[Taxacom] FW: Wikipedia classification

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Fri Jul 3 19:36:20 CDT 2009

I wouldn't call it bait, but I'm glad you took it. That's a very thoughtful post from an experienced primary and secondary compiler.

It's ironic, though, that you say "these [primary] efforts should have a high claim on available funding from relevant authorities" and "it is a poor funding agency that cannot distinguish between the requirement to compile primary information into a GSD or locally authoritative list, and the requirement to do further aggregation". It's ironic because so many of the GSDs have been unfunded or underfunded, the volunteer or poorly paid work of one or more dedicated specialists. I now learn (http://synthesis.eol.org/requestforproposals) that EoL want to sponsor conferences to further the interests of the secondary level, and say "We anticipate supporting 10-12 Synthesis Meetings per year, with each meeting budget ranging from about $10,000 up to $40,000." How many GSDs could be built by specialists with a year's worth of 'Synthesis Meeting' money? How many field trips is that? How many digitisations of collection data?

Your second question begins "if someone posts a GSD, but either refuses to share it, or to answer email requests for the same". I have no idea what proportion of the GSDs are in this category, but people who post GSDs online are sharing information with the world, which as you point out is the core scientific aim. They aren't obliged to assist the secondary level, but the secondary level is definitely obliged to credit their sources if they strip data from the primary online offering. Is this fundamentally different from the pre-Web area, when paper monographs were published and later taxonomic work pulled attributed lists and quotes? As to why a GSD compiler might be reluctant to assist, see the previous paragraph.

I'm not saying the secondary level is useless, it's useful - especially for correcting primary level errors. And the DISCLAIMER you put into IRMNG could just as well appear in any primary level compilation, because there are indeed errors in GSDs. My response to your post is that we don't need another apologia for aggregators, we need more support for primary data getters and compilers. I know you agree with that, Tony, I'm just reiterating my own 'world view'.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Website: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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