[Wikipedia-l] species directory

Magnus Manske magnus.manske at web.de
Tue Aug 3 13:04:09 UTC 2004

As a fellow biologist (biochemistry, though), I think this is a great 
idea. Be sure to register www.wikispecies.org ASAP, before some 
domain-grabber takes it. Also, make sure all information in that 
database-to-come is public domain or GFDL, so wikipedia can harvest data 
and images :-)

Once you have a running server, setting up the software should be easy. 
Folks at mediawiki-l will be glad to help with any secific problems that 
might arise.


Benedikt Mandl wrote:

>Dear Wikipedia-I readers!
>I am a graduate student of zoology at the University of Cambridge (though
>Austrian) and would like to share an idea for an urgent Wikipedia project. I
>contacted Jimbo Wales before and approach to you with his clear support for
>my idea.
>Biologists who classify new species normally publish in specialized esoteric
>journals, which has led to an overwhelming amount of information with nobody
>keeping an overview. Even experts in very specialized fields often don’t
>notice if a species has been formally recorded twice, three times or even
>more often. Therefore, it is not known how many species there are known –
>and this is just as ridiculous as it sounds. We are not talking about all
>species that EXIST on earth - but simply the total number of species that
>were already RECORDED in scientific publications. Nobody knows how many
>there are. Expert A might think that there are 17 000 annelids known, expert
>B believes to know about 20 000. This is because there is no central
>registration process and no database or reference directory to browse
>information about the current state of knowledge on a particular species. 
>This situation can be summarized with two statements:
>1.) A central, more extensive database for taxonomy is urgently needed. All
>their advantages are demonstrated strikingly by bases like www.wikipedia.org
>2.) A central, more extensive database for taxonomy is feasible. Wikipedia
>proved the technical feasibility; other existing species directories like
>www.fishbase.org or http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/index.html
>prove the need for this kind of a database and the willingness of 
>volunteers to make the commitment to contribute. 
>Based on these key statements, I define two major tasks:
>1.) Figure out how the contents of the data base would need to be presented
>– by asking experts, potential non-professional users and comparing that
>with existing data bases. My part.
>2.) Figure out how to do the software, which hardware is required and how to
>cover the costs – by asking experts, looking for fellow volunteers and
>potential sponsors.
>And this is why I really need Wikipedia. I am a zoologist. Animal stuff.
>There’s a lot of geeky-ness in me, but of the bug-kind rather then the
>tech-kind, and therefore, I need support on this side. Cambridge provides a
>pool of knowledge, experts and a good name for great scientific achievements
>– and Wikipedia has a big pool of passionate people who believe in the
>freedom of information and sharing knowledge. Wikipedia also has the skills
>of supporting my plans with the software that is required. The idea of this
>project is still very young, although others have tried similar things
>before. Alas, nobody has access to know-how and the passion of the WWW
>community to the extend that Wikipedia has it and that is required to
>Previous work with similar targets
>In molecular biology and genetics open databases for genes or proteins are
>already very important, only taxonomy, the most internet-related of all
>sciences, still lacks the advantages of an online network. Due to that lack,
>there are already some databases that tried to establish species
>directories. The most important ones are “Integrated Taxonomic Information
>System” (www.it is.usda.gov/) focusing on species of North America and its
>European equivalent Species 2000 (www.sp2000.org/). Both directories try to
>connect other, existing databases to an integrated unit. Furthermore, there
>are ambitious commitments by the “ALL Species Foundation”
>(http://www.all-species.org/) with much ado about almost nothing, a small
>but charming database from the University of Michigan
>http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/index.html) and other, partly
>commercial directories. All these websites have some things in common: They
>lack of funding, are mismanaged, created for experts and scientists, limited
>to a particular group of species or a region, or face other difficulties. To
>put it in a nutshell: There is a need for www.wikispecies.org! 
>Please support this idea. I am highly motivated to work on this project. I
>hope that a lot of passion for it will develop in others, there is already a
>lot in me. Thank you very much in advance. Kind regards,
>Benedikt M. Mandl
>Department of Zoology
>Downing Street 
>Cambridge CB2 1ST 
>United Kingdom
>benedikt.mandl at gmx.at

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