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Wikidata is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation: a free, collaborative, multilingual, secondary database, collecting structured data to provide support for Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, the other Wikimedia projects, and well beyond that.
What does this mean?
Let's look at the opening statement in more detail:
- A new project. Wikidata started in 2012 and was the first new Wikimedia project since the inception of Wikiversity in 2006.
- Free. The data in Wikidata is published under Creative Commons 1.0 as public domain, allowing the reuse of the data in many different scenarios. You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the data, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
- Collaborative. The data in Wikidata is entered and maintained by Wikidata editors, who decide on the rules of content creation and management in Wikidata. Bots do also enter data in Wikidata.
- Multilingual. Editing, consuming, browsing, and reusing the data is fully multilingual. Data entered in any language is immediately available in all other languages; editing in any language is possible and encouraged.
- A secondary database. Wikidata can record not just statements, but also their sources, thus reflecting the diversity of knowledge available and supporting the notion of verifiability.
- Collecting structured data. Unlike Wikimedia Commons, which collects media files, and the Wikipedias, which produce encyclopedic articles, Wikidata will collect data, in a structured form. This will allow easy reuse of that data by Wikimedia projects and third parties, and will enable computers to easily process and “understand” it.
- Support for Wikimedia projects. Wikidata supports Wikipedia with more easily maintainable language links and infoboxes, thus reducing the workload in Wikipedia and increasing its quality. Improvements or updates in one language are available in all other languages.
- Support well beyond that. Everyone will be able to use Wikidata for a huge number of different services.
Wikidata has centralized Wikipedia interlanguage links (interwiki links) on all the Wikipedias and provides now additional links to Commons, Wikivoyage and Wikisource. It will provide aditional links to all other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation in the future.
You can find more information about Wikidata and its ongoing development on the Wikidata page on Meta.
Timeline of deployment on Wikidata
- The first phase provided a centralized interwiki system for interwiki links as an alternative to the former system. It was deployed on Wikidata in October 2012. It has been deployed to all Wikipedias as of March 6th 2013 according to Status updates/2013 03 01.
- The second phase (infoboxes) gathers infobox-related data with the goal of filling the infoboxes with data from Wikidata. The first software version of phase 2 was deployed to Wikidata on February 4th 2013, though some elements still haven't been rolled out.
- The third phase (lists) will allow the automatic updating and translation of list articles. Planned deployment of this phase on Wikidata is in late 2013.
What do we have so far?
We launched the Wikidata repository—that is the wiki you are currently looking at. Wikidata has collected the language links for Wikipedia articles. That is, you can go to a random page on Wikidata and check it out, and what you will find is a page that lists the language links for a specific topic, i.e. it lists all the articles on the different language editions of Wikipedia that are about the same topic.
Furthermore, you can add a short label, description and some aliases to the given item in the language of your interface. You can switch your interface language choosing the Universal Language Selector on the top of every Wikidata page. The addition of labels and descriptions is an ongoing process and will keep on for many months.
All the Wikipedias can use the language links from Wikidata. The other functionality will be added piece by piece in the following weeks and months.
Since April 24, 2013 all Wikipedias have the ability to include data from Wikidata in articles. For the moment, seven datatypes (Item, Commons media file, String, Time, Geographic coordinates, Number and URL) can be used for properties. Other data types will come in the course of time. Users can link items to other items by using properties, can add sources and qualifiers to properties. Users can link items of people to their place of birth, to their occupation or to its number of an authority control database, link a politician to his or her political party. Users can give mountain peaks, places or buldings geocoordinates, link an item about a township to its next higher administrative unit, link a country to its highest representative, to its national anthem and so on. All this informations can be used in any language to display it in infoboxes in their own language even if all the information is taken from a different language.
That sounds cool. How can I help?
Thanks for your interest! Wikidata can only be a success if there is a critical mass of contributors to the project. We are aware that very different communities are interested in the work of Wikidata. The best way for now to keep up-to-date and to participate in discussions is to subscribe to the Wikidata mailing list after carefully reading over our existing drafts of help pages and gaining understanding of a current Wikidata structure.
Since you are here, maybe you are interested in being part of the Wikidata community? This is a new, not long ago bare wiki, and we can witness how the project spaces will be built and become alive. In the beginning there was no technical documentation of the software, how it worked, how you added language links, what labels were for, etc. All these things were developed with the help of our users. If you have questions, please feel free to ask the developers, and we would be thankful if documentation would be improved here.
If you have further questions, a lot of data can be found on the Wikidata portal on meta. Some links to get started follow: