Getting all the government agencies of the world structured in Wikidata

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Getting all the government agencies of the world into Wikidata is obviously a big, hairy and audacious goal, which means it’s just in line with everything else we do on Wikidata!

There is a saying, there is only one way to eat an elephant, a bite at a time. The way we usually organize when eating these bites is in WikiProjects, and so, of course, we have them on Wikidata as well.

An introduction to WikiProject Govdirectory

Inspired by WikiProject EveryPolitician, and quite natural for this project, the WikiProject Govdirectory is divided per country. Getting to know the context and all nuances of a country can be quite tricky, and the quality and availability of sources vary wildly.

But even countries are too big bites to chew when even a small country like Sweden has over 600 government agencies. So within each country, we are usually breaking it down even further, often down to each specific type of agency, like municipalities or courts. On this level, it becomes possible to make progress in a short amount of time and make sure that each part is modeled with high quality without overly complex queries.

To easier get an overview of the state of each bite, we have adopted a rating system. We give from 0 to 5 stars, but already when getting to two stars, the data is starting to become usable.

Link to the project:

Wikidata and beyond!

While we love Wikidata, and find editing and making queries a soothing and relaxing pastime, the interface of Wikidata isn’t really tailored for the general internet visitor. So to make the data about government agencies more accessible, and even more so, actionable, we have created an external website that extracts data from Wikidata and presents it in a very different way.

“The easiest way to contact your government.” is the catchphrase for the website.

Instead of focusing on the statements and editing and adding data, this interface is optimized for citizens to get in touch with their government officials to solve whatever need they have.

Find the website at:

There could, obviously, be many more uses beyond Wikidata itself, tailored for other groups or use cases. With Wikidata’s information being licensed CC0, imagination is indeed the limit!

Let’s make government agencies on Wikidata even better – together

First, check if someone already started working on the country you are interested in. You might be in luck and can join ongoing work. If not, we have created several guides to get you started with the project pages. 

But the real work, and an essential one, is to find high-quality sources of what agencies exist and how they are structured. This will help you figure out how to model the items on Wikidata. We also encourage looking at other countries and see how they have modeled items and made queries to be able to produce accurate and up-to-date lists of what is in Wikidata.

If you need any help, we have a centralized talk page that is pretty well watched. Every week on Fridays, we organize a collaboration hour in a video chat. You are welcome to join with questions about anything, or just to see what people are working on right now. It is a very informal and casual meeting and no commitments are needed to join.

Do you want to get involved? Add yourself to the participants and start looking around.

Collaboration hour every Friday.

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