Transatlantic work on structured data in Berlin

Jens Ohlig

14. October 2014

Die deutsche Version dieses Beitrags findet sich hier.

Last week Wikimedia Deutschland was happy to welcome guests for a special technical discussion that spawned an entire week at the headquarters in Berlin. Members from the multimedia team of the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco, members from the team developing software for Wikidata at Wikimedia Deutschland and technical experts and developers from the volunteer community came together to discuss Wikimedia Commons and structured data.

Structured data was an important topic in many talks on technology at this year’s Wikimania in London. It is the principle behind Wikidata — a free knowledge base with data that can be filtered, sorted, queried, and of course edited by machines and human beings alike, all in a way that goes beyond storing wikitext in a specific human language. The technology in the engine room of Wikidata is a software project called Wikibase which stores data in a structured way. Ideas that Wikimedia Commons, the free repository of media files, could benefit from structured data and Wikibase have been floating around for a long time, as have thoughts about making Commons more user-friendly and make license-conforming re-use of pictures easier. The weeklong meeting in Berlin marked the starting point of a planning and discussion process that brought together Wikimedians from both sides of the pond.

The community in the Wikiverse and especially on Commons will be the most important part in the development that is now going to start. In preparation of the massive community process, members of the technical teams sat down together and asked the fundamental questions to get the ball rolling:

  • What may be major pain points for users of Commons? What workflows are used today? What improvements are most important to the community?
  • How can the three teams (in Berlin, in San Francisco, and in the worldwide volunteer community) work together seamlessly?
  • How can we start a dialogue about the future of Commons using structured data?

Tough questions indeed, and it will take more than a single get-together. This will be an ongoing point of discussion and involvement for the next weeks and months.

Although planning is in the earliest stages of the process and the focus right now is on how to find out what we want, there are already places to get involved. The central page on the Commons wiki is your place to go to join the discussion. Over the next few days, we will fill in the blanks there: write an FAQ, document ideas so far, and of course take input. If you want to stay up to date, you should subscribe to the on-wiki newsletter.

If you are interested, please join the IRC chat this Thursday, to discuss the initial ideas.

First steps are about to be taken. Let’s be bold.



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