[Taxacom] an uneasy relationship between taxonomy and wikipedia

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Sat Jul 10 19:45:09 CDT 2010


I really enjoyed Rod Page's paper (you don't need to view the slideshow) and I warmly agree with his point of view (surprise!). The prospect of ongoing taxonomic conflicts in Wikipedia is real, but I think relatively unimportant. As long as taxonomists include pointers to the primary literature, the great rivalries and disputes can be played out mainly off-Wikipedia.

One anecdote won't demonstrate a trend (and Rod's stats are only indicative), but I know this one well: my wife is the volunteer records officer at the local arboretum. She maintains a geospatial database of the planted trees and shrubs. Where does she go first to check names and classification? Wikipedia. Where does she go if she notes a name-usage conflict? IPNI. Where does she look first for more information about a plant, besides its name and classification? Wikipedia.

Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
03 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/?articleID=570

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