Wikispecies:Village pump/Archive 2

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Boycott of Wikispecies

As long as Wikispecies is not a multilingual project, I appeal for the boycott of Wikispecies by users of all non-english language areas. The reasons are discussed above (#Why is wikispecies monolingual?). Therefore

  • do not create accounts in Wikispecies
  • do not edit articles or contribute photographs in Wikispecies
  • do not help other users to do that
  • add your IP right here to support the boycott:
I really don't understand why this is needed here, while there's a discussion going on... Felagund 13:55, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)
A boycott is counterproductive and not needed at all for two reasons: 1.) The discussion on the issue is still ongoing and most users seem to favour a multilingual approach 2.) Nobody will delete non-english pages. It should be the highest priority to increase the coverage of the taxonavigation, which isn't language-specific anyways. Best, --Benedikt
The MainPages (English, German) of the project still officially claim that the project is monolingual. There are links to an ongoing discussion, but this seems to be a discussion about an issue which is already decided, i.e. a pseudo-discussion. If this is not the case, the informations on the MainPages is misleading and should be removed. Instead, users should be invited to make contributions in all languages. -- 14:42, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)
For good's sake, I change the main page then - really: this is an open discussion and although the original intention of the project was to create a purely scientific reference in English, I always (see above) emphasised that WikiSpecies will become what the users make it. Mono- or multilingually. For now it is much more important to set up the taxonavigation as a frame for further efforts, i.e. finish adding the names of all mammals, echinodermata, etc. This is language neutral and won't offend anybody. Best, --Benedikt
Come on people, Wikispecies is based on a taxonomic naming system used worldwide anyway. The original setup was so that scientists in any nation may be able to use the information. That is why it is mostly based off LATIN names. A language which is no longer being spoken. If you have a problem with this then I suspect you should take that up with whomever you think will listen. Otherwise, WHATEVER language it is in is going to be used regardless of if I or anyone thinks it does not work for them. That is one of the beauties of the Wiki projects.M1shawhan 02:32, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
It's ok if the base hierachie is in Latin. But I can't search for a national name. This is bad. If I does not know the latin name or the latin hierachie then I can't find the species. 20:38, 21 May 2005 (UTC)

In that case its better to search on the wikipedia. Dan Koehl 10:31, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

Which would be totally annoying. Why is it such a big deal to make it a multilingual wiki? Do it. ¦ Reisio 03:19, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I agree with you! Boycott Wikispecies. As long as I can't contribute via typing the domain into my webbrowser I wont!-- 21:40, 29 August 2005 (UTC)

Extinct dates

I notice that some species have the (†) after them. I can only assume that this means extinct or dead.

However, it has been raised on Wikipedia before that this is a Christian symbol - using +, †, or * for birth and death dates are all religious symbols (the latter usually interpreted as the Star of David).

Because science is usually secular, perhaps another approach should be taken so as not to offend any non-christian users? Perhaps just writing (e), (d), (extinct), or (dead) would be better? Jakob 11:39, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Amazing. Why is it that we must interpret, over-interpret, and completely destroy anything that somehow might be interpreted as offensive by someone? Personally, I find the '†' symbol much easier to recognize for species that may be extinct than the extremely clumsy '(extinct)'.

I am non-Christian, but I am not offended by a symbol no larger than a few pixels. The use of the '†' to refer to extinct species is extremely convenient. Instead we must now inhibit the usefulness of WikiSpecies with '(extinct)'. You just lost a potential user. You all just pursue eliminating religion too seriously. I mean, who considers the '*' symbol as the Star of David? It's really just going way to far. I assumed that the people using WikiSpecies had a little more sense, but I guess not. I'll have to find some other source for my research.

Fortune favours the bold, it is said. I went ahead and changed the (†) symbols to (extinct). Might have missed one or two. I suggest that using (extinct) becomes standard procedure as this project progresses - no room for controversy as it's objective and doesn't have any religious ties. Jakob 22:30, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I disagree. Wikispecies is a scientific repository. Unlike Wikipedia, it should not have to conform to odd demands of political correctness. The latin cross might be a christian symbol, but the dagger is a typographycal mark dating back to pre-printing manuscripts, almost all of them written by monks, and is an accepted standard symbol for extinct species. Also, I doubt the intended users of wikispecies would actually feel offended to find that symbol. Parts or totality of the preceding might be utterly inconsistent, ridiculous, or gibberish for it is 3:00 in the morning here, but I don't think it is the case.. --Circeus 08:06, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I agree wholeheartedly with Jakob. As a non-Christian, I'm asked to ignore the Christian-ness of way too many symbols, expectations, norms, etc., regardless of what the setting is. "the dagger is a typographycal mark dating back to pre-printing manuscripts, almost all of them written by monks" - yes, Christian monks. You think Buddhist monks would have used the notation? Symbols developed by monks for monks have no place in modern scientific usage. Away with them all! "(extinct)" is explicit and doesn't need an interpretation. - UtherSRG 18:16, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Actually, Buddhist monks also used the dagger symbol.

The funny thing is that it is not even a cross.. It is a dagger. As in the weapon used to kill people by christians and others alike. Maybe not Buddhist monks, I'll admit, but then most christian monks did not use them that much either for that purpose. I am afraid that much of the symbols we use (such as lower case letters) have been developed by monks UtherSRG. The Romans used capitals. SHOULD WE CONTINUE LIKE THIS? I don not see much hope for this project if we base ourselves on vindictiveness against one particular heritage. Rabiate anti-christianism has as little place here as creationism. Jcwf 18:17, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC) Or antisemitism. jcwf

The cross (to the extent, if any, that the symbol is not a dagger!) was not a Christian institution. It predated Christianity by some decades (or centuries) and was used by the authorities in Jerusalem and elsewhere for crucifying, ie (usually officially-sanctioned) killing. Sure, the Christians use it as a symbol of their belief that their most revered crucified hero overcame death. But they and non-Christians alike use the symbol elsewhere to represent death, eg the little white crosses beside New Zealand roads where a death has occurred. I'll use the dagger if possible; why should the Christians have all the best tunes/symbols? Robin Patterson 23:25, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Surely using (extinct) just adds to the oppressive monolinguism? See, any way you do it will have problems. Personally I have no problem with using the Egyptian religious ankh-symbol, despite not being a practitioner of the ancient Egyptian religion myself. chrisjwmartin 18:00, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)
All arguments about religion aside, I believe moving away from (†) to (extinct) to denote extinct species is a good idea in the interests of clarity alone. I somewhat agree that it's a little more clumsy, however there is very little confusion as to what (extinct) means compared to a cross/dagger/star/whatever symbol, particularly for those not versed in the archane symbolism of the fledgling religion that is Wikispecies.
I concur with whoever posted the above. Had I stumbled across a page with the dagger, I likely would have figured it out after seeign acouple of them, but to me, the dagger denotes footnotes, not extinction. --Quintucket 02:42, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Funny sort of discussion. I don't think much of religion altogether, but the symbol, in this context, doesn't really register with me as anything other than what it's meant to convey. As for the "+," eh, I think it's more likely that it came from "et" if you want to know the truth. Besides, they're just symbols; they don't have anymore meaning than you read into them.

