Using Wikidata to Capture and Share Information about People in Paleontology

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This wiki provides resources for the workshop Using wikidata to capture and share information about people in paleontology. This workshop is the first in a two-part series, which also includes Using wikidata to capture and share information about paleontological collecting sites.

General Information

When: March 29-31, 2022; 12:00-4:00pm Eastern Daylight Time (UTC -4) each day
Where: Virtual
Logistical point of contact: Erica Krimmel (, iDigBio / Florida State University
Expected number of participants: 30

This workshop will follow iDigBio's Code of Conduct.

Goals & Outcomes

This workshop will serve as a hands-on introduction to finding, editing, and using data in wikidata, using people associated with paleontology collections (e.g., collectors, researchers, collections staff) as subjects for this introduction. Wikidata offers a solution for capturing and sharing information about people that allows the paleontology community to capitalize on the distributed knowledge curated by individual collections. This workshop will explore how anyone working in paleo can add information to wikidata efficiently, as well as how to create links between wikidata and a collections management system (CMS). Workshop participants will co-create guidelines for disambiguating people and curating wikidata entries in the paleo context, including what types of information are ideal to capture (e.g., birth and death dates, research areas, collecting focus, links to publications, links to archival materials, etc.). These guidelines will build on existing work done by the bat research and collections community (see Leachman 2020), and will be disseminated after the workshop as a white paper.


Registration is free and required. Participants do not need to have any prior experience with wikidata, or with any particular technologies, but some prior familiarity with wikidata is recommended (tutorials will be provided to participants before the workshop). Participants do need access to a computer with internet, and they will be expected to block off time to devote to the hands-on nature of this workshop, including time to review materials prior to the start of the workshop.

Materials & Tools

Participants will need to access Zoom, Google Drive, and Slack as part of this workshop.

Install the Zoom client app on a desktop computer for best results. If Zoom is already installed, check to ensure that it has recently been updated to the latest version. We recommend that participants use a headset for audio. To get started with Zoom, we suggest the video tutorials available on the Zoom website:

Google Drive can be accessed from any internet browser without additional installation. A Google account is required to edit documents in Google Drive, e.g., for turning in homework. The Google Drive folder for this workshop is here.

Install the desktop client for Slack for best results. To get started with Slack, we suggest the video tutorials available on the Slack website: For this workshop, we will be using the #wikidata channel of the Paleo Data Slack workspace, which you can join via this link if you are not already a member.

Pre-workshop Homework

  1. (5 minutes, essential) Introduce yourself in the participant intros Google Sheet, for which you received a link via email.
  2. (60 minutes, essential) Watch the recording from our 2021-03-25 Happy Hour, “Getting started with wikidata.” In this presentation, Mathias Dillen (Meise Botanic Garden) shares his experience using wikidata for collections management, including logistics of getting started in wikidata, what the data structure of information stored in wikidata is, and a brief overview of wikidata community norms. Our workshop will also provide a recap introduction to wikidata, but we will be focusing more on learning through doing. This recording will be extremely helpful for anyone less familiar with wikidata!
  3. (5 minutes, essential) Create an account for yourself on wikidata, if you do not already have one. Your account allows you to create and edit items in wikidata, which we will be doing during the workshop.
  4. (5 minutes, optional but strongly encouraged) Begin to familiarize yourself with how editing in wikidata works by adding information to the user page associated with your account (example). You can create and edit your user page by clicking on your account name in the top right of and then selecting "Create this page." Don't worry about being comprehensive – this exercise is just to limber up before we edit lots of items next week!
  5. (10 minutes, optional but strongly encouraged) Browse and add to our collective list of people in paleontology. The "Known People" tab of this Google Sheet represents prominent people in our collections data for whom we would like to mobilize biographical information via wikidata. We will go over this sheet in more detail during the workshop.
  6. (70 minutes, optional) Watch the recording of a presentation that David Shorthouse gave, “Natural History Collections Data Roundtrip: GBIF, wikidata, Bloodhound (now Bionomia), ORCID and back again,” to get inspired about what we can do once information is accessible via wikidata.


This workshop will be conducted online, in Zoom with Slack and Google Drive as asynchronous communication tools. Registered participants should have received connection information via an email directly from Zoom.

Key links

March 29 Tuesday
12:00 - 12:15 PM EDT Overview of workshop
12:15 - 1:00 PM EDT Introduction to basic editing in wikidata (Jessica Utrup) - see recording here
1:00 - 3:00 PM EDT Asynchronous: Hands-on wikidata editing activity
Live check-in on Zoom from 2:00-2:15pm EDT
3:00 - 4:00 PM EDT Group discussion on takeaways from hands-on activity (notes)
March 30 Wednesday
12:00 - 1:00 PM EDT Introduction to efficient/bulk editing in wikidata (Erica Krimmel) - see recording here
1:00 - 3:00 PM EDT Asynchronous: Begin developing wikidata guidelines for paleo people
Live check-in on Zoom from 2:00-2:15pm EDT
3:00 - 4:00 PM EDT Group review of and discussion about guidelines (notes)
March 31 Thursday
12:00 - 1:00 PM EDT Brainstorm how to connect wikidata and CMS (Christina Byrd) (notes)
1:00 - 3:00 PM EDT Asynchronous: Explore ideas from brainstorming
Live check-in on Zoom from 2:00-2:15pm EDT
3:00 - 4:00 PM EDT Workshop summary and plan for next steps (notes)

Recording Policy

Your participation in this workshop acknowledges your acceptance that each synchronous session will be recorded and shared with workshop participants for later asynchronous viewing.

Reports and Resources