[Wikipedia-l] species directory

Benedikt Mandl benedikt.mandl at gmx.at
Mon Aug 23 21:06:42 UTC 2004

> I think there is room for such a project to co-exist with wikipedia,
> 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
> participate.
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
> project? 
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 just as
> 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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