Documenting Software Applications on Wikidata

Most of us have heard about Wikipedia and probably use it daily. However, many are still not aware of the much recent project of the Wikimedia Foundation called Wikidata. Wikidata, started in 2012 is a sister project of Wikipedia and is aimed to be a knowledge base of facts with references. Unlike Wikipedia, which is aimed primarily for human consumption, Wikidata can be used both by machines and humans, given its structured nature. This article documents how Wikidata can play a key role in the documentation of software.

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Software Documentation on Wikipedia

Instead of focusing on individual software, this article focuses on two popular Linux distributions called KDE and GNOME, because they manage a very large number of applications. Both these distributions have an international open-source community with contributors from across the world. These contributions can be in many forms including development, testing, marketing, documentation, etc. Each distribution has several software applications related to games, education, development, graphics, multimedia, internet, etc. Many of the software applications sometimes have their own homepages or dedicated pages on the KDE or GNOME websites and sometimes even both. Some applications have also been documented on Wikipedia.

Screenshot of the article KDE Applications on English Wikipedia as of December 2020
Screenshot of article GNOME Core Applications on English Wikipedia as of December 2020
Screenshot of the template Template:KDE on English Wikipedia as of December 2020
Screenshot of the template Template:KDE on Italian Wikipedia as of December 2020
Screenshot of the template Modèle:Palette KDE on French Wikipedia as of December 2020
Screenshot of the template Predefinição:KDE on Portuguese Wikipedia as of December 2020
Screenshot of the template Template:GNOME on English Wikipedia as of December 2020
Screenshot of the template Predefinição:GNOME on Portuguese Wikipedia as of December 2020

Software Documentation on Wikidata

Wikidata is a free, open, linked, structured, collaborative, and multilingual knowledge base. Wikidata allows contributors to document different concepts across domains and is not just limited to software. Additionally, Wikidata contributors can import existing information from different language Wikipedia to Wikidata. Every Wikidata article (also called item) has several statements. Each statement can be seen as a combination of three values: subject-property-value, where the subject is the Wikidata article, property could be one of the following discussed above: homepage, logo, images, screenshots, etc. and value corresponds to the property value. Each statement must also be supported by one or more references. These references include books, journals, etc. If the information is imported from a Wikipedia page, it can also be specified.

Wikidata importing key information of software applications from different language pages
Wikidata becoming a central point of information on software applications for different language pages

Information related to Software

What type of information about Software can be documented on Wikidata. Every article on Wikidata is usually called an item-page. We will see the property pages later. Take, for example, the software called Akregator has a page on Wikidata: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q1765672, where Q1765672 is called the identifier (or Q-number) of the software Akregator. In the screenshot below, we see this identifier along with the labels, descriptions, and aliases for the software. The contributors translate this information into different languages. Hence, Wikidata is also referred to as a multilingual knowledge base.

Wikidata article on Akregator
Statements related to Akregator on Wikidata
Statements related to Akregator on Wikidata in French
Property instance of on Wikidata
  1. image P18
  2. logo image P154
  3. GUI toolkit or framework P1414
  4. software version P348

Wikidata WikiProjects

Wikidata WikiProjects help the contributors to identify the properties required to document a software application or information about other domains. For example, given below are some projects related to identifying the properties for software, operating systems, programming languages, etc.

  1. WikiProject Informatics/Operating System
  2. WikiProject Informatics/Programming Language
WikiProject Software lists properties to describe software

How to edit?

The next important question is how to add new information on Wikidata. The first option is to add it manually. The following screenshot shows how a new statement is added. A contributor wants to add the information: the official website on a Wikidata page. They type the first few characters and Wikidata shows two properties and they can choose any one of them and add the value.

Contributor adding a statement about official website on Wikidata
  1. HarvestTemplates
  2. PetScan
CREATE 
LAST Len "Software Name"
LAST Lfr "Nom du logiciel"
LAST Den "description"
LAST Dfr "la description"
LAST P31 Q?

Conclusion

Wikipedia or Wikidata? The answer is both. Both play an important role in the documentation of software. Because of its structured nature, not all information can be added on Wikidata, especially if the contributors want to compare two or more software. That being said, projects like Abstract Wikipedia shows how Wikidata and Wikipedia can play an important role together in the future. Integration between Wikipedia infoboxes and Wikidata shows another possible potential, where rapidly changing information like software versions can be fetched from Wikidata.

References

  1. Wikidata in Wikipedia, Mike Peel, Wikimania 2016
  2. Wikimedia Commons
  3. MediaWiki API
  4. Article Placeholder
  5. Quickstatements
  6. HarvestTemplates
  7. pywikibot
  8. Quickstatements
  9. HarvestTemplates
  10. PetScan

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank Wikimedia Hackathons and Wikidata community members for several discussions around these topics.

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