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Submissions/Wikispecies and Wikidata - a match made in heaven, or hell?

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This is an Open submission for Wikimania 2017 that has not yet been reviewed by a member of the Programme Committee.

Submission no. 8020 - S2
Title of the submission
Wikispecies and Wikidata - a match made in heaven, or hell?
Type of submission
roundtable discussion
Author of the submission
Andy Mabbett
Language of presentation
E-mail address
Country of origin
United Kingdom
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (up to 300 words to describe your proposal)
On the face of it, Wikispecies can easily be populated with data from Wikidata. But there is much resistance to this within the Wikispecies community. Do they have a point? Are Wikidata's interface and/ or community norms off-putting to the taxonomists who make up a significant proportion of Wikispecies editors? How can their needs be accommodated? Do we need to store data more than once?
What will attendees take away from this session?
An understanding of the issues current affecting the relationship between Wikidata and Wikispecies, and ideas for how to address them
Theme of presentation
Sister Projects
For workshops and discussions, what level is the intended audience?
Length of session (if other than 25 minutes, specify how long)
25 minutes (longer if possible)
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Depends on scholarship grant
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests
Is this Submission a Draft or Final?

This is a Completed submission for Wikimania 2017 ready to be reviewed by a member of the Programme Committee.

Interested attendees

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  1. Amir É. Aharoni (talk) 10:04, 11 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  2. ~ Moheen (keep talking) 20:31, 14 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Magnus Manske (talk) 13:22, 2 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  4. --Sannita (talk) 23:01, 5 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Peaceray (talk) 13:36, 11 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Copy of notes from etherpad

Partial Copy from https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/Wikimania2017-Wikispecies%2BWikidata follows:

  • Lukas Mezger (User:Gnom)
  • liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
  • Nick Wilson (Quiddity)
  • (Sannita)
  • Lydia P.
  • + ~20 others - please add your names
Prior discussion



  • Is Wikidata complex enough yet?
  • Is Wikispecies just for taxonomists?
  • Not structured data
  • Prose not always consistent, so can't be scraped
  • Misunderstanding of the benefits of structured data
How can we reassure the Wikispecies memebrs that we're not out to destroy them? How can we help onboard Wikispecies editors to Wikidata?
  • Luca: Have you understood what Wikispecies misunderstands?
  • AM: I think they don't understand that the currenlty-missing properties can be added
  • Lukas: 2 proposals: (1) won't work: wikidata gives them a platform they can use to spread their info. But looking at how closed a project it is they seemingly don't care too much about re-use. (2) might work: find things that you can do on wikidata, that cannot be done on wikispecies, to sell them on a clear advantage. E.g. Wikispecies does not give one definitive truth, and taxonomy models that disagree can be clearly shown with Wikidata outputs.
  • ?: If you're talking about hypertables (?) - you have to decide on what is a valid taxonomy in the framework you're working with. Wikidata supports these more situational models.
  • AM: It's difficult for these 2 groups to talk because they have different models of usage and use-cases; different levels of understanding of (biological) taxonomy
  • ?: They could have their own visual environment with queries to pull out visualized data, and display it in intriguing ways.
  • Liam: Some is social, some is tehcnical, but beyond the mere application for wikispecies, e.g. Wikipedia or Wikiversity, ... - Can we enable the direct editing of Wikidata content /from/ Wikispecies? We need to think about the data-layer separately from the display-layer, That might lower the barrier to entry and burden. It would also be easier than on Wikipedias, because Wikispecies is a singular wiki.
  • Rexxs: How do we answer the problem: I don't want to change my workflow, which currently works for me and my use-case?
  • AM: As I've answered on Wikispecies before: Wikdiata offers all the advanatges of linked, open data; and feeds into Wikipedias (which Wikispecies was suposed to do)
  • Loopy30: I'm mostly a mainspace editor - I'm becoming aware of this, because my fellow editors are replacing taxoboxes with speciesboxes. In my work so far, as i define clades, etc. Wikispecies appears may be able to be able to handle 2 or more different taxonomies (TBC). (or is it being defined in a tempate, and not in WikiSpecies or Wikidata - in which case we are creating a triplication)
  • AM: I don't think they do that /in/ Wikispecies. I saw discussion recently about the "true" taxonomy of a particular group.
  • Loopy30: I would want a proper centralized location so that updates trickled out to all the other re-using projects
  • AM: Wikispecies was setup to be the taxonomic base for Wikipedia.
  • Peaceray: As a data-scientist, this /can/ all be represented in structured data. It's just a question of what models we use. Also, maybe we need to do a slow introduction to Wikispecies folks. Example might be CiteQ.
  • AM: Definitely want to bring the experts in from Wikispecies to help lead this process. We don't want to lose their expertise or their energy. The core question is how to bring that community in, and what's the short/medium/long term set of action items?
  • Luca: It's even stronger, what can we do to overturn their objections? We must bring them along [?]. I also want to improve their authorship pages and make them more accessible and international. It's ways to get more visibility on ALL their work, not just their structured data.
  • AM: What 1 thing would you do first?
  • Luca: Not sure.
  • ?: A dutch editor asked how Wikispecies chose their taxonomy. WIR was questioning it, and ebelieved in a different taxonomy, so he opted out, and didn't use their data in his WIR work.
  • Nick: I'm most interested in how WIkispecies sees themselves in relation to the other groups working in these areas, such as Encyclopedia of Life, Catalogue of Life, Tree of Life, Zoobank, etc. I spent hours this weekend researching, and they don't seem to have discussed it recently. I hope we can all update our understanding of how these projects fit together and can best work together. [linkdump below.]
  • ?: I'm from Smithsonian, and there are so many discplines that use taxonomies in different ways, and would love our dept to be involved in these discussions.
  • Ester: I had a similar conversation with Wiktionary people last year, and I showed them a visualiztion which happily surprised them, and helped them understand the possibilities. I think something similar would help here.

Quiddity's notes from (previous) weekend research

I think there's a good future for the integration of the projects. There are some good open (?) questions though. We should definitely be storing the structured data in a database, but we could also be displaying it here along with any additional unstructured data. (With editing tools here and/or wikidata). Wikispecies.org itself, could become a more inspiringly-designed portal for accessing and visualizing the interconnectedness of the data sets. I.e. Instead of basic static wikitext lists, it could have dynamically generated interactive trees - a custom SPARQL frontend of some sort? It could automatically integrate human biographical data more efficiently from Wikipedia (in all languages, leading to a huge reduction in the duplication of effort), and integrate Commons galleries more beautifully and completely. However, I'm not a regular Wikispecimen, so am sadly unfamiliar with what issues have been discussed (ad infinitum) along these lines. Are there good summaries or linkdumps for any past discussions and major conferences or similar? I'm specifically wondering how Wikispecies sees itself in comparison to Encyclopedia of Life (and any other similar projects), nowadays?

I've looked at these info pages:

I've also searched for past related discussions, finding these (in chronological order):

Those (especially at Archive_18) seem to indicate some desire of collaboration, but I can't find any follow-up?

Finally I looked at the still online [competitors/partners/peers?] and compared a random page or two

I also glanced through EOL's and COL's collaboration pages:

That's as far as I can get as a relative-outsider. I suggest that it might be helpful to have a comparison table somewhere, detailing what each site is best at, what their drawbacks or prominent gaps are, and what their future plans are. -Quiddity