Opening up the linked data world of Wikidata to new editors

Our first six-week long Wikidata courses flew right by. We’re extremely proud of the twenty-three participants in these two courses and the impact they have made on Wikidata.

A little about the course

Over six short weeks, we met once a week for an hour-long session, discussing assignments, asking questions, and addressing any issues encountered during the week. Using our Dashboard, we were able to track participant work and share training modules. We did not restrict what items participants could edit; they were welcome to pursue what interested them or what subject area expertise they wanted to share. The curriculum builds off of each week, reviewing linked data fundamentals, introducing participants to the Wikidata community, Wikidata elements, how to add content to Wikidata, and what you can do if you have a whole collection to contribute.

The majority of participants were librarians, so the courses discussed a lot of library-oriented issues. This didn’t keep participants from non-profits, companies, or museums from being able to speak up as well. Take a look at these two Dashboards to see everything they were able to accomplish:

Who’s interested in taking a course like this?

We were fortunate to have two driven and excited groups of participants. They came from many different backgrounds and had varied experience with linked data, Wikidata, and Wikimedia projects. We aim to create an environment where newcomers can explore and get comfortable with the Wikidata community, while more experienced participants can pursue projects unencumbered. Follow this link to read a post to learn a little more about our participants.

All participants were engaged. Everyone was able to edit Wikidata and did so at their own pace and according to their interests. Some edited the 5-10 items we suggested and others were able to edit hundreds. We had one participant create a new property: Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America ID. Another generated a great discussion about how to express the concept of “exoneration” on Wikidata. This ballooned into a larger conversation about post-conviction relief – pardons, amended sentences, etc. The intention of the conversation is for Wikidata to have the ability to delineate and query that someone was exonerated. Until this participant spoke up, no one thought to express anything but convictions.

When asked what was most useful about the course, participants provided us with some great feedback that will inform future iterations. One participant said “being given the opportunity to jump in and just start editing” was most beneficial, which echoes another participant’s assessment of “having access to a knowledgeable instructor to answer questions and suggest tools (especially via Slack and in our weekly calls) in an applied context.”

Another participant added, “the thing that made the course infinitely more helpful than just doing our own research and training was having access to knowledgeable instructors that we could ask specific questions. It was also helpful that the other participants were GLAM professionals for the most part because we could then learn things based on their questions and experiences throughout the course.” Wikidata is an inherently community-driven project. We find the connections the participants make with each other are as important as any of the learning objectives we have from week to week.

Lastly, about our instructors, one participant observed, “they had answers for almost every question! I also liked that they validated when things were confusing and unclear but championed class participants to do something about it (because that’s the nature of WikiData).”

Wikidata is a vast ecosystem of tools, resources, and communities within communities. The nature of the project is to be open and free. Anyone can find the examples we share in our courses, but what we want to offer participants is a centralized place where they can learn Wikidata quickly, thoroughly, and meet others doing what they’re doing. We find this model works well for participants’ expectations and also for course impact.

Our impact on Wikidata

The 23 participants in these two courses created 228 items and edited more than 2,500 items, making more than 9,200 edits. We had one property proposal approved and (as of September 2019) there is another one pending. In one course there was one editor who was working on merging items and merged nearly 1,500. Participants created SPARQL queries that can be shared with the rest of the Wikidata community. A few weeks after the end of both courses, six editors have continued to edit Wikidata. We look forward to their sustained editing and are pleased that they feel like they’re part of the community!

Looking ahead

We’re thrilled about this first round of Wikidata courses. We value working with dedicated, passionate information professionals who want to contribute to Wikidata. We’re starting another course in September and more in October. If you’re curious to learn more about Wikidata, consider enrolling in a course. We would love to have you join!

For more information about our open courses starting in October, visit


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