On the very specific point of knowledge and how
it's not always possible to
boil it down to a single quantifiable value, I couldn't agree more. Thank
you, Andreas, for the detailed anecdote displaying that problem, and I'll
be happy to provide more if needed.
Does Wikidata have a way of marking data entries as estimates, or at least
dates as circa (not just unknown)?
On Nov 28, 2015 1:24 PM, "Andreas Kolbe" <jayen466(a)gmail.com> wrote:
On Fri, Nov 27, 2015, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen(a)gmail.com> wrote:
When you compare the quality of Wikipedias with what en.wp used to be you
are comparing apples and oranges. The Myanmar
Wikipedia is better
on Myanmar than en.wp etc.
Is it? The entire Burmese Wikipedia contains a mere 31,646 content pages at
the time of writing, covering (or trying to cover) all countries of the
world, and all aspects of human knowledge.
The English Wikipedia's WikiProject Myanmar, meanwhile, has 6,713 pages
within its purview. I dare say that's more articles on Myanmar than the
Burmese Wikipedia contains. As an indication, the English Wikipedia's
article on Myanmar is more than twice as long as the one in the Burmese
Moreover, according to Freedom House, the internet in Myanmar is not
"The government detained and charged internet users for online activities
[...] Government officials pressured social media users not to distribute
or share content that offends the military, or disturbs the functions of
When you qualify a Wikipedia as fascist, it does
not follow that the data
is suspect. Certainly when data in a source that you so easily dismiss is
typically the same, there is not much meaning in what you say from a
Wikidata point of view.
Data are always generated within a social context, and data generated by
political extremists or people living under oppressive regimes are suspect
whenever they have political implications. (Looking at the descriptions of
Burmese politics, my feeling is the Burmese Wikipedia is not under
significant government control, but largely written by ex-pats. However,
the situation is quite different in some other Wikipedias serving countries
labouring under similar regimes.)
PS What does your librarian think when she knows
It was a he, but I'll leave him to join in himself if he chooses to.
I happen to work on Dukes of Friuli. Compare the data from Wikidata and the
Let's look at this example. Reasonator says of Grasulf II of Friulim, "He
died in 653". There is no source. Wikidata says he died in 653, and the
indicated source is the Italian Wikipedia.
However, when you look at the (very brief) Italian Wikipedia article,
you will find that the year 653 is given with a question mark. The English
Wikipedia, in contrast, states, in its similarly brief article,
"Nothing more is known about Grasulf and the date of his death is
Do you now see the problem about nuance? Reasonator and Wikidata
confidently proclaim as uncontested fact something that in fact is rather
The sole source cited by both the English and the Italian Wikipedia is the
Historia Langobardorum, available in Wikisource. My Latin is a bit
rusty, but while the Historia mentions that Ago succeeded Grasulf upon the
latter's death, it says nothing specific about when that was. The
Historia's time indications are in general very vague, usually limited to
the phrase "Circa haec tempora", meaning "about this time". So it is
For reference, the Google Knowledge Graph states equally confidently that
Grasulf II of Friuli died in 651AD. This may be based on the English
Wikipedia's unsourced claim (in the template at the bottom of the English
Wikipedia article) that his reign ended c. 651, or on some other source
The other Wikipedias that have articles on Grasulf II provide the following
As for published sources, I can offer Ersch's Allgemeine Encyclopädie
(1849), which states on page 209 that Grasulf II died in 651.
The extreme vagueness of the available dates is pointed out by Thomas
Hodgkin in Vol. 7 of "Italy and Her Invaders" (1895). Hodgkin puts the end
of Grasulf's reign at 645, "as a mere random guess", and adds that
Rubeis, following Sigonius", puts the accession of Ago in 661.
There may well be better and more recent sources beyond my reach, but
having these published dates in Wikidata, with the source references, would
actually make some sense. Unsourced data, not so much.
Answers are comfortable, but they are not knowledge when they are
unverifiable and/or wrong.
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