[Taxacom] Wiki vs EOL - simple question

mivie at montana.edu mivie at montana.edu
Mon Feb 8 16:23:46 CST 2010

OK, based on these arguments, I just went and checked out a group I know. 
First thing, on the page itself, the casual 7th grader doing a report just
sees what is last entered.  No caveat about who did the work, or how valid
it might be.  Just presented as fact.  Checking the history page, the
contributors are hiding behind false names, and in fact, within minutes I
found a case of 2 (two!) dunces battling it out over 2 (two) idiotic
ideas, neither of which reflect modern concepts.  Looks like the good
workers just threw their hands up and went to EOL.

Thus, the 7th grader should use EOL, not WikiSpecies.

Elitism is a good thing when it comes to quality of information.  Surely
you don't let some anonymous source named "medicusmagnus024" provide your
diagnosis of a the skin rash you  have, and then prescribe the treatment? 
Why would our diagnosis and prescription information be any less rigorous?
 Professional training is the same way.  We award a degree for a level of
achievement, not just "hey, I think I am pretty good, so I'll award myself
a Ph.D. AND an M.D."  We bestow respect on an amateur because of a history
of achievement tied to her name. You can find a citation to support
anything.  It is the value added of the interpreter that makes information
worth the trouble. If the information is wrong, and leads to damage, who
is responsible? Bugdude78?

EOL may be mostly empty so far, but it looks more consistently valid.


>>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.
> Peace,
> --
> 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)
>               http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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