Widening Wikidata’s impact

Wikidata Program Manager Will Kent

In the summer of 2019, Wiki Education started a new course under the umbrella of the Scholars & Scientists Program all about Wikidata. Similar to our Wikipedia offerings in that program, our Wikidata course trains subject matter experts on Wikidata fundamentals and encourages them to contribute to Wikidata in a structured online synchronous six-week course. We ran two courses from July to August 2019. We also ran a one-off, day-long Wikidata workshop in New York City in July 2019 to test out an in-person model of this curriculum.

We just published an in-depth report that walks through how we built this course. In it, we include planning details, notes on curriculum development, our revenue model, as well as an analysis of our participants’ contributions to Wikidata. We explore some ways we could improve the program in the future and welcome any additional feedback you may have.

A total of 38 people participated in these courses and workshop. Although the majority of the participants came from libraries, we also trained participants from a company, museums, and Wikimedia-Switzerland. Participants created over 200 new items, made over 3,000 edits, and added over 300 descriptions to items. We also had one participant merge over 400 items. This demonstrates the impact that bringing subject specialists to Wikidata can have. Linked data requires knowledge of data modeling, understanding relationships, and being open to using queries and data visualization to understand impact. This group of information professionals showed how their expertise can benefit Wikidata in six short weeks. Some contributions we are particular proud of include:

We had a participant create a new property: Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America ID, which is now in use with almost 100 items. We had another start an engaging discussion about how to express the concept of “exoneration” on Wikidata. These kinds of conversations could have a lasting impact on their respective disciplines on Wikidata. This level of engagement on Wikidata demonstrates a level of understanding not only how Wikidata works, but also what the community could benefit from. Ontological development of Wikidata impacts query quality, data quality, and the overall usefulness of Wikidata to its users. Having participants contribute at this level of engagement is a noteworthy achievement.

This is why we think this course is so meaningful to improving Wikidata items, properties, and values. Our report makes it clear that we would not have been able to develop a course like this if it weren’t for the support of the Wikidata community. We believe detailed evaluation reports like this are an important part of growing the Wikimedia movement. We hope that our commitment to documenting our planning, processes, and results will benefit others in the Wikimedia movement.

Thanks to Wikidata Expert Ian Ramjohn, Customer Success Manager Samantha Weald, and Outreach & Communications Associate Cassidy Villeneuve for their input on the report. I will also be attending Wikidata Con 2019 in Berlin as well as Wiki Conference North America later this fall and would love to talk more about this program.

Click here to read our evaluation report. For more information about our current Wikidata courses, visit data.wikiedu.org.


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