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Wikidata:Usability and usefulness

Development plan Usability and usefulness Status updates Development input Contact the development team

Here, the Wikidata Development Team organizes and shares work on making Wikidata more useful and usable for our users. To gain knowledge about user needs, we bring in our experiences at Meetups, Conferences and on mailinglists. We also do focused research like interviews and test our software for usability.

People trying out a new interface

What we learn is often summarized in examples of use, little stories known as "scenarios". Since many different users are interested in Wikidata, we try to remind ourselfs of this diversity by having "example users" which serve as an example of how a user of a broad cluster (like "very active Wikidata editor") could be like. If we learn something new, we will update these materials. There are different levels of certainty about such assumptions, which we also try to communicate – is it something that is more a merely plausible assumption or is it research-tested and has gone through a check by other community members?


Scenarios are examples of typical tasks and workflows.

Example users:Edit

Example users are brief descriptions of different, plausible user types.

UX ResearchEdit


  • Motivations, Activities and Problems of GLAM institutions’ work with Wikidata (since 2019-07)


User needs and activitiesEdit
Heavvy Commons UsersEdit

Summary: People who often contribute to Wikimedia commons use various tools that play an important role in their work With these tools they can do bulk edits (which is the most frequent type of editing). They structure data with templates and categories; maintenance categories serve to signify TODOs. To find the "right" categories to add, they look at similar images or traverse categories. Finding images is not easy, they look at categories or use the commons link in Wikipedia Articles.

Heavvy Commons Users, late 2016 (to the pdf with slides on Wikimedia Commons)

Wiktionary UsersEdit
  • An interest in Language(s) itself seems to be common: linguistics, learning languages, preserving a language, etymology... Specializations are more towards »improving etymologies«, »vocabulary I learned« and less towards a topic like »Animals« or »Technology«.
  • Data on Wiktionary is structured explicitly using Wikitext templates. Links to words, grammatical Forms, phonetic transcription etc. have own templates. Knowing the most basic templates (~20) is needed to edit Wiktionary successfully.
  • The communities are much smaller than the one on de.WP or en.WP. This leads to “Recent Changes” being actually useful and that Article talk pages are less used. Instead, meeting places like “tea room” are used for article discussions. A small community does not mean that people know each other in person.

Wiktionary Users early 2017 (to pdf with summary poster on Wikimedia Commons)

Workflows and motivations of Wikidata editorsEdit

Wikidata Editors…

  • …worked from lists (Petscan; Listeria, Recent changes…) which provide an overview of ToDos and provide links to the items (see graphic)
  • …had large ("reduce gender gap") and more concrete topics ("add woman painters from the 18th century from a catalog") they care about
  • …used references, ranks and value specifiers rarely. These functions are often not understood as intended

Workflows and motivations of Wikidata editors, late 2017 (which has a summary, results and the archived call for participants)

Interviews of users of lexicographical dataEdit
Usability TestingEdit

Third Party ResearchEdit

research by others


Support our UX research!

If you would like to participate in user research, and would like to be asked when we need feedback on a new function or would be open to show us how you work on wikidata: Please approach us on the talk page!