Use of (extinct) is strongly discriminatory as implies that everyone is familiar with English. Or should we have (de: ausgestorben en:extinct it: estinta [etc., etc., etc., in 50 languages])?!?. Let's stick with the alingual † symbol. - MPF 16:07, 27 May 2005 (UTC)

Let's use latin word extintus (or whatever). A dead language traditionally used for taxonomy will not annoy anyone. Else we can use the skull and bones symbol but this may be annoying for some presidents --Zimbricchio 27 June 2005 07:31 (UTC)

I think you forget that the extinct languages used are "latin" and "ancient greek", one which is used by the Roman Catholic Church as it's official language, the other is related to "Greek" in a not that distant manner, both of which are European-Mediterranean, and not say... Mesoamerican, Polynesian, Bantu, Tocharian, etc. Dead language bias tends to select towards indo-european. 06:02, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

It seems to me like this is an issue that may be difficult to resolve through disscusion ... What do you say we create a project page for this and then just take a vote? Either way, we should let the disscusion continue for a while in case people come up with new ideas. -- 27 June 2005 14:56 (UTC) (oracleoftruth on wikipedia and wikibooks)

Instead of using the English (extinct), or the Latin (extinctus), or the Roman-Christian cross/Egyptian ankh/ancient dagger, I propose we resolve this issue by instead using the Chinese phrase 死了 to denote extinction. This will break the monolingualism of Wikispecies, while simultaneously promoting the learning of an East Asian language by its users. I selected Chinese over other languages (such as German) because Chinese is, after all, the world's most widely-spoken language (in terms of native speakers) - even more than English! - so clearly, if we're having so much trouble deciding on the symbol for extinction, we should just use Chinese.

- User:
Har, har. - UtherSRG 18:08, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
This Chinese phrase has the problem that some people simply see two question marks. I think it's much better to use the Dutch phrase "uitgestorven", because we don't favour any large language (like English or German or French) with this, while continuously making it understandable for about 20 million people. Ucucha 14:07, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
I actually like the suggestion to use the Latin. - UtherSRG 14:26, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
I like to use †. It may have been a Christian symbol when it was made, but it is not recognized as such now. Latin is good, too. Ucucha 14:30, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

...... I suggest using an 'x' to denote extinct???

Long page

We need to decide asap about whether we will support separation of long pages in subpages and the style /system/protocol (can't think of the right word) for it. The Chlorophyta page is already almost twice the optimal page length used on Wikipedia and I suppose there will be more content added to it. --Circeus 06:23, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

internet business


Hello, maybe I´m blind, but I did not find any reason why Wikispecies works in a classical Linnéan taxonomy instead of a phylogenetic one. I was asked different times to work here because of the articles I have written in the german Wikipedia (where a consensus led to the classical system because Wikipedia is a popular and no scientific project).

I think most taxonomists and scientists will notice this and do not work here for that reason (me too), it simply is not scientific to sort species by classic categories. In this way, there´s no base to support this project, sorry. -- 16:19, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC) (

I asked the same some months ago: see #The current taxonavigation is problematic. This project is extremely far away from what I thought it would be. I do not see any potential for it anymore. -- Baldhur
The discussion about #The current taxonavigation is problematic just didn't take off, it was launched when only few users participated in WikiSpecies. Responding only for me, I say that the taxonavigation was introduced as something like a red line, aiding to set up a structure which can be easily accessed and gives a general idea of the position of a taxon. Today, there are more users and opinions, but we still lack of a clear idea how WikiSpecies should proceed. I understand that this can cause frustration, but please, if you have suggestions on what to add or change, contribute them to the project. Thanks, --Benedikt

The problem is that nobody's shown any interest in deciding on a formal standard. Meanwhile, people have gone ahead and added many groups on the seriously over-simplistic de facto standard. This makes the false assumption that there is a single correct taxonomy, and compounds it by repeating semi-standard groups in as many pages as possible. For instance, innumerable pages mention "subregnum Metazoa", which is no more standard (perhaps now less) than "regnum Metazoa" and different in composition.

As a result, the material here is just a duplication of that found on the other wikipedias, except less reliable. This is exactly what was not supposed to happen. If wikispecies wants to be a serious resource, it will have to all but start over, and it's tempting to agree with Baldhur that it isn't worth the effort. I think it could be, but once again, some good standards will have to be set first. Now that there are more people, does anyone have any opinions on the suggestions from #The current taxonavigation is problematic? Please consider this matter extremely important to the value of wikispecies, much more so than simply adding taxa.

Why not use a double (or more) system, where Wikispecies includes Linnean taxonomy as well as phylogenetics. --OldakQuill 10:59, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I think OldakQuill that is a far too constructive an idea ever to be accepted by this rather odd subspecies at the vey top of the tree of life: Homo sapiens taxonomicus. They rather stand at the sidelines and say there is no hope than to get creative or practical and will never agree with anything less than perfect, which is why they never agree.Jcwf 15:07, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Let me ask a question, then. I've already suggested a possibility for how we might do multiple systems (including both Linnaean and cladistic taxonomy) on Euglenozoa - the other suggestion, by GerardM, was on Mammillaria sensu Reppenhagen. Instead of waiting for an agreement, should I add other pages in this pattern? I'd like to, but they wouldn't match any of the other pages here, so I think it might not end up being worthwhile.

The old feel-free-and-go-ahead at last!! Thank you Josh. I am not a taxonomist and thus will humbly and merely add the odd species or so. I have full confidence in your expertise. If others do not agree with your approach I think they should speak quickly or hold their linguas in perpetuo.
It might be useful to make the differences in system explicit by e.g. hanging a ... (cladistic) or (clad.) to the names so that we can distinguish the systems. How do you propose to put the navigation on the species page? A Linnean and a cladistic subsection or so? This would make the position of the species within the various systems clearer. Besides there probably needs to be a kind of homepage for each system where some of the background and principles of each system is explained. User:Jcwf

I'm not a taxonomist either, it just happens that I'm interested in an area where the classification is variable. All I'm proposing is that we list sources, use multiple sources when possible, and not include more hierarchy on pages than they need. Then wikispecies could serve as a valuable version-control for groups. If we stick to that, we won't duplicate the wikipedias, and won't have to worry about providing information in a single language. I'd like to suggest people consider this as a possible charter.

On distinguishing Linnaean and cladistic systems, I think it's a false dichotomy. Most classifications are intended to reflect the evolutionary relationships of the organisms in question, the main variations are whether they rank them and allow paraphyly. But authors frequently disagree about the underlying tree, too. We could note whether they think their groups are supposed to be monophyletic, but not everyone provides such information. An alternative might be to list trees as well as classifications, if anyone has an idea on a good way to do that.

Meanwhile, I've tried adding a bunch of protist-related pages. What I think is most likely to prove a major stumbling block is names that don't always refer to the same group, especially names that might be synonyms in some classifications and not in others. Thoughts on those would be appreciated. By the way, I'm not sure why species would need special treatment. Josh Grosse

I'm not quite sure I understand all of this, but I do agree with most likely to prove a major stumbling block is names that don't always refer to the same group, especially names that might be synonyms in some classifications and not in others. . I just ran into an example of that on commons. There the Scolopacidae are categorized as Ciconiiformes not as Charadriiformes. I think I means that they are using the revised Ciconiiformes a la Sibley-Ahlquist rather than the traditional Ciconiiformes. I think we do need to specify what definition of xxxformes we are using.Otherwise it gets very confusing. As far as trees goes that interlocks with a much more general question, that of geological time scales and such. I have dabbled a little into that, e.g. with a picture like this
. It would be wonderful if we could give info on the approx dates of the forks in a cladistic tree, wouldn't it? I dont think that exists anywhere. As the evolutionary relationships go, I can see some angry creationist fists waving about your statement. I do think we need to ban all forms of creationism here User:Jcwf

I don't think that's an issue - it's a simple fact that classifications, which we should be attributing, are almost always intended to reflect evolutionary relationships. To include trees, what we would really need is some way of having the software render images, the same way we can use TeX to get equations. I'm sure someone would be willing to write one; first, does anyone know of a standard format that biologists use? Josh Grosse

To address again the issue of phylogenetic systematics, I would like to point out that cladistics and evolutionary systematics are not simply compatible - and indeed that evolutionary systematics is not easily reconciled with the very essence of the Wikispecies project either, if we assume that the goal of that project is to order species within an evolutionary context. There are two major problems in this respect:

I. Definitions.

In any conceptual system it's nice to know what its terms mean, what they denote. In taxonomy you hve to answer the question: what is the meaning of (the names of) the taxa?

