[Taxacom] Wikipedia politics: the future don't look so bright

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri Nov 22 14:55:02 CST 2013

I simply meant that Wikispecies was designed for formal Linnean ranks, and not for unranked clade names or informal names for paraphyletic taxa. My ignorance may well have no bounds, but I wonder if the same can be said for your arrogance? You appear to be dictating what I should do on Wikispecies, while at the same time criticising me for making unilateral changes there! Hmm, a word beginning with 'H' springs to mind! At any rate, the issues involved here are all extremely complex, and rigidly hanging on to particular decisions made by particular groups of botanists really doesn't have much to do with science or information management, the latter of which should be guided by the context of what one's focus and aims in a particular context (Wikispecies in this case).

From: Paul van Rijckevorsel <dipteryx at freeler.nl>
To: Taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Friday, 22 November 2013 10:05 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Wikipedia politics: the future don't look so bright

Formal nomenclature above the rank of family / superfamily
is very lightly regulated or not regulated at all, depending
on the Code of nomenclature that applies. The only 'formal' 
thing about these names is that there are some rules on their 
formation. Just about everybody who designs a higher 
classification makes up new names, and a good thing this is, 
too; this makes it easy to see what classification one is 
dealing with. For example encountering the name 
Magnoliopsida is a good indication that one likely is in 
the Cronquistian universe.

As to the distinction between bryophytes as opposed to
Bryophyta, this was formally proposed to the Melbourne
Congress and an auditorium full of people who had 
gathered there to make decisions on nomenclature agreed
with this, so clearly this is not all that esotheric a distinction. 
What I see as very scary is that someone who is blind to such
distinctions feels qualified to make unilateral and far-reaching 
decisions in this area, in the blind.

As to the design of Wikispecies, surely you know as well 
as I do that there is no such thing, not really. Unlike
Wikipedia which has "core content policies", Wikispecies
has no core values. Somebody in the discussion referred
to claimed that Wikispecies was created so that the ToL-
people had a place to go and do the things that were 
unwanted on Wikipedia, and this is a viewpoint that should
not automatically be discounted. As it is,Wikispecies holds
by a single classification (a crooked one, but unified); this
is expressly forbidden on Wikipedia, and there is no really
good reason for it to be implemented at Wikispecies. This
means that Wikispecies is out of step with the rest of the
Wikimedia empire (it is more like, say, ITIS, or Zipcodezoo)
and is less informative than it could be.  

So, no, I don't see you have any grounds for the position 
you are assuming here, except your personal preferences 
(and ignorance in this area).


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Stephen Thorpe 
  To: Paul van Rijckevorsel ; Taxacom 
  Sent: Thursday, November 21, 2013 9:07 PM
  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Wikipedia politics: the future don't look so bright 


  I agree that Wikispecies doesn't have much call to involve itself with higher classification, for exactly the reasons you state. Therefore, Wikispecies sould adopt a pragmatic approach best suited to its main goals, which is precisely what I am trying to do.

  I strongly disagree about informal terms. Abandoning formal nomenclature in favour of unregulated informal terms is the beginning of the end, and it is also something that Wikispecies was not designed to do.

  Am I the only one who thinks it very strange that using "Bryophytes" instead of "Bryophyta" could possibly make any difference to anything?

  IMHO, there is absolutely no harm in retaining paraphyletic taxa on pragmatic grounds (e.g. Reptilia). It may be a good idea to tag the names as paraphyletic (or possibly paraphyletic)..

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