[Taxacom] Wiki vs EOL - simple question

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Mon Feb 8 16:56:15 CST 2010

Hi Cyndy,
I'm sure you are unsurprised that I should want to reply to this! :)
I just don't think that the message coming from EOL is consistent! It is self-contradictory! On the one hand, you are saying that EOL is just a data aggregator or indexer. I assume you mean that it is (primarily, to address Mike Heads' comment) a compilation from primary taxonomic sources, as indeed is Wikispecies, in exactly the same way. If so, then it at best unclear what you mean by "quality control"! I will elaborate shortly, but first I would like to mention the fact that if you flag information as "unreviewed", you are simply saying to your "more serious" readers "don't even bother going there"! I don't see that letting anybody have a say, but then flagging it as "probably crap!" unless given the green light by the "chosen ones" is really anything more than an empty gesture (it is a bit like a dictatorship government saying to the people "you can say anything you like, provided you do so via us")! Quality control for data aggregation lies in explicit citation of sources. The information is all "pre-vetted" at the stage of publication of the primary sources, which has gone through peer review in the usual manner. Simple rubber stamping exercises, based on "faith" in the system, are becoming increasingly old hat ...
Nothing in what you or anyone from EOL has said to date demonstrates any particular advantages of EOL over Wikispecies, and given the substantial financial cost of EOL to the scientific community, that, I suggest, poses somewhat of a problem for you ...

From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Cynthia Parr [parrc at si.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, 9 February 2010 11:10 a.m.
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Wiki vs EOL - simple question

To answer Michael Ivie's question, EOL currently "vets the vetters
(curators)." However, content contribution is open to anyone, just like

We mark (with a yellow background) content for which the level of review is
uncertain or which we know is unreviewed. So, we currently mark Flickr,
Wikipedia, and direct contributions (adding text directly on the site) as
unvetted on EOL, until a curator tells us the info is trustworthy. Sources
from the scientific community, e.g. online databases, LifeDesks, etc. are
typically considered pre-vetted.

We encourage anybody contribute to any of the Wiki efforts -- we already
display Wikimedia and Wikipedia content and there's no particular reason why
we aren't including Wikispecies yet. We will prioritize it if there is great
demand for it.

EOL has discussed internally the possibility of having the content authored
by EOL curators (e.g. on Wikipedia or Flickr) automatically appear as vetted
on EOL. All of this is do-able but takes time and the requirements can be
complicated. Input is welcome.

Oh, to pick up on a related thread, we are also in the process of testing
out some "data" aggregation to complement the "information" on our pages.

You can think of EOL more as an aggregator or indexer, or even as a quality
control service; so it could be argued that we aren't directly competing
with the wiki sites.


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