The hidden data in Wikipedia about the Italian Government

10 June 2022

1 minuto

When Mario  Draghi’s government was sworn in on February 13, 2021, members were supported by a very large parliamentary majority. However, polls show that enthusiasm for the Prime Minister and his government declined due to the new political phase before the election of the President of the Republic and the Ukraine Conflict.

Wikipedia is the celebrated, online, collaborative encyclopedia, but its advertising via API allows statistics and points-of-view to be reconstructed when viewing the activity on pages relating to government members. Therefore, Wikipedia can allow us to witness how a politician’s public image can change over time.

The length of government members’ pages is one clue to this political history. While Dario Franceschini unsurprisingly has the longest entry with 5086 words to reflect his page being nearly 20 years old, the Minister of Technological Innovation and Digital Transition Vittorio Colao’s page only has 354 words, despite having a long career in the private sector.

One of the most interesting measurements, though, is when a single page is viewed, which often reflects peaks of interest and trends of visibility for politicians. These moments of great attention often respond to the public’s curiosity or a politician being at the center of the news. For example, Minister Roberto Cingolani’s page was viewed 134017 times on February 12, likely because he was involved in the debate over creating a Ministry of Ecological Transition.

The number of modifications to a politician’s page can illustrate peaks of visibility since, they are semi-protected and can only be altered by registered users because of their risk of being vandalized. Meanwhile, shared references are often rooted in political affiliation or common career paths.

With this information, we can see how data from public encyclopedias such as Wikipedia can reveal a politician’s public image over time. As a collaborative encyclopedia, Wikipedia reflects the public’s collective view of the page’s subject, making it a space that must be recognized for its insights on public knowledge.