Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Tree of Life

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

WikiProject Tree of Life (Rated Project-class)
WikiProject iconThis page is within the scope of WikiProject Tree of Life, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of taxonomy and the phylogenetic tree of life on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 Project  This page does not require a rating on the project's quality scale.

Advice needed for adding species common names on Wikipedia[edit]

Hello, I'm looking for advice on an efficient way to add species common names to Wikipedia. These common names are developed via a national working group in Canada (official website) and the names undergo a rigorous review process (see here for details). I've created a draft Wikipedia article for the working group that's responsible for coordinating the development of the common names. I tried to add the common names for all 17,286 species in this draft page with links to the corresponding articles for the species (see below for an example of the format, the species code is also included). However, my draft submission was very quickly rejected and I was informed that this list needed to be removed since I had now created an article that was 2.7 times longer than the longest ever Wikipedia article!


I'm wondering if you have any ideas on how I can make the common names accessible on Wikipedia. They're currently stored in an Excel spreadsheet on the working group website and as a result, they aren't very accessible to the general public. Would it be possible to create species lists for the different taxonomic groups reviewed by the committee, like the species list that currently exists for Andrena bees? Or is there a better approach? Thanks in advance for your help and feedback. VioletBrew (talk) 04:16, 23 February 2021 (UTC)

In general I am not a huge fan of common names they get added to wikispecies pages where in my view they are irrelevant. However, looking at your issue here. I certainly agree you cannot make a page as large as the one you were proposing, remeber pages here can be loaded on mobile devices too. As the English WP of course in reality that often means it is the USA WP for the most part, eve though all English speaking countries contribute to it. I wonder how many of these 17000 odd species have distributions in the USA too and the same common name? I would imagine significant saving can be achieved there.
One piece of advice on your draft while at it, I am an IUBS Working Group secretary so I understand how your organisation would work. Just talk about what the organisation does not the list itself.
All you can really do with the names from my perspective is store the spreadsheet and refer to it so anyone can get it if they want it. You may be able to edit some species semi automatically if you have AWB permissions. Getting the whole list spread out across Wikipedia would be hard though. Cheers Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 21:58, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
Not sure I have an opinion about exactly how to proceed (like whether this calls for bulk edits or just use by individual editors or what), but the part of this which I think does make this at least a little interesting is "national working group" and "rigorous review process". Neither of those two automatically means that we should use these names instead of others (see for example WP:OFFICIAL although strictly speaking that is about article titles rather than the bodies of articles), but given how hard it is to find any good sources for common names, I suspect this list may be helpful one way or another. Kingdon (talk) 23:21, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
It's not at all clear to me that we should be giving publicity to made-up vernacular names that are not actually in common use. Various organizations (e.g. the British Mycological Society in the UK) have produced made-up names in an effort to make their subject more attractive to non-experts. I'm not aware of any evidence that this is successful, and it can be a source of confusion when the vernacular name is based on the scientific name which can change. Sticking to fungi, the churn in names as genetic/genomic evidence is increasingly used in classification has been huge. If you call Amanita abrupta "American abrupt-bulbed amanita", what happens if it's later moved to a different genus?
There's also the issue of different lists being produced in different countries, which doesn't aid communication. At least for birds there's an international list. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:00, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
It seems to me that this issue of made-up "common" names has been discussed before, many years ago. Certainly, names from such a list should generally not be used for article titles, per the injunction at Wikipedia:Article titles#Common names to "use commonly recognizable names." Personally, I don't think made-up "common names" should be used in Wikipedia at all until such time as they actually are used in multiple sources as common names for the species. - Donald Albury 21:11, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
Correct, I've seen it discussed on Wikipedia before. I believe the consensus was that "common names" made up by an organization were just that: made up names, not common names. I say don't include them, but either way, policy and prior consensus dictates that the pages remain at their current names. --SilverTiger12 (talk) 00:51, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
Thanks everyone for weighing in and providing your perspectives. I understand that common names are a bit controversial. I think one of the benefits of having a working group develop common names is that it helps to ensure some level of consistency within/across taxonomic groups. This working group also reviews the list of common names twice a year to add new species and if necessary, to update existing ones (e.g., a species is moved to a new genus).
I think for now, I'll just focus on creating an article for the working group with a link to the common names list. Thanks again! VioletBrew (talk) 19:12, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
To make it possible to these names to Wikipedia, it would really help if the group would publish their proposed common names as a PDF document (or maybe better, a series of documents, one for each large group) or on a webpage (or both), so that it could be easily cited. I would certainly consider adding a line similar to "The National General Status Working Group, tasked with establishing a set of common names for all wild species in Canada, has proposed "crinkled snow lichen" for Flavocetraria nivalis." to lichen articles I create. But even this isn't possible at the moment, as one can't cite an Excel spreadsheet. Esculenta (talk) 19:43, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion Esculenta! I'll make sure to pass it along to the coordinator of the group. Would another option be to cite the website instead of the list directly? Thanks also for considering adding references to the common names. I really appreciate it. VioletBrew (talk) 18:10, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
Well, the info being cited needs to be on the web page and not buried in a document. Esculenta (talk) 18:37, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
Well if the spreadsheet was part of a published document that is available on the website, even as supplementary material. It can theoretically be cited. It all depends on how you do this. That said I would be against page moves based on this, don't mind it being added to discussion in pages as appropriate though that would be subject to consensus. So it may not work for all pages. In general I am not a fan of vernacular names as they are subject to local variants and change over time, as others have said made up ones are even more problematic. Cheers Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 21:38, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for your input. I think including the common names in the body of the articles with either a reference to the working group or the species list, would probably be the best way to add them to Wikipedia pages. VioletBrew (talk) 22:29, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
@VioletBrew: given that there should eventually be many such references, I would strongly recommend creating a special citation template (like e.g. {{Cite iucn}} or {{WCSP}}). This ensures that if the URL changes in future, it can be updated once at the template and doesn't have to be fixed in every article. We've been caught by URL changes to lists and databases before (I'm currently having to update 1,000+ articles for an issue with the URL of the BSBI list of the English names of plants). Peter coxhead (talk) 10:40, 3 March 2021 (UTC)
Thanks Peter coxhead! That's a good suggestion. I'll definitely have to look into it. VioletBrew (talk) 22:18, 3 March 2021 (UTC)

