[Taxacom] The strain between Wikipedia and Science

Jim Croft jim.croft at gmail.com
Sat Mar 5 18:12:19 CST 2011


The main issue for modern information management is not that Wikipedia
compilation can be mindless (and I think you are being a little
uncharitable - there is often quite a bit of editorial judgement that
goes on), as in this example but that it is manual.

There appears to be no way to build in dynamic content that is
generated and maintained in other databases and generally play the
linked data thing and see an information element in context. It is
essentially a bunch of static hard coded text hard linked to another
bunch of static hard coded text. Its apparent responsiveness is little
more than a large and active bunch of humans responding.

Wikipedia would be much more exciting (useful?) if it had, say, a
taxonomy block (from the Catalogue of Life, for example), or an
embedded map (from GBIF, for example) that would be updated
automatically as the databases behind them are changed.  Don't get me
wrong - I love the Wikipedia and the whole notion of free and
distributed knowledge.  I just wish it had more dynamic and real time
content, as is, warts and all, independent of Wikipedia editorship.
Under this model Wikipedia editors argue over the suitability of the
link, and once agreed, what is delivered is up to the link - no
[citation needed] needed; the link is the citation. But that is
probably unlikely to happen.

[ A particular problem with the example under discussion is that is an
animal (*hack*! *ptui*!). There are no combining authors for reference
audit trail and accountability, we can not be sure that all the
synonym combinations have been accounted for, and one of the synonym
genus names is a Legume. And that is why taxonomy can never have nice
things... :)  ]

jim

On Saturday, March 5, 2011,  <dipteryx at freeler.nl> wrote:
> Yes, it is important to realize that creating such a
> Wikipedia page mostly is a mindless affair. Take a page
> of a related organism, copy the source text, paste it
> into the new page, change the picture, change any
> relevant names and presto!
>
> In this case the binomen itself was overlooked, although
> the author citation was updated. Other issues with this
> page were the empty links to Wikispecies (Stephen Thorpe
> quickly created a Wikispecies page to link to) and Wikimedia
> Commons (no further illustrations).
>
> A more serious matter is the question of the taxonomic
> position of Visiana and whether this is a synonym of
> Xanthorhoe. The important thing of course would be to
> list the taxonomic authority which backs one such position
> or the other, instead of just the ex cathedra statement
> of "Visiana is a genus ...". Such justification as is
> present is a function of the database that is used for
> a resource.
>
> Paul
>
> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu namens Stephen Thorpe
> Verzonden: za 5-3-2011 8:14
> Aan: Peter DeVries
> CC: TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Onderwerp: Re: [Taxacom] The strain between Wikipedia and Science
>
> the main problem on that page appears to be a copy/paste error, which I have now
> fixed:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visiana_brujata
>
> Stephen
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: Peter DeVries <pete.devries at gmail.com>
> To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
> Cc: Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu>; TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Sent: Sat, 5 March, 2011 4:12:43 PM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] The strain between Wikipedia and Science
>
> Hi Steve,
>
> I did not see your post until now.
>
> For example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visiana_brujata
>
> - Pete
>
>
> On Fri, Mar 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
> wrote:
>
>> What is the Wikipedia policy on taxonomic hierarchies? They seem to be
>>somewhat inconsistent.
>>Also I keep running into pages where the binomial is not a binomial but a
>>trinomial or something else.
>>I have also notices at least 300 pages where the binomial does not match the
>>page title or text.
>>Is there some standard way that pages should be marked up so it is clear
>>that the article is about a species or a genus or a family etc?
>>
>>Perhaps you can offer some real examples, so we can take a look and probably fix
>>them up ...
>>
>>
>>
>>
> ________________________________
> From: Peter DeVries <pete.devries at gmail.com>
>>To: Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu>
>>Cc: TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>>Sent: Sat, 5 March, 2011 8:23:29 AM
>>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] The strain between Wikipedia and Science
>>
>>
>>Hi Doug,
>>
>>Thank you for your Wikipedia efforts.
>>
>>I had some questions that I thought you might be able to offer some insight
>>for us.
>>
>>What is the Wikipedia policy on taxonomic hierarchies? They seem to be
>>somewhat inconsistent.
>>
>>Also I keep running into pages where the binomial is not a binomial but a
>>trinomial or something else.
>>
>>I have also notices at least 300 pages where the binomial does not match the
>>page title or text.
>>
>>Is there some standard way that pages should be marked up so it is clear
>>that the article is about a species or a genus or a family etc?
>>
>>Thanks,
>>
>>- Pete
>>
>>On Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 12:32 PM, Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu> wrote:
>>
>>> Given that, after something on the order of 6000 edits, I have
>>> possibly done more editing of Wikipedia than any other contributor to
>>> this list (the top-ranked biologist on WP has done over 118000 edits,
>>> the second-ranked 68000, but I don't think they're on this list), I
>>> can address some of the issues here, though my experience is with the
>>> English WP, and perhaps there is a less civilized culture on the
>>> German WP, from Francisco's description.
>>>
>>> Francisco wrote:
>>>
>>> >It is impossible to correct errors in Wikipedia, if these errors are
>>> >repeatedly published in scientific publications, mainly in the
>>> >secondary literature. It is extremely difficult to get an error
>>> >corrected in Wikipedia even if this error was published only once in
>>> >one single scientific publication - and the amateurs do not know that
>>> >this publication is not significant, at least in what concerns this
>>> >special statement.
>>>
>>> One of the core WP policies - "Neutral Point of View" (NPOV) - is
>>> being misapplied in such cases. Yes, an erroneous statement, once
>>> published, cannot simply be removed by someone who knows that it is
>>> incorrect




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