[Taxacom] Zootaxa papers now in BioStor

Mike Sadka M.Sadka at nhm.ac.uk
Mon Feb 8 12:30:52 CST 2010

Hi Stephen

It is interesting (to me at least) that of all the reasons you give for
using Wikispecies, not a single one of them relates to how suitable,
from an IT perspective, a wiki format is for long-term structured data
persistence, maintenance and access - not to mention querying or data

IMO Wikis are for content, not data.  Arguably, putting data into wiki's
severely limits subsequent use or manipulation, because essentially
there is no data model - only pages of information which are not
accessible to machines (although appropriate metadata markup could make
them more so)   and, without search capability, only partially
accessible to humans. 

Personally I feel data should be put into a format which maximises its
potential for re-use - especially science data, as nobody can foresee
how scientists might want to use or query data in the future.  

Cheerio, Mike


-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Stephen Thorpe
Sent: 06 February 2010 23:54
To: David Wagner
Cc: taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Zootaxa papers now in BioStor

Hi David,

You ask a very good question, though one we have "touched on" already
several times on Taxacom. First off, I am in COMPLETE AGREEMENT with you

>I am confounded by all these global programs which seem to me to be
overlapping, hugely duplicative efforts. I can't help but think there is
a lot of resources being wasted here

The answer is that IMHO, Wikispecies is by far the best option, though
at present it is still hideously undervalued by the scientific
community, alas!

I have to be a tad careful about what I say on Taxacom about "the
competition", like EoL, for example. It wouldn't be the first time that
the director of some such outfit has responded to me in an overly
defensive manner, magnifying and twisting my actual words!

Suffice it to say this: the advantages of Wikispecies are as follows:

(1) it is already up and running;

(2) it is free;

(3) it covers all species of everything, with global scope, including

(4) it can be updated far more quickly than the alternative sites;

(5) errors can be fixed immediately when spotted, by anyone who notices

(6) it doesn't restrict who can contribute;

(7) information added to Wikispecies is subject to true open-ended
global peer review ...

The alternative sites are expensive, restrict who can contribute,
difficult to keep up-to-date, and errors are locked in, and it is
typically very difficult to get them corrected ...

As for the expectation that you should add information to Wikispecies
for free, well you get out of it what you put in. If you need good
biodiversity information on a regular basis, then you should be prepared
to make a contribution. The alternative is for millions of dollars to be
spent on perpetuating the huge beauracracies associated with the closed
sites, potentially or actually at the expense of funding for primary
taxonomic research ...

A basic, but reasonably good example of my Wikispecies contributions is
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Doxozilora_punctata, with features:
(1) an image of a specimen that I have taken and uploaded and identified
(possibly the only photo on the web, or even in existence, of that
(2) DOI linking to references;
(3) utilisation of Internet Archive (if you click on the Internet
Archive link to the Broun reference, the original description should pop
up like magic!)


From: David Wagner [davidwagner at mac.com]
Sent: Sunday, 7 February 2010 12:22 p.m.
To: Stephen Thorpe
Cc: taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Zootaxa papers now in BioStor


Why are you putting energy into Wikispecies instead of EOL
(encyclopedia of life) or GBIF (global biodiversity information
facility) or any of a number of other ambitious, database web sites?

I am confounded by all these global programs which seem to me to be
overlapping, hugely duplicative efforts. I can't help but think there
is a lot of resources being wasted here that could be better directed
towards immediate, concrete conservation needs.

There many sites of a more restricted, regional focus, too. I've
refused to contribute to most of them, despite numerous invitations,
because I am wearied by the thought of pounding sand down the wrong
rat hole.

And, I'm surprised at the expectation of many that I should offer for
free, without royalties or tight copyright retention, unfunded
independent work that I should be compensated for.

Your insights?

Is this appropriate for another thread? I'm new to taxacom and maybe
have missed these kinds of discussions.


David H. Wagner, Ph.D.
Northwest Botanical Institute
P.O. Box 30064
Eugene, OR 97403-1064

davidwagner at mac.com


On Feb 6, 2010, at 2:43 PM, Stephen Thorpe wrote:

>  on Wikispecies I am placing Zootaxa papers

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