[Taxacom] Wiki vs EOL - simple question

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Mon Feb 8 15:37:05 CST 2010

>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.

"Any dunce" is not going to have all of the relevant literature on 
hand; the requirement for literature citations prevents "dunces" from 
putting nonsense into Wikispecies - and vandalism is eliminated 
pretty mercilessly, though it can take many warnings before the 
hammer falls on them. The "authoritative rigor" in Wikispecies and 
Wikipedia comes from the NON-dunces who use - and edit - the 
resource. Chris Thompson once, trying to prove a point, complained 
that a photo on a Wikipedia page was not of the syrphid fly it 
claimed to be. It took me less than 5 minutes to go in, correct the 
caption, move the image to where it belonged, and edit the original 
image so it was correctly identified and the mistake would not be 
repeated. To this day, no one has moved or altered it. Chris could 
have fixed it himself, but I assume he thought it was a waste of time.

Don't worry about the dunces - they only win if no one smarter than 
them visits the Wiki, and edits it according to their expertise. If 
you want it to be a smarter resource than the dunces would make it, 
then contribute yourself. The beauty of the Wiki is that if a dunce 
*changes* something of yours, you only have to click a few buttons to 
undo it; and if you make the comment "Hey, please don't muck with 
that unless you have a newer and more authoritative reference", then 
all will be well. These wikis DO have administrators, and they WILL 
block persistent vandals, even if those "vandals" are taxonomists 
trying to re-write history according to their own classifications 
(just ask Andy Lehrer, for instance; banned first from the French, 
then from the English Wikipedia). Yes, taxonomists who self-publish 
cannot contribute their work to Wikipedia; Wikipedia has stronger 
restrictions than the ICZN, in this respect.


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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