[Wikipedia-l] Summary & questions was: Re: Taxoboxes.

Marco Krohn marco.krohn at web.de
Thu Aug 26 00:25:06 UTC 2004

> > Unhelpfull, hiding what you stand for .. What do you stand for ? How is
> > it helpfull to others, to me ?
> [...]
> Since you have not provided a single example where ToL and Wikispecies will
> not overlap, I'd say that you are being very unhelpful.

Please don't bring it to a personal level who is more "unhelpful". I am sure 
both sides (pro-/contra Wikipspecies) want the "best", in the sense that we 
all want to create as much as possible high quality and free content in the 
long run.

Since the discussion is tending to blur a bit, I'll repeat some of the 
questions which I consider fundamental for finding a good solution for 
achieving our overall goal.

1. "What is resp. will be the difference between Wikispecies and Wikipedia?"

this immediately leads to two other important questions, namely we have to 
define what the scope of Wikipedia resp. Wikispecies is.

1.1 "What is the scope of Wikipedia?"

On [1] - the following is said about the scope of Wikipedia:

"Wikipedia's goals are ambitious: it aims 
* to be an encyclopedia, in the normal sense of a collection of all human 
Since there is little in the way of space limitation on Wikipedia, it also 
aims to subsume the functions of many specialist encyclopedias. Unlike a 
paper encyclopedia, Wikipedia can encompass articles for both elementary and 
advanced treatments of the same subject."

Jimbo called Wikipedia several times a "general interest encyclopedia".

1.1.b "What is the scope of Wikipedia w.r.t. species?"

The "Tree of Life" project" says the following:

"This WikiProject aims primarily to represent the taxonomy and relationships 
of living organisms, as well as their extinct relatives, in a tree structure. 
Since there are millions of species, not all will be included, but we aim to 
handle as many as information, time, and interest permit."

In accordance with that Pete wrote: "The Tree of Life project's aim has always 
been to write about all species. I think that ambitious aim has been part of 
the reason for its success in becoming the largest wikiproject (tens of 
thousands of articles), with the most contributors."

and Jimmy replied to that: "I fully support this, as I think it is an 
absolutely excellent thing to be doing."

and further down Jimbo wrote:

"Why would we come up with guidelines to prohibit some species from wikipedia?  
I do not support any such thing."

Partial answer to 1.1.b: since there seems to be perfect agreement between 
Jimmy and the ToL members that all species can be part of the Wikipedia 
project. As question remains

1.1.c "Is there a limit to what depth a species is allowed to be discussed 
within Wikipedia?"

There is no definite answer to that I am aware of, especially not from Jimbo. 

Jimbo noted that we are a "general interest encyclopedia", he also wrote that 
he does not oppose the inclusion of any species and nevertheless states that 
wikipedia and wikispecies do not overlap. Thus I only can conclude, that 
Jimmy is in favour of limiting the amount of knowledge which is "allowed" 
within an article.

An anwer from Jimmy about this would be interesting. In particular we in some 
areas already have by far surpassed the borders of what _I_ consider a 
"general interest encyclopedia", for instance the article about Mitchell's 
embedding theorem is hardly useful for anyone who hasn't studied several 
years of mathematics:

(there are many more of this type: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoneda_lemma )

1.2 "What is the scope of Wikispecies?"

Benedikt Mandl wrote the following: "What we should define as a target: 
Wikispecies should become the most extensive directory of its kind and not 
specialise exclusivly on a particular group of species (as fishbase does, for 
example) nor users (NOT for scientists only, for example)."

back to question 1: I think we all agreed that there is no difference between 
ToL and Wikispecies with respect to the number of species. Both projects 
would accept _any_ species in their encyclopedia.

I think also most of us agree that there is a huge overlap of the projects. 
Jimmy does not see this overlap, he explicitly wrote that "wikispecies is not 
overlapping with the encyclopedia in any significant way".

If we do not limit the "depth" of the article, that means if we do the same in 
ToL which was done in the above mathematics articles, then there is a huge 
overlap between the two project. By that I don't say that this necessarily is 
a bad thing, and this also does not mean that wikispecies and wikipedia are 
identical. Another difference that was pointed out by Jimmy was the "trivia 
information" which exists in Wikipedia articles, but surely will not part of 
any wikispecies article.

If we strongly limit the Wikipedia "depth" for ToL articles, we still will at 
some point have >100.000 articles, where - except trivia information - the 
Wikipedia articles will be more or the less subset of the information which 
is contained in wikispecies.

o.k. I'm afraid I'm out of time, but I hope this partial summary is 
nevertheless helpful. It would be interesting if Jimmy could comment on 
question 1.1.c

best regards, 

2. "What are the possible advantages of Wikispecies?" /
   "Why can Wikispecies not be identical to ToL project"

3. "What are possible disadvantages of a seperate Wikispecies project?"

4. "What options do we have?"

Mainly we have three options:
* support a fork / sister project within the Wikipedia family
* do not support  a fork / sister project within the Wikipedia family
* modify the mediawiki software in such a way that wikispecies seems to be an 
project on its own. This also means that there only is one "article", but 
that Wikipedia users and Wikispecies users see filtered versions of that 

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Tree_of_Life

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