[Taxacom] Species Pages - purpose

Thomas J Simonsen Thomas.simonsen at ualberta.ca
Wed Feb 4 10:49:38 CST 2009

On Wikipedia this could potentially be a problem. However, EoL, AToL,  
CATE and similar projects are - as far as I know - not open access  
where everybody can make contributions to everything, you have to be  
approved first. If online species pages are hosted by acknowledge  
scientific institutions, organizations and societies, the hosts then  
voucher for the quality of the pages - much in the same way publishers  
voucher for the quality of paper publications. I for one always tell  
students that whereas Wikipedia is an excellent place to look for  
initial information and primary literature sources, it cannot itself  
be considered such a primary source.

As for the question: who selects the experts?
This is by no means a problem confined to web publications. Everybody  
with a printer can publish taxonomically "valid" publications today.  
It's not an unknown phenomenon in entomology. Web based species pages  
hosted by institutions and organizations probably offer better and  
easier means of quality control that the current system.


  Quoting Lyn.Craven at csiro.au:

> The big negative about this approach is "information that can be  
> corrected and/or confirmed by experts", i.e., who selects the  
> expert?    I thought about contributing to Wikipedia but when I  
> realised that anyone could rewrite my text, I thought why bother.    
> Putting up a (searchable) pdf that cannot be tampered with has some  
> value (and if someone disagrees then they can put up their own  
> version), but I'm not sure that putting up something that might only  
> last a few weeks before some zealot gets to it is worth the time  
> investment.
> We could set up a committee to manage it all but science by  
> committee will be about as effective as any other committee.
> Lyn Craven
> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu  
> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of murrellze
> Sent: Wednesday, 4 February 2009 3:39 AM
> To: Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Cc: Mike Dallwitz
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Species Pages - purpose
> I disagree with Dallwitz's portrayal of species pages as "simplified  
> and attractive information about taxa easily available to casual  
> users". If done appropriately, species pages can provide information  
> that can be corrected and/or confirmed by experts and then used by  
> other scientists, students of science, corporations, decision makers  
> and "casual users".
> The WWW provides us with a way to convey vast amounts of  
> information, but with more than 10 billion websites, it is difficult  
> to know what is "good" information. It is up to the scientific  
> community to provide quality information. This quality information  
> can then be used in various efforts, from conservation to helping  
> inform the direction of future research.
> Zack Murrell
> Mike Dallwitz wrote:
>> In brief, to make simplified and attractive information about taxa
>> easily available to casual users?
>> Mary Barkworth wrote:
>>> -For taxa that people often ask about - because we get asked
>>> questions and it is easier to point them to a page with an answer -
>>> but that kind of page might not be the same page as we would make  
>>> available to colleagues.
>>> -To provide ourselves with easy access to information away from  
>>> our offices.
>>> -Make information to others more cheaply.
>>> -Make highly illustrated information about taxa available at low cost
>>> and in a place where more people are going to see it than if it is
>>> published in a journal.
>>> -To show off what we have done.
>>> -Funding sources like it.
>> Mike Dallwitz wrote:
>>> What purpose do species pages serve? In the original posting (Species
>>> Pages - where are the online descriptions?), Roger Hyam suggested
>>> that they might be used to confirm identifications, but they are
>>> clearly not very suitable for that purpose.
> _______________________________________________
> Taxacom Mailing List
> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> The entire Taxacom Archive back to 1992 can be searched with either  
> of these methods:
> http://taxacom.markmail.org
> Or use a Google search specified as:   
> site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here

More information about the Taxacom mailing list