Bulk category creation[edit]

We might need some sort of admin intervention to address the categories created by Phil Fish, many of which are underpopulated and several of the taxonomists don't have articles. I don't think these categories are helpful. If they can't be populated (especially if the taxonomist in question is deceased or retired), my thought is they should be deleted.

redlinked author, <10 taxa

redlinked author, ≥10 taxa

bluelinked author, <10 taxa

bluelinked author, ≥10 taxa

Stopping here for now because there's about 100 more. Enwebb (talk) 17:22, 3 March 2021 (UTC)

When the editor first started that up, I deleted a dozen or so additions of non-existing categories to articles and left them a note. I have foreborn to do anything about the existing but minimal categories that followed, since I don't really know much about category guidelines. But spamming categories that may stay at one or a very few members forever certainly does not feel in the spirit of the system to me. --Elmidae (talk · contribs) 17:49, 3 March 2021 (UTC)
Elmidae, My thought is that redlinked taxonomists are unlikely to warrant a "Taxa named by X". Per WP:SMALLCAT Avoid categories that, by their very definition, will never have more than a few members. So if a given scientist is dead or retired and only ever named five or fewer taxa, those categories should be deleted IMO.
This type of activity is more suitable for Wikispecies and Wikidata. Maybe Phil Fish could direct their attention to a sister site. Enwebb (talk) 17:56, 3 March 2021 (UTC)
Yes, if the author isn't notable, so an article isn't justified, then the corresponding category won't be either. Delete! Peter coxhead (talk) 19:43, 3 March 2021 (UTC)

Greetings my fellow Wiki editors. Yes you have noticed that I have created many categories for "Taxa named by ????" Currently I am posting Categories for fish that do not have category for the describer, so that the describer's category will have as many of his described species listed. Along the way I have found describers have no Category page, and I create one for them. Many of the ichthyologists that have a category with few species is because I have not got to them all. When I finish (or decide to move on) I will be creating pages for those individuals that rate a page. I can only do so much, as you all have realized, and this type of work takes time. It's seems like a waste of your time to go and delete all the work I have put in. Phil Fish (talk) 20:13, 3 March 2021 (UTC)

I tend to agreed that categories are only necessary when the author is notable enough to have an article and/or (probably and) has ten or more named species. So Emile Blanchard (15 members) and Jörg Freyhof (22 members) in the above list. It's also fair to consider that this is a work in progress and that articles will be created and the categories filled up. A compromise might be to put this discussion on hold and see which articles and categories get created or filled. A better approach from the start might have been to create relevant articles and categories for notably taxonomic namers rather than create the categories first.
In short, if you think most of the names will get articles and fuller categories when you have finished your planned project, then I would postpone a decision on these deletions. —  Jts1882 | talk  20:42, 3 March 2021 (UTC)
Phil Fish in general, I don't create categories until I've identified around ten articles that can be placed in the category. By creating the category first, I think you are putting the cart before the horse. Perhaps in the future it will be best if you only create categories for authors who have biographies and you have identified enough taxa to keep it from being a SMALLCAT. Enwebb (talk) 20:51, 3 March 2021 (UTC)

