Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"I like Wikipedia - they hate me"

Rod Page in his lecture at the recent ViBRANT Scripting Life meeting "why aren't we there yet?" talked about his encounter with Wikipedia, where he tried to link, actually automate the linking between NCBI and Wikipedia. Whilst NCBI was all for it, a live discussion developed leading to a very personal exchange on the very negative side (see slides 48-56 in Rod's talk and the actual exchange).

This is actually an interesting point, since we had the same experience trying to create for each new, and eventually all the known species a wikipedia entry. The idea is based on the notion that each species deserves an entry on Wikipedia, not just the famous hairy, feathery and flowery and that with such a service the broad community had a starting point. We could extract all this descriptive data from the original publications and this then could become the starting point to modify, rewrite, amend those descriptions, which are at the very moment the only source that exists. This would also provide a chance to he community to enhance such descriptions, whilst the original can always be seen on Plazi or similar sources.

But as in Rod's case, this idea was smashed by few editors that, in my view had little understanding no authority in the sense of understanding the issues rather then extorting their power within the Wikisystem.

Here is a visualization of what happened to one of our species, Monomorium dentatum, which can also be followed in the history of this species.


Blogger Rod Page said...


The name for this visualisation is "History Flow", see http://www.research.ibm.com/visual/projects/history_flow/. I stumbled upon this via a post on Coding Horror: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2009/02/mixing-oil-and-water-authorship-in-a-wiki-world.html.

Oh, and the Wikipedia controversy about the name for the sperm whale unfolds at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Sperm_whale#catodon (Tony Rees alerted me to this).

4:03 PM  

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