You Can Use Wikidata Facts in Apps – But Perhaps Not Yet

wikidata facts

Wikidata is a free, open source knowledge base.  The intention is for Wikipedia to draw its data from Wikidata, and someday you also may be able to use data from Wikidata in your apps and websites — just not quite yet for most of us.

Wikiconfused yet? Let us explain.

Wikimedia, the parent foundation behind both Wikipedia and Wikidata, has announced that Wikipedia will begin drawing more of its data from Wikidata. was launched Oct 30, 2012, and is a relative newcomer compared to Wikipedia which has been around since January 2001.

Here’s how Wikimedia Executive Director Sue Gardner explained it last week on the official Wikimedia Blog:

“Before Wikidata, Wikipedians needed to manually update hundreds of Wikipedia language versions every time a famous person died or a country’s leader changed. With Wikidata, such new information, entered once, can automatically appear across all Wikipedia language versions.”

In other words, Wikipedia is the online encyclopedia publication.  But Wikidata is the underlying source of certain data it will pull from.

What this means is that Wikipedia data can be more accurate and easier to update, because information only need be updated in one place — in Wikidata. Then all pages within the Wikipedia resource will be automatically updated because they pull from a central source of data.

What This Means for Entrepreneurs

But here’s where entrepreneurs, app developers and businesses may be interested: Because the data is created under a Creative Commons license, it is available for use for free by anyone.

For example, if you are an app developer, you will be able to retrieve data from the project for apps you create. That data will be updated in one central place by the community, through Wikidata.

Automatically-created charts and lists using information gathered through Wikidata will next be available, Wikimedia announced last week.

The only catch is finding and retrieving Wikidata facts you can use.

In our test of a dozen searches, we were unable to find usable Wikidata data, that we would use — probably because it is still new.  But “your mileage may vary,” as the saying goes.

Another issue, as Gigaom reports, the API to tap into the data is still being developed and is not publicly available yet.  That means for the time being, you’d need some other method of retrieving any usable data from Wikidata if you could find it, such as manual entry.

Wikidata Facts Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

Our verdict: Sounds like an intriguing and promising idea for the future. However, it’s not quite ready for prime time for most in the small business community.  But you can see the benefits of having a ready source of structured data that could be used.  It may be something to figure into your future plans.


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

4 Reactions
  1. Not to nitpick (especially since I’m happy whenever Wikidata gets a write-up), but there’s a difference between Wikidata’s Creative Commons *Zero* license and Creative Commons licenses in general. CC0 is the only one that allows reuse by anyone for any purposes, no strings attached. Most other CC licenses (including the ones used by other Wikimedia projects) require some form of attribution. Functionally, what that means is that a company that copies from Wikipedia without saying so can be sued by the authors of the article; a company that uses Wikidata can do so however it sees fit. (Obviously that excludes internal Wikidata conversations, which use the standard Wikimedia CC-BY-SA license.) Cool, right? In a geeky way, I mean. 😛

    • Anita Campbell

      Thanks for the clarification, T.H. Wikidata sounds like it could be exciting to small businesses in the future. We’ve even thought of a few uses for Wikidata once the kind of data we are looking for is available.

      For readers, below is the link to the language of the Creative Commons “zero” license that T.H. is talking about. It says that all material under the Wikidata project is dedicated to the public domain and all copyrights in it waived. The license says: “You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”

      – Anita