I think there is room for such a project to co-exist
but I think you're vastly underestimating the human obstacles to
creating something that is not just a weak half-clone of WP content.
I don't think I am underestimating these challenges - in fact they are one
of my main worries, but will be sorted out when they become more urgent.
The chief problem I see is to get some sort of cross-discipline
cooperation. For instance, FishBase has made a good start with fish,
but the database entries for beetles or plants will be mostly
different; sure, there is some sharing, but the coleopterists'
approach to taxonomy is (seemingly :-) ) rather more chaotic, and,
well, the botanists have seven different ways just to define the
concept of "species"...
And so do Zoologist and there is a great argument going on about how many
KINGDOMS apart from animals and plants there might be - but again: There are
plenty of contents we will be able to put together even if the taxonomic
background of a particular species is unclear. If fact, the wiki approach is
perfectly suitable for a dynamic science such as taxonomy.
So you're talking about pushing all of these
specialists into a
single framework, and if they don't fit well, they're not going to
They will: An expert on bats of Panama will not care about whether
archaebacteria have thir own kingdom or not - as long as the bats' features
are worked out properly. Every branch of the taxonomic tree has its own
leaves, in paper-publications as well as it will have to be in wikispecies.
So before talking to developers about software, you
need to talk with
people in different areas and get an agreement in principle. Could
the FishBase guys sign on to import their data into a cross-phylum
I don't agree with that. Fishbase is fairly scientific and partly
commercial. It is not open access as wiki projects are. To me it is the best
species directory on the web; still, I don't know if fishbase will
co-operate, I will give it a shot as soon as I got technical support. They
do co-operate with Species2000, so there's hope...
And finally, what content would this have that is not
appropriate for WP, and do the WPers agree with setting that
boundary? For instance, the full list of papers reporting every
sighting of a species of plant seems too detailed for WP, but I
could imagine a parallel set of "dig deeper" articles that go all
out on that sort of thing.
Your example is a good one. Also, a determination key might be useful and
generally a lot of details that are not relevant in an encyclopedia.
Schematic drawings. Keys for text-only browsers that can be read on PDAs for
field work. A range of things that WP would not want to provide.
PS: Anybody keen on helping out with the tech-part? Setting up a basic
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