[Taxacom] while we're on the topic...

Tony Rees tonyrees49 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 27 13:21:22 CDT 2020


I commend Doug for his suggestion. While I must confess that when I do edit
Wikipedia, it is generally on non-scientific topics (such as my other,
leisure interests), I certainly appreciate the efforts of those that do and
find it an extremely useful preliminary guide to the existing literature on
many taxa, especially since in my more taxonomy-related (databasing)
activities I frequently encounter names of taxa, or relatively obscure
groups of taxa, which previously meant nothing to me!

And as Doug says, online is everything these days - especially when one
cannot get to a library, or have moved away from an academic affiliation,
with the various bricks-and-mortar resources (plus journal subscriptions)
which come with that...

Regards - Tony
Tony Rees, New South Wales, Australia
https://about.me/TonyRees


On Sat, 28 Mar 2020 at 05:02, Doug Yanega via Taxacom <
taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:

> While I suspect at least a few readers rolled their eyes at the
> suggestion offered to John Grehan regarding entering taxonomic data into
> Wikispecies and Wikipedia, I'd like to advocate this as a very
> reasonable suggestion - though while maybe not for John's purpose, then
> for any of us who have taxonomic expertise, access to primary
> literature, and are presently doing much of our work online due to
> various social distancing measures in place. There are a lot more laymen
> and students around the world who are extracting scientific information
> from the internet today, in part because of the recent crisis, so
> helping improve these important resources is a very timely endeavor.
>
> Both WS and WP are substantial community crowd-sourced resources, and
> it's generally true that typing a taxon name into Google will give one
> or both of these wikis among the top hits, if not THE top hit. This
> means that time and effort spent entering data into these resources is
> not being wasted; it is being viewed by LOTS of people, and used by lots
> of people. The utility of these resources depends upon quality control,
> however, and that depends upon having *lots of taxonomists* who are
> involved in seeing to it that the information is both *up-to-date* and
> *accurate*. At present, it's a fairly small but dedicated core group of
> taxonomists, including myself, who are handling the bulk of this work,
> and it would be spectacular to have some more of you come join us in the
> effort.
>
> You can start simple; have you published any peer-reviewed papers in the
> last few years describing new taxa or revising an existing group? If so,
> just go into WS and WP and see if the taxa in your work appear, and if
> they follow the accepted classification. If not, then update things
> accordingly, with citations to your work. The process of editing is very
> straightforward and intuitive (most of what you would need to do can be
> accomplished by cutting and pasting with editing of similar content;
> even entire articles can be good templates), and - for the most part -
> there are very few administrative policies you would need to be
> concerned with. The two most significant are the "No Original Research"
> policy, which means that until and unless you can provide a link to a
> peer-reviewed citation that includes the information you wish to add (a
> "Reliable Source"), you should*not*add it (otherwise it might be
> removed), and the policy surrounding "Undue Weighting", which basically
> means that if there are reliable sources that are in conflict*andno
> community consensus* as to which is correct, then all should be cited
> and the conflict discussed directly and impartially, rather than the
> editor arbitrarily or subjectively choosing the one they prefer.
>
> The existing taxonomic infrastructure in both places is largely complete
> down to the family level, so it is mostly the inclusion of ranks below
> family that would be significant, though there are still some regions of
> conflict in higher ranks in WS, where some recent large-scale changes
> have not yet been fully incorporated (mostly because they are
> labor-intensive changes). Again, so long as you are adhering to the
> policies mentioned above, and not failing at the technical aspects
> (e.g., formatting of citations and such), these resources work in a
> ratchet-like fashion; improvements are retained, but not vandalism. The
> more traffic a page receives, the faster any damage is fixed, so you
> should never worry about whether a contribution you have made will
> persist, or whether someone will come along and screw with it. WS in
> particular sees essentially no vandalism at all.
>
> I will similarly put in a plug for iNaturalist, another crowd-sourced
> project that could sorely use assistance from actual taxonomists, not
> only to help correct glaring errors in their classification hierarchy,
> but especially to help fix glaring errors in the identifications of
> images that are posted on the site. I know a significant number of
> instructors who - in lieu of being able to take students into the field
> - are presently using (or intending to use) iNaturalist in their
> teaching curriculum, and this means they REALLY need some help from
> experts to prevent students from learning things that are untrue. For at
> least a few of you, the process will work both ways, too - that is, the
> photos on iNaturalist may very well contribute to your own research,
> with new distribution and phenological data, or even the revelation of
> entirely new taxa.
>
> I do hope that a number of you will step forward and start contributing;
> now more than ever before we need to do what we can to ensure that
> people have easy access to genuine science rather than misinformation.
>
> Thanks,
>
> --
> Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
> Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
> phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
>               https://faculty.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
>
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