The Wikidata Query Service (WDQS) tutorial was developed by Wikimedia Israel. As a local chapter of the worldwide Wikimedia movement, Wikimedia Israel works in close cooperation with the global Wikimedia Foundation and with other local Wikimedia chapters around the world to promote and secure access to knowledge and cultural assets. This is done by encouraging people from all parts of the Israeli society to share their knowledge and create free content.

Wikimedia Israel’s vision and contribution

Due to the relatively small size of the local population, our outreach efforts are often focused on teaching people how to contribute to various Wikimedia platforms, rather than trying to persuade them to become full-blown Wikipedians or Wikimedians. We do this by developing instructional materials and guides, which can be used either for self-learning, or as part of a course, as well as in educational settings. Until now, these instructional tools were either in Hebrew or Arabic. The WDQS tutorial is our first international instructional tool, developed in collaboration with Wikimedia Deutschland and the Wiki Education Foundation.

Why this tutorial?

In 2019, Wikimedia Israel began doing outreach for Wikidata. One recurring phenomenon we encountered when we presented Wikidata to various audiences, is the enthusiasm with which they react to the Wikidata Query Service and the possibilities it offers for extracting specific information from the vast network of linked and structured data contained in Wikidata. This enthusiasm is not surprising – the query feature of Wikidata is quite unique within the landscape of information services available today. However, the enthusiasm is often dampened when audiences realize that querying cannot be done (yet!) by natural language questions. Therefore, we set out in 2020 to develop an easy and accessible guide to SPARQL for Wikidata.

Making SPARQL more accessible

The Wikidata Query Service is powered by SPARQL – a semantic query language for databases. Unfortunately, for users who are unfamiliar with Wikimedia platforms, there is currently little instructional material on how to learn SPARQL for use in Wikidata. The tutorial on the Wikidata platform is not very user-friendly, while other SPARQL tutorials found on the internet are not specifically aimed at querying Wikidata. At Wikimedia Israel we believe that a step-by-step, user-friendly tutorial to SPARQL in the context of Wikidata will attract new users to engage with Wikidata and help build a community around the project.

Help us making Wikidata more inclusive

The WDQS tutorial is currently available in English, but was built so that the same content can be added relatively easily in other languages. So if you do outreach work for Wikidata and are interested in this possibility, please contact us at [email protected] . We also welcome your feedback or suggestions for further development of the tool.