Wikidata turns two!
Wikidata went live two years ago, on 29 October 2012. Because of an amazing community the project has flourished and is now showing its true potential. In celebration of this anniversary, we have put together this page with some special notes, presents and thank yous. Congratulations and best wishes for another great year!
State of the project op-ed by User:Micru
Yet another year has passed and in appearance not much seems to have changed. Only by taking a look back to how things were back in October 2013, one can notice that there has been indeed a lot of positive change that sometimes is overlooked if not put into context. As Sven did last year, I wrote a short subjective summary about the state of the project.
What has changedEdit
One year ago there were no quantities, there were no ranks, no statement ordering, and no monolingual text. So all those sorted population statements with historical data that are now present in items representing administrative units were simply not there.
Also this year the initial batch of sister projects got their sitelinks managed through Wikidata. Commons came first, then Wikisource, Wikiquote, Wikinews, and Wikidata itself. There is still a lot to be done regarding sister projects, but at least now some communities got a first contact with Wikidata, which is a crucial step for our diverse communities to make the most out of it.
Less visible changes but also terribly important have been the ability to merge and redirect items. There have been also other changes in how labels and sitelinks are edited, which brought some distress to existing tools, workflows, and stability, but that are a necessary step towards the planned UI redesign.
The community developer front has been very active too. Volunteers, students, and third parties have developed more functions and applications, like badges, property suggestion, "in other projects" sidebar, data edition from Wikipedia infoboxes, the Wikidata toolkit, The Game, and Histropedia, just to name a few.
There are now 500 properties more than last year, which is a 50% increase over the thousand properties created during the initial year. This enhanced expressivity poses a challenge to organize them in a comprehensive and automated way, and to present them to new contributors without overwhelming them. It is expected that the planned “statements on property pages” feature will help to classify them and to maintain them better and without so much overhead maintenance effort as now.
The number of statements, labels and sources is increasing steadily, as it can be seen in the statistics. The community has been also gaining a deeper understanding about how to represent more information about the real world, through countless discussions in different domains and WikiProjects. This deep insight building is a slow process, however it is the engine of change and data improvement, totally necessary if the Wikidata community wants to go beyond the mere accumulation of unconnected facts.
And of course the number of attempts to reach out, and to integrate with external databases keeps increasing both in number and in diversity. One of the latest has been the creation of items to represent all human genes.
During last Wikimania there was what can be considered the first community gathering. A great opportunity to put faces to nicks, to brainstorm ideas, to discuss issues in a more relaxed environment, and of course to share great moments.
What remains the sameEdit
Wikidata keeps gathering an awesome community that inherits the expertise accumulated during the first generation of Wikimedia projects. There have been few incidents, driven mostly by the inevitable friction generated by a mix of cultures from around the world, with each member used to different ways of working and communicating.
The partnership development-community has a good team spirit. There have been bumps on the road, the always inevitable bugs, but there is a mutual understanding and a good communication. When proposing changes one doesn’t have the impression that is talking in the void, there is always a dialogue, and a justification that some features might have priorities over others.
Massive support of infoboxes still looks far away on the horizon considering that the number with units datatype is not there, and it is not yet possible to use data from unconnected items. An added complexity is that sometimes the data is not easily importable as it was mixed with text on infoboxes, so adoption will be a slow process, that could be boosted if there was development support during the transition.
The performance of the site was improved at the beginning of the year, however there has been a regression, specially for large items. Slow reactivity is still a monster to defeat, or at least to tame.
What is expected to changeEdit
There is still a lot of expectation for the datatype with units, and for the ability to access data from unconnected items. The conversion of many infoboxes depend on those features for being successfully adapted to draw information from Wikidata, but specially they are necessary to convince Wikipedians to participate in the change.
Also Wikidata for Commons has just been set into motion. This project is being set forward by WMDE in partnership with the WMF, whose social capital suffered a setback with the last big projects that were perceived as “coming from outside the community”, and not grown from within. A good technical solution doesn’t mean that it will be embraced, specially if the incentive for change is not high enough. In the case of Commons, this incentive could be offered through complex transitive queries, or better cross-project metadata integration, however those candies are not there yet.
