[Taxacom] "Why would you waste your time editing Wikipedia?"

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at freeler.nl
Sat Sep 20 07:30:47 CDT 2008

From: "Jim Croft" <jim.croft at gmail.com>
To: "Una Smith" <una.smith at att.net>
Cc: <TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Saturday, September 20, 2008 8:52 AM

> In our taxonomic indices we have adopted the Wikipedia approach (way
> before Wikipedia in fact) - the compiler can not just put something
> somewhere because they want to - they have to cite a reference, any
> reference, where it happened.  It is the reference that becomes the
> indisputable fact - Smith moved this this species to this genus then
> in this publication and cited these synonyms - can't argue with it -
> it happened.  We will also record the fact that Jones published
> another synonymy that agreed (or not) with Smith - can't argued with
> that either.  This forms the raw material foundation of our taxonomy
> from which we can derive a consensus or compromise and document points
> of conflict.

> (An interesting side effect of this approach is that you do not need
> to be an expert, world or otherwise, to compile a bomb-proof list -
> you just need to be botanically literate - is someone complains that
> their favorite treatment is not covered, if they can produce the
> reference, it is a simple matter to add it.)

That sounds very commendable, and like the exact opposite of what Wikipedia
does (in practice). There, the typical entry consists of a list, copied from
a database (somewhere), giving an opinion held by somebody, somewhen,
somewhere; details all unspecified. No indication that there are other views


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