I'm new to Wikidata and I'm wanting to query it. The official page list several promising syntax / APIs :

The WDQ syntax seems more concise, ex :

  • WDQ : CLAIM[31:6465] AND NOCLAIM[576] vs.
  • SPARQL (same query) : prefix wdt: <http://www.wikidata.org/prop/direct/> prefix wd: <http://www.wikidata.org/entity/> SELECT ?item WHERE { ?item wdt:P31 wd:Q6465 . OPTIONAL { ?item wdt:P576 ?dummy0 } FILTER(!bound(?dummy0)) }

However, reading https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery#Wikidata_Query_Service_.28WDQS.29 I'm under the impression that WDQ is an unofficial experiment and that SPARQL is the official query syntax.

So is there an official or preferred way of querying wikidata ? Is it safe to invest in WDQ or should I go SPARQL ?

  • In SPARQL 1.1, one can write FILTER NOT EXISTS {?item wdt:P576 []} (instead of OPTIONAL { ?item wdt:P576 ?dummy0 } FILTER(!bound(?dummy0))), which is slightly shorter. Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 14:51

3 Answers 3


I'm the developer of WDQ. It was developed as a stop-gap measure, until Wikidata would get its own query service. That took some years, but now we have SPARQL and https://query.wikidata.org/ so I plan to retire WDQ in the not-too-distant future. I strongly recommend you go for SPARQL, even if it seems a little verbose at first.


You can abbreviate SPARQL by expanding a given query fragment with default namespace definitions and other options. For instance the wikidata query command line client expands

wdq -tplanet '?planet wdt:P31 wd:Q44559; wdt:P397 ?sun'

to this SPARQL query

PREFIX bd: <http://www.bigdata.com/rdf#>
PREFIX rdfs: <http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#>
PREFIX schema: <http://schema.org/>
PREFIX wd: <http://www.wikidata.org/entity/>
PREFIX wdt: <http://www.wikidata.org/prop/direct/>
PREFIX wikibase: <http://wikiba.se/ontology#>
    ?planet wdt:P31 wd:Q44559 .
    ?planet wdt:P397 ?sun .
    SERVICE wikibase:label {
        bd:serviceParam wikibase:language "en" .
        ?planet rdfs:label ?planetLabel .
        ?planet schema:description ?planetDescription .
  • Interesting. Do you have a reference about this expansion ?
    – Offirmo
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 14:46
  • Update 2022: wdq installed from CPAN still works on Ubuntu 20.04 . However it installs quite a few dependencies (Perl Modules as deb packages). For me, n=36, and I had a lot of Perl stuff already installed. -- By the way, the query about planets now returns info about 3890 exoplanets.
    – knb
    Commented May 23, 2022 at 20:19

As Magnus Manske points out, SPARQL is the preferred way since, I would add, SPARQL is standardized BUT, here is the downside:

The SPARQL endpoint, at this point in time, is NOT as reliable as WDQ yet, for example a query like this:


Which returns all animals in wikidata, takes 15 seconds to complete as WDQ query, and the equivalent (via https:// tools.wmflabs.org/wdq2sparql/w2s.php) in SPARQL:

prefix wdt: <http://www.wikidata.org/prop/direct/>
prefix wd: <http://www.wikidata.org/entity/>
  ?tree0 (wdt:P150)* ?item .
  ?tree0 (wdt:P171|wdt:P273|wdt:P75|wdt:P76|wdt:P77|wdt:P70|wdt:P71|wdt:P74|wdt:P89)* wd:Q729 .

Times out HORRIBLY (test it!).

My advice is to follow Magnus advice to invest in SPARQL, but if you are serious about using this in your project, I'll add a abstraction layer and be prepared to failed queries. (which you should do anyway).


Despite of this, WDQ seems more unstable, at least from the availability perspective (maybe it´s just the wmflabs.org domain, or whatever, but here are the unfiltered results) :

Daily performance WDQ vs SPARQL endpoints. Wikidata API as reference

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