The way my progression works is this: I go to the Genus of the fish, look at each species, check to see if the describer is credited, fill in the Taxa Category if not, along the way if I run into a describer that does not have a category, I create one. I can not be sure if as I continue that I won't run into the same describer in another genus. I plan to create pages for notable describers, when I can. Right now as I approach each species, if it is named in honor of someone, I place that info on both the species name and the Honoria's name. This all takes time and I ask for some indulgence here as my work continues.Phil Fish (talk) 21:04, 3 March 2021 (UTC)

@Phil Fish: I don't see evidence that you have accepted the point that has been made here: unless the taxon author is notable, there should not be a category. Your workflow doesn't include a test for this. You should first establish that there would be, say, 20+ entries, and only then create the category. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:47, 3 March 2021 (UTC)

I completely understand where you are coming from. If the author does not have a page already, then they only deserve having a page and/or category if there is say 20+ entries. While I understand what you are saying, my work method does not allow me to keep a separate record of who has how many descriptions. Therefore when I find an author that does not have a category, I establish one for them after I have searched for a category for that person. Many times, after finding the author on one page, I find them later on on another. Ichthyologists sometime specialize in certain fish, and others are varied across the genus'. Many are not represented by a page, and I intend to rectify the situation when I can. Please bear with me, while I finish up what I am doing. I have found the ichthyology information lacking on Wikipedia and thought that I could rectify that situation a bit. I still have a lot to learn. Thanks.Phil Fish (talk) 22:09, 3 March 2021 (UTC)

@Phil Fish: sorry, I don't accept that this is the right way for you to proceed. Anyone can create a category, but it needs an administrator and usually a prior process to delete one. So the onus should be on the creator to have checked beforehand that the category is sufficiently notable.
There are various ways of searching to see whether the author has enough mentions here. A simple one is to put insource:"authority NAME" in the search bar. Thus if I search for insource:"authority Hirotoshi Asano", I find only three articles, immediately suggesting that Category:Taxa named by Hirotoshi Asano should not have been created. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:07, 4 March 2021 (UTC)
It seems you can easily modify your work method to avoid premature creation of categories. You can create a subpage in your user space, say User:Phil Fish/Potenial categories for taxa named by taxonomic authorites and make sections for each authority with the named taxa. When these authority lists get long enough you can create the relevant articles and categories. —  Jts1882 | talk  10:25, 4 March 2021 (UTC)

Question about taxon article title[edit]

I'm creating a page for the monospecific lichen genus Burrowsia. Currently, there is a redirect in place, as this name is also a junior synonym for the moth genus now called Marumba. So should I

  • (a) write the article at Burrowsia, overwriting the junior synonym redirect, and add a hatnote mentioning the moth synonym on the resulting lichen page.
  • (b) make Burrowsia a dab page listing the two target options (i.e. Burrowsia (moth) and Burrowsia (fungus)), move the current Burrowsia to Burrowsia (moth), and then make it redirect to Marumba.
  • (c) write the article at Burrowsia cataractae (because the genus is monotypic, and using the philosophy of avoiding dab pages and using the full name when the genus is monospecific) ... but then I'm still not sure what to do about Burrowsia (dab/hatnote?).

Advice appreciated. Esculenta (talk) 16:55, 8 March 2021 (UTC)

  • I think I'd suggest option A. With only two choices, I don't think you need a dab page — particularly as one is a junior synonym. Just be sure to hatnote both articles. MeegsC (talk) 17:56, 8 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Ok thanks, I did option A. Not sure how to word a hatnote on Marumba ... is it even necessary there? People landing on that page would not be looking for the lichen genus, and the moth taxonomists will notice that Burrowsia is listed in the synonymy ... Esculenta (talk) 18:38, 8 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Esculenta, good point! As you say, a hatnote on the new Burrowsia page pointing to the moth should be sufficient. MeegsC (talk) 14:00, 9 March 2021 (UTC)

Redundant "Family ...idae entries"[edit]

Redirects are cheep, but no point to clutter enwiki database. If someone agree, then to be deleted:

