Wikidata has received an amazing amount of attention, even before a single line of code was written. This is very encouraging, but it also leads to extremely high expectations. Wikidata is a lot of things to a lot of people. It is based on ideas, proposals and technology that have been developed for almost a decade within the Wikimedia movement, and even much longer before. It is obvious that, while Wikidata moves forward and while decisions are being made, we will not meet all these expectations.
This short note aims to collect some fundamental requirements for Wikidata, in order to ensure that the discussion and the collection of ideas by the community has good base in order to be effective.
The following requirements are not negotiable:
- Wikidata will be a Wikimedia project, eventually maintained and operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. This mandates that Wikidata will follow the principles and guidelines of the Wikimedia movement.
- The software to run Wikidata will be developed under an Open Source license, and will depend only on software that is Open Source.
- The setup for Wikidata should blend into the current Wikimedia Foundation infrastructure as easily as possible. This means that we should fit into the same dumping, backup, and operations infrastructure as far as possible. This mandates that we use MediaWiki, PHP, MySQL, etc.
- The content in Wikidata will be made available under a free license.
- The content in Wikidata will be exported using free standard formats.
- The success of Wikidata is not measured by the amount of data it stores, but by the creation of a healthy community and its usefulness for Wikipedia and other applications.
- Wikidata will not be about the truth, but about statements and their references. These can be contradictory.
- Wikidata will be fully internationalized, and available in all the languages of the Wikimedia projects.
- The expressiveness of Wikidata will be limited. There will always be examples of knowledge that Wikidata will not be able to convey. We hope that this expressiveness can increase over time.
- The developers of Wikidata do not decide on the content of Wikidata, just like the developers of MediaWiki do not decide on the content of Wikipedia. They can also be editors to Wikidata, but they do not get special rights within the community.
The following requirements are used as strong guidances that we apply in the design of Wikidata:
- Wikidata is a socio-technical system. Instead of trying to be overly intelligent, we rely on the Wikimedia communities.
- The first goal of Wikidata is to serve actual use cases in Wikipedia, not to enable some form of hypothetical perfection in knowledge representation.
- Wikidata has to balance ease of use and expressiveness of statements. The user interface should not get complicated to merely cover a few exceptional edge cases.
- What is an exceptional case, and what is not, will be defined by how often they appear in Wikipedia. Instead of anecdotal evidence or hypothetical examples we will analyse Wikipedia and see how frequent specific cases are.
- Let's be pragmatic. Finished is better than perfect.
- Wikidata will provide a lot of data that can support research. We want to ensure that it is easily usable.
- Wikidata will provide an API interface to create alternative UIs which are more intelligent than the standard Wikidata one.
- Wikidata will be editable by humans and by bots alike. But the people running the bots must be aware of their heightened responsibility to not overwhelm the community.