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Creating new items

OpenRefine can create new items. This page explains how they are generated.

Words of caution

  • The fact that OpenRefine does not propose any item when reconciling a cell does not mean that the item is not present in the Wikibase instance: it can be missed for all sorts of reasons. Please make sure that you are not creating any duplicates!

  • Make sure that the items that you want to create are admissible in the Wikibase instance. For Wikidata, see the notability guidelines;

  • Deleting items generally requires special rights: if you want to revert an edit group that includes new items in Wikidata, you will need to ask an administrator to do it.

Workflow overview

Here is how you would typically create new items with OpenRefine:

  • Reconcile a column;
  • Mark some of its cells as new items. This will not create items yet. If you need to mark many rows as new items, use the ReconcileActionsCreate a new item for each cell operation.
  • Create a Wikibase schema as usual, using the column where your new items are marked;
  • Perform the edits: the new items will be created on Wikidata at this point;
  • The cells that you had marked as new items will now be reconciled to the newly-created items.

It is often useful (but not mandatory) to treat new items in isolation and use a dedicated schema for them. This helps you add many statements on the new items (including labels and descriptions) without risking to clutter existing items with redundant edits. Use a facet on the judgment status of the reconciled column to isolate new items and perform their edits separately. As always in OpenRefine, only the rows covered by your facets will be considered when uploading the edits to Wikidata: if a cell is reconciled to a new item but is excluded by the facet, no new item will be created for it.1

Note that even if you know that all items in your column are new, you will still need to make a first reconciliation pass by selecting the Wikidata reconciliation service, and then setting all reconciliation statuses to "new". If you skip the first part, OpenRefine will not know that this column is reconciled against your Wikibase instance (it could be reconciled to other services) so it will not let you use it in place of an item in a Wikibase schema.

You can also perform the edits with QuickStatements - in this case, your OpenRefine project will not be updated with the newly created Qids.

Adding labels to new items

The text that is in a cell reconciled to "new" is not automatically used as label for the newly-created item. This is because OpenRefine has no way to guess in which language this label should be. When adding new items, you need to explicitly add a label in the schema. This label can use the reconciled column as source, but if you have other cells matched to existing items, be careful not to override the labels of these items (if it is not your intention).

OpenRefine will refuse to perform edits where new items are created without any labels (as this is considered a critical issue). Other issues will be raised if insufficient basic information is added on the items (but these other warnings will not prevent you from performing the edits).

Marking multiple cells as identical items

If you mark individual cells as new items, one new item per cell will be created. Sometimes multiple rows refer to the same item. OpenRefine makes it possible to mark all the corresponding cells as the same new item. Two conditions have to be met:

  • the reconciled cells must be in the same column (it is not possible to mark two cells in different colums as the same new item);
  • the cells must contain the same initial text value.

If these two conditions are met, then isolate these cells with facets and go to ReconcileActionsCreate one item for similar cells. This will mark the cells as new and referring to the same item.

Retrieving the Qids of the newly-created items

Once you have performed your edits with OpenRefine, any new cells covered by the facet will be updated with their new Qids. You can retrieve these Qids with the Edit columnAdd column based on this column action and using the expression. Note that you will no longer be able to isolate new items with a judgment facet at this stage (because the judgment will be updated to matched) so it can be worth marking these rows (for instance with a star or flag) before performing the edits.


  1. The only exception to this rule is when marking multiple cells as identical items: in this case, if one of such cells are included in the facet, then all the others will be updated with the newly created Qid once the edits are made.