[Taxacom] Wiki vs EOL - simple question

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Mon Feb 8 15:23:33 CST 2010

Dear Mike (Ivie),
Big sigh! Talk about a loaded question! I had hoped that people would have got the message about this by now, but here goes again:
Wikis are indeed open edit. What are the implications of this fact? Well, for one thing, it means if some dunce on a closed edit site makes a mistake, and you know better, you can fix it there and then, without any hassle whatsoever. You speak of "authoritative rigor", but if all this means is putting trust in the credentials of a contributor, then I say that sooo 20th century! On a Wiki, the information reliability comes from being fully fleshed out and sourced, so verifiable. It isn't about who wrote it, it is about how it is written. Don't forget that both EOL and Wikispecies are intended only as compilations/syntheses of already published information. Turn it on its head, and think of it as Wikis being subject to truly open ended global peer review. Incorrect and/or out of date info isn't "locked in" as it is on closed edit sites. Anyway, the really important point is that every Wiki page has an associated edit history, which is preserved and which cannot be tampered with. It records who made what changes and when. You can even call up the previous versions of the page and compare them. A Wiki page is basically a stack of documents (edits). It is open to anyone do create a new document and stick it on top of the stack, but that is all they can do. So, there is actually very little difference between Wikis and closed edit sources, except that it is open to anyone/everyone to contribute. When you look at a Wiki page for information, the first thing you should check is that all the information is sourced with reference citations that are (in principle anyway) verifiable. If you still have doubts, you can look through the edit history. If you see a dubious looking edit by an anonymous IP, or a username you don't know, then you might well take the edit with a grain of salt. If you see that the edit was by, for example Stho002, then it is no more or less reliable than I am, because that is me! You need to get familiar with the contributors (via their usernames), but isn't that EXACTLY what we do in relation to publications? Oh, its just another one by that Makhan - toss that one in the bin ...

From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of mivie at montana.edu [mivie at montana.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, 9 February 2010 9:55 a.m.
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Wiki vs EOL - simple question

Dear Mike and Stephen,

I have a question about this debate.  It is true that EOL vets authors,
and therefore has some modicum of authoritative rigor, while Wikis can be
done by any dunce that shows up?  If this is true, I know where I think
people should put their legitimate efforts.  If this is not true, then
please explain.

Michael Ivie


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