[Taxacom] data quality vs. data security

Tony.Rees at csiro.au Tony.Rees at csiro.au
Thu Feb 11 21:56:29 CST 2010

Dear Stephen,

If your argument is that one is more likely to find a more complete species list for *any* genus in wikispecies than elsewhere, then this is patently untrue, since the 2009 online Catalogue of Life currently contains more than 1.1m valid species names and 0.7m synonyms, compared to wikispecies presently quoted 210k taxa at all taxonomic ranks. Certainly CoL has gaps and it is in these areas that wikispecies may gain some points, however to generalise that one system is therefore "better" than the other seems a bit pointless, particularly as the likely winner is CoL.

Maybe a more fruitful area would be to see how the additional effort and content you and others are putting into wikispecies may also contribute to CoL and other related efforts (such as the upcoming GNA and GNUB, see e.g. http://code.google.com/p/gbif-ecat/wiki/GNUBIntro ), but that is unlikely to be advanced by repeated arguments that wikispecies is essentially better than the other initiatives that already feed into such compilations, some of which are considerably richer in species-level information than the equivalent wikispecies entries, and even (gasp) kept up-to-date by equally diligent workers...

Just my 2 cents' worth (I am drawing down my available cents here, though, probably will reach zero soon).

- Tony

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Kenneth Kinman
Sent: Friday, 12 February 2010 2:39 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] data quality vs. data security

Hi Stephen,  
      In this particular case, Wikipedia is a little better than AFD.
However, neither gives me enough information to evaluate how many true
species there are in the genus Apteropanorpa.
      AFD indicates that the page was updated in 2008.  I can forgive
them for missing the 2007 paper which added the third and fourth
proposed species of the genus.  However, there is no excuse for missing
(or at very least  not mentioning) the second proposed species by Byers
and Yeates back in 1999 in a prominent Australian journal.
       But what really irks me is that I checked NCBI for molecular
sequences for this genus, and the only species in the genus represented
is A. evansi.  Even the type species is not represented, nor the two new
species proposed in 2007 based on both molecular and morphological data.
If one claims that there are four separate species based on molecular
and morphological data, why is there only molecular data for one species
on NCBI?  
       I suspect that there are probably indeed at least two species of
Apteropanorpa,  but whether the two additional species proposed in 2007
are also good species perhaps depends on the species concept used in
establishing those two additional species.  Neither AFD nor Wikispecies
gives me the information needed to answer that question.  That the
relevant sequence information isnt in the NCBI database is both puzzling
and frustrating.
              ------Ken Kinman

I would be interested in readers opinions on this simple question: 
taking the particular example of the genus Apteropanorpa, does the
closed edit database AFD
give anyone anything useful that the corresponding Wikispecies page
(http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Apteropanorpa) does not? 
Note that the AFD info is 11 years out of date, but is seen by some as
having somehow got "more secure" content. 
My view is that the AFD info is either seriously misleading/wrong OR it
is neither of those things but tells you nothing useful! It depends if
it tells you when it was last updated (and I haven't checked, but I
don't see anything obvious). If it doesn't, then the reasonable
interpretation by a user would be that there is only one valid species
of Apteropanorpa, which is wrong. If it does say that it was last
updated in 1998 or something (was it even around then?), then it tells
you something true, i.e., that in 1998 there was only one known (valid)
species of Apteropanorpa, but that information seems to me to be of
little or no practical use... 
I am granting for the sake of argument that the AFD info is somehow
"more secure" (closed edit), but the question is: would anyone have any
good reason to use the AFD info over the Wikispecies info? Note that the
question is NOT which would you prefer if both were kept equally
up-to-date and reliable, but which would you prefer as things actually
are ... 


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