School data for the world

There are many different ways to contribute to Wikidata. Some of these ways involve manual edits, batch edits, and edits with tools. There are hundreds of Wikidata tools that serve many different purposes. One particularly useful tool is called Cradle.

Form for adding schools to Wikidata
Form for adding schools to Wikidata

Cradle is a form-based tool users fill out to generate new Wikidata items. Forms are user-generated and are based on classes of things like authors, books, journals, paintings, and hotels. The forms consist of fields that represent statements on Wikidata: date of birth, name, locations, any relevant information that can describe a new item. All of the fields generally correspond to a property on Wikidata. As of this publication, there are just over 100 forms on Cradle.

On Wikidata a list of properties commonly used to describe something is called a data model. Cradle allows users to look at lists of things and create new items based on these data models. It’s an important tool because it encourages users to contribute as much information as they can (some of it required, most of it optional). It also saves newer users the time of guessing or searching for the correct property to use (Wikidata has so many image and location-based properties). If you’re new to Wikidata, knowing which one is the best one to use can take a while to find.

I mentioned above that anyone can contribute a form to Cradle. By clicking the “help” button on the tool page, users can see a complete list of every single form on Cradle. Creating a new form is as simple as copying an existing one, retitling it, and swapping out properties for the relevant ones. Kalli Mathios (User:Kind data), a participant in our course, was interested in adding school data to Wikidata. She noticed that there was no form in Cradle for adding schools. After a quick orientation to the backend of Cradle, she took initiative to create the form for adding schools to Wikidata.

List of properties describing a school
List of properties describing a school

It’s one accomplishment whose effects have global reach throughout all of Wikidata. With this new form anyone who is interested in contributing data about schools has a template they can work with. This lowers the barrier for creating new items and encourages a standard set of properties be used for those items. This can help with consistency in item description and querying. Now users can enrich Wikidata with more data about schools, which benefits the entire community.

One of Wikidata’s greatest characteristics is its community. From editing items to proposing properties, contributing to Wikidata can take take many forms. Although editors can make batch edits on the order of thousands or tens-of-thousands of edits, this serves as a reminder that dedicated community members can immediately start having an impact on Wikidata.

If you’re interested in learning more about having a big impact on Wikidata, visit to see forthcoming courses.


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