In cladistics the denotation is pretty clear. The terms are strictly defined by indicating concrete species. Other species, known or yet unknown, fall under the definition by their factual evolutionary relationship with the species used in the definition. Other considerations, such as their morphology, are used to justify hypotheses about that factual relationship. Any abstract ideas about how members of a given group look like, thus have a secondary function: they may guide you in directing your interest (heuristics) or they may even be used to create a derived second-order system, such as clades based on descent and apomorphy.

In evolutionary systematics it's the other way round. Here the abstractions are primary: vague subjective ideas about what is essential about a group. It would simply be phenetics, but is saved from that fate by hypotheses about the evolutionary facts. But now the facts are secondary: they loosely guide you in deciding what species to include. Polyphyly is avoided, but it can never be ruled out that a taxon is polyphyletic - for there is no strict definition based on factual descent.

So, while in outer form the result of the two systems might seem identical - they both will produce an evolutionary tree filled with the names of taxa - they are really incompatible because their terms have in a way opposite meanings. Their formal resemblance however might tempt us to simply mix the two. And indeed, on many pages of the Wikispecies they are happily combined, betraying the trust of the reader by misleadingly suggesting that all these names have an identical status - nothing after all differentiates them. No wonder, when humbly asked on the DML to contribute, the professional scientist reacted to this project with both ridicule and contempt.

II. Paraphyly and ranking.

Evolutionary systematics is infamous for allowing paraphyletic groups and cladistics finds itself infinitely superior in respect. Why is that? What is so wrong about paraphyly?

Ironically, the problem isn't directly caused by the paraphyletic group itself. If a subgroup, e.g. Aves, is exempted from, in this case, Reptilia, the latter group becomes anomalous, but you might have a good reason for this; perhaps you want to exclude some forms that are so highly aberrant that they disturb your subjective concept of the whole. That whole however, though maimed, still is able to function normally within your system: it still is at its proper place. The exempted subgroup however is not. For what place can we assign to Aves, now that we have teared it from its natural position? Some list under Amniota? Sometimes we can't avoid listing. Sometimes we simply don't know the real relations and are forced to present only an unresolved polytomy. By listing Aves however we suggest something that is utterly false, for we know that it is a subgroup of Reptilia. And by stating this utter falsehood we utterly and irreparably destroy the coherency of our system. That is why allowing paraphyletic groups is so deeply stupid.

But if this is so, how can it be explained that the majority of taxonomists, intelligent and knowable people, insist on the prerogative to do wrong? Surely there must be some unavoidable necessity, some profound motive, some Higher Reason to commit this scientific crime? The answer is: Ranking.

Ranking in itself is system-neutral. If you feel the need, you can assign ranks. Even the cladist may apply ranks - and has done so in the past. Why doesn't it matter whether you use ranks or not? That is because ranks themselves matter very little. They are completely superfluous. Delete all ranks and you're left with the same taxonomy, nothing the worse for it. Why then do we use them at all? In the paper days (when people read books) it sometimes was difficult, while perusing some enormous list of species, to remember to which larger group exactly some found species might belong. Ranking enhanced accessibility (today of course there is no longer any need for this: a few clicks bring you up and down the tree). But that is not the real reason: in reality we crave for order, hierarchy, status, for...rank. Puerile, but in principle harmless enough.

It can be dangerous though. The example of Archaeopteryx shows us its dangers. The Urvogel is justifiably seen as a fine example of a transitional form. It shows the enormous power of evolution for change: the change from a creature that is earthbound to one that can fly. That is a change in morphology, perfectly explainable in Darwinistic terms, perfectly testified by the fossil record. So those rejecting evolution, unable to find a real problem, created an artificial one: yes, they admitted, evolution might explain the transformation of morphology, but can it explain the change of one Class to another? Will a Reptile not always be a Reptile, has a Bird not always been a Bird?

We should recognize now that this pseudoproblem of vulgar essentialism is caused by the pseudoscience of allowing paraphyletic groups. Had the included group not been given the same rank as the inclusive one, it wouldn't have posed itself. But the relation between the two is more essential than mere causation: evolutionary systematics is a form of essentialism also, no less vulgar than Creationism.

The craving for immutable rank is thus one part of the explanation.

But ranking gives a second, more innocent, yet more shameful one: pure laziness. If we have to put all the taxa in their correct evolutionary order, we'd have to rerank thousands of them. Merely cramming Aves in Dromaeosaurinae (if that should be its proper place) will cause us to run out of present ranknames.

So there is no Higher Reason. Only two silly ones. Evolutionary systematics betrays its own name, for it’s mired in predarwinistic thought. Evolutionary systematics betrays its own ranking system for it can’t be bothered to make it consistent.

How should Wikispecies address these two problems?

The first problem can only be solved by consistently applying cladistics - not as some alternative but as the Primary System. Ranknames can stay (though this is highly inadvisable, for it will scare away any serious professional), but all taxa have to be defined. Only where cladistic definitions are absent, they may – for the time being - be complemented by evolutionary systematics.

If you choose to do this, Wikispecies has a future. Refuse and you’ll doom it to permanent indifference.

Making the positive choice has the added benefit of solving the second problem also. However, even if you’ll prove to be unable to make the right choice – or to choose at all – somehow the second problem will have to be solved anyway. Paraphyly simply won’t do.

There are four possible minor solutions:

  • 1.Abandon all rank, even when not choosing for cladistics. Without the superfluous ranking system there is no motive for paraphyly.
  • 2.Abandon all rank for the exempted group only, e.g. give no ranks for Aves.
  • 3.Simply don’t care about the inconsistency. Give Class Aves under subfamily Dromaeosaurinae. Inconsistent, but it’s infinitely preferable that the ranking system is incoherent to the Tree itself being contradictory, no?
  • 4.Be industrious and rerank yourselves. (Yes, I am kidding).

The one option that is not available is to leave it as it is, paraphyletic and all.

MWAK-- 10:27, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)

If the cladistics system is so prevalent among the scientific system, why is almost every website one sees set up in the old Linnean way? I like the way things are in Wikispecies and see no reason to toady to the ivory tower set. Williamb 10:48, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I didn't claim that it was so prevalent - in fact I stated the opposite. And I also gave a possible explanation why this is so. But don't assume a system is about evolutionary systematics simply because it uses rank or "Linnean" names. There is no necessary connection.

The point is, you have to choose. But in a way the choice has already been made for you. You can't choose against cladistics anymore. Most of the higher level taxonomy of Wikispecies is already based on cladistic analysis. It couldn't be any different because most of the really relevant present work is by the cladistic method. So be fair to the reader. Give the essential part of any name: its definition. If there is none, say so.

So, if you think you can do without any professional help - and you'd probably be right - show you are right by doing things correctly. :o)

MWAK-- 19:07, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)

There is a very good reason for using paraphyletic taxa - ancestral forms can't be classified without them. Obviously, at some point Homo had ancestors that weren't part of Homo. However, they can't be put into any other genus without rendering it paraphyletic. You can say they don't need a genus - abandoning ranks is essentially doing this - but leaving early organisms unclassified beyond "vertebrate" isn't very useful. So we make taxa indicating incomplete sections of the tree.

