back to article Unsourced, unreliable, and in your face forever: Wikidata, the future of online nonsense

Lobbying companies, PR professionals and SEO optimisers are flocking to influence Wikidata, a child project of Wikipedia that’s backed by serious money. And that’s just one of the reasons to be concerned about a project that could become the world’s default source of information. The information in Google's Knowledge Graph – …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Notas Badoff

      Re: I rule

      And one minute later your joke edit was reverted Mr. Some people like to make 'smell' for other people to clean up. How brilliant self-outing is.

      1. Yugguy

        Re: I rule

        I've had a comedy edit last a whole day a couple of years back when I changed his main wikipedia description from disk jockey to cock jockey.

        To be fair it's not personal he was just the only dj name I could think of when I thought up this hilarious edit.

        Yes, I am very childish.

  2. phil dude

    a common problem....

    Everyone knows that you can get funded to create a database...

    But getting funding to *maintain* a database...


  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, Wikidata is Wikipedia's bastard child ?

    First we had Wikipedia, the encyclopedia any moron can edit, now we're going to get Wikidata, the attribution-free database that any corporation can subvert. Somewhere, a billionaire is cackling evilly.

    Well, progress is still progress, even when it's moving backwards.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: So, Wikidata is Wikipedia's bastard child ?

      Well, progress is still progress, even when it's moving backwards.

      No; that's regress.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        I'm sure there's a manager somewhere that can teach you otherwise.

    2. Number6

      Re: So, Wikidata is Wikipedia's bastard child ?

      Progress is a vector. Magnitude and direction.

  4. Mage Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    I'm puzzled by the example

    It would have been interesting if it claimed Jerusalem is capital of Jordan or Palestine. It's never been the actual capital of anywhere other than Israel, though Jordan illegally occupied the "old city" part from 1948 to 1967.

    It's true that due to Arab and Moslem threats everyone moved their Embassies to Tel Aviv, but it's not the capital.

    However Wikidata sounds bonkers.

    1. ratfox

      Re: I'm puzzled by the example

      It's true that due to Arab and Moslem threats everyone moved their Embassies to Tel Aviv, but it's not the capital.

      Er… I think you'll find that the reason everyone moved their embassies to Tel Aviv is, officially at least, that they consider Tel Aviv to be the capital of Israel.

      In fact, even the US State Department officially does not consider Jerusalem to be part of Israel at all. A US citizen born anywhere in the world normally has their country of birth listed in their passport under "place of birth". Except when born in Jerusalem: In that case, the passport shows "Jerusalem" instead of any country. This behavior has recently been confirmed by the Supreme Court. And that's not an Obama thing, it was the same under Bush.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: I'm puzzled by the example

        "I think you'll find that the reason everyone moved their embassies to Tel Aviv is, officially at least, that they consider Tel Aviv"

        That would be IDENTICAL to people outside USA deciding New York is USA Capital not Washington.

        You may hate it, but UN has ruled Israel has a right to exist, and the Newer part of Jerusalem has never been part of any State than Israel. Only Britain and Pakistan recognised the illegal Jordanian annexation of East Jerusalem / Old City and the "West Bank" (Occupation 1948 to 1967).

        Syria doesn't recognise Jerusalem as anyone's capital as they regard Israel, Lebanon, West Bank, part of Gaza and Jordan as "missing" Syrian territory.

        Before 1948 there was the British Palestine Mandate, most of which today is Jordan.

        Before that the area was a part of the Syrian provence of Ottoman Empire.

        Nations can pick ANYWHERE in their Territory as Capital. Only the Old City is disputed and claimed by the Palestinians. That isn't recognised by UN.

        1. stephanh

          Re: I'm puzzled by the example

          That's nothing.

          The capital of Flanders is Brussels, even though Brussels is not part of Flanders. Perhaps they should have chosen Jerusalem instead, just to annoy everybody.

      2. JN

        Re: I'm puzzled by the example

        The image relates to the articles by Mark Graham in Slate and on the Oxford Internet Institute website, linked in the text. Graham argues that there are disparate views of Jerusalem's status, and the Knowledge Graph only represents one. There are other examples like that where the Knowledge Graph picks one view alone, without mentioning the others; for example (quoted from Slate), "the search engine lists Northern Cyprus as a state, despite only one other country recognizing it as such. But it lists Kosovo as a territory, even though it’s formally recognized by 112 other countries." That's the sort of thing Wikidata could theoretically influence (looking at the relevant Wikidata items, I'm not sure it does in these two cases).

      3. Ralph B

        Re: I'm puzzled by the example

        Maybe Wikidata should cite the CIA World Factbook which also documents Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - including geographic coordinates - albeit with a note "Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like all other countries, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm puzzled by the example

      > Jerusalem

      I once had the audacity to suggest that the given etymology for the name of the city in the English wankypedia was a load of crap, something that, curiously, any Hebrew speaker could immediately point out--I don't recall the specifics, but it was something like the PC crowd objecting to the use of "manoeuvre" on the grounds of it being sexist (cue the difference between "man" and "manus"). Anyway, my IP address got blocked after that.

