[Taxacom] Wikipedia classification

Dean Pentcheff pentcheff at gmail.com
Tue Jun 30 21:21:25 CDT 2009


On Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 6:55 PM, <Tony.Rees at csiro.au> wrote:
...
> Perhaps a hybrid approach is feasible - use a proper relational system to drive
> the taxonomic backbone but import relevant content from the wikiXXX world.
...

Isn't that rather what EOL (for example) is trying to do?

-Dean
-- 
Dean Pentcheff
pentcheff at gmail.com


On Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 6:55 PM, <Tony.Rees at csiro.au> wrote:
> Dear Rod,
>
> This is really a follow-up to your comments as per the i-phylo blog http://tinyurl.com/lcxn2s - however I thought I would post it here rather than there as the issues are certainly relevant to this group.
>
> Most of the problems you encounter with the wikipedia/wikispecies type of collation are the result of (1) uncontrolled data entry (anyone can enter anything they want, also change previously entered content ad hoc), (2) lack of a relational DB back end to enable any required linkages (such as true parent and child records and re-use of content already entered at a different level of the hierarchy), and (3) - in wikispecies at least - hard wiring the species pages to a taxonomic hierarchy in the form of the URL - which is therefore not a stable identifier e.g. if you want to shift a species page or concept around in the taxonomic hierarchy in the light of new information or a changed opinion, to support multiple alternative classifications, or simply to correct an error. Without addressing these issues I believe that you will never get a decent scalable and maintainable system (which is why databases get the usage they do :)  )
>
> On the other hand I agree that (a) there is nevertheless a lot of valuable content in these community-driven sites that would be nice to be leveraged somehow, (b) many hands make light work i.e. can accomplish much more than a single individual or small group, and (c) community driven sites can be very responsive to new information as it is released.
>
> Perhaps a hybrid approach is feasible - use a proper relational system to drive the taxonomic backbone but import relevant content from the wikiXXX world. However issue (1) above does not go away - the only way to deal with that is to have a moderating process so that content does not go live until it has been reviewed by some trusted party, and also there are structural issues with the free text approach versus a greater degree of atomised content and, as appropriate, controlled terms in at least a subset of the fields. Whether wikiXXX can be morphed into such a beast remains an open question, of course - probably not very likely in my view - systems like WoRMS (e.g. see http://www.marinespecies.org/about.php) are much closer to that ideal already, and thus will always have more authoritatative, structured and relational content, as well as buy-in from relevant experts to contribute.
>
> Just some food for thought, possibly.
>
> FYI if you want to see undesirable things that can happen when arguments develop over taxonomic issues in wikiXXX space, take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Sperm_Whale#catodon . It's enough to put you off contributing really - (I did elsewhere and decided to stop when things got too annoying).
>
> - Tony
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Roderic Page
> Sent: Tuesday, 30 June 2009 2:46 AM
> To: TAXACOM
> Subject: [Taxacom] Wikipedia classification
>
> As an exercise I attempted to recreate the Wikipedia classification of
> life by extracting information from all pages containing a "Taxobox" .
> I've posted a blog post about the results ( http://iphylo.blogspot.com/2009/06/wikipedia-taxonomy-good-bad-and-very.html
>   http://tinyurl.com/lcxn2s ). You can go directly to the very crude
> browser I knocked together to navigate the Wikipedia pages here: http://bioguid.info/demos/wikipedia/
>
> Regards
>
> Rod
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> Roderic Page
> Professor of Taxonomy
> DEEB, FBLS
> Graham Kerr Building
> University of Glasgow
> Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
>
> Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
> Tel: +44 141 330 4778
> Fax: +44 141 330 2792
> AIM: rodpage1962 at aim.com
> Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112517192
> Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage
> Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
> Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
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