Wikispecies talk:About

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I came across this page quite by accident and was surprised to find not a single comment about an absolutely daunting project. As a scientist (retired) and a plant enthusiast (particularly alpines and cacti)maybe I can start the ball rolling with a question? In the world of cacti for example, many amateur "taxonomists" have had their say with the result that a fair number of species have been found in up to about a half-dozen genera according to the taxonomists views. Nomenclature and classification are for convenience and easy recognition of what a species is, where it belongs and to what it is related. The only way to do this properly would be by genetic analysis of all species rather than relying on the opinion of a taxonomist. How then, does Wikispecies intend to cope with this and not to increase the level of confusion and how is their editor for say, the annelids (who fimly believes there are 18474 recognized species) going to resolve the conflict between expert A who recognises 17000 and expert B who claims 20000 species? John Hopkins

Hello Mr. Hopkins. Fair questions, let me try to address them.
Historically species were described in magazines etc, but since they were not published in one repository, things got lost and forgotten, described double or triple. The computer age makes it possible to store these things centrally, and allow access for everyone. Since storing species would require massive workforce, and while giving no revenue to pay for this workforce, there will be no organizations that are willing to handle the full scope. There are organizations trying to be an authoritive body for specific research areas. For example ICZN tries to be authoritive for Animalia, starting January 2008. However, their databases are far from complete, and it remains to be seen if projects like that will succeed.
Wikispecies is a project from the Wikimedia foundation. It will provide taxonomical and nomenclatural questions for the sister projects. For example the Wikipedia projects, or the Wikibooks projects. These articles can be written by experts and non-experts alike. That is its strength and its weakness.
What we do here is record. We record scientific entries, adding an article when it was described by specialists, removing it when it was shredded to pieces by another specialist. We do not take part in the scientific discussion, we only follow these. Our voluntary workforce allows us to follow these discussions, keep track of them. Expert A can add 17.000 species of Annelids here, provided he gives reference to 17.000 articles. If expert B provides references to 3.000 more records then wikispecies will have 20.000 Annelids. But if Expert C comes in and points half of articles from B to be synonyms of other Annelids then we will have 18.500.
Wikispecies will not say there are 18.500 Annelids, but we will say we have 18.500 Annelids recorded. This could be a better figure than any other source on the Internet, since we got the records to show for them (no other resource does). I hope this makes things clearer. --Kempm 11:49, 30 October 2006 (UTC)