Wikidata is a project of Wikimedia, the non-profit organization that also runs the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. For six years, volunteer contributors to Wikidata have been structuring data so that it can be read and edited by both humans and machines.
This ensures that information can fly freely between the Web and other technology platforms. As more people interact with the internet, not just through the Web and websites like Wikipedia, but through speaking and listening to devices, this is becoming increasingly important.
Machines can understand Wikidata because it parses information you would normally read in a Wikipedia article into separate blocks. For example: “Paris is the capital city of France.” “Paris has a population of 2,206,488.” “Paris’ coordinates are 48°51’23.68″N, 2°21’6.58″E.”
By structuring this information and giving every entry a unique ID, Wikidata gives more than 5,000 websites, archives, libraries and databases a shared backbone: if you update one entry, other entries where the information is referenced will automatically be updated too, in every language.
Wikidata isn’t the only initiative to organize, or try to organize, the Web’s data. Similar projects have struggled due to its vastness. So what makes Wikidata successful? “Community is the biggest asset for Wikimedia,” says Lydia Pintscher, Wikidata’s Product Manager. “Without our partners and contributors, and the people who use the data, it wouldn’t be there.”
Indeed, Wikidata’s community of tens of thousands of volunteer contributors have provided more than 850 million collective edits over the years.