Your analogy with Aves and Reptilia is confused, largely because people have changed the definition of the latter. But it certainly wouldn't be reasonably to say that vertebrates are a subgroup of invertebrates. People debate whether paraphyletic groups should be allowed in classifications - and there are evolutionary biologists who go both ways - but calling them pseudoscientific is nonsense. Defining paraphyletic groups does involve making cuts within a continuous tree. So does defining monophyletic groups.

The simple fact is, there are different approaches to taxonomy, and neither is inherently invalid. It would be wrong to give a list of potentially-paraphyletic groups as the final word in classification. It would be equally wrong to give a list of unranked clades on its own. We should give both, and stay far away from religious debates about which one is better. Josh Grosse

First I'd like to thank Josh for his reply. He makes some very good points. Indeed most biologists would agree with them: they form a sort of standard reply against cladism, seen as quite cogent by many. I'll try to explain why I find them less than convincing. Not because I feel particularly religious about cladism, but because I think that evolutionary systematics violates some more basic tenets: those of logic and reason. So I'll make some points of my own:

I. Though its etymology might suggest otherwise, classification is not about attributing rank. Rank is immaterial, just a tool. Useful at times but, as I said, basically superfluous. Organisms are classified by assigning them their proper place in the evolutionary tree. Rank alone doesn't tell us where that place is; and once we know the place we can do without rank. Thus abandoning rank altogether doesn't leave organisms unclassified.

II. There is of course nothing pseudoscientific about the use of paraphyletic groups in general. When discussing morphology they may be just the concepts we need. When building a evolutionary classification things become very tricky though. Obviously any tree contains by necessity paraphyletic groups. They are simply all sets of organisms with all possible exclusions of subsets. As they are there anyway, there is in principle no harm in naming them. But they form a second-order system. Things go catastrophically wrong when you make the very fundamental category mistake to confuse them with the first-order system. Within the tree there is e.g. a monophyletic Reptilia. By necessity there is also a vast number of paraphyletic ones. One of those is Reptilia with Aves excluded. Let's call it Reptilia*. So far, so good. You can validly use both concepts. But the one thing you shouldn't do is to replace Reptilia with Reptilia*. Not because there will be something wrong with the paraphyletic group itself - but because you now no longer can give Aves its proper place! Where should it go? In the wrong place as a sistergroup of Reptilia*? It violates the very rules that constitute the tree and therefore totally wrecks the system. So there's a Normal Paraphyly and a Vicious Paraphyly. Perhaps the latter is an instance of pseudoscience or perhaps of good old plain stupidity - in both cases it is simply unacceptable.

So you can validly cut up the tree in both monophyletic and paraphyletic groups. But forcing paraphyletic groups to perform as monophyletic ones kills the tree. They simply can't function as such - they would have to be monophyletic to do so.

III. And now you might say: "Perhaps so, but we have to use that Vicious Paraphyly of yours anyway. How else to apply the binominal (or binomial) system to ancestor species?"

This is a very interesting subject and I can touch it only superficially. Some subpoints:

  • Firstly we might simply answer that we should only use this Vicious Paraphyly for this function only. It doesn't follow that we would be allowed to use it for other purposes. After all the binominal system is merely a convention, so peripheral to the real system that it has no real consequences for it.
  • Then we might say: simply put the higher rank under the lower rank. Who cares? Better to bend the rules of the ranking system - they're conventional anyway - than try bending the realities of evolution. After all we begin by assuming that it is the ancestor species - so we are certain that it does subsume the higher rank, aren't we?
  • But there's a better answer. A name might function in many ways. Your very point indicates that we apparently confuse two related but disparate uses of generic names. We use them to attribute rank. We use them to identify species (and now we see Linneaus's mistake: to use a generic name to identify a species). We can give up one use and still keep the other. So the use of binominals is compatible with a rankless system. Generic names can be used as identifiers only, without any implication for rank. Again this would not mean organisms wouldn't be classified - that wouldn't be true even if we abandoned the complete binominal system.
  • There is still a deeper point to make. The whole of Primates once was a single species. Now it is many. Has one species turned into several others? In a way this is true. In another way they are all subdivisions of the same entity, that hasn't evolved into anything but simply has split. That's also true. Is there perhaps a contradiction? Some cladists think we can solve this problem by no longer using the concept of species in taxonomy. They think our language deceives us: in reality there are only clades. Once upon a time a clade Primates split off; afterwards it split in many other clades and today one of these is a clade (not a species - let alone a genus) of Homines ("human beings"). That is, in the taxonomical sense. In population biology or genetics it's quite alright to speak of species.
I disagree. It's dodging the real problem, just as my three previous points dodged the problem. Taxonomy is about discerning and ordering precisely those species the other branches of biology refer to in their concept “species”. Primates once was such a species. It isn’t any longer. There are two factual situations: one of the past, one of the present. Two situations, two valid descriptions, two taxonomies. Every speciation event is a point in time that requires its own taxonomy. There are probably billions of true taxonomies – none of them paraphyletic! The true taxonomist will feel joy at this realization. Still it poses some practical problems. Others would speak of an apory.
  • In practice however, all this is moot. We can, apart perhaps from some variants within chronospecies, never be sure whether one species is truly the ancestor of another – and very rarely there’s enough empirical evidence to make even an educated guess. So we treat every fossil as evidence of a dead end. And our taxonomy can be just as if we took the present situation as its only point of reference. So there’s never any real practical need for paraphyly anyway.
  • Should we however take the idea of treating every single ancestor as a paraphyletic group seriously we’d end up with a system almost completely filled with them. Perversely this system would have only two ranks: genus and species. And it would consist of a gigantic list of unordered genera and species. A most imperfect classification. Now replace "genus" with "group" and order the whole. What do you have now? Cladistics, its logical opposite.

IV. I understand an obvious reaction to my proposal would be: why not do the one thing and the other. Simply give a cladistic classification also. That would be nice. My point is however that you are already using cladistics as the true content of many of your groups. Only the definitions remain implicite. In future this will only get worse (or better) as more and more workers use the cladistic method – and you yourselves will surreptitiously apply cladistic criteria in deciding which species to put in what group. Should I have remained silent and simply watched this inevitable process to progress of its own accord?

MWAK-- 19:51, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Clades are not more real than paraphyletic groups. Both are abstractions, imposed on what is really a continuous tree. Whenever you make a cut, you get a monophyletic group above and a paraphyletic group below. You only The only way to prevent the latter is to ignore the earlier section of the tree, and I notice you advocate doing this, saying there should be separate classifications for each point in time. It doesn't surprise me that palaeontologists find this totally unworkable, and prefer to create a single classification by labelling lower sections of the tree. It does surprise me some people consider this somehow less reasonable than only labelling branches.

As for the reat, you are applying the logic of one system to the other. For instance, when you see Reptilia* and Aves side by side, that in no way implies they are sister groups. It only means that they are different sections of their common supergroup. Nobody has ever concluded that birds didn't develop from reptiles based on the old system. On the contrary, there are plenty of biologists who fully accept cladistic criteria in investigating evolutionary trees, and then happily express their results in terms of ranked paraphyletic groups. There's nothing surreptitious about it, and no vicious consequences.

