Biologists who classify new species normally publish in specialized 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 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 have already been recorded in scientific publications.
Nobody knows how many there are. Expert 'A' might think that there are 17 000 annelids known, but 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.
A central, extensive database for taxonomy is what Wikispecies should become: an open, extensive database for scientists and non-scientists to reflect the diversity of life on our planet Earth. Because life is public domain!
There is an increasing number of big, science funded projects, all of which aim to achieve more or less the same thing. Examples include Catalogue of Life, EoL, etc., etc. The main problem with most of these projects is that they are not open to editing, and so the inevitable many errors are "locked in" and difficult to fix…
If you want to add contents to Wikispecies, but don't know how, have a look at our Help:Contents section where we explain how simple it is to add data to Wikispecies.
Questions about our policy regarding Wikispecies? See the Wikispecies:Charter which explains a bit more what this is about.