3 Ways To Access Wikidata Data Until It Can Be Done Properly

Note: This post is quite old. In fact Wikidata can now be accessed “properly” via the Wikidata Query Service (WDQS). However the techniques outlined below still have their advantages.

The inaugural Wiki Research Hackathon went very well, and I’m affirmed that I feel best when I’m conducting Wiki Research. I was asked to give one of the tech talks of the day about accessing Wikidata data programmatically. Here is an outline of the talk


We’ll be viewing Wikidata as file in its own right for research, not as it’s canonical use case of being used in various Wikipedias.

Native format:

Wikidata is a mostly standard Mediawiki instance except that pages don’t store “Wikitext”, they store JSON blobs. (If you want to understand more about this abstraction, see then ContentHandler).

Structure of a Wikidata Item:

Main entry point of any Wikidata item is a JSON dictionary, that has this form:

{“labels”: by-language dictionary
“descriptions”: by-language dictionary
“aliases”: by-language dictionary
“claims”: list of property and values
“sitelinks”: by-language dictionary}


3 Ways To Access Wikidata:

Whether your more comfortable in object-oriented python, parsing large text files, or munging linked data, there is something for you.

Using Pywikibot:

With pywikibot you get almost full support of the API.
New classes in the “core” branch
class WikibasePage(Page):
class ItemPage(WikibasePage):
class PropertyPage(WikibasePage):
class Claim(PropertyPage):
Using Pywikibot
Classic pywikibot pagegenerators work.
#make a generator for all the pages with a property
en_wikipedia = pywikibot.Site(‘en’, ‘wikipedia’)
wikidata = en_wikipedia.data_repository()
property_page = pywikibot.ItemPage(wikidata, ‘Property:P21’)
pages_with_property = property_page.getReferences()

Pywikibot example:

I’ve been harvesting Infobox Book across many languages and writing the corresponding properties to Wikidata https://github.com/notconfusing/harvest_infobox_book.

Using wda

Update: WDA is deprecated and replaced by Wikidata Toolkit, which I explain how to use with code examples in this blog post.

WDA, WikiData Analytics, downloads the official dump and analyzes it offline. Cleverly it uses nightly incremental dumps after about a 10GB first download. It’s also written in python, mainly by Markus Kroetzsch.After downloading there is a parser that writes a file called kb.txt. kb.txt stores plaintext triples, one per line giving you something like this.

Q21 link {trwiki:İngiltere} .
Q21 link {hewiki:אנגליה} .
Q21 alias {en:ENG} .
Q21 alias {min:Inggirih} .
Q21 alias {sgs:England} .
Q21 P31 Q1763527 .
Q21 P47 Q22 .
Q21 P47 Q25 .
Q21 P41 {Flag of England.svg} .

I used wda to in my analysis of the most unique Wikipedias according to Wikidata.

Content Negotiation:

You can also access Wikidata as linked data. The build path is:


where your choices of format are


Content Negotiaton Example

https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Special:EntityData/Q42046.ttl @prefix entity: <http://www.wikidata.org/entity/> . @prefix wikibase: <http://www.wikidata.org/ontology#> . @prefix rdfs: <http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#> . @prefix skos: <http://www.w3.org/2004/02/skos/core#> . @prefix schema: <http://schema.org/> . @prefix data: <http://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Special:EntityData/> . @prefix cc: <http://creativecommons.org/ns#> . @prefix xsd: <http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#> .
 a wikibase:Item ;
 rdfs:label "鬣狗科"@zh, "Hienowate"@pl, "Hiena"@eu, "Hyaenidae"@es, "Hiëna"@af, "Dubuk"@ms, "Hiénafélék"@hu, "Fisi"@sw, "Hüäänlased"@et, "হায়েনা"@bn, "Hiena"@sq, "Hyaenidae"@br, "Ύαινα"@el


So until Phase III there are still some usable options to explore Wikidata for research purposes. However we can still dream of future robust query system. In that dream I like to think of a query system capable of answering “does there exists is a sequence of properties that connects these two Wikidata items?”