User talk:Jaap Winius

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Welcome to the Citizendium! We hope you will contribute boldly and well. Here are pointers for a quick start. You'll probably want to know how to get started as an author. Just look at Getting Started for other helpful "startup" links, our help system and CZ:Home for the top menu of community pages. Be sure to stay abreast of events via Twitter. You can test out editing in the sandbox if you'd like. If you need help to get going, the forum is one option. That's also where we discuss policy and proposals. You can ask any administrator for help, too. Just put a note on their "talk" page. Again, welcome and have fun! Sarah Tuttle 12:08, 23 November 2006 (CST)

Scientific names vs. Common names

In the time that I've been busy at Wikipedia, I managed to get myself into many arguments on the issue of whether scientific or common names should be used for article titles. Wikipedia's official policy is to use common names for this purpose whenever available -- preferably the "most popular" common name -- purely for reasons of presentation. However, IMHO there are too many problems with this approach:

  • Articles names at Wikipedia have to be unique anyway, so why not use the only ones that are always unambiguous?
  • Scientific names avoid conflicts, since many common names often apply to different species. In such cases, one article gets the "good" name and the others have to be, um, different. How is this good for presentation?
  • Choosing between two or more more common names only on the basis of which one shows up more often in Google is arbitrary and unscientific.
  • Selecting one common name for a species over all the others gives people the impression that it's more importance or more official than the others, even though that's not the case. An exception might be the AOU where they've tried to make certain common names for birds "official", but that's only for American species and even Wikipedia aren't following their lead.
  • Using scientific names avoids petty conflicts between editors: no more fights about Siberian Tiger vs. Amur Tiger or Puma vs. Cougar.
  • Common name tiles make category overviews pretty useless: just compare Category:True vipers with Category:Sharks at Wikipedia and you'll see what I mean.
  • Using scientific names for article titles can teach readers more about how organisms are related: "These names are weird, but look how the first names are all the same... maybe they're all related!"
  • Scientific names are universal while common names are not; people in one (English speaking) country may not be familiar with the common names in another.
  • Using scientific names for article titles promotes better continuity when linking with other articles inside and outside of Citizendium.

Unfortunately, this is a minority position at Wikipedia, although I feel very strongly about it. As you can image, I'm very much hoping that the folks here at Citizendium, in all their wisdom, will do the right thing before it's once again too late.

Obviously, not everyone is familiar with these names, but that doesn't mean an article has to be inaccessible to the uninitiated. For example, in Vipera berus, the common names for this species are listed just below the title and there are redirects for all of them. Within the article itself, I try to use the title name as little as possible and prefer to use more general terms instead. All of the articles that I've worked on and copied here from WP are written this way. Notice also this category for common name redirects: Category:True vipers - Common names. Take a look around and tell me what you think.

Jaap, thanks for joining us! First, the above really belongs on your talk page, or even better, on the Forums. We would like to keep user pages focused on only certain information. Second, excellent work in putting together the case for that side of this issue. I'd love to talk more about it--if only I could find time--perhaps on the Forums. I want to keep an open mind about it, and you've certainly got some good arguments. I would like to see your replies, however, to arguments on the other side, which are also powerful.

Also, regarding your work on the vipers (excellent from what I can tell), if you do intend to maintain these articles here on CZ, then do, please, add the [[Category:CZ Live]] to them.

Thanks again for joining us. Making a better place for hard-headed, serious hobbyists like yourself is one of the animating motives behind this project. --Larry Sanger 16:44, 7 December 2006 (CST)

Hi Larry! The sci. names v common names section that was on my user page has been moved to my talk page as per your suggestion. Last Sunday I started up a discussion on this subject (here) in the CZ Biology Forum and there there have so far been mostly positive responses to my position, but somehow I don't think we're done with it yet. ;-)
All of my articles now have [[Category:CZ Live]] tags (thanks!) and, yes, my intention is to maintain these articles here. On the one hand, I'm sick and tired of constantly having to remove unreferenced nonsense put there by anyone with an IP address and a sense of humor, while on the other I'm looking forward to working together with, or at least getting some serious feedback from, people who know more about this stuff than I do. Cheers, --Jaap Winius 14:14, 8 December 2006 (CST)

Hello Jaap, I briefly skimmed your note about scientific names and as a medical student and after studying organic chemistry and biochemistry at Boston College, I couldn't agree more that scientific names are extremely important. why not put the common name in parenthesis? or what about under the title of the article, the common name(s) could be listed. Scientific names should be first, but common names are important too. If someone searches a common name, the correct article should appear, even if it has the scientific name in the title. -Tom

