[Taxacom] Wikispecies as an open alternative to Catalogue of Life

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Thu Dec 15 13:50:22 CST 2011

just to further clarify: 
>these projects have different goals<
I'm not sure that this is completely correct? While I don't doubt Rod's grasp of the goals of BioStor or Mendeley, I'm not sure where he gets his opinion from of the goal(s) of Wikispecies? Certainly, my goals on Wikispecies are to assemble a massive online bibliography, linked to BHL, etc., but with an added element of taxonomic structuring absent from BioStor and Mendeley. My approach is to strive to create a single classification that reflects current phylogenetic thinking as much as possible - a sort of middle ground pragmatic approach which admits that phylogeny is forever inconclusive, while at the same time not reverting to an extreme "classification is merely a filing cabinet" philosophy.
>it lacks the kind of automation needed to be able to rapidly populate it from scratch<
the same automation that inevitably leads to unchecked propagation of errors ...

From: Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk>
Sent: Thursday, 15 December 2011 9:50 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Wikispecies as an open alternative to Catalogue of Life

On 14 Dec 2011, at 22:56, Stephen Thorpe wrote:

> integration of published biodiversity data, with names linked to the literature using BHL, etc., then Wikispecies is a great place to do this, though, for some reason, Rod page seems to think that his BioStor, and also Mendeley are better places.

To clarify, these projects have different goals.

Mendeley is assembling a massive online bibliography. We lack a freely available list online of every taxonomic publication, Mendeley seems a good place to assemble this.

BioStor http://biostor.org/ is a tool to extract articles from BHL (which has essentially no notion of an article). To date some 65,000 articles have been extracted, a large fraction of which are post 1923 (BHL contains a surprisingly large amount of modern literature). Finding articles in BHL using BioStor relies on having good bibliographic data for articles, hence my interest in Mendeley.

In terms of linking literature to names, Wikispecies is a nice project, although I have reservations about the details. IMHO Wikispecies falls uncomfortably between a classification and a nomenclator, it lacks the kind of automation needed to be able to rapidly populate it from scratch, and it lacks proper templates to support data harvesting of citations. But all of these could be addressed.

I confess I can't get too excited about classifications, multiple or otherwise. It makes as much sense arguing about classifications as arguing about arranging books in a library (or specimens in a museum). It's a tool for navigating information. If you want to argue about something "real", then argue about phylogeny (which is more complex, but at least it is connected to data).



Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Tel: +44 141 330 4778
Fax: +44 141 330 2792
AIM: rodpage1962 at aim.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112517192
Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage
Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html


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