At the community there is also the challenge to accommodate users with a high volume of automatic edits (which bring some errors), and users that work manually but more precisely. Perhaps a way to define in which project an editor is working, and how, would help to increase mutual understanding, since the way of working in Wikidata is more transversal, reaching more items at once, as opposed to other sister projects like Wikipedia where the edit context is more readily visible.
A new challenge will be to transform property constraints into something both practical and in line with Semantic Web standards. There are limitations about how much information can be presented in the user interface, plus other limitations if Wikidata wants to keep being compatible with standards like OWL.
On the ontology level, compatibility with level external standards also plays a significant role, which sometimes clashes with the need of devising user-friendly properties and clear organization methods. So far there has been more efforts in gathering data than in defining basic concepts like “kitchen”, “freedom”, or “wish” in terms of relationships with other concepts. All advances in this area will help pave the way for Wiktionary, one of the still distant frontiers.
ConclusionEditWikidata is thriving and very alive. The number of challenges remains high on all fronts and the advances might not be as quick as they might have been predicted one year ago, but they are nevertheless happening. What makes a community strong is mutual understanding between all the persons involved, and so far we have enjoyed a lot of a good camaraderie that brings us all together forward as a team. If we continue like that we will see many more great Wikidata years in the future. Congratulations to everyone involved!
A message from the development team
Wikidata is turning two today.
Let's take a look back at what we achieved over the last year. We have continued to build and grow an amazing community and project. Within two years we have become one of the household names for free and open data about the world. At this point nearly 13.000 people edit Wikidata every month. We are collecting data about nearly 13 million concepts that is viewed nearly 60 million times a month. We are serving several hundred languages. Wikidata is improving in quality and quantity every single day. This is an amazing success.
Over the past year we have added new features (e.g. ranks, quantities datatype, monolingual text datatype, badges, merges and redirects, “in other projects” sidebar), worked on countless others and improved existing ones. We started supporting more sister projects by giving them access to the data on Wikidata. At the same time more experiments have started around Wikidata’s data and tools and applications have been built that demonstrate what Wikidata is capable of. The Wikidata Game is one of them. It is evolving and in the near future a similar concept will be shown to Wikipedia readers on their mobile phones to help expand our knowledge base. Histropedia is using data from Wikidata to enhance their timelines with useful information or to build new ones. Researchers are making Wikidata the central hub for linked open life science data. The Russian Wikipedia is experimenting with editing information on Wikidata directly from their articles. Some Wikipedias are enhancing their search result via Wikidata. Qlabel helps you to create multilingual websites with the help of Wikidata. And many many more. Over the past year we have also seen a shift in the public perception of Wikidata. We’ve gone from a project that might or might not matter to one that definitely does. This could be seen at Wikimania in London for example where Wikidata was everywhere. Or in recognitions like the recent nomination for the Open Data Awards. All these pieces are key in our mission to provide free knowledge to everyone.
As a two-year old we are not perfect. Over the next year we need to concentrate on a few things in my opinion:
What does the future hold? Many amazing things! Wikidata will continue to grow in relevance and expand its place as a central key piece of infrastructure in Wikimedia and beyond. We will work on improving the quality of our data and build more trust in it and we will make the website more user-friendly. We will have to adapt to the fact that our data is being used and especially need to support the re-use of our data inside Wikimedia more.
This second birthday is also a good opportunity to remind ourselves why we are doing all this. We are building a multilingual knowledge base that allows us to give more people more access to more knowledge - every single day. With each new edit on Wikidata we are helping someone gain knowledge - no matter what language they speak.
We should be proud of what we already achieved! Exciting times are ahead of us. The world is starting to realize what we knew since the beginning of Wikidata two years ago: Wikidata is changing the world.
Happy birthday, Wikidata! Here's to many more amazing years and successes for you. Stay innovative, passionate, caring, smart, forgiving, open, trustworthy and surprising - in short: stay awesome!
Birthday wishes from the community
*First comment! Happy 2nd birthday, Wikidata! We've accomplished so much in this time! --AmaryllisGardener talk 17:54, 29 October 2014 (UTC)