journalism (1994)." There is however no source and I can find a James Cameron lecture and award but Mrs Hollingworth is not noted as receiving this award; it is Ed Vulliamy.

People often say that Wikipedia is not a source. The problem is that for Wikidata it often is. Particularly in the early days of Wikidata massive amounts of data were lifted off the Wikipedias and it is why there is so much initial content to build upon.

When you work from sources, you find an issue with the Wikipedia content. My source does not know about Mr Paul Foot either. Mrs Lyse Doucet does have a Wikipedia article but she is not linked in the Wikipedia list.

To truly get to the bottom of issues like these takes research and, I am willing nor able to do this for each and every subject that I touch. It is impossible to work on all the issues that exist because of everything that I did. I have over 2,1 million edits on Wikidata. What I do is make a start and I am happy to be condemned for the work that I did, work that does have issues but they are all there to be solved someday.

Friday, January 06, 2017

#Maps - Where did they live?

This map is in many ways perfect. It tells us a story. It helps visualise what happened in the past. The map is simple, they are the contours of present day Europe, more or less and in it you see roughly where what happened.

Obviously the map could be improved but typically it makes little difference for understanding what it is that is shown when it is seen in isolation.

When this map is part of a continuum of maps, it will show the movements over time. It will show where they are at a given time. They will show where the Vandals settled down and show where they fought their battles. Better understanding will emerge but it may get complicated. The Vandals were not the only ones around. It was a time of turmoil and only when the shape of former countries and battles are shown a better understanding emerges.

For many "former countries" maps are not available and when they are they are of a similar quality as the map of the Vandals. What I would love is maps as an overlay and just add maps and facts as they are available. Many maps will only over time get some credibility but it is an improvement over nothing to see.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

#Wikidata - Abdas of Susa

Abdas of Susa was a Catholic bishop, he had the ear of the Sasanian king. His religion was even promoted by king Yazdegerd I until Abdas in a dispute burned a temple of Zoroaster. He was told by the king to pay for the destruction he caused. He refused and it resulted in an about face by the king. Churches were to be burned and Abdas became a victim of the following riots. Abdas is considered a martyr.

Consider; if Abdas had not burned the temple or paid for the damage, the role of the Catholic church would have been much different. The religious intolerance of Abdas is forgotten he is now a martyr. The problem with celebrating such people is that they serve as a role model. There are plenty of people like Abdas from any and all religions. My question is how to find them in either Wikipedia or Wikidata.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

#Wikidata - Biblical truths and Wikidata practice

When you deal with historical figures, what is known for them is often because of material of a historic nature that is left to us. There is a wealth of material in the bible. It tells us about kings and kingdoms and finding references outside of books like the bible helps us get a more historic picture.

The names of kings from other historic countries are often spelled in many ways and it takes a lot of hard work to research such issues. I do no research; I reflect what I find in Wikipedia in Wikidata. At that I am restricted to what is possible in Wikidata.

At this time I am working on kings of the kingdom of Israel; this is a breakaway country that split off and the country that remained with the ruling dynasty; the descendants of David and Solomon were called the kingdom of Judah. The Wikidata practice is: we can not use names that change over time. We have only one prevailing label. This makes David and Solomon kings of Judah.  The counter argument is that biblical categorisation has it that there were multiple kingdoms. The problem is that when Rehoboam lost part of his kingdom, he was not made a king anew. He just lost part of his country and consequently it is the same country.

Both Wikipedia and Wikidata practice have room for improvement. It would be nice when we could have a label and associate it with dates. We cannot. What we can do is not have a king of Israel as a citizen of the modern Israel but as a citizen of the kingdom of Israel. In Wikidata it is easy to remedy because no modern Israelite died before 1948 and we can query for it.

The problem is that Biblical truth means Biblical expectations and Wikidata is not able to provide it. The question is how to resolve it for the time being.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

#Wikidata - Spearman Medal Revisited

I blogged in the past about the Spearman Medal. The problem I had with the article is that it contained errors. I have a page where I show that lists like the winners of the Spearman Medal. This list does not contain errors but its best quality is that it can be easily reproduced on other Wikipedias

Today I added the 2016 winner to Wikidata. In a day or so my example page will be updated automatically. My experience with Wikipedia meanwhile has suffered in 2016. I fixed one of the errors on Wikipedia; I removed a redirect only to be reverted.

The question that I have is: What does it convince others to do things differently. When it comes to arguments, it seems obvious that Wikidata is superior to using internal MediaWiki. What does it take to convince that Wikipedia will be so much better to share in the sum of all knowledge.

Mr Michael Banissy received the 2016 Spearman medal and I am willing to forego Reasonator what I prefer and point to SQID a later development for showing this information. When Wikipedians compare it with what they do provide, what is it that makes this their preferred option? It is funny to abuse a psychology award for this. It is a theme of our time that we are so fixed in our opinions that we hardly consider what the other has to say. If we Wikimedians cannot appreciate what we have to offer each other, what can we achieve in the "real" world?

#Wikidata - Kings of #Israel and kings of that time.

When you ask: what kings lived around the year 0 east of Bethlehem, it seems obvious that Wikidata can only provide monarchs who lived around that time. Another perhaps better approach is to seek monarchs that were actually ruling at that time. This because it is better known when these people held office than when they were born.

Historically, the Jews did have their own kings; Saul, David, Solomon are the best known. There was no continuous lineage until king Herod. There were separate kings for Israel and Judah and from 140 BCE–37 BCE the Hasmonean dynasty ruled.

It is really interesting to know what rulers lived when and where and who were their contemporaries. But for it to make sense you want a display similar to the one I reported on before. It also means that some falsifications to what I perceive as the truth are removed. These kings of Judah are known as kings of Israel. They were not. Only by separating them out do you get a perspective that is historically correct. The problem is that you may get into a fight with religious people. They care for a name; was David for instance king of Judah or king of Israel.. (The Israelite revolted)..