Critical issues presentations/Authority Control: How it applies to you

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Submission no. 157
Title of the submission

Authority Control: How it applies to you

Author of the submission
  • Andy Mabbett
Country of origin

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


other, Projects, Research, Technical

  • Authority control
  • VIAF
  • ISNI

Do you know the difference between Bill Thompson, Bill Thompson and Bill Thompson? The English Wikipedia alone has articles on at least fifteen people with that name, not to mention those with variants like Billy Thompson, William Thompson, Bill Thomson and so on.

And how can you tell that works which are credited to, say, William Henry Gates III, W Gates and Bill Gates are, in fact, all by the same person?

Authority Control is how we deal with this - it is the name librarians use for the provision of unique identifiers to clarify which of two or more subjects with similar names are being discussed; or that two names may represent the same person or other item. It is widely used in Wikipedia and Wikidata, and in some of the Wikimedia Foundation's other projects. You can see it at the foot of many English-, and other-, language Wikipedia biographies, for example on Bill Thompson (technology writer).

Andy will give an overview of the common types of Authority Control identifiers and how they are used in our projects, to identify people, and other things. Some Wikipedias (for example the Spanish Wikipedia) have chosen not to use Authority Control to their articles; or at least have not yet decided to do so. Andy will discuss the pros and cons of their choices, and try to convince them that they - and their audiences - would be better off if they did do so.

In the second part of Andy's presentation, he will concentrate on ORCID, and explain why many Wikimedians should themselves have an ORCID identifier, how to get one, and how to use it, both on- and off- Wikipedia.

Andy Mabbett has been Wikipedian in Residence at ORCID, an organisation that provides Authority Control identifiers for "researchers and other contributors", since the summer of 2014.


Not accepted