[Wikipedia-l] Tabular data in Wikipedia (Wikispecies -> Wikicommons)

Daniel Mayer maveric149 at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 24 23:23:50 UTC 2004

--- Anthony DiPierro <anthonydipierro at 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
> database dump.

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
those tables). 

We also have the same database design problems with interlanguage links, user
accounts, and logins. 

-- mav

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