Annual report 2022/Story: Could Wikibase destroy the joke “It’s on Meta!”?

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Det här är en översatt version av sidan Verksamhetsberättelse 2022/Story: Skulle Wikibase kunna krossa skämtet "Det finns på Meta"?. Översättningen är till 100 % färdig och uppdaterad.

I den här Storyn fokuserar vi på vårt initiativ att ta fram ett nytt sätt att sammanställa kunskapen om en Wikimediaorganisations arbete och aktiviteter. Vi drar nytta av mjukvaruplattformen Wikibase och länkade strukturerade data i ett försök att bygga upp en struktur som enkelt kan användas av flera inom Wikimediarörelsen.

The project Content partnerships support became the first item in the database. If you have edited Wikidata, the software looks familiar.

The Wikimedia movement has been active for over 20 years. What began with Wikipedia in English is today a worldwide, multilingual movement that spreads its activities over many platforms. Wikipedia alone is available in 300 languages, not to mention its sister projects, such as Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata, Wiktionary and others. Each of them has its own community, its own rules and its own initiatives.

Apart from the Wikimedia Foundation in the USA, in several countries there are more or less formalized groups such as associations (Wikimedia Sweden is one of them) and user groups. Because of that, it's not surprising that there is a great need for communication, coordination and exchange of experiences among Wikimedians. Learning from each other is one of the movement's strengths. But are we really doing it optimally?

The Meta-Wiki platform was intended to be a place for exactly this: here we can coordinate communication and joint efforts between the communities, share information about interesting projects that have been done and document things that all Wikimedians can benefit from, regardless of where they edit. Over the years, Meta-Wiki has grown, just like all our platforms, and it is not always easy to find what you're looking for among all the information. If you're after something concrete, say a description of an activity carried out by a Wikimedia organization – because you want to do something similar with your local community – you go to Meta-Wiki with the feeling that it should be there, where else, and it's easy to get lost in the amount of information. Hence the title of this chapter, it's a joke that refers to the obvious feeling that something should be documented on Meta-Wiki, and the fun part – what makes it a giggle – consists in the fact that some feel that it doesn't make the search easier at all and that it is difficult to see what is missing.

We had this in mind when we decided to experiment with Wikibase, a database solution, to share information about our projects and activities with the global community. Wikibase is the software behind Wikidata and makes it possible to handle structured, linked data. Anyone can use Wikibase to set up their own database, and if you've worked with Wikidata, which many Wikimedians have, you'll be familiar with the mindset and underlying structure. Installing database software on your own server often requires a certain degree of technical know-how, but the newly developed platform Wikibase Cloud makes it much easier. On Wikibase Cloud, you can create your own Wikibase instance in the cloud" (hence the name), i.e. a server you don't own, and it doesn't take many clicks until you become a proud administrator of your own Wikidata-like platform.

That's how Metabase came to be, Wikimedia Sverige's own database of projects, events and documents, such as reports and presentations. Structuring the information in a database opens up completely new possibilities compared to descriptive texts on wiki pages. That is, the information can be searched based on any criteria, such as: what collaborative projects have we carried out together with Swedish art museums in the last five years? How many edit-a-thons focused on Wikidata have we organized? What reports have been written about our work and where can you read them?

We are not the first Wikimedia organization to embark on such a project. Wikimedia Belgium has done some work on Wikidata and created items for their activities, such as the equality project Wiki Women Design @ La Cambre Horta or the Women in Tech Edit-a-Thon Brussels 2018. There we can see how structured data can be used to state basic facts about an activity: when and where it took place, what topic it touched on, who organized it and which partner organizations, such as museums and other institutions, participated.

Our work with Metabase is still at an early stage. Building up our own database is a bit more complex than working with Wikidata, as we have to decide from the ground up how the data is to be modeled and linked to each other. All the choices must be defensible from a long-term perspective so that the platform can be used not only by us, but, why not, by other Wikimedia organizations. Especially when it comes to content partnerships – collaborations between the Wikimedia movement and cultural heritage institutions and other content owners – it's very valuable to be able to get an overview of what others have done, find their documentation learn what has worked or hasn't worked. Therefore, Metabase has the potential to make it easier for other Wikimedia organizations that choose to join the platform to be inspired and develop their activities. That's why we hope we can contribute to the fulfillment of the strategic recommendation to improve the management of the internal knowledge of the Wikimedia movement.

Documenting our choices is an important part of our work with Metabase; both the data structure and the documentation must be easy to understand so that others, not only WMSE's current staff, can fill the Wikibase instance with data about the work of the association and the movement. We are currently investigating the possibilities of obtaining support from the Swedish Public Employment Service to hire someone part-time – an experienced volunteer in the Wikimedia movement – who could do this. We are looking forward to seeing Metabase grow and become useful in 2023.