Open main menu

Wikidata:Property proposal/scope and content

scope and contentEdit

Return to Wikidata:Property proposal/Creative_work

   Under discussion
Descriptiona summary statement providing an overview of the archival collection
Representsscope and content (Q66763493)
Data typeMonolingual text
Example 1James A. Farley Papers (NAID 146765098) (Q66759541) → "The papers of James A. Farley consist of letters and a telegram from Harry S. Truman to Farley. The subject matter varies from responses to recommendation letters sent by Farley, to discussion of the political climate in Missouri during Truman’s time as a Senator."
Example 2Rafael Pico Papers (NAID 146765108) (Q66759542) → "The papers of Rafael Pico are composed of correspondence from his time as President of the Puerto Rico Planning Board, as well as letters related to his nomination as Commissioner of Education of Puerto Rico. Many of the papers concern his later appointment by President Harry S. Truman as a member of the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission."
Example 3Madge Gates Wallace Papers (NAID 2642226) (Q59495126) → "The Madge (Margaret) Gates Wallace Papers contain bank statements, canceled checks, receipts, correspondence, invitations, memorabilia, printed material, and other items relating to her life and family. Madge Gates Wallace was the first daughtof George P. and Elizabeth Gates, and the mother of Bess Wallace Truman."
See also


Scope and content (or a "scope and content note") is a standardized data field used in finding aids or catalog records for describing collections in archival science. It is usually a brief narrative field in which the archivist gives a formal overview of the collection in a human-readable statement. The A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology (Q59211060) describes it as "A narrative statement summarizing the characteristics of the described materials, the functions and activities that produced them, and the types of information contained therein." It is defined in data standards such as DACS, Library of Congress, Jisc, and NARA. Note that it is typically considered mandatory for describing archival collections.

Please note, though it may seem unstructured, this is not the same as Wikidata's "description" field, and that is why a property is necessary. It is a defined field from the data standard, with a specific meaning, and archivists follow a certain procedure in constructing it. Dominic (talk) 20:44, 26 August 2019 (UTC)

Updating per Will's suggestion below, a description I am using for one of the examples above is "collection in the National Archives and Records Administration's holdings". We don't usually put much more detail than that in the Wikidata item description, so that's how scope and content differs. Dominic (talk) 14:02, 30 August 2019 (UTC)


  •   Support This is great. It may be worth contrasting a Wikidata description example agaainst a scope and content example in this proposal so editors less familiar with this can distinguish the two. Wskent (talk) 21:46, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
  •   Support --2le2im-bdc (talk) 06:03, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
  •   Oppose unstructured content --- Jura 10:37, 5 September 2019 (UTC)
    • @Jura1: That is not true according to everything I wrote above. It is a defined field in structured datasets. Is your objection that the values are strings of human-readable text? But that is what monolingual-text datatype properties are for. See quote (P1683), inscription (P1684), epigraph (literature) (P7150), etc. Dominic (talk) 14:50, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
    • I understand your point of view, but I don't share it. --- Jura 15:03, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
      • It's fine to have a considered opinion on a topic, but I have linked to actual data standards this property is defined in, so you cannot simply call it "unstructured" and say we have a different point of view. Dominic (talk) 15:33, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
        • It's a summary text, just like a Wikipedia article. Wikipedia isn't actually unstructured either, but it's generally seen as such from a Wikidata point of view. --- Jura 16:04, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
        • Similar proposals: Wikidata:Property proposal/blazon discussed with @Multichill, PKM: or Wikidata:Property proposal/preparation instructions --- Jura 14:25, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
          • It's not similar at all. You are conflating all strings of descriptive text, referring to it as "unstructured," whereas this one is actually a required field in widely used data standards–which is different from just making a free-text field Wikidatans can put descriptions in. Dominic (talk) 19:23, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
            • Not sure if people doing Blazon descriptions would appreciate that. Blazon descriptions can appear cryptic, as the vocabulary being used in highly specialized. How is that different from what you are proposing? --- Jura 18:43, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
              • I think you are confused, because I didn't say anything about cryptic vocabulary being a good or bad thing. We are not here to argue for or against that other property, either. I am talking about a having a property so we can import particular fielded data, about items we already describe, from JSON- or XML-encoded archival datasets using professional data standards. You are calling that unstructured, which is just not true. If you believe a particular type of data is not appropriate for Wikidata, that is one thing, but it actually seems like you just have an axe to grind. Dominic (talk) 23:43, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────   Comment Just to summarize: it's a free text field and as such I oppose its creation. --- Jura 02:37, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
@Jura1: Repeating your falsehood with a "  Comment" and unindenting does not make it true. It's kind of rude. You are saying "free text" to imply anyone could put whatever they think in the field, whereas the actual proposal is for importing a data element from archival descriptions, which are generated by trained archivists at the repositories that contain the collections. It is a text field, but not in any way "free" text. Dominic (talk) 15:39, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I think we know about the problems with your imports, but this no reason to accuse people who review your addition of falsehood. It's probably preferable if you just link the source: this would avoid the problem with had with your previous import of 200,000 defective statements. You could use Wikisource or Commons for this set of free text descriptions. They are made for that. --- Jura 15:48, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
  •   Support Just to make clear my support for this. ArthurPSmith (talk) 17:10, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
  •   Support - PKM (talk) 19:11, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I'm not against the property itself, but I'm a bit worried that this is going to be filled with non-CC0 content, and therefor opening up a possible license issue, content wise. If the field is going to be filled with copy/paste texts from an archive website, it will not contain CC0 texts, and might therefor not belong to WikiData at all. Edoderoo (talk) 07:06, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
    • @Edoderoo: That is for the editor to determine, just as with other string properties (e.g. "excerpt" or "quotation"). My data source, for example, is a US government agency, and the values would all be PD. If an institution claims copyright, then it would not be able to be imported, but Wikidata already has policies for that. Dominic (talk) 15:31, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
  •   Oppose I have read the arguments above by the proponent. I think if the text has a restricted vocabulary, you should make an ontology and import it. If it's not formalized it either should be, or it is free text. I agree that the description field often has problems but that should be addressed elsewhere. --SCIdude (talk) 11:43, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
    • @SCIdude: I suppose you're against titles, then, since they do not use a controlled vocabulary? I don't understand where these arguments are coming from. It doesn't align with actual practice on Wikidata. Dominic (talk) 15:31, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
      • @Dominic: Titles and descriptions, and what else? --SCIdude (talk) 15:56, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
        • @SCIdude: The description is not a property, as that truly is free-text, but I am talking about the fact that Wikidata does allow and encourage many properties with non-controlled vocabulary values, such as "title", as long as they have a clear scope and rationale (as in this case). This is what the monolingual-text datatype is for. Just because the value does not consist of an entity (Item datatype) does not mean there can't be a single true value. It's not a free text field, as claimed above. Dominic (talk) 16:24, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
          • There are standards on what to add to a Wikidata item description, just as there are for blazon descriptions or the property you are proposing. --- Jura 10:27, 13 September 2019 (UTC)
  •   Comment @Wskent, Dominic, 2le2im-bdc, PKM, Edoderoo, SCIdude: Note Jura has solicited input from Project Chat here; people who've commented here may want to add their thoughts there as well. ArthurPSmith (talk) 17:10, 12 September 2019 (UTC)

2le2im-bdc (talk) 19:36, 30 May 2018 (UTC) Beat Estermann (talk) 23:29, 1 June 2018 (UTC) Flor WMCH Gilliane Kern (talk) 05:47, 5 June 2018 (UTC) Mauricio V. Genta (talk) 23:42, 1 September 2018 (UTC) Laureano Macedo (talk) 09:49, 13 September 2018 (UTC) Daniel Mietchen VIGNERON scottythered Patafisik anarchivist KelliBee123 (talk) 16:29, 6 August 2019 (UTC) Anne Chardonnens (talk) Yooylee 30 (talk) 23:15, 11 August 2019 (UTC) Mlemusrojas (talk) 19:40, 19 February 2019 (UTC) erussey Kcohenp (talk) 16:28, 03 June 2019 (UTC) Mrtngrsbch Amandine (talk) 19:58, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

  Notified participants of WikiProject Archival Description. Is it needed, according to the specialists? Nomen ad hoc (talk) 18:09, 12 September 2019 (UTC).

I posted there already when this property was proposed. Also, for what it's worth, I work at the US National Archives, and have specialist knowledge (which I have been sharing in the form of this proposal :) ). Dominic (talk) 19:36, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
All right, I didn't see it. And yes, I know you are; I should have said "other specialists" instead. Cheers, Nomen ad hoc (talk) 20:09, 12 September 2019 (UTC).
  Comment Dear @Dominic:, we, archivist, have to recognize this proposal as a borderline cas for Wikidata. String values are exceptions in Wikidata Properties and string with many sentences even more. "Scope and Content" is one of our keys standards description properties but not one obligatory. The really great job you make in Wikidata with archiv of NARA will it be stop without this properties? @Wskent, ArthurPSmith, Nomen ad hoc, PKM, Edoderoo, SCIdude: @Gilliane, Anchardo, LuciOle: --2le2im-bdc (talk) 06:39, 13 September 2019 (UTC)
  •   Support obviously, this seems to be an essential part of archiving procedure. Cheers, VIGNERON (talk) 08:20, 13 September 2019 (UTC)
  •   Neutral per 2le2im. Furthermore, chat about widening corporate purpose (P6346) (also a string-text property) to all kinds of project, unit or group officially proclaimed scopes (@Dominic:)? Nomen ad hoc (talk) 10:21, 13 September 2019 (UTC).
    • @Nomen ad hoc: Sorry, late reply, but regarding your suggestion, I think there is probably a distinction to be made between "authoritative" (as in, how it is described by some qualified source, such as a relevant heritage organization) and "official", (which is to say, probably found in a legal document, and generated by the corporate body itself, as seems to be the intention of corporate purpose (P6346)). For thinking about the "authoritative" meaning, we might look to descriptive elements for authorities are defined in data standards, such as DACS Description of Person, Family, or Corporate Body. I am not as well-versed in authorities, but I do think it's worthy of further discussion. Dominic (talk) 16:50, 2 October 2019 (UTC)
  •   Support Speaking as an archivist and someone who builds archival discovery systems, this is needed. The extent to which it is a required element from the standpoint of descriptive standards varies, but for example in Describing Archives: A Content Standard (Q5263780), it is required for single-item or top-level archival descriptions. Anarchivist (talk) 18:29, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
    • I think there are other fields that could benefit from a synopsis fields. It's just that we generally leave that to other WMF sites. --- Jura 15:46, 4 October 2019 (UTC)