[Taxacom] Google, Wikipedia, and Fungi

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Wed Sep 2 08:06:35 CDT 2009

Dear Paul,

On 2 Sep 2009, at 13:25, Paul van Rijckevorsel wrote:

> From: "Roderic Page" <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk>
> Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2009 1:13 PM
>> As a quick test of whether Wikipedia would not do so well for a less
>> "charismatic" group of taxa I looked at the search rank for the 1500
>> species of Fungi in Wikipedia
>> http://iphylo.blogspot.com/2009/09/fungi-in-wikipedia.html
>> If anything, Wikipedia does even better...
> ***
> Well, it cannot be surprising that the fungi present in Wikipedia  
> show up
> in Wikipedia; it might be more interesting to extract all the names  
> of the
> Dictionary of the Fungi (10th Edition) and see how they fare (this  
> might
> have the side effect of raising the Google profile of the Index  
> Fungorum).

I'm not testing whether the Fungi in Wikipedia show up in Wikipedia,  
I'm testing whether for a given taxon name the Wikipedia page for that  
taxon appears in the top 10 of Google searches.

For a given name we have three outcomes:

1. The name is in Wikipedia and the Wikipedia page appears in the top  
10 Google search results

2. The name is in Wikipedia but the Wikipedia page isn't in the top 10

3. The name isn't in Wikipedia

Outcome 3 isn't interesting, unless one is testing the coverage of  

If outcome 2 were common, then one could argue that there's not much  
point getting involved in Wikipedia as nobody would find our hard work.

So far, outcome 1 seems to the most common -- if a name has a  
Wikipedia page then Google points to that page as one of the top 10  
results (often the first hit).

To me tis suggests that if one is going to make an effort to get basic  
taxonomic and biodiversity data online, then Wikipedia is the place to  
do it.



> These searches suffer from a high degree of circular reasoning, but
> certainly it is true that if you are going to do what Wikipedia does,
> with the same strictures as Wikipedia, then it makes sense to do it
> in Wikipedia rather than elsewhere. This raises the question of why
> EOL has chosen to release its contents under this Creative Commons
> license; this cannot be very encouraging to prospective contributors.
> Paul
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> The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with either  
> of these methods:
> (1) http://taxacom.markmail.org
> Or (2) a Google search specified as:  site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/ 
> pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here

Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Tel: +44 141 330 4778
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Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
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