In early 2010 I met Denny and Markus for the first time in a small room at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology to talk about Semantic MediaWiki, its development and its community. I was intrigued by the idea they’d been pushing for since 2005 – bringing structured data to Wikipedia. So when the time came to assemble the team for the development of Wikidata and Denny approached me to do community communications for it there was no way I could have said no. The project sounded amazing and the timing was perfect since I was about to finish my studies of computer science. In the one and a half years since then we have achieved something amazing. We’ve built a great technical base for Wikidata and much more importantly we’ve built an amazing community around it. We’ve built the foundation for something extraordinary. On a personal level I could never have dreamed where this one meeting in a small room in Karlsruhe has taken me now.
From now on I will be taking over product ownership of Wikidata as its product manager.
Up until today we’ve built the foundation for something extraordinary. But at the same time there are still a lot of things that need to be worked on by all of us together. The areas that we need to focus on now are:
Building trust in our data. The project is still young and the Wikipedia editors and others are still wary of using data from Wikidata on a large scale. We need to build tools and processes to make our data more trustworthy.
Improving the user experience around Wikidata. Building Wikidata to the point where it is today was a tremendous technical task that we achieved in a rather short time. This though meant that in places the user experience has not gotten as much attention. We need to make the experience of using Wikidata smoother.
Making Wikidata easier to understand. Wikidata is a very geeky and technical project. However to be truly successful it will need to be easy to get the ideas behind it.
These are crucial for Wikidata to have the impact we all want it to have. And we will all need to work on those – both in the development team and in the rest of the Wikidata community.
Let’s make Wikidata a joy to use and get it used in places and ways we can’t even imagine yet.
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