[Taxacom] Propagation of bad sameAs statements

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Sep 8 19:33:17 CDT 2010

' "Invasive species" is a phrase with several definitions. The first definition 
expresses the phrase in terms of non-indigenous species (e.g. plants or animals) 
that adversely affect the habitats they invade economically, environmentally or 
ecologically. It has been used in this sense by government organizations as well 
as conservation groups such as the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of 
Nature). The second definition broadens the boundaries to include both native 
and non-native species that heavily colonize a particular habitat. The third 
definition is an expansion of the first and defines an invasive species as a 
widespread non-indigenous species. This last definition is arguably too broad as 
not all non-indigenous species necessarily have an adverse effect on their 
adopted environment. An example of this broader use would include the claim that 
the common goldfish is invasive. Although it is common outside its range 
globally, it almost never appears in harmful densities. Because of the ambiguity 
of its definition, the phrase invasive species is often criticized as an 
imprecise term within the field of ecology. This article concerns the first two 
definitions; for the third, see introduced species'

Is this pedantry really necessary??? Surely some terms can have definitions that 
are intuitive and vague just like English (and other) languages? If we really do 
need a legalistic definition of "invasive species", then it seems to me they are 
all on the wrong track. How about this:

an invasive species is one which has a definite tendency to expand its range 
into areas where it is unwanted
a pest species (relative to a region)  is one which is unwanted in that region
an invasive species is one which has a definite tendency to expand its range 
into areas where it would be a pest


From: joel sachs <jsachs at csee.umbc.edu>
To: public-lod at w3.org; freebase-discuss at freebase.com; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Thu, 9 September, 2010 2:42:45 AM
Subject: [Taxacom] Propagation of bad sameAs statements

I'd like to catalog sources of biodiversity information and misinformation 
on the semantic web, and am trying to determine the genesis of some 
unfortunate owl:sameAs statements.

According to sameas.org:

      (many other concepts)

Checking out the dbpedia resources that are the objects of the sameAs 
assertions, we see that each redirects to
http://dbpedia.org/resource/Invasive_species. But other than 
dbpedia:Invasive_species including a sameAs link to 
freebase:Invasive_species, no dbpedia page, afaict,  makes the sameAs assertions 
listed above.

However, http://rdf.freebase.com/rdf/guid.9202a8c04000641f800000000007de24 
does assert:


The direction of propagation is not explicit. One possibility is that 
sameas.org is inferring that "A sameAs B" based on "A redirects to B", and 
that these assertions are making their way into freebase. Another is that 
a freebase contributor is making the sameas inferences, and that they are 
being picked up by sameas.org. (Similar cycles of sameAs can be found for 
"habitat", "introduced_species", and many other concepts.)

So, a request for the sameas.org folks: Would it be possible to include a 
provenance column for all sameAs assertions you keep track of?  In cases 
where the sameAs assertion isn't actually asserted on the web, you could 
indicate the provenance as "inferred" in the provenance column. Also, have 
you published the heuristics you use (if any) to infer sameAs relations?

And questions for freebase contributors: Are any of you running a script 
that either a) loads in assertions from sameas.org, or b) deduces sameAs 
relations from dbepedia redirection behaviour?



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