Thank you very much for your reply Benedikt.
Hopefully most of the issues are getting in the open now.
If, by some dint of magic, I were left in charge of deciding whether
wikispecies became a wikimedia project, here are the things I would want
to see/know about. (Some of this is just a collection of other comments
in this thread)
1) A review of similar projects on the web. Particularly:
-- ITIS is a US government database - is it public domain. Would it be
-- What happened to the data from the crippled allspecies project? Could
it be released and used?
-- Tolweb? Who is behind it? How are they doing? Would they welcome
2) Funding. A db devoted to species is much more likely to be eligible
for certain funding than a general project. E.g. tolweb is basically
funded by NSF grants (http://tolweb.org/tree/home.pages/funding.html
Could/should wikispecies take advantage in a way that wikipedia
3) Target audience. The target audience should be scientists and the
information contained should be scientific. This will attract scientists
to the project. Otherwise it overlaps with the current WP project too much.
4) A commitment to develop the WikiDB module as mentioned by Tim
Starling. I don't think using plain MediaWiki would be good enough for
wikispecies - implementing in terms of categories and templates would be
a bit hackish for the purposes required. A proper db would reduce the
overlap with WPToL.
5) A commitment that the information would be GDFL compatible.
6) There should be a defined mechanism for importing wikispecies
information into wikipedia. I envisage the current ToL taxoboxes being
currently replaced with information imported from wikispecies using some
sort of filter. Alongside this import would sit a more waffly
description of the species and less scientific-relevant information. The
import process should be automated as possible, and preferably entirely
automatic and in real-time (though this would require an extension to
the MW software). This import should be designed to work with
non-English Wikipedias as far as is possible. It would not be acceptable
to just have links to Wikispecies. It must be more integrated to avoid
duplication of effort.
But, I'm not in charge, so the above is nothing more than just my thoughts
Benedikt Mandl wrote:
Would the new project be GFDL? Would it be easy to
to/from Wikipedia? How would we ensure that effort is not duplicated
between the two projects? Do you have suggestions for improvements to
the ToL project?
I understand that the information collected by the ToL project will indeed
overlap to a big extent with the wikispecies directory, but that might turn
out as an advantage rather than a disadvantage. As you said, the ToL
presents information in a prosaic way as it is suitable for an encyclopedia.
If wikispecies should become a reference for all users (including
scientists), however, there are some points you need to consider:
1.) A clear sturcture as the one presented previously would be crucial for a
specific (mind the play on words - specific) search; and that is imortant to
attract professional users
2.) The sheer amount and uniformness of the bio-data would justify a
separate access to the information
3.) A separate platform does NOT mean that wikispecies will have to be
segregated from the wikipedia. Rather the opposite: wikispecies websites
should use the same layout and should be accessible from wikipedia by normal
search. More advanced users, however, would search with more detailed tools
from the "wikispecies.org" portal.
So far, the ToL is ambitous, but doesn't serve the purpose of a wikispecies
that should be organised in taxonomic terms and trees and deal exclusively
for biological contents.
It is not meant to compete with wikipedia, but rather branch out of it
without being a separate unit. I am looking forward to your support! By the
way: most people who already assured me of their support were people who
work as authors for wikipedia in bio-related subjects. Best,