Either way, this is a side issue. I assume you are upset about pages like Falconiformes (to take a random example), which give a single Linnaean system, and not even a particularly standard one. I agree that so long as this is the approach taken, wikispecies will be entirely useless. I have added a bunch of protist (or basal eukaryote, if you prefer) pages, such as Heterokonta, that list multiple systems, including rankless ones, in hopes other people might follow suit. So far, however, nobody seems to be interested. Josh Grosse

Whoa!! Gentlemen, what a discussion! Thank you for that!! It would seem there are some real deep philosophical problems here, but 'could we get practical???. Can I quote Josh: We should give both, and stay far away from religious debates about which one is better. I totally agree and would both of you to direct your energy on the question how do we do that best..., preferably without wishing for different software. Got to fight the war with the army you've got somebody said. I (try to) forget who. O.K. let me propose something:
  1. We have two sets of taxa: Linnean (which enhances easy access for 'lay' people) and cladistic (which makes wikispecies a lot more interesting for scientists and other geeks).
  2. We clearly label taxa to show to which system they belong. (Sorry Josh, but I think we are being less than transparent if we don't).
  3. Linnean has orders, classes, parvclasses whatever. Cladistic has none of that.
  4. Cladistic is as monophyl as humanly (i.e. H. s. taxonomicus) possible.
  5. The position of each species is made clear within both systems on the species page.
  6. For both systems we try to give relevant info on whose version we happen to be following and on whether alternative classifications have existed or still exist
  7. For the cladistic system we try and give time-based information if possible. (Likely time of origin of the taxon in My bp (plus or minus as much margin as we need)

OK, shoot me. User:Jcwf

Sorry, Jcwf, but I don't think the two systems are so neatly distinct. It is not very difficult to find taxonomies like the following for amniotes:

  • Superclass Anapsida
  • Superclass Synapsida (including mammals)
  • Superclass Eurapsida
  • Superclass Ichthyopterygia
  • Superclass Diapsida
    • Class Lepidosauria
    • Class Archosauria (including birds)

This is a Linnaean classification, since it gives ranks. At the same time, though, its main feature is abandoning Reptilia* and replacing it with monophyletic groups. I don't think it's at all reasonable to say it's not cladistic. MWAK said ranks are superfluous and potentially harmful, but he agreed they could be used. Yet in the world of ranked systems, it isn't always so easy to tell what philosophy the author is using. APG II, a very popular system for flowering plants, is definitely cladistic. Judd et al. was a very similar system, and most of its groups are monophyletic. Some of the groups are now known to be polyphyletic, but that didn't mean the authors didn't think they were clades. Still, they might have allowed paraphyletic groups, and just not included very many. Trying to compare to the modern consensus is a bad idea, since like taxonomies, there often isn't one.

To sum up, it pays to be clear, but not more clear than reality. If thinking there is only one system is a mistake, thinking there are only two is scarcely better. I really don't think this distinction is something that can be consistently applied, and as such it certainly won't make things better for biologists. What we could do is note whether taxa are considered to be monophyletic, paraphyletic, or polyphyletic, and by which authors. Better still would be to give phylogenetic trees, if possible. But in their absence, I think it would be far better to let classifcations speak for themselves than to guess at their underlying philosophy.

Also, I don't think it's enough to note when alternate systems exist, we should give them in full detail. This includes systems that are obsolete. There are plenty of places to find contemporary classifications, including the wikipedias, but information on how different systems relate is extremely scarce. Instead of providing just another classification rehash, we should be trying to provide something genuinely valuable. Josh Grosse

it would be far better to let classifcations speak for themselves than to guess at their underlying philosophy. Really... To be deliberately non-informative is hardly a wiki-ideal, is it? So how does it speak for itself that in your Linnaean classification above Aves is no longer a class (or is it?)? I think that would baffle about 80% of birders and no they are not the most unknowledgeable readership we might expect. Of course I do not wish to say there are only two possibilities. I am just saying that for practical reasons we selected two extremes. One for its widespread use (a 'lay' one if you wish) the other for its scientific interest.
I am certainly 'lay' when it comes to the need (or not) to drop orders etc. but is it not an inevitable consequence if you wish to make the system work for all time periods at once rather than just for the time we live in? After all, the difference between say synapsids and diapsids started out as a species level split somewhere in the carboniferous or so, not immediately as a class level difference. I do not think that wikispecies makes any sense if we are just going to be a flat here-and-now classification. Jcwf
To interject: while I'm not entirely a layman on the subject, I'm not an expert either, or even moderately well versed outside of birds and to an extent pterosaurs, so this discussion has me baffled in a number of parts. For example, on the Reptilia issue as I understand it, Reptiles and Amphibians were once classified together, then they were split. Now most scientists consider reptiles obsolete, and instead classify modern turtles/tortises, crocadilians, and lizards/tuataras as seperate classes, with birds considered to be lizard-footed dinosaurs. There are of course a number of extinct types of reptiles, such as Pterosaurs. That's what I understand to be more or less the consensus from a number of text sources I have, but with the repidly changing pace of scientific information these mid 90s sources are now most certainly obsolete. Perhaps you guys could possibly clarify the issue at hand for those of us non-taxonomists trying to read it? Or rather, I have a general idea of the issue, but the examples are going over my head. --Quintucket 03:16, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I am not saying we shouldn't be informative, just that we shouldn't make things up. You don't draw borders that aren't there, or give precise limits to things that don't have them. Real taxonomy often uses a blend of Linnaean and cladistic ideals, and it is not practical to try and separate them. I also think it's misleading, creating a simplicity that isn't there.

Note that in the above classification, the exact position of groups like Aves, Stegosauria, Boidae, and Ovis would be detailed on subpages. I agree it might confuse people who expect to see Aves as a class. However, there are people who use such classifications, and I think it's far better to list them and show where they differ from others. Avoiding them by giving only two extremes is giving a common but oversimplified picture of taxonomy.

And really, I don't think it's fair to laymen. Right now there are plenty of resources presenting simple classifications, but there isn't much for someone interested in comparing them, who wonders where familiar groups are hidden in so-and-so's taxonomy. We have an opportunity to provide that. And really, I think it's the one opportunity wikispecies has to be useful. Right now the entire charter is:

  1. Try and make something biologists will like
  2. Don't duplicate wikipedia

If we insist on only giving simple Linnaean and cladistic hierarchies, we have failed on both accounts. In that case, wikispecies would be nothing more than a duplication of the WP TOLs on wikipedia and have no real potential, as has already been pointed out by mav149, Baldauf, and others. On the other hand, I think it could find a genuinely useful niche if we wanted to list a variety of different systems. I've tried illustrating how this might be done, and I would go so far as proposing the following charter:

Proposed charter

Wikispecies aims to be a comprehensive dictionary of the taxa and clades found within different taxonomic systems, how they are placed and subdivided by different authors, and how they relate to one another. This information is to be presented in as language-independent a way as possible, and serves as a complement to the wikipedias, which provide language-specific descriptions of the organisms in question.