  1. Family hominidae
  2. Family strigidae
  3. Family tytonidae
  4. Family Ambystomatidae
  5. Family Anguidae
  6. Family Anniellidae
  7. Family Ascaphidae
  8. Family Boidae
  9. Family Bufonidae
  10. Family Chamaeleonidae
  11. Family Colubridae
  12. Family Crotaphytidae
  13. Family Dicamptodontidae
  14. Family Gekkonidae
  15. Family Helodermatidae
  16. Family Hydrophiidae
  17. Family Hylidae
  18. Family Iguanidae
  19. Family Leptotyphlopidae
  20. Family Mobulidae
  21. Family Phrynosomatidae
  22. Family Pipidae
  23. Family Plethodontidae
  24. Family Ranidae
  25. Family Rhyacotritonidae
  26. Family Salamandridae
  27. Family Scaphiopodidae
  28. Family Scincidae
  29. Family Teiidae
  30. Family Viperidae
  31. Family Xantusiidae

--Estopedist1 (talk) 16:27, 25 March 2021 (UTC)

Cheap, perhaps. But they should remain, since they link to the taxonomy template, to Commons and to Wikidata. JoJan (talk) 16:38, 25 March 2021 (UTC)
Isn't it the Hominidae article that is linked to Commons and Wikidata rather than the Family hominidae redirect? It's the "family" in the article title rather than a redirect for the family name that is the issue. These seem harmless but unnecessary. —  Jts1882 | talk  20:37, 25 March 2021 (UTC)

Preferred disambiguators[edit]

Hi, there's some discussion at User:Estopedist1/Taxons and disambiguation and User talk:Estopedist1/Taxons and disambiguation that could I think benefit from input from the Wikiproject. Specifically, is there already any guideline of this nature? (Have I missed it? Wouldn't be the first time...) If not it seems a good idea to me... but I'm not a specialist in this very complex area. There are also several relevant RMs under discussion. Andrewa (talk) 00:29, 10 April 2021 (UTC)

Automatic taxobox disambiguation questions[edit]

I'd like switch to automatic taxoboxes for the lichen genus Niebla, but there's already a dinosaur genus occupying Template:Taxonomy/Niebla. What's the best way to resolve this? Will a disambiguator in the taxonomy template title (e.g. Template:Taxonomy/Niebla (fungus) break the system? If not, should I also move the dinosaur template to Template:Taxonomy/Niebla (dinosaur)? Is that the proper dab for dinosaur taxa (see also section above)? While you're thinking about disambiguators, is "lichen" a better disambiguator than "fungus" if the taxon is a lichen? Esculenta (talk) 22:40, 10 April 2021 (UTC)

We don't have any clear guidance on such matters. Google and Google Scholar searches show that neither the dinosaur nor the lichen meaning of "Niebla" is at all common compared to other uses, so that doesn't help.
It makes life easier for other editors, e.g. in creating taxoboxes for species, if the taxonomy template for the genus either uses no disambiguator or uses the same disambiguator as is used for the genus article. So there are two possibilities:
  • Move the dinosaur template to Template:Taxonomy/Niebla (dinosaur), on the grounds that we don't (normally) have species articles for fossil taxa (and the genus is currently monotypic anyway), so |genus=Niebla (dinosaur) will not have to be used in speciesboxes. Put the lichen one at plain "Template:Taxonomy/Niebla" so that all the species articles can use |genus=Niebla. This would be my preference.
  • Move the dinosaur template to Template:Taxonomy/Niebla (dinosaur) and put the lichen one at Template:Taxonomy/Niebla (lichen), accepting that the species articles will have to use |genus=Niebla (lichen). This keeps the taxonomy templates consistent with the genus articles, which has some advantages, but at the cost of complicating speciesboxes.
Peter coxhead (talk) 08:35, 11 April 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the advice, I used your first suggested solution above. Esculenta (talk)
Would disambiguating the templates by the family (or other 'parent' taxon) be an intuitive solution, it is a common practice in other publications. ~ cygnis insignis 09:13, 11 April 2021 (UTC)
@Cygnis insignis: it might have been once, but the standard that is reasonably well established in the English Wikipedia is to use an English word for the "main group" to which the genus belongs. Look through the larger categories within Category:Monotypic plant genera, for example, and you'll see that almost all use "(plant)". If you look through Category:Monotypic animal genera and its subcategories, they either use an English group name or "(genus)". As has been pointed out before, the latter is not a good idea, because genera covered by different nomenclature codes can have the same name. You can also look through Category:Taxonomy templates, remembering that animal subgenera have names with parentheses.
The lack of clear guidance only extends to which such "main groups" should be used. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:40, 11 April 2021 (UTC)