[Taxacom] wikipedia & taxonomical authority

Roger Hyam (TDWG) rogerhyam at mac.com
Thu Jul 31 04:37:28 CDT 2008

Thanks Chuck, Rod and All,

The thing is we could just build an Uber Scratchpad wiki separate from  
wikipedia where we knew who everyone was. Funders could even pay  
people to contribute and we could produce metrics on their activities  
etc. This could all be done cheaply with available software with  
relatively little tinkering but there doesn't seem to be a way to fund  
it. For example (and I am definitely *not* EoL bashing here) EoL could  
have spent virtually nothing on software and infrastructure and spent  
95% of their money paying people  to write content - but they didn't,  
probably because it is not an attractive funding model to pay  
taxonomists for content. EDIT (from which Scratchpads emerge) are also  
building a custom distributed application thing and the CATE project  
is doing likewise I believe. So we will have at least three taxonomic  
workbench like applications in the near future (I am sure there are  
more) plus scratchpads (which are wiki / CMS) and still far more  
content will be generated and used on wikipedia than on any of these  

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Perhaps everyone will rally  
behind EoL once they implement the functionality available in  
wikimedia already but I don't think EoL have plans to pay people to  
contribute so it may not take off. Only time will tell.

Solutions look simple from 20,000 feet but more complex from ground  

Thanks for all your contributions,


On 31 Jul 2008, at 09:34, Roderic Page wrote:

> Chuck,
> One could ask at what point do we need to know "who". Given that we
> have access to a history of edits, we can judge the value of the
> contributions.
> In the case of the changes to the Helice crassa page, the update to
> the genus Austrohelice was made by  "Dysmorodrepanis" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Dysmorodrepanis
>  ), who we can see has a long history of editing. We can also engage
> that user in conversation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Dysmorodrepanis
>  ), if we wish.
> Just how important is knowing who "Dysmorodrepanis" actually is? Don't
> we have enough information to make some judgement of who good they
> are? Isn't this roughly how we make judgements "offline" (i.e., we
> look a a body of work and make a judgement, base don our own reading,
> and the reaction of others). I'd hate to think we attribute authority
> simply based on a name.
> Regards
> Rod
> On 31 Jul 2008, at 08:44, Chuck Miller wrote:
>> Regarding "the history of who is doing what is visible"
>> Most "whos" on Wikipedia are anonymous using names like flip02,
>> darthvader, fuzzy bunny, etc.  So, how do you really know "who" is
>> doing
>> what? You just know "what."
>> EOL intends to provide real "whos" for its species pages.  At least  
>> if
>> you know "who" wrote the "what", you have a chance for reporting the
>> issue to them.  Of course, the "who" might have lived in the 19th
>> century and won't listen.
>> Chuck
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Karl Magnacca [mailto:kmagnacca at wesleyan.edu]
>> Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 2:26 PM
>> To: TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] wikipedia & taxonomical authority
>> On Wed, July 30, 2008 8:05 pm, Neal Evenhuis wrote:
>>> Who corrects EoL pages? I thought they were going to be a sort of
>> wiki?
>> Likewise, many databases like ITIS are also crammed full of outdated
>> or
>> sometimes outright wrong information, but trying to get it fixed is
>> practically impossible.  At least with a wiki-type interface, changes
>> can be made when spotted and the history of who is doing what is
>> visible.
>> Karl
>> =====================
>> Karl Magnacca
>> Postdoctoral Researcher
>> Department of Zoology
>> Trinity College, Dublin 2
>> Ireland
>> _______________________________________________
>> Taxacom mailing list
>> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> Roderic Page
> Professor of Taxonomy
> Graham Kerr Building
> University of Glasgow
> Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
> Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
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Roger Hyam
Roger at BiodiversityCollectionsIndex.org
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, UK
Tel: +44 131 552 7171 ext 3015
Fax: +44 131 248 2901

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