Would anyone support this idea? Josh Grosse

It would of course be great to do that, but it will be hard as hell to be comprehensive and I don't see how you can do it without using a fair bit of language. In itself I dont think that needs to be a problem if we use subpages in different language /explanation /explication /Erklärung /Uitleg or whatever. Although my native tongue is not English I have no problem with English functioning as 'backbone'-language. Also it still does not address the time issue. I do not think this should be for extant species only. It needs to incorporate paleontology paleogeography etc, e.g. how afrotherians relate to the island continent Africa etc. Integration of that type of info is often sorely lacking in other sources, so there too we have an opportunity 14:36, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC) Jcwf

We wouldn't end up being comprehensive, but we would try, the same way wikipedia tries. If the alternative is trying to restrict our attention to the one or two "best" systems, I don't think we really have a choice. What I've been trying so far has not needed much English, and I think we should aim to keep it minimal. You might not mind, but see the boycott above. Details like continent of origin already belong on wikipedia, and we need to cooperate with it rather than duplicate its biology section. As for time, I have no idea when it became an issue - there is no reason we shouldn't list extinct groups, which in practice are not given separate classifications. Josh Grosse

I think Josh' idea of stressing Wikispecies function as a dictionary is very good indeed. Simply relating the fact that a name has been defined by such and such author in such and such way, will slowly make the implicit cladistic assumptions any modern system uses explicit. But there's just such a simple way of avoiding any problem paraphyly might cause: if a group, such as Aves, is exempted simply state where its evolutionary place is. Classis Aves (in Theropoda). Of course, once you have subdivided the lemma Theropoda, you'll have to change the indication also. At the same time let Theropoda refer to Aves - in fact it does so already IIRC. This is not a real, coherent, solution (it still uses a explicit primary structure that doesn't directly conform to the evolutionary tree) but it's simple, easy to apply and avoids possible misconceptions, the most dangerous among which will surely be to conclude that Aves did not descend from Reptilia: an obvious mistake none of us will make, but the general public will - because it's the obvious one. ;o)

MWAK-- 13:06, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for the support, MWAK. However, not everything implicitly assumes taxa are clades, and there are plenty of modern systems that don't take the Theropoda to include Aves. We should include these, not cater to one specific ideology (especially since there are some groups that have not been broken into clades yet). I'm not sure it's as confusing as you say - most people don't consider birds as dinosaurs, but many have heard they evolved from them. However, I would be for indicating the philosophy behind different classifications, if there is a good way to do it. See the discussion above for the difficulties. Do you have any ideas about how to resolve them? The most sensible things I can think of are including author's trees, which would need a software patch, or marking the groups {holo, para, poly} when the author explicitly states his opinion of them. Josh Grosse

May I ask a simple naive question to this debate? Until classifications are fully determined, shouldn't there be two efforts here. Specially in the Dictionary sense. There should be two efforts going on. One is the actual inputing of species and one is the directory/classification/tree/grouping they go into. Because correct me if I am wrong. When you get down to the species, it gets a little simpler to make closely related groups? Then when the structure is decided on, link them up. I am just wondering because if someone wanted to start to input Butterfly species, but they have to wait for where to put them into based on whatever is the master classification. They may get bored and wander off. You really have two different things. Describing a species is one and where to put them is the other. So you make two sandboxes. One is for Species input. Say Insects. Let people start putting in the insect entries like a dictionary. The other sandbox is dedicated to what ever tree classification. Just a thought. The species names do stay the same in either system right? [mdh]

As said, there are more than two systems. Species names are often constant, but there are places where they vary - for instance the breakdown for Homo and allies varies from source to source. I think to handle species properly, there needs to be attribution and a way of acknowledging such variation. Then the exact same thing could be applied to higher groups. In demanding a single master classification, the current structure is flawed, and is only being used as a de facto standard. I would go ahead and add butterfly species in whatever method seems appropriate. Josh Grosse

The main problem of presenting multiple systems is that each system differs in such a way that under the current Wikispecies system is impossible to represent on any one page. If one system re-organises an entire family to some other order, then some reference to both orders must be made. If classification disputes never overlapped, then presenting one page per disputed region of Tree would be simple. But they do, so it makes sense to present some vague starting point structure to the Tree upon which to base the disputes, otherwise there is no context. I think the simplest way to solve it in this format would be to have some kind of default cladistic classification (page per node), and then a page for each alternate system linked to from each node which that alternate system affects. And with each alternative system page displaying all the network of "changes" it makes, with forward and back links to the default system. But really, a system based on linked nodes makes it hard to present many systems of linked nodes, and I don't think that this format is entirely suitable. Hopefully WikiData will be better. [bw251]

Well, please take a look at the pages for protist groups like Euglenozoa, and tell me if it isn't at least a better starting point than what we have now. Josh Grosse

Much better. That is the best way to do it on a Wiki, I think. Only when somebody proposes a system which has no Euglenozoa (or whatever), or rearranges three levels of classification at once, it will be much harder to present such multiple systems in an easily comparable format, but that can't be helped. [bw251]

search not working and it is not advised

If I try to search for something, like "squid", it says there is no matches, even if the word is there. Like in "Vampyroteuthis", there is "squid".

If the search engine is temporarely disabled, please advise.

-- 12:05, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Templates link in sidebar

The recent vandalism brought to my attention, why does the Templates link in the navigation sidebar go to Current events? The only content there is the fairly new "Please do not kick the grand vizier." Shouldn't it go to something about, I dunno, templates maybe? Templates, or Wikispecies:Templates, or something like that. --JohnOwens 00:42, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)


Anyone see the ribald vandalism that took place today? What's your reaction to it?

tenth rate at bestGeni 01:06, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Bah. I'll try and do better tomorrow :)

Editing and page loading speed

Is it my imagination or is it becoming impossibly slow on wikispecies? Lately the pages have been taking to freezing altogether, the only way to get out is to kill the task. This only happens on Wikispecies so I'm wondering if there's a problem

I noticed the same thing for quite a while now - thought initially it was a bandwith problem, but all other wikis seem uneffected. Very annoying!

Any suggestions why there is a speed problem? I won't be able to add contents when I have to wait a minute for every saving. --Carl

Bringing this back to the fore. It is ridiculously slow. I've tried doing a few pages, but I have to wait 4-5 minutes for every 'edit page' to start, and another 4-5 minutes for each page to save. And it freezes completely in IE, had to change over to Netscape. I'll be doing no more until this gets solved. - MPF 19:20, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)
all of the wiki projects are slow right now due the after affects of the crash and shear traffic load. Some new servers are due online though.Geni 18:53, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

You might want to bookmark this page to check when the server seems slow or buggy. It's for Wikipedia, but since Wikispecies shares the same domain, I assume it's relevant to this project as well. - dcljr 08:06, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)

anyone know what this means?

I can't read this page the page was created by a users whos other edits have all been vanderlism but I can't read it to make sure and I can't find any program to translate it into english (as I did with the other edits)Geni 07:38, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

It's a Hebrew translation of the Main Page:
Navigation of classifications [classifications navigation] of main page of kingdom : Animals, real bacteria, immemorial bacteria, fungi, protista, plants (, image from kingdom)
] edit [ welcome! oikiminim he is a new supported project by fund oikimdia with potential gdol.hoa supposed to change to the open free directory of sexes. They ycso animals, real bacteria, immemorial bacteria, fungi, protista, plants and all forms of life [life form] that are other that our user will enable us.
oikiminim he free of charge. Before life they without copyrights!
If you have question is any about oikiminim, please will not hesitate to be registered in the distribution list of oikiminim : Distribution list
You can create with us also personal contact :
Barak rebelleds, pathway of the sea [sea pathway] 26, eagle, Israel barak107 ( at )
Angela 04:12, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Could an admin please delete Cannabaceae, as the page was started with a history of vandalism. I've moved the good text to Cannabaceae/temp, which can then be moved back when the vandalism history has been cleared. Thanks - MPF 15:30, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)

A lot of pages have vandalism in their history. My advice would just be to ignore it.Geni 17:32, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)
With this one, the vandalism is right at the start - that makes it both look worse, and also makes it easy to get rid of it altogether and begin with a clean sheet. I think it is worthwhile. - MPF 01:42, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)
we lose the history if I do that. Normal users don't look at the edit history much and editors will be used to some level of vanderlism in the page historyGeni 19:20, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Yes, but the entire history was composed of vandalism and delete notes, until I created a proper page, which I have duplicated at Cannabaceae/temp. So nothing of value will be lost by a delete and re-create. - MPF 20:10, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)
ok I've done it but this is very much a 1 off.Geni 20:21, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Many thanks! - MPF 20:44, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Wikispecies on

This is the first time I've noticed Wikispecies in the news. One of today's leading stories on's new site has the following to say about Wikispecies:

Another promising effort is Wikispecies. Started in August 2004, this is an offshoot of the Wikimedia group, whose free online encyclopaedia is constructed by users themselves.
Biologists across the world are being invited to contribute to the Wikispecies site. "It is going well, but we are proceeding carefully to get the details right from the start," says founder Jimmy Wales.

