There is a wealth of identifiers used on Wikidata items that link these items to other items and websites and the situation looks pretty good until you start to try to find ids for indigenous topics. Mainstream media tends to not discuss these topics and if they do, they rarely create tags for them, leaving users unable to easily locate related material. Sometimes this is used to delete items off of Wikidata as non-notable, when in reality the subject is notable, just invisible to the non-indigenous community. We decided to tackle this head on, by proposing that indigenous tags and ids be added as properties into Wikidata.
Showing how bands with an Ávvir topic ID are connected to each other per this query
executed on April 11, 2021. The graph is in Northern Saami, but other languages can also be selected.
We decided to kick this off by proposing that Ávvir tags be connected to Wikidata via a property. Ávvir is one of the most widely read Northern Saami newspapers and often covers topics not covered in mainstream newspapers or media outlets. They have been tagging their online articles for a while now, which means we now have identifiers that cover not only general topics but also indigenous topics that are not otherwise linked to in Wikidata. As it is a Saami newspaper, a large portion of the tags are related to Saami topics, but there have also been quite a few tags related to other indigenous communities as well.
While adding tags, I have learned that our coverage of certain indigenous topics is patchy at best and I have been formulating plans on how to improve and enrich these topics, which will make it easier for us to write articles about these topics on the Northern and Inari Saami wikipedias too. One unexpected bonus of adding this property to items was that missing labels and descriptions are also being added in Northern Saami and sometimes in other Saami languages as a result. Another unexpected bonus was the amount of placename-related tags that Ávvir uses, which we can then use to improve existing items and merge the unwanted bot-created doubles and triples littering Wikidata.
The property was created in the middle of March and as of the 6th of April, it has been used on 534 items and there are approximately the same amount still waiting to be added. Each day brings new tags, so it will be interesting to see how connected these items are by the end of the year and if other external sites start recognizing that indigenous topics are important too.
As this property proposal has been a good idea, we are also planning on proposing other indigenous-generated ID properties later on this year. These will be more GLAM-based and include property ids for vocabularies and ontologies from indigenous museums and libraries.
We will also propose property IDs for databases covering indigenous movies and their actors, directors, producers, etc. as these are often missing from user-generated databases like IMDB. In addition to the Ávvir topic ID, we will also see if there are other indigenous media outlets using tags that can be added as a topic ID.
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