Community Data Science Workshops (Fall 2015)/Day 2 projects/Wikipedia

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In this project, we will explore a few ways to gather data using the Wikipedia API. Once we've done that, we will extend this to code to create our own datasets of Wikipedia edits or other data that we might be able to use to ask and answer questions in the final session.


  • Get set up to build datasets with the Wikipedia API
  • Have fun collecting different types of data from Wikipedia
  • Practice reading and extending other people's code
  • Create a few collections of different types of data from Wikipedia that you can do research with in the final section

Download and test the Wikipedia API project[edit]

If you are confused by these steps, go back and refresh your memory with the Day 0 setup and tutorial and Day 0 tutorial

(Estimated time: 10 minutes)

Download the Wikipedia API project[edit]

  • Right click the following file, click "Save Target as..." or "Save link as...", and save it to your Desktop directory:
  • The ".zip" extension on the above file indicates that it is a compressed Zip archive. We need to "extract" its contents. To do this, click on "Start", then "Computer" on Windows or open Finder and navigate to your Desktop directory if you are a Mac. Find on your Desktop and double-click on it to "unzip" it. That will create a folder called wikipedia-data-examples containing several files.

Test the Wikipedia API code[edit]

On Windows

Start up PowerShell and navigate to the Desktop\wikipedia-data-examples directory where the Wikipedia API code lives. For example, if the Wikipedia API project is at C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\Desktop\wikipedia-data-examples,

cd C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\Desktop\wikipedia-data-examples

On Mac

Start a command prompt and navigate to the Desktop/wikipedia-data-examples directory where the Wikipedia API code lives. For example, if the Wikipedia API project is at ~/Desktop/wikipedia-data-examples,

cd ~/Desktop/wikipedia-data-examples

This will change you into the Wikipedia example code directory. Running ls will show you the source code files in that directory. One of the files is "", which has a ".py" extension indicating that it is a Python script. Type:


at the command prompt to execute the Python script. Wait a little while while your computer connects to Wikipedia. You should see a series of data from Wikipedia run by on your screen. If you don't, let a staff member know.

Example topics we might cover in the session[edit]