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Wikidata vs. custom Wikibases: Community history case studies

The Boston Research Center (BRC) is a digital community history and archives lab based in the Northeastern University Library. Our current projects include initiatives to document public art in several Boston neighborhoods and take inventory of historical materials related to Boston’s Chinatown. We have identified Wikibase, the software behind Wikidata, as suiting the BRC’s needs for storing multilingual structured data, representing connections between entities, and providing a space for collaborative editing. In this presentation, we will discuss how the BRC has been using Wikidata and Wikibase as repositories for data about Boston neighborhoods. We will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of using Wikidata versus custom Wikibase instances depending on project needs. A custom Wikibase instance can allow for more control over editing access and data models, as well as the inclusion of project-specific items and properties that wouldn’t meet Wikidata’s notability guidelines. On the other hand, Wikidata can allow a project to take advantage of all of the work that has been done in Wikidata so far and invite wider participation. Finally, we’ll touch on the process of getting started with a Wikibase project.


9:15 AM
15 minutes