[Taxacom] Wikipedia classification

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Mon Jul 6 06:49:28 CDT 2009

On 6 Jul 2009, at 11:59, Bob Mesibov wrote:

> Rod Page wrote:
> "In other words, let Wikipedia deal with taxonomic concepts, and  
> have a separate wiki for names.
> Thoughts? "
> A fusion of Wikispecies and Wikipedia would amount to <irony>an  
> encyclopedia of life</irony>, and could most easily be built by  
> linking non-nomenclatural content to a Wikispecies-type framework.  
> But the latter, as Tony Rees has pointed out, needs to be built as a  
> database, not an ensemble of text pages.

This isn't an either/or situation, I feel. Wikis ARE databases, it's  
just that they store semi-structured text. There are pros and cons to  
this approach (the cons we've seen). Among the pros is that users can  
develop new tools without waiting for the database developer to do it  
for them. Part of Wikipedia's power is the template language that  
enables all kinds of cool features to be developed by users.

> An alternative might be a search engine which searches only selected  
> online materials: the most authoritative names databases, the best  
> image galleries, the best literature archives and specialists' blogs  
> and hobby-sites. This sounds suspiciously like the librarian's time- 
> honoured approach: the 'guide to sources'. In fact, if you Google  
> 'internet resources biodiversity', you turn up a suprising number of  
> hyperlinked guides produced by university librarians for their  
> respective clients.

I played with this a little with http://ispecies.org . It works  
surprisingly well, although it needs a lot of work. One could imagine  
having the ability to flag incorrect results (a la Google)

> Fusion (above) is top-down, the guide (below) builds on bottom-up  
> resources. If there were enough of the latter, top-down work could  
> be restricted to nomenclatural projects like ZooBank, which has the  
> potential to be not only the authoritative names+concept resource  
> for most life on Earth, but also the wise and knowing filter through  
> which any new zoological names have to pass.

Both have their place. As Tony was pointing out, it's often only when  
you aggregate (fuse) different resources that errors are detected.



> All very busy and unstable in 2009... IMHO (which Taxacomers must be  
> tired of hearing by now) the best investment would be in bottom-up  
> resources built by specialist/non-specialist Web-based collaborations.
> -- 
> 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

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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