[Taxacom] iSpecies with Wikipedia

Donat Agosti agosti at amnh.org
Sun Mar 30 17:26:20 CDT 2008

In this weeks Economist is an interesting article about Wikipedia
The passage below might be relevant to the algorithm argument below and that
anybody can play along as long as his classification can be found online.
And those are mostly very popular taxa, and not so much what is called the
specialists taxa. Finally, those extreme specialist taxa are those we miss
(the ca 600,000 taxa missing to have a complete classification of the
supposed known 1.8M taxa).

"It may be that Wikipedians have already taken care of the “low-hanging
fruit”, having compiled articles on the most obvious topics (though this
could, again, be taken as evidence of Wikipedia's maturity). But there is a
limit to how much information a group of predominantly non-specialist
volunteers, armed with a search engine, can create and edit. Producing
articles about specialist subjects such as Solidarity activists, as opposed
to Pokémon characters, requires expert knowledge from contributors and
editors. If the information is not available elsewhere on the web, its
notability cannot be assessed using Google."

If we really want to progress with classifications, we need to understand
differences between them and try to resolve them with scientific insights
not voting systems, which might depend as much on good sales figures (like
peterson's field guides) rather then scientific insights


-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Richard Pyle
Sent: Saturday, March 29, 2008 1:11 AM
To: TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] iSpecies with Wikipedia

> (given 
> Rich's definition of expert I suppose because they are on the 
> web and expressing an opinion they are also "expert") 

This is certainly not my definition of "expert"!!

I see also that my use of the word "algorithm" in this thread has been
widely misinterpreted.

Unfortunately, I don't have time to explain in greater detail than I already
have; so I will come back to the original point I was trying to make:

- Acknowledging and embracing the diversity of taxonomic assertions is
something that I believe should be important to practicing taxonomists.

- The vast majority of consumers of biological information (who are not
taxonomists) lack both the interest and the expertise to form their own
judgements concerning alternative taxonomic viewpoints, and would prefer a
single classification that effectively balances the desire for it to be
"current" with the desire for it to be relatively stable.

My original point: These two things do not need to be mutually exclusive.

My secondary point: organizing information electronically in a clever way,
incorporating the sorts of features that Doug and others articulated, can
assist us in accomodating both of the above items.

And no smoke-filled rooms or authoritarian walls are needed.

Back to work....


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