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Although Wikispecies is one of the projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, like Wikipedia, it differs greatly in how users can contribute. There are strict rules on how content should be formatted. These rules are needed, because of the specific purpose which the Wikimedia Foundation has placed upon us. The founder of the Wikimedia Foundation, Jimbo Wales, has written a note, that already makes clear the difference between Wikipedia and Wikispecies.
The Wikimedia Foundation also hosts a project called Wikidata. Wikidata is a database for various types of content. Wikidata centrally stores (and allows users to manage) data from all Wikimedia projects, and to radically expand the range of content that can be built using wiki principles.
Imagine that you can edit the content of an infobox on Wikipedia with one click, that you get an edit form specific to the infobox you are editing, and that other Wikipedias automatically and immediately use the same content (unless it is specific to your locale). Imagine that some data in an article can be automatically updated in the background without any work from you — whether it is the development of a company stock, or the number of lines of code in an open source project. Imagine that you can easily search wiki-databases on a variety of subjects, without knowing anything about wikis.
Wikispecies data will eventually be stored in Wikidata.
Scope of Wikispecies
Wikispecies is describing nomenclature and taxonomy. Contributing to Wikispecies means you are familiar with these topics. Topics not related to nomenclature or taxonomy do not belong on Wikispecies, and body-length pieces of text should be included on Wikipedia instead. Distribution and range data can be included in the talk page of an article, or (eventually) in Wikidata.
Wikispecies is language independent as much as possible. Text is mostly limited to actual data, and when text is used it is mainly for formatting purposes. The scientific convention used in nomenclature and taxonomy is Latin. Wikispecies embraces this convention and uses the Linnaean binomial nomenclature system. Latin is therefore used in taxonomy and nomenclature sections.
For markup purposes and for data descriptional purposes the English language is used, by convention of the Wikispecies project.
Because there will be only one Wikidata database for taxonomy and nomenclature, language forks of this project and parallel taxonomy in other languages will be deleted.
Every taxon page on Wikispecies should contain a Taxonavigation section. This section deals with the taxonomy part of Wikispecies. This section is entirely in Latin. Use the next table for naming conventions.
|Taxon (singular)||Taxon (plural)|
To keep everything highly standardized, Wikispecies relies heavily on the use of taxo-templates.
Besides the taxonavigation, a page should contain a Name section. This section contains the Latin name, the sanctioning author, and the year in which the author described and named the species. In addition, botanical names should provide the source of the protologue in abbreviated standard form. The names of authors get linked internally to author pages.
If this section describes a species or lower taxon, this section should contain a type-locality and holotype section (whenever this information is available). Holotype means the first specimen on which the author based his description. Holotypes are placed in museums. Type-locality describes the place where the holotype was found.
A subsection is used for synonyms of the described taxon.
The taxonavigation and name sections are worthless without providing reference material. However, please do not add any citations directly to these sections; instead, the references section should provide evidence for the rest of the page. A page should contain books, magazines, or internet links to articles where you found the information. If applicable, use the original source first. (The original source is the place where the author described his species). When giving links to Internet sites, choose English references if applicable.
Vernacular names section
This section provides links to common names in other languages, and if applicable linked to Wikipedia projects.
A list of good sources has been compiled, that can be used as reference for contributing on Wikispecies.
A good Internet reference can be recognized by a few guidelines. The reference should use:
- Latin nomenclature
- Sanctioning authors, and years
- Other references or, if it is the original reference, a description of the taxon.
For rules that have not been discussed on the Wikispecies help section, we use the following standardized rules:
- For Plantae and Fungi: The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Vienna code from July 2005) 
- For Animalia: The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (Fourth Edition) 
- For Prokaryotes (Bacteria and Archaea): The International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP, 2008 Revision, 2015 Manuscript Draft) , formerly the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria (ICNB, 1990 Revision) 
What to do when needing assistance
- Read the formatting rules provided in these help sections
- Ask general questions in the Village Pump
- Ask assistance from Wikispecies administrators
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