Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/Using Visualizations based on Wikidata to Identify Knowledge Gaps on Wikipedia

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  • Visualizing Wikipedia Knowledge Gaps. Using data visualizations based on Wikidata to identify Wikipedia knowledge gaps.
  • Invisible. According to Wikidata the number of articles on Wikipedia about people born in Africa is extremely limited compared to people born in Germany, France and Turkey.
  • Women have the smallest slice of this little cake. According to Wikidata, the percentage of women born in Africa in XIX and XX century with a Wikipedia article is 15-20%.

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  • We have compared data from Wikidata to define the knowledge gaps on the Wikimedia projects about Africa. The resulting visualizations helped us to make the gaps more understandable to anyone.

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Number of people with an article on WIkipedia - comparison between Africa and Europe (Germany, France, Turke: the three current most populated countries). Visualization produced in the frame of the Workshop Wikidata SUPSI by Giovanni Profeta, Marco Lurati, Fabian Frei, Florence Devouard, Serena Cangiano, Iolanda Pensa, Laboratory of visual culture SUPSI License cc by-sa.
Animated map of women, with an article on WIkipedia, born between 1900 and 1999. Visualization produced in the frame of the Workshop Wikidata SUPSI by Marco Lurati, Fabian Frei, Giovanni Profeta, Florence Devouard, Serena Cangiano, Iolanda Pensa, Laboratory of visual culture SUPSI License cc by-sa.

To support the research project Wikipedia Primary School, the Laboratory of visual culture at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) experimented the use of Wikidata to generate data visualizations and communicate the knowledge gaps about Africa that exist on the Wikimedia projects.

Wikidata acts as central storage for the structured data of Wikimedia sister projects. The database allows expert users to develop query and to generate big data sets. From 6th to 9th February, we run a hands-on and intensive workshop in Lugano to understand how to retrieve data on Wikidata and to generate visualizations that highlight the missing knowledge on Wikipedia.

Thanks to the support of Florence Devouard about the Wikimedia projects and Jens Ohlig about Wikidata, we have explored how to break down in Wikidata queries fundamental research questions regarding the typologies and qualities of biographies of notable persons from Africa. We started working on this topic in order to build upon a good example of data visualization created by the Oxford Internet Institute about the distribution of biographies of notable people throughout history. The goal was to dig into this topic by manipulating large datasets and by sharing with the community pictures of the gaps existing between Africa and a selection of European counties with the largest population. In the comparison, Africa simply disappears. We have validated our hypothesis by finding an evidence into the data and by visualizing the gap.

The workshop had the goal to test a process and a method to work with Wikidata which is a tool still requiring competences from expert users. Moreover, we aimed to validate a format that can be replicated in future workshops addressing the topic of knowledge gaps on the Wikimedia projects. The process and the full credits are documented on the workshop page on meta.

According to Wikidata, percentage of women and men, born in Africa between 1800-1999, with article on Wikipedia compared to Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

According to Wikidata, professions of men and women born in Africa with an article on Wikipedia.

Dr. Serena Cangiano, Giovanni Profeta, Marco Lurati, Fabian Frei, Florence Devouard, Dr. Iolanda Pensa
Laboratory of visual culture at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI)