Wikidata:Third Birthday

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Wikidata turns three!
Wikidata went live three years ago, on 29 October 2012. Over the past year the project has grown in amazing ways. In celebration of this anniversary, we have put together this page with some special notes, presents and thank yous as well as a party. Congratulations and best wishes for another great year! Stay as awesome as you are!
State of the project op-ed by Harmonia Amanda and Ash Crow
Ash_Crow is an active editor on Wikidata since December 2012 and Harmonia Amanda since March 2013. Both are administrators on Wikidata and the French Wikipedia, and members of a growing group of Wikidata editors meeting on a regular basis at the Local Cléry in Paris.

Another year and Wikidata is turning three! For those here since the beginning, we have come a long way and even these last months were filled with novelties. It's our pleasure to give this year our personal "state of the project", like Micru did last year and Sven Manguard did for the first birthday.

What has changed


So many things! The past year introduced quantities, ranks, statement ordering and monolingual text. We temporarily lost statement ordering but we gained many useful features, like featured portal badge, automatic deletion of links to a project page when the page is deleted there, the Flow extension, arbitrary access, label fallback in other languages, and so much more. All of these changes made the interface pretty much easier to use.

One of the big changes was the introduction of a much awaited datatype, number with units! This one proved to be a challenge for the development team as the choice of the best data model was a complicated one, but it fills one big gap on the data we can actually store on Wikidata, and makes it possible to store all (or nearly all) the missing infobox values from Wikipedia on Wikidata.

Another one is the brand new Wikidata SPARQL endpoint, which introduces at last the possibility to answer a question that was asked a long time ago: "list the largest cities in the world with women as mayors", all in one request. Of course, it also allows many other questions to be answered as well, and marks the entrance of Wikidata into the standards of the semantic web as defined by Tim Berners-Lee.



Wikidata's community is still great! The comments Sven made two years ago are still true to a large extent. It's still a pleasure to work on Wikidata, and the community is still a welcoming, friendly and enthusiastic one. In particular, we are happy to see that Wikidata shows none of the sexism that many female editors encountered on Wikipedia. We are also really pleased by the fact we cannot remember any big drama occuring over the past twelve months. Of course, working with so many people from different countries and with different backgrounds can make communication somewhat difficult and cause tensions, and disagreement can cause tensions as well, but overall, this never ends with a crisis. The same can be said for the relation between the development team and the community: it is really good, and we could say surprisingly good when compared to the reception some new features have met on Wikipedia over the last years.

Other projects


The relation between Wikidata and the other Wikimedia projects continues to strengthen. Wikibooks, Meta, MediaWiki and Wikispecies all join the bandwagon of projects whose sitelinks are managed through Wikidata, and many features profit Wikipedia. The badges for good and featured articles are now mostly managed on Wikidata and most of the Wikipedias have deleted their local templates. Similarly, authority templates on several Wikipedias are now using Wikidata. The new translation tool on Wikipedia automatically adds a sitelink on Wikidata. Several Wikipedias are using dozens of Lua infoboxes which are using data from Wikidata when the information is not locally present. The addition of arbitrary access to Wikidata has made it possible to increase the data used in the infoboxes and, more important, to create dynamic lists.

But not everything is shiny. The large influx of data coming from Wikidata has sometimes received a dubious welcome. While many editors embraced the new possibilities offered by Wikidata, many others expressed fears of vandalism from outside their wiki of choice, of having to argue in a foreign language about cultural differences, and some doubts of the quality of the data itself. The German Wikipedia adopted a policy about integration of data from Wikidata, and a similar one is under discussion on the French Wikipedia, although things started to go out of control early October with editors losing patience on both sides, some of them taking wikibreaks, some of them making points and getting blocked, and in the end an administrator contest. While the tensions have cooled down since, the damage has been done and it will take time for the French Wikipedia community to have serene discussions about Wikidata again.

On a happier note, some non-Wikimedia projects have given a good reception to Wikidata, like OpenStreetMap which has thousands of objects tagged with Wikidata ID, and Google who decided to merge its Freebase database with Wikidata.

What's to come?


This year saw some big steps accomplished, but many things are still on the development roadmap. First, there are plans for a redesign of the UI, both for computer and mobile users. New datatypes are planned: multilingual text, formulas and geo-shapes, and improvements are planned on existing ones. The support of Wiktionary in Wikidata is in discussion.



Some raw numbers now.

  • In October 2014 we had less than 23% of Wikidata items without statements (~53% in October 2013). This year, in late September, ~ 51% of all Wikidata items have none, one or two statements according to Magnus.
  • Wikidata is now the third most active Wikimedia projects behind the English Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, with ~5900 active users in June 2015.
  • Wikidata reached 200,000,000 edits in February 2015.
  • 93% of items about people have a gender set in July 2015
  • We reached 70M statements in September.
  • Oh, and the item Q20150617 was created on 2015-06-17 :)



All in all, while we have to keep an eye of the reception of Wikidata in the sister projects, it is still an amazing project, bustling with activity, with a thriving community, and the only thing we can hope is that it continues on this track.

Best wishes, Wikidata, and happy birthday!
The party!
We had a party in Berlin. You can find out more about it on the party page.
Artwork created at the party
A message from the development team
The third year has been an exciting one for Wikidata - one of struggles, breakthroughs and ❤︎. Our mission is to give more people more access to more knowledge. Everything we do comes back to this, and this is by what we should be judged. I want to take a moment to reflect with you on what we have achieved, and where we are going next.

What happened over the past year? We stayed true to who we are whilst growing!


We have gained more acceptance and recognition both inside and outside of Wikimedia. Inside of Wikimedia, we have seen many projects have important discussions on their use of Wikidata’s data - like the German-language Wikipedia agreeing to conditional use or the English-language Wikipedia agreeing to deprecate their persondata template. Many Wikipedias and other sister projects are starting to adapt their articles to make use of Wikidata’s data like the Hungarian, French or English language Wikipedias, and we have studies showing how to do even better. None of this has come easily, but we did it and it was worth it!

The Open Data Award ceremony
The same is happening outside of Wikimedia. 3rd parties are moving to Wikidata, like VIAF and MusicBrainz. We achieved this among other things by making it easier for them to embrace us through dedicated places. And we engage with significant events, like the World Health Summit this year. The most impactful decision of this year though was probably Google’s decision to close Freebase in favour of Wikidata. We have embraced it as an opportunity to grow and make Wikidata more useful while at the same time making sure our community stays healthy. (People before data!) This was no small feat, but we did it and we should be proud of it. All this hard work was also recognised. We won two prizes: the Open Data Award and Land der Ideen.

With Wikidata becoming more useful and accepted, we have also seen many tools and initiatives pop up that have now become possible. I can't name them all but will just give a very brief selection: Mix'n'match helps us connect to other databases by making it easy to match up an external database’s record with one in Wikidata. The Wikidata Game allows people to make thousands of small contributions to grow our knowledge base, even on mobile phones. AskPlatypus answers questions about the world with the help of Wikidata. Inventaire brings the world closer together, allowing people to share books – enriched by Wikidata’s data. Histropedia makes it possible to visualize our history – also made possible by Wikidata. And even silly and cute little things like @happybdauthors suddenly are just a few lines of code away.

We also dared to venture into new fields. We made Wikidata a hub for linked open life science data, reached the milestone of 100.000 paintings through the Sum of all Paintings WikiProject, collaboratively and openly wrote a huge research proposal and wrote an artificial neural network to help Wikidata.

We untied a few really hard knots on the technical side as well. The most important ones being a query service, support for units, access to data from arbitrary items, language fallbacks, mobile support and statements on properties.

All of this together has helped us to provide more and better data. We increased the number of statements from 49 million to 70 million, and at the same time improved the percentage of statements with a useful reference from 13% to nearly 20%. 50% of our items have three or more statements now - up from 43% one year ago. This means Wikidata knows significantly more about the world. And the percentage of items with labels in at least five languages increased from 23% to 26%, meaning Wikidata’s content is understandable by more people.

This has been made possible by all of us working together! Roughly 6500 people make 5 or more contributions to Wikidata each month and roughly 1000 of them even more than 100 edits.

Oh and the third year is also the year we were finally able to answer the question that started it all ;-)

What is coming? We will turn it up a notch!


There is still so much to do. And that is what makes Wikidata exciting and worthwhile for me — seeing how together we make progress, creating something beautiful that changes the world. Amongst the things we still need to do are improving the user interface, provide better tools for data maintenance and quality work, and integrate better with all the other Wikimedia projects, help bring them more closely together. We will need to build out our social structures, like WikiProjects, to make them scale better and keep the project healthy. I also want us to become a better citizen of the Linked Open Data Web by no longer being a dead-end, but instead a vibrant hub in it.

The coming year will be expansive, delighting and awesome. It will be the year in which I want us to make significant headway in our mission of giving more people more access to more knowledge. So far we have done great at improving infrastructure and access for projects and people who are usually already advantaged when it comes to access to knowledge. Over the coming year we need to put effort into improving the situation for everyone else. We need to for example make true on our promise to support the smaller Wikipedias and the other sister projects more. We will do this through efforts like the article placeholder. It will provide information to the readers of a Wikipedia when it does not have an article. This, my hope, will make these Wikipedias more useful, attract more editors and ultimately give more people more access to more knowledge. Together, we can do this!

Here is to another great year. Stay as awesome as you are!

Lydia and the development team

Wikidata Map October 2015
No birthday without a bunch of presents, right? Wikidata received some as well!
Birthday wishes from the community
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