Semantic Wikibase: Using Wikidata in Your Wiki


Last updated on 2020-11-17. Written by Professional.Wiki


Imagine the data from Wikidata being available in your own wiki for you to query, visualize and enrich. Imagine you could use all the standard Semantic MediaWiki tools such as interactive inline visualizations on this data.

Sadly for now imagination is all we have. This article outlines functionality which we (and everyone we talked to) think would be of great value. We are looking for funding so we can make it a reality.

September 2020 update: A first version of Semantic Wikibase is now available.

Project highlights

The goal of this project is to increase consumability of data from Wikidata in other wikis.

The goal is achieved by creating a bridge between Wikibase, the software that runs Wikidata, and Semantic MediaWiki (SMW). This bridge would build on top of Wikibase federation and allow using data from Wikibase in SMW just like native SMW data. Such a connection is relatively simple and brings with it many time-tested features not currently available for Wikibase data.

Features

  • Consumption of data from Wikidata in typical structured wikis
  • Enriching local data sets with data from Wikidata
  • Visualizing data from Wikidata with all SMW visualization formats
  • Using existing SMW tooling to analyze and work with Wikidata data
  • Creating (simplified) projections of Wikidata data
  • Comparing local values with those in Wikidata
  • Doing all the above with data from any Wikibase instance

The project would create a foundation for further integrations like contributing data back to Wikidata.

Approach

We would create a new Semantic Wikibase extension for MediaWiki. This extension

  • Supports importing data from Wikidata/Wikibase into Semantic MediaWiki
  • Builds on top of SMW so existing tools and visualization formats can be used
  • Provides tools to select which entities are imported
  • Provides tools to project the data and map to local data models
  • Takes care of (optionally) updating the imported data
  • Allows linking local properties and concepts to Wikidata ones

We would follow Agile practices, meaning that we would be refining and extending the list of functionality to deliver through the development process by testing assumptions and soliciting feedback from stakeholders.

Funding

We are uniquely suited to develop this project since no one else has significant technical experience with both Wikibase and SMW. In particular, Jeroen De Dauw is one of the SMW maintainers. He also worked on Wikibase for about 5 years in a senior technical position, making more code changes than anyone else.

We expect that to get project right we need between half a year and one year with two people (FTEs). The required time will depend on the exact scope and includes paying a proper amount of attention to usability and sustainability. This translates into a budget between 200k EUR and 70k EUR.

Some things are possible with a much smaller budget. Creating a basic connection that stores Wikibase data to Semantic MediaWiki on the same wiki could be done for just a few thousand EUR. So even with a smaller budget we can make incremental steps towards a full connection with Wikidata.

We think this is an insanely cheap price tag for the value this project would bring. For comparison, the Wikimedia Foundation spends several millions a year on software development, with the full yearly cost of a single employee exceeding 70k EUR.

If you can fund (part) of this project or have ideas on how to get it funded, please get in touch.

Participate

Join the Semantic Wikibase Telegram to share your ideas and use cases or to ask questions.


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