Angela 04:15, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)


I must say I don't know why this project isn't a Wikibook.

More Wikibooks

How should this project be coordinated with the wikibooks:en:Field_Guide Field Guide and Dichotomous Key at wikibooks. Should those project maybe be moved here? 01:31, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Wanted pages

There doesn't seem to be a place where I can request entries. What I was looking for was "Felis domesticus", but there doesn't seem to be any members of the cat family here at all.

You may request entries/articles as follows:

Locate the Wikispecies logo in the upper left corner of your computer screen, directly below is the navigation menu.

Click on the community portal link in the navigation menu.

There is a link for: "Wikispecies: Requested articles".

Acknowledging the Interagency Taxonomic Information System

Will the Interagency Taxonomic Information System ITIS be acknowledged in some way in wikispecies? Karhu 19:18, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

ITIS is a good resource, but it's sometimes incomplete or idiosyncratic. If we allow multiple taxonomic schemes, there's no reason it shouldn't be one of them. Seeing how ITIS already exists and is available, what other ways would you want to acknowledge it?

Language to use for Binary names in Wiktionary

Hello Wikispecies people. Over on en.Wiktionary, we have started to add a few entries for binomial name (e.g. wiktionary:Pongo pygmaeus. They have been added using "Latin" as their Language attribute. We are not happy with this, as sometimes the Species part is derived from Greek etc. We could use something like Translingual or maybe Scientific. What would you recommend? "User:SemperBlotto"

I think it's correct to call the language Latin, which includes New Latin (or Neo-Latin?), since the components of greek origin are (in old names: more or less) latinized.-- 15:49, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

--Sven Zoerner 19:00, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC) ->

No, absolutely not. Latin is Latin. I think we should the taxonomist societys and use the term "scientific name". Or use let's the term "taxonomic name", that what its actually is. <- --Sven Zoerner 19:00, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Please define your terms

Do you think that you could have a page for each of your navigational names? e.g. superregnum - just so that us poor outsiders know what you are talking about. You seem to have an awful lot of levels - I have only ever come across domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species and subspecies. You might like to redirect English names to the Latin ones that you use such as kingdom => regnum. Ta.

Dichotomous Key and Field Guide

Over at Wikibooks, there is a growing Dichotomous Key and barely-begun Field Guide. I really think both those projects should be moved here to help make Wikispecies the ultimate reference for species-related materials. Does anybody have any thoughts on this? Is there are a community page to propose a specific vision for Wikispecies and this kind of thing can be hacked out? There doesn't seem to be much in the way of community pages yet, so maybe I should just make one, but I don't want to duplicate things. Just brainstorming other possible projects: checklists, i.e. for birdwatchers. Tuf-Kat 07:35, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Surely somebody has some thoughts on this? Tuf-Kat 20:32, 2 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Although I am neither a biologist, nor have been working on wikispecies before, I think that Dichotomous Key would be an extremely useful supplement for Wikispecies. I put a prominent link to that book on the Wikispecies main page.
Coming from Wikibooks, of course I'd prefer to keep the best books there (to increase support by serious researchers in Wikibooks), but I can also understand if there is pressing need from the scientific community to host this great book as part of Wikispecies and move the project over here. --Andreas 04:57, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)
One of the first features I proposed for Wikispecies was a dichotomous key - however, Wikispecies doesn't have too much content yet and an either-or debate about where to locate the project doesn't seem necessary to me; I suggest to leave it with wikibooks and try to cross-link the projects wherever possible and useful. Should be for the good of both. --Benedikt
Ok, I've made Template:Dichotomouskey and started linking. I'll only do a few for now in case anyone wants to suggest a change in format -- this is just a straight dump of the interwiki box from en.Wikipedia. Tuf-Kat 21:43, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Hmm, the template includes a link to Wikibooks. Should there by anything at that title? There should probably be something in the Wikispecies namespace about our sister projects. Tuf-Kat 21:48, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)
No disrespect to the people working on Dichotomous Key but, I think that Wikispecies should definitely include a dichotomous key or the Dichotomous Key be moved over to Wikispecies. I think the taxonavigation be retained with the dichotomous key underneath ie see Molluginaceae & Glinus. What do people think? --Danielbh 01:08, 16 May 2005 (UTC)
Except I've removed the keys from those two articles, because the format was confusing. Let's work out a workable format before placing it on articles. - UtherSRG 01:11, 16 May 2005 (UTC)
Point taken, and I will create a talk page to try and work out a workable format for Molluginaceae & Glinus. --Danielbh 01:43, 16 May 2005 (UTC)
I have created a suggested format for a dichotomus key at Talk:Glinus as a starting point for discussion. --Danielbh 03:24, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

New name for Village Pump

Is there a possibility of the name of the community portal page to be changed from Wikipedia's "Village Pump" to something more relevant to biology? Wikibooks has the Staff Lounge, why not have something like the "Lab" or "Petri Dish." Not something quite that idiotic, but something involving biology but not villages. Pingveno 23:36, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)

this page already has a fair amount of stuff linking to it[1]Geni 00:58, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Registration for Wikimania, the first international Wikimedia conference, is now open. It will be brilliant fun. Everone is invited to join the event this summer.

Wikimania will take place from August 4-8, 2005 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The event will combine Wikimedia community discussions and software hacking with academic research, presentations of current implementations, and user/community panels. Wiki fans, community members, and developers are all invited to attend.

Feel free to submit presentations and other content for the conference; for more information, see the call for papers.

Please pass this message along to all Wikimedia projects, in English or in translation. For coordination, see our internal announcement. To let the rest of the world know, use our public press release.

If you want to help or have great ideas for the conference, please write us via the meta-feedback page, or just ask on the foundation mailing list. Attendees can coordinate travel plans and other informal events on the Wikimania community pages.

Wikimania is an event from the community and for the community - it will be brought to life through your participation and suggestions!

Looking forward to seeing some of you this summer,

Sj 23:08, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC), on behalf of the Wikimania organization team.


Hello, Wikispecies members! Here's a proposition for you all:

WikiTextbook is a free textbook that anyone can edit. We hope to include a textbook about different species, we just need you to write it! So come and join us at and let's help spread knowledge around the world! - Steve Margetts

This link appears to redirect to en.wikibooks, which is indeed a project to write textbooks (though not on different species, yet) and other stuff too. Tuf-Kat 21:43, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Formatting standards

Seems there is a need to make a formatting standard. As for now, Vernacular Names list is sometimes a *-list and sometimes the lines end with <br>

Personally, I prefer the *-list, which is also following the recomendations from (see Dan Koehl 13:00, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Meanwhile, a suggestion

I recently saw how useful it is with the ready made Vernacular Names here, when writing an article at a local wikipedia, its just to copy them. The *-list or <br> however, has to be removed manually. (Doesnt take many seconds though)

Therefore, it would be great if the linebreak/list formation could be automatically done, with a template or whatever, so the raw list of Vernacular Names could be copied and pasted, without further work, on a another page. By those means the formatting issue would also be standard, by default? Dan Koehl 14:58, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Why does every taxon need a separate page?

