People keep mentioning VIAF in the context. VIAF is a federated service,
using the content of its various repositories--and is therefore no more
accurate than they are. For example, a major component in VIAF is the
Library of Congress Authority File. That file has always used author or
publisher statements as the evidence for birth dates without further
verification; in recent years, it has been also using information from WP
articles.  (I suppose that's an improvement--we at least occasionally look
beyond what the person says about himself.)

On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 7:38 AM, Liam Wyatt <> wrote:

> On 26 January 2016 at 11:24, Magnus Manske <>
> wrote:
> > On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 7:33 AM Pete Forsyth <>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > (Note: I'm creating a new thread which references several old ones; in
> > the
> > > most recent, "Profile of Magnus Manske," the conversation has drifted
> > back
> > > to Wikidata, so that subject line is no longer applicable.)
> > >
> > > Andreas Kolbe has argued in multiple threads that Wikidata is
> > fundamentally
> > > problematic, on the basis that it does not require citations. (Please
> > > correct me if I am mistaken about this core premise.)
> >
> >
> > Every statement on Wikidata /should/ be referenced, unless the statement
> > itself points to a reference (e.g. VIAF, images). However, at the moment,
> > this is not a requirement, as Wikidata is still in a steep growth phase.
> > Over the last few years, many statements were added by bots, which can
> > process e.g. Wikipedia, but would be hard pressed to find the original
> > reference for a statement.
> To extend Magnus' point...
> This is also the case on Wikipedia. Every Wikipedia sentence /should/ be
> verified to a reliable source, and those without footnotes can be removed.
> But, it is not a /requirement/ that every statement be verified. In short -
> 'verifiable not verified' is the minimum standard for inclusion of a
> sentence in Wikipedia. The ratio of footnotes-to-sentences in Wikipedia
> articles is on average probably much lower than the ratio of
> references-to-statements in Wikidata. It's just that we have more easily
> available /quantitative/ statistics for Wikidata that we do for Wikipedia,
> which makes it easy for Wikidata-critics to point to the number of
> un-referenced statements in Wikidata as a simple measure of quality, even
> though many of them DO meet the "verifiable, even if not yet verified"
> minimum standard that we accept for "stubs" on Wikipedia.
> For example: even in a Feature Article Wikipedia biography, I've never seen
> a footnote /specifically/ for the fact that the subject is "a human". That
> reference is implied by other footnotes - citing for the birthdate, or
> occupation for example. By comparison, in Wikidata, some people seem to be
> a feeling that statements like "instance of -> human", "gender-> male" need
> to be given a specific reference before they can be considered reliable.
> This is even when there are other statements in the same Wikidata item that
> reference biography-authority control numbers (e.g. VIAF).
> Yes, ideally, every statement could be given a reference in Wikidata, but
> ideally so should every sentence in Wikipedia. In reality we do accept
> "stub" Wikipedia articles that have 5 sentences and 1 Reliable Source
> footnote. Furthermore, we also do also have Wikidata properties that are,
> in effect, "self verifying": like the "VIAF identifier" property - which
> links to that authority control database, or the "image" property - which
> links directly to a file on Commons. So, simply counting the number of
> statements vs. the number of references in those statements on Wikidata and
> concluding that Wikidata is therefore inherently unreliable is both
> simplistic and quite misleading.
> -Liam
> Peace, love & metadata
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David Goodman

DGG at the enWP
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