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Persondata is special metadata which can be added to biographical articles. This metadata can then be extracted and processed automatically (unlike conventional Wikipedia content). It consists of a set of standardized data fields which include basic information about the person, such as name, birthday, place of birth, etc. This metadata can be used for a variety of purposes, including advanced search capabilities, statistical analysis, automated categorization, and birthday lists. The addition of persondata will not affect the normal display of an article since the information remains hidden unless a user sets their user stylesheet to display it.

As of August 4, 2006, there are approximately 2,400 articles with persondata. (The German Wikipedia has over 90,000 articles with persondata.)

Using the template[uredi]

To use the {{Persondata}} template, copy the wikitext below to the end of a biographical article. The template should be placed just before the categories and interlanguage links.


Next, fill out the data fields. Make sure the name is entered with the surname first (the same way you would with a category listing). Do not delete empty data fields, for example, if a person is still alive, you'll leave the date and place of death blank. Here is an example of a properly filled out template:

|NAME=Magellan, Ferdinand
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Magalhães, Fernão de (Portuguese); Magallanes, Fernando de (Spanish)
|DATE OF BIRTH=Spring [[1480]]
|PLACE OF BIRTH=[[Sabrosa]], [[Portugal]]
|DATE OF DEATH=[[April 27]], [[1521]]
|PLACE OF DEATH=[[Mactan Island]], [[Cebu]], [[Philippines]]

Viewing persondata[uredi]

By default, persondata is invisible to normal users. In order to make persondata visible, you must edit your user stylesheet. To do this, first make sure you are logged in. Then create a page at User:YourUserName/monobook.css and add the following line:

table.metadata {display:table;}

or, if you use Microsoft Internet Explorer:

table.metadata {display:block;}

If you can see the following block about Ferdinand Magellan, you have successfully made metadata visible:

To make persondata invisible again, simply remove the line of CSS given above from your user stylesheet.

Data fields[uredi]

The data fields NAME, ALTERNATIVE NAMES, SHORT DESCRIPTION, DATE OF BIRTH, PLACE OF BIRTH, DATE OF DEATH, and PLACE OF DEATH are used to construct a persondata record. These fields can possibly be extended in the future.

Fieldname Examples

Magellan, Ferdinand
Bush, George Walker
Beethoven, Ludwig van
Van Zandt, Townes
Brutus of Troy
King, Martin Luther, Jr.


Magalhães, Fernão de (Portuguese); Magallanes, Fernando de (Spanish)
Clemens, Samuel Langhorne (real name)


Sea explorer
German philosopher
Anarchist writer and publisher
39th President of the United States


October 25, 1806
circa 470 BCE


Sabrosa, Portugal
Newark, New Jersey


April 27, 1521
January, 1945


Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines
Mount Juliet, Tennessee

Wikilinks in the persondata are not currently necessary; however, they may be useful for some future application.


When specifying the person's name, use the following format: [surname], [forename] [middle names], [title]. For most cases this will be straightforward, for example, "George Walker Bush" becomes "Bush, George Walker". In some cases, however, there may be ambiguity about a person's surname. When in doubt, format the name according to how you would expect it to be alphabetized. For example, Ludwig van Beethoven would be alphabetized under "Beethoven", while Townes Van Zandt would be alphabetized under "Van Zandt". If you're not sure, ask someone familiar with the subject how they would alphabetize the name or consult a cataloguing guide such as the AACR2.

It is usually a good idea to list as much of a person's name as possible in the name field to avoid confusion with similar names. Do not include honorifics (such as "Dr.", "Professor", or "PhD"), however, unless they are part of a title of nobility.


Without uniform formatting, it is very difficult to automatically extract useful information from biographical articles. It is also impossible to automatically alphabetize all the biographical articles since the titles typically begin with the person's first name. By adding standardized metadata to such articles, we can facilitate the creation of new applications for Wikipedia content, such as Wikipedia CD-ROMs, custom search applications, etc. Hopefully, this will be the first of many steps towards enriching Wikipedia with semantic content.

Extraction of persondata[uredi]

Extraction from an SQL database[uredi]

Using an SQL query, the persondata can be filtered from Wikipedia articles stored in a database. As an example, here is an SQL query that can be used to extract persondata from

   SUBSTRING(SUBSTRING(pages.cur_text FROM INSTR(pages.cur_text,'{{Persondata')), 1,
      INSTR(SUBSTRING(pages.cur_text FROM INSTR(pages.cur_text,'{{Persondata')),'}}')+1)
      AS 'Persondata'
FROM cur AS pd
JOIN templatelinks AS tl
   ON pd.cur_namespace = tl.tl_namespace
   AND pd.cur_title = tl.tl_title
JOIN cur AS pages
   ON tl.tl_from = pages.cur_id
   AND pages.cur_namespace = 0
WHERE pd.cur_namespace = 10
AND pd.cur_title = 'Persondata'

In order to be useful, however, the persondata must be further divided into individual data fields.

Extraction from the XML dump[uredi]

Coming soon...