GLOW is calling: help increase the world’s knowledge of politicians

If you know your way around Wikidata, we’d love you to join in with the global string of events taking place for GLOW next week.

We’re very keen to get as many people as possible helping to improve the quality of Wikidata’s information on politicians. Why? Well, let’s take a quick look at a recent story that hit the news.

A new Bundestag

With Germany’s new parliament gathering for the first time on October 24, der Spiegel took the opportunity to examine their male-to-female balance, in the context of legislatures across the world. At around 31% female, they noted, the Bundestag now sits at the better end of the scale: parliaments almost everywhere are male-dominated.

How were they able to make such an assessment? As they note at the foot of their article, they used data on politicians’ gender from our EveryPolitician project.

A further exploration looked at age — they discovered that on average their parliamentarians were very slightly younger than in previous years — and they note as an aside that here in the UK, we have in Dennis Skinner the oldest MP in Europe, while Mhairi Black is the second-youngest by a whisker.

These are the kind of insights we seek to increase through our work with Wikidata as we help to boost the quality of their politician data: we consider such analysis not only interesting, but important. Whether or not countries wish to encourage fair representation across age groups and gender — not to mention many other categories — their decisions should at least be based on facts.

As things stand, there are only a handful of countries where data is good enough to be able to make such comparisons: in our vision, journalists, researchers — and anyone else — will be able to turn to Wikidata to find what they need. The forthcoming Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW) gives us all an opportunity to put a rocket under the quality and quantity of data that’s available to people making analyses like these, that stand to benefit us all.

How to get involved

GLOW runs from next Monday until the 30th November, and we’re encouraging people — wherever you live in the world — to get together and improve the data on national-level politicians for your country.

We’re already expecting a good number of groups to run events. Get-togethers are confirmed in Slovenia, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Spain and more — once final details are firmed up, we think there’ll be action in other countries across the globe. Now how about you? As we said in our post last month, a concentrated effort from a small group of people can really make a difference.

We’re especially keen to encourage folk who have some experience of contributing to Wikidata: we reckon that, for this particular drive, you need to already know your way around a bit. So if that’s you, do come forward!

Start by having a look at this page, which outlines what we hope to achieve; we’ll be adding more detail this week too.  You can add your country to the list if you’d like to, or explore what’s missing in the data of those countries already listed.

Or, if Wikidata’s all new to you, why not put out some feelers and see if there’s anyone who can show you the ropes while you work together? One good way is to see if there’s a Wikimedia User Group local to you.

What exactly will you be doing?

Here’s a bit more detail on what a workshop will look like.

The idea is to improve information in Wikidata about members of your country’s legislature. The ‘Progress Indicators’ on this page will give you guidance: typically you’ll be working through tasks like adding any missing “position held” statements and biographical data. We’re asking folk to prioritise current politicians, with information for historic members an added bonus if time permits.

Once sufficient data is available in Wikidata, the real fun begins! Your workshop attendees will be able to query the data to answer questions such as:

1) Can the gender breakdown and average age of members of the current legislature be calculated?
2) Can that be broken down per political party/group, or (where appropriate) by region?
3) Can you compare those figures for the legislature vs. the cabinet?
4) How far back can you generate those for?

And if the ideas start to flow, building queries and visualisations to answer other questions will also be very useful.

Let us know if you have any questions before the week begins — we’re going to be very busy during GLOW, but we’ll do our absolute best to help.

Image: Alex Iby (Unsplash)