[Taxacom] Data query

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Mon Jun 24 22:49:08 CDT 2013

In terms of up-to-dateness of Wikispecies (that is, what is possible, not what always happens at present), I have just added the latest issue of Invertebrate Systematics (http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/ISSN_1445-5226#Latest_issue), which is so new that the DOIs aren't even registered yet! Not all details have yet been added, but the articles are all there cited on a relevant taxon page, and all new taxa (if there are any) are listed on each reference page. Some of us will be dead (of old age!) before some of these new taxa appear on ALA or EoL!

From: Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>
To: Tony.Rees at csiro.au 
Cc: stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz; r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu; deepreef at bishopmuseum.org 
Sent: Tuesday, 25 June 2013 3:32 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Data query

Hi, Tony.

You made it very clear in your earlier post what you wanted the data for, and I'm not by any means saying those uses aren't important. But, again, Wikispecies wasn't designed to (easily) supply you with machine-harvested information. It's a human-readable Web resource, full stop.

So - do you want Wikispecies contributors to instead (or also) contribute to each of half a dozen different taxonomic databasing projects, most of which don't have 'sandboxes' for doing this? Do you want the Wikispecies page designers to make it much easier for machine harvesting of information that can then be machine-checked against your favourite database? (Not that this would improve everyone's data - look at the differences between existing databases and the difficulties in synchronising them.)

If you think what Wikispecies contributors are doing is valuable and worth encouraging, then one of those solutions (or another) is worth pursuing. At the moment, Wikispecies is a valuable alternative to other taxonomic 'endpoint' Web resources. It's often more up to date, and although it's not as pretty or as subdivided as the EoL interface (for example), it has the huge advantage that all of its page content is put together by humans and publicly discussed by humans.

If you don't think Wikispecies is valuable, then please say so without hanging that opinion on the difficulty of machine harvesting its content, which is a red herring.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania
Home contact:
PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

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