I don't think it's good to give every single genus and species a separate page. A complete list of species, for example nl:Muridae (taxonomie), is, I think, better. If you have a subfamily with 200 genera, and it becomes a family, it's not really nice to change that all - it may become boring. Therefore, I think we should go only to family level and list species under that family. Ucucha 16:02, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The wikipedia websites are highly search engine optimized, increasing the possibilty that someone search for a word, (In this case a taxa) and enters the site, hopefully contributing to the project. NOT keeping each taxa on its own place would give a SEO handicap and decrease those possibilities with maybe as much as 50%. The whole basic idea of the wiki implementation is based upon this idea, since the first script written. I do see your point, but also that the wiki would loose impact. Dan Koehl 16:22, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Is it perhaps possible to make software which makes that if you change the name of the family, the name of the family is changed in all genera? That'll be a good solution, I think. Ucucha 16:28, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I belive the whole wikispecies is waiting for the new database application.Dan Koehl 16:35, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Templates help. See primates. - UtherSRG 16:49, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yes, but see Dan Koehl 16:51, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Also, valuable information might be available for higher, individual taxa - all problems that we will be able to master with wikidata. Benedikt
I'll not edit until Wikidata has become available. Ucucha 13:52, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC) I can wait as long as I want, but the templates are good enough. I'll start editing again. Ucucha 17:41, 6 August 2005 (UTC)

Link here from species template

I read abt what Felagund wrote 31 Dec 2004 about "every page that contains taxonomy table in he wikipedia now links to the corresponding page here" and thought, that was agood idea, which is now implemented on the swedish wikipedia from a link called Reference on wikispecies down under "Vetenskapligt namn" (scientific name) on all different species. See as an example, and the template as how to do it at

is this a good idea? I think so.Dan Koehl 16:45, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I think this is a very good idea! It can be implemented quite easy on many wikipedia. () 13:14, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I implemented this on Wikipedia NL for a testperiod. Discussion is held at nl:Overleg_sjabloon:Taxobox_section_classis_simple_test. By the way: this includes the same kind of link to Wikimedia Commons in the same way. 19:38, 11 May 2005 (UTC) ()
The automatical links to WikiSpecies from Wikipedia NL have been removed after the testperiod because of several reasons. Some reasons are:
  • NL Wikipadia uses stictly AGP II naming for plants. Taxonomy on WikiSpecies does not mention that, so it is confusing (see also Talk:Plantae)
  • WikiSpecies does not give enough additional information to Wikipedia
  • Automatic (blue) links to pages that do not exist is confusing or even incorrect.
Possibly that in a year or so WikiSpecies will contain enough additional information that this kind of links can be reintroduced on NL Wikipedia. 18:54, 18 May 2005 (UTC) ()

Helping wikipedia

Hi, On the French wikipedia, we have started a maritime Wikiportail project. Can you help us to do a maritime life classification ? link Thanks

Bonjour, nous avons commancer sur Wikipédia un projet de portail maritime. Pourriez-vous nous aider à introduire dans le portail une classification de la vie maritime ? Lien Merci --Pseudomoi 15:13, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

Review of Wikispecies

Hello. I'd like to get some feedback about how the community here feels Wikispecies is going. It's difficult to tell from looking at the pages here whether the project is going well or not. Specifically, I'd like answers to the following:

  1. Is there duplication with Wikipedia, and if so, how is that being dealt with? Have policies been created to ensure Wikispecies will not be a fork of Wikipedia?
  2. Is data from here having any use within Wikipedia?
  3. Are there unresolved language issues? Should Wikispecies be available in other languages or are measures needed to make sure the project is multilingually useful within the same wiki?
  4. Are users applying standard templates to new pages? If so, will these be easy to adapt to wikidata format when that becomes available?
  5. Are there any technical measures needed to make this project useful?
  6. Do you feel this project needs to be separate, or would combining it with Wikipedia, Wikibooks, or even the Wikimedia Commons, make more sense?
  7. This wiki was supposed to provide a solution to the problem that there is no central registration of species data. Do you feel the wiki in its current state does help to solve this?
  8. Wikispecies was supposed to be aimed at the needs of scientific users rather than general users. Is this still the case? Does this aim still seem the best approach for this project?
  9. Does the Wikispecies Charter still seem viable?
  10. The Wikispecies FAQ I wrote noted that Wikispecies was still in the discussion stage. Do you feel it has evolved past this point now?

Thanks. Angela 17:28, 11 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Duplication with wikipedia

I think the article about green tree frog at Litoria caerulea may be an example of possible duplication. At least it may serve as an example on the question of where we should put a limit.Dan Koehl 11:41, 12 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Are prions sufficiently well understood and sufficiently lifelike to be worth including alongside the viruses? -- 03:12, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

No. There is far too little data about them out there.Geni 14:32, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Why Wikispecies?

This project is awesome - but i don't understand why it is separate from wikipedia. every single thing written in this wiki is encyclopedic, and would not be deleted. so why does it Wikispecies exist as a separate project? - kingturtle, Dermochelys rex 27 June 2005 23:26 (UTC)

I'd have to agree, there are already so many entries on the regular wikipedia, just duplicating them here so they are out of sync with eachother seems rediculous! Why fork Wikipedia? I wouldn't think the wasted resources trying to keep articles in sync would have NEAR enough upside. Does every large subsection of an encyclopedia need its own site? I've done tons of taxonomic articles over at regular wikipedia, to come here and find i'd need to do the same thing again, then add every page to my watchlist to make sure they all stay synced! -- 16:29, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

On wikipedia there is a rule of NPOV. Here, other rules may set the standard of nomenclature definitions. Or, different solutions will be exhibited, which would take too much space on wikipedia, wehere people not so interested in systematics, maybe would complain. The angle here is also a bit more scientific than on wikipedia which gives populair information. The both namespaces can happily complement each other. Dan Koehl 13:14, 24 July 2005 (UTC)

A few things

I have had a look here. I think we have to change some - in most cases small - things:

Firstly, I think we'll have to categorize the pages that don't belong to Wikispecies proper, to know what we have - I think we have to build some kind of policy, and its easy to know what you have then  :-) (pages like Help:Contents). Ucucha 18:18, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

This brings me to my second point: that page includes a massive amount of things that should be included in an article. I think we should limit ourselves to the following:

  • Taxonavigation.
  • Photos.
  • Taxonomy (authority, date, type specimen, type locality, original reference...)
  • Comments on taxonomy.
  • Vernacular names/links to Wikipedias.

And possibly also:

  • Diagnosis/description.
  • Genetics.

Other things should be included in Wikipedia. Ucucha 18:18, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

We should make an IRC channel for Wikispecies. Ucucha 18:18, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

I've made a welcome template for new Wikispecians. Is it good? Ucucha 18:18, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

          Looks excellent 15:32, 14 August 2005 (UTC)


What online taxonomic resources are reliable and up to date?

Open2universe 13:44, 22 August 2005 (UTC)
I am a little new at this so I am not sure how to vouch for reliability but I am currently using the following:

(Look under species on the left menu for databases. One can search on phylum, class, order, family, genus or common name.)

I am also using various websites specific to the species I am working on.


I have started to run a bot on Wikispecies, as yet just for correcting "Subclass Placentalia", but in the future probably for more. I'd like to have a bot flag. Ucucha 12:20, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

Vernacular Names

If Wikispecies is "monolingual", when why is there an extensive list of "vernacular names" at the bottom of every article? An example of this is the Animalia page. It looks ugly because of that long list. Can't they be put on the sidebar (where the 'navigation', 'search' and 'toolbox' sections are)? Or perhaps just completely deleted? -- 18:53, 23 August 2005 (UTC)