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02 April 2012, 16:35

Wikidata: Wikipedia to get a collaborative database

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Wikimedia Deutschland, the German chapter of Wikimedia, has announced the launch of a new project called Wikidata. According to the non-profit organisation, Wikidata – the first new Wikimedia project since 2006 – will "provide a collaboratively edited database of the world's knowledge" and, once completed, will be used by its other projects including the free Wikipedia online encyclopaedia.

The project's goal is to support the more than 280 language editions of Wikipedia with a single common source for structured data which can be used in all of its articles; the organisation hopes that using the common-source principle will result in "a higher consistency and quality within Wikipedia articles, as well as increased availability of information in the smaller language editions".

The initial development process for Wikidata will take place in three phases. The first of these, expected to be finished by August of this year, is to centralise links between the different versions of Wikipedia into a single place. Once completed, editors will be able to add and use the data in the collaborative database as part of the second phase, which is scheduled to be released in December. The final phase will allow for lists and charts based on the data in Wikidata to be automatically created.

Wikimedia has already received a €1.3 million donation for initial Wikidata development. Half of the money was awarded by the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen in 2010, while one quarter was provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through its Science Program; the remaining funds were given by Google. Initial development will be done by Wikimedia Deutschland, after which it plans to turn over operation and maintenance of the project to the Wikimedia Foundation no later than March of next year.

Further information about Wikidata can be found on the introduction, FAQ and technical proposal wiki pages. All Wikidata will be made available under a free Creative Commons licence.

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