      Wankypedia is a disaster, amongst other things, because self-righteous time-wasting idiots such as the gentleman whose post I am replying to, spend too much time on it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm puzzled by the example

        'cue the difference between "man" and "manus"'

        And that's nothing compared to the difference between "manus" and "anus".

    3. Jugernautilus

      Re: I'm puzzled by the example

      Well, just off the top of my head, Jerusalem was the capital of the christian Kingdom of Jerusalem back in the day. And presumably it was the capital of somewhere else way, way back before Joshua nicked it from the Canaanites?

  5. Turtle

    And The WikiDate is...

    Regrettably, a quick glance at my system tray tells me that today is not the first of April. Because it seems like a joke. Like a sick, sick joke...

  6. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    It has been a while since I opened an encyclopedia, but I don't remember the mid-20th-century Americana and Britannica running much to footnotes. The latter may have had the author's name at the end.

    And I am thoroughly shocked at the notion of an internet site that provides nude images.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Footnotes

      Unless there are cats.

      You know cats are NUDE under the fur?

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Footnotes

        You know cats are NUDE under the fur?

        No I bloody well do not! I'm no purrv...

        1. Ralph B

          Re: Footnotes

          > No I bloody well do not! I'm no purrv...

          I'm betting you love a glimpse of pussy.

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: Footnotes

            I'm betting you love a glimpse of pussy.

            Glimpse? I like to think of pussy as the other white meat ;-)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Footnotes

        You know cats are NUDE under the fur?

        No, I didn't. It sounded like pure speculation so I had to shave my neighbours cat to see it.

  7. graeme leggett

    an example of this foolishness

    An editor on wikipedia tweaked an infobox for a group of articles such Tha if an item hadn't been filled in then it looked to wikidata to fill in the missing data.

    The story ends ok (well better) as a more aware bunch of editors figured that any changing of the wikidata would dump the altered text straight into wikipedia and there wouldn't even be a trace of it in the wikipedia change log.

  8. Barbarian At the Gates

    Facts are what you make of them on the internet

    We demand truthiness¹ here!


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia:List of hoaxes

    Love it.

    Some great pseudonyms there.


    Emma Non

  10. Pompous Git Silver badge

    Is a global information system with such vulnerabilities all that wonderful?

    If we take information = factual knowledge I don't see how this can be correctly described as an information system.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      I think that the slight snag here is that everyone goes for the free shit.

      People qualified to verify information don't do it full time for free.

      Thus any genuinely accurate and definitive data on the internet is doomed to be ignored in favour of vapid, crowdsourced bullshit.

      I have a sneaking suspicion that human civilisation may well be fucked...........

  11. Pompous Git Silver badge

    Wikipedia fail

    My favourite used to be the entry for Flowerdale, a small hamlet in Northern Tasmania. It was said to produce 95% of Australia's cotton crop. What is really interesting is that a search on "cotton" in the version history draws a blank. Not that anything interesting ever happens in Flowerdale (unless you are a cow needing your teats tugged twice a day).

  12. Herby

    Easy solution...

    Just assume that everything with "wiki" in it is false. Maybe make it everything on the internet is false. Until proven otherwise.

    Now where do I send my money to get that big reward from Nigeria??

  13. danja

    This story is sensationalist and poorly researched.

    Imagine the days before books became widespread. Omg, something is written here that isn't true! The person who wrote it isn't here to provide any evidence! Books suck!

    The author of this piece appears to have done just enough research to cover their preconceived opinions. There is a huge amount of relevant information available, reams of academic papers, years of international conferences. Try search terms "Semantic Web" (it's ref'd in the piece, rather telling that it's lower-case there) or "Linked Data".

    But that's not necessary to show the fallacy here. No source of information is 100% reliable. Not even this Web page.

    Notably, provenance isn't the end of the story.

    The way the Web works means that facts can be checked against other sources. This is especially true for modern Web data - when expressed in machine-readable form, such as material propagated by Wikidata. Yes, the provenance chain and other forms of trust can be very important. But the Web of Data is still young. Mostly-good information is an excellent starting point.

    That Wikidata has a liberal license is laudable. It means that the material can be reused openly, and even, yes, corrected.

  14. danja

    Reliability of The Register


    I've been an occasional reader of The Register for many years. There have had many articles hitting the nail on the head in that time, sometimes probably long before anyone else. But over the same period, I'd guess it gets things right only about 1/3 of the time. For this style of magazine, that's plenty enough accuracy to keep readers interested. Compare that with a handful of errors over millions of data points, the kind of thing Wiki* aim for, and and the whole achieve.

  15. Bucky 2

    They also delete true things

    Like in "Our Man in Havana," in the book Millie was about 16, and perhaps a little spoiled. But in the movie, she is every second of at least 28, and is also quite obviously mentally challenged.

    I keep writing that in, and they keep deleting it.

  16. Number6

    A purpose for WikiData

    Provided we can maintain an accurate record of reality elsewhere, WikiData would allow people to compare reality with what large corporations and governments would like to be the truth. The hard part would be educating those who would believe it simply because it was on the internet and therefore must be true.

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