Sunday, September 17, 2017

#Wikimedia and its #BLP approach


There is a huge controversy about the policies about the "Biographies of Living People". Central in all this is that there is no such policy at Wikidata. Many seasoned Wikipedians are of the opinion that using data in Wikipedia is a violation of its BLP policy as a consequence. At the same time there are seasoned Wikidatans who oppose a BLP policy similar to the one at Wikipedia. The problem is that Wikidata does need a BLP policy but it needs to be different for various reasons.

  • An item in Wikidata can be really rudimentary; Marian Latour, a Dutch author, was created because she won an award. This is allowed in Wikidata but the limited information is probably a violation of the English BLP policy. This information came from the Dutch Wikipedia
  • The initial data of Wikidata were the interwiki links. This was a huge improvement for the Wikipedias and there are still many items that have no statements. This is used as an argument not to accept information from Wikidata.
  • Wikidata data is retrieved from a Wikipedia, information like "who won an award". Given the BLP policy of that Wikipedia is should be faultless but it often is not due to disambiguation issues. 
The first issue refers to a red link on the Dutch Wikipedia. When the red link is associated with the Wikidata item, there will not be a new disambiguation issue when a different Marian Latour is introduced. Currently there is only one Marian Latour known to Wikidata.
The second issue is one where Wikidata statistics indicate that slowly but surely is adding statements. They also prove that there is still so much to do...
The third issue is the main one. When an article is linked to Wikidata, articles in other languages should link to the same item or to a red link. Solving these issues requires coexistence and preferably collaboration. 

What we need in a Wikipedia is the ability to link a blue or red link to a Wikidata item. Obviously changing links is either blatantly obvious like for Manuel Echeverria or it requires a source. Technically the necessary change in the MediaWiki software may be "opt in" so that only people who care about this approach to quality make use of it. 

As far as I am concerned, when some Wikipedians find fault elsewhere and do not reflect on this proposal and the improvements it brings them, that is fine. What is relevant is that this approach allows for the best Wikidata practices and at the same time improves the BLP quality in all Wikimedia projects.
Thanks,
       GerardM
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