--- Anthony DiPierro <anthonydipierro(a)hotmail.com> wrote:
I think there is a growing sentiment that people do
not want to fork
Wikipedia to create Wikispecies. This makes a lot of sense. However, there
is something important that is needed for Wikispecies which Wikipedia does
not provide: efficient access of tabular data.
Think of what we would want to be able to do with
Wikispecies. Yes, the
simplest of them could be handled by categories, and taxoboxes are a kludgy
solution to some of the data input, but now what if I want a list of all
endangered species in the phylum chordata? There's just no efficient way to
get that information from Wikipedia, even if I have access to the entire
Well that may be true in some cases but your example could be done if the
current category system were extended and an advanced search function added.
Such a search page could be used to SELECT ALL [endangered species] FROM
[Chordates] to RETURN a [Species] list.
In this example [endangered species], [Chordates], and [Species] would all be
categories. However since [endangered species] would be a subcategory of
[Species] there would be no need to have the [Species] category in those
articles. Nor would there be a need to have the [Chordates] category in those
articles since they would all presumably have a sub-sub-sub category of
[Chordates] that indicates wich genus the animal belongs to.
It is possible that Wikipedia could adapt to handle
this type of data, but
this is a somewhat fundamental shift in the concept of a wiki. We would
essentially need an open access database, where even the table structure
itself can be modified, complete with a history mechanism which can somehow
allow us to revert poorly thought changes.
I think that this will be simpler and more wiki than it first appears.
There is another benefit to Wikispecies, and it is the
same thing we're
seeing with the proposal of Wikicommons. Species classification information
is largely language-neutral. It would be nice if we could somehow have a
single database for all this information, and simply use it on the
language-specific pages. Once again, this could be done within Wikipedia
though, and this change would be somewhat less of a fundamental shift. In
essence, we would simply move the taxoboxes to a common database, in latin,
and translate into the local language on the fly (regnum->kingdom, etc.).
There is a bit of coding involved here, but once Wikicommons is properly set
up a lot of it will already be done.
Putting the taxoboxes in a common database does sound interesting (linking to
the scientific names shouldn't be a big deal since each species/taxon article
should have the scientific name redirected to it). The element tables are very
similar and would also benefit from a common database (sadly there was one
mistake I made that affected about 50 element tables I created but I noticed
and fixed it well-after other language Wikipedias started to copy and translate
We also have the same database design problems with interlanguage links, user
accounts, and logins.
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