[Taxacom] Wiki vs EOL - simple question
s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Mon Feb 8 17:13:47 CST 2010
I can see where you are coming from Mike, but I think you need to reconsider a couple of points:
(1) >It is written for that school kid doing a report
Not really - how many school kids are asked to do reports on Stereomerini, or indeed 90% of all like on Earth which is small and known only to a few specialists? I agree that there might be a place for a good site like EOL for lions, tigers and insects in some general sense (beetle, bug, wasp, fly), but it would involve/cost only a fraction of what EOL involves/costs, and arguably be no better than the traditional method of going to the local library and looking up a good encyclopedia!
The potential audience for Wikispecies is a sophisticated one - who can judge if a page has been structured properly in terms of explicit citations to published sources. There are lots of people who would find this valuable, including biosecurity people, Masters and PhD students, and, yes, even professional taxonomists who might occasionally want to say something informed about a group peripheral to their speciality, or just want an easy place to go to check out the latest published literature on a group in a taxonomically structured context ...
(2) The corresponding EOL page had nothing wrong on it, of course pretty much nothing at all.....
So, no actual use to the hypothetical school kid, either!
(3) Why not simply upgrade the quality control on WikiSpecies with an editor that is vetted by community standards, and nothing appears until checked? And, everything has real names and addresses right on the page? Why not?
Because, that is not the "Wiki way", and besides it isn't necessary. The "Wiki way" is to empower the end user to vet the information themselves, rather than having it "rubber stamped" by someone who is really busy doing something else (like creating new information). I have tried to create a compromise, which does stretch the boundaries of the "Wiki way", more along your lines, as far as I can ...
Again, Wikispecies allows for TRUE open-ended global peer review, which isn't just a "rubber stamping" exercise ...
From: mivie at montana.edu [mivie at montana.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, 9 February 2010 11:58 a.m.
To: Stephen Thorpe
Cc: mivie at montana.edu; Doug Yanega; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Wiki vs EOL - simple question
> This is good - it shows that the system works! You checked out the page
history, and were able to easily see that the page wasn't worth the
> it isn't written on! Excellent!
But, I don't need that page, so it isn't written for me. It is written
for that school kid doing a report, who might be the next great
entomologist. And he cannot tell that it is anything but good. No filter
has protected him from the misinformation. The corresponding EOL page
had nothing wrong on it, of course pretty much nothing at all.....
As one respondent just reminded me "Build a system that even a fool can
use, and only a fool will use it." However, in this case, "something done
for free is worth every penny."
Why not simply upgrade the quality control on WikiSpecies with an editor
that is vetted by community standards, and nothing appears until checked?
And, everything has real names and addresses right on the page? Why not?
> Contributors don't necessarily "hide behind false names". For example if
you check out the history for this page:
> http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Stereomerini, and click on Stho002, it
will take you to my user page, where I introduce myself (though I need
> rewrite it sometime to make it better than that somewhat rushed blurb).
Also, on the Stereomerini page itself (at the top), I have signed it off
as complete and correct (click on those words on the page for a precise
> Although you don't specify which page you tested, I'm betting that it
wasn't well written/structured to begin with - did they explicitly cite
published references for all the bits of information? I think not! If it
isn't so structured, then you can forget it without even bothering to
check out the history! And it is precisely because very few people
> to contribute that there are many such pages ...
> Therefore, it is not the bad pages that are relevant to an evaluation of
the relative merits of Wiki vs EOL, but the GOOD pages, and how you can
distinuish between them.
> Incidentally, how does the EOL page for whatever group you chose to look
> 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 11:23 a.m.
> To: Doug Yanega
> Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Wiki vs EOL - simple question
> OK, based on these arguments, I just went and checked out a group I
> First thing, on the page itself, the casual 7th grader doing a report
> sees what is last entered. No caveat about who did the work, or how
> it might be. Just presented as fact. Checking the history page, the
contributors are hiding behind false names, and in fact, within minutes
> 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
> diagnosis of a the skin rash you have, and then prescribe the
> Why would our diagnosis and prescription information be any less
> Professional training is the same way. We award a degree for a level
> achievement, not just "hey, I think I am pretty good, so I'll award
> a Ph.D. AND an M.D." We bestow respect on an amateur because of a
> of achievement tied to her name. You can find a citation to support
anything. It is the value added of the interpreter that makes
> 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
>>>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
>> "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
>> "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>> is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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