Wikipedia:Use of Wikidata in Wikipedia

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The Wikimedia movement is embodied in several projects that include:

The WMF itself plays a role keeping the servers running that host project content, maintaining the software in partnership, and in promoting the movement.

Each of the projects has been built by a community of editors. Under the WMF wmf:Terms of Use each of these communities broadly governs both the content generated in the project as well as the behavior of participants in the project. There are also different language communities; the German Wikipedia community has its own policies and guidelines that have evolved separately from those of English Wikipedia, for example.

There are exceptions to that self-governance; there are a few policies that are "top down" and emanate from the WMF itself that involve legal matters like copyright as well as issues that are core movement values, like privacy.

Content from one project is sometimes used in another -- for example images from Commons are used in Wikipedia, very ....commonly. The en-WP community has developed an Image use policy that governs what images from the Commons, as well as images uploaded locally, can be used, as well as how images are used. (note to self - what is the history of that policy?)

Most recently, the use of Wikidata content in the English Wikipedia has generated controversy. Some of those usages have been driven by editors who work in both projects. Some of that has been driven by the WMF itself, seeking solutions that can scale.

This essay is an attempt to start to try to establish some principles for the use of Wikidata in the English Wikipedia, that perhaps one day can evolve into a policy similar to the image use policy. There are some different challenges here, as an image file is a fixed thing, but a) Wikipedia pages that display data from Wikidata automatically import Wikidata values every time the page is rendered by the server, so each edit can result in page-content unexpectedly changing without the editor's knowledge or review, if the Wikidata has changed (just as it would for an image change on Commons); and b) to the extent that there have been moves to facilitate editing of Wikidata from within Wikipedia, or that send en-WP editors to Wikidata to edit the data there, situations are set up for edit wars and other clashes between the editing communities, although there is little evidence of any to date.

The underlying principles are:

  1. Respect for the autonomy of each project
  2. Respect for differences in content and behavioral governance between the projects
  3. The balance between promoting the value of bold editing, which unleashes creativity and content creation, and consensus-based decision-making that allows each project to avoid unproductive repetition of the same arguments over and over, and is the basis for the stability that enables each project to flourish. In general, people wanting to make systematic changes to en-WP content or structure should get prior consensus; when they don't they inevitably get pulled up short at some point and the issue is discussed in relevant places, often with drama that could have been avoided had prior consensus been obtained. Automated systematic changes are even more controlled; en-WP has a bot policy. When consensus for a major change has been achieved the limits of the consensus should be sufficiently clear that the change can be made within the scope of the consensus. When it appears that the change will extend beyond that consensus, the persons involved in making the change should notify those involved in the consensus discussion of the scope of the extra change, in case there are objections.
  4. The Bold-Revert-Discuss process which is a standard behavioural procedure in en-WP applies here.
  5. Wikidata displayed in en-WP is governed by the content policies and guidelines of en-WP; and behavioral disputes that arise over such content must be resolvable within en-WP. There are concerns that this is impossible or incompatible with the autonomy and governance principals above. Nevertheless, much successful progress has been made to meet those concerns by giving en-WP editors the functionality to have full control of the data that is imported.


There is broad consensus on widely using Wikidata for the following specific uses:

  1. To generate Interlanguage links in the sidebar (link to consensus)
  2. In the coding (not visible to editors) of some specific templates pertaining to the Wikimedia projects or purely bibliometric data:
    Template:Commons category (link to consensus needed)
    Template:Authority control (link to consensus needed)

There is some consensus for limited and careful uses of Wikidata

  1. Infoboxes (to some extent) Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Wikidata Phase 2, Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 128 #RfC: Wikidata in infoboxes, opt-in or opt-out?

The en-WP community has rejected some uses of Wikidata:

  1. The "description" field from Wikidata used as a "mini-lead" in views of article in mobile view (see RfC here)

As of September 2017 the following uses of Wikidata were under discussion:

  1. The "description" field from Wikidata used as a "mini-lead" in views of article in android and iOS apps (discussion here and below that)
  2. Unsubsubstituted citation templates (See Templates for Deletion discussion here)

As of September 2017 the following uses of Wikidata have not been discussed by en-WP:

  1. The "description" field from Wikidata used as a navigation aid in in views of articles in android and iOS apps (discussion here and below that)
  2. The "description" field from Wikidata used as to generate "related articles" lists at the bottom of articles in mobile view, which replaces navboxes and categories