Hi Tom! Thanks, but if you really want to support this idea, I believe the right place to say so at the moment is here in the CZ Forum. I put a lot of thought into an article format that I believe most people would be satisfied with. In Vipera berus, for example, the common names for this species are listed just below the title and there are redirects for all of them. Within the article itself, I try to use the title name as little as possible and prefer to use more general terms instead. All of the articles that I've worked on and copied here from WP are written this way. Notice also this category for common name redirects: Category:True vipers - Common names. Take a look around and tell me what you think. --Jaap Winius 15:59, 8 December 2006 (CST)
I have commenting on the biology forum about the name policy--and advocated exactly the opposite of what you are doing. The only justification I can think of might be the multiple common names--but of course if you did a full synonymy you would also find a variety of scientific names. I think it might be wise to wait for consensus on this matter. We are likely to get into a situation where some editors will not approve an article that starts with a common name, and some do just the opposite. At the least you should add the best-known common name in parenthesis DavidGoodman 17:20, 10 December 2006 (CST)
I've corrected the above--I see you do have a proper synonym list.DavidGoodman 17:23, 10 December 2006 (CST)

Herpetologist recruitment?

Hi Jaap, I am amazed at the amount of work you've done so far. Thanks very much and well done (as far as I can tell)! It seems to me that since you are putting this amount of commitment into the project, and since it will be expert-led, it would be a good idea if you could try to recruit a herpetologist, or several, to the project and have them look over your work on the vipers. Alternatively, give me the name and address of someone and I'll write. --Larry Sanger 12:43, 12 December 2006 (CST)

Hi Larry, I very much hope that a herpetologist will eventually show up to help out with this project, or at least critique my work. Unfortunately, I'm not affiliated with any universities so I don't really know any herpetologists. At least, not well enough to impose on them. Actually, I do know of one over at WP, although he's more into amphibians than reptiles: Dfcisneros. I don't think he's seen anything I've been doing, but he did mention that I was on the right track as far as the taxonomy is concerned (ITIS used together with McDiarmid et al. 1999). --Jaap Winius 08:00, 13 December 2006 (CST)

Another suggestion

The main (strong) argument, as I see it, in favor of using scientific names for various snakes (and other animals) is that they are precise. But the main (and perhaps even stronger) argument against using them is that the very people who want articles about these various snakes know them by their common names, not by their scientific names.

I'm inclined to suggest, therefore, that we rename, for example, Vipera berus to Common European adder (Vipera berus) (if according to scientific majority opinion "common European adder" is the most usual English name). This would be harder to link to, but quite frankly, particularly when we are talking about thousands and thousands of species, hardly any articles will be linking to these article titles anyway. --Larry Sanger 12:50, 12 December 2006 (CST)

Most scientific names are strange to most people. In fact, I'm not even familiar with the scientific names of most snakes (there are some 2700 species). However, I'm not familiar with the common names of most plants and animals either (including snakes) either, so what's the difference? The point is that using common names for article titles causes more problems than it solves (see my list above). Besides, if the articles are written likeVipera ammodytes, with all of the common names listed clearly at the top of the page, and there is even a picture of a specimen, how can there be any doubt what the article is about?
Using names like Common European adder (Vipera berus) addresses only a few of the issues I mentioned. It would still require you to select one common name over any others available, which makes it arbitrary, it would do nothing to avoid petty conflicts like Puma vs. Cougar, categories containing such articles would still not be sorted according to the scientific names, and internal/external continuity would not be served. What's more, such titles can easily become too long and unwieldy and would not be intuitive to anyone. It's kind of like the design for the space shuttle: originally meant to appease all sides, but in the end satisfying no one.
On the other hand, allow me to demonstrate one of the practical advantage of using scientific names. Recently, I finished adding category tags to all of the common name redirects, as well as the synonym redirects for the true vipers group. Here are the three main categories:
1. Category:True vipers - Valid scientific names
2. Category:True vipers - Common names
3. Category:True vipers - Synonymy
1. is a list of the current valid scientific names according to the taxonomy I'm using. Most of these names are the article themselves, but a few (17%) are redirects for cases involving monotypic taxa and nominate subspecies. Except for those redirects, this is the shortest of the three lists and it's complete. It is also a well ordered list that specialists can use to tell what's here and -- more importantly -- what isn't.
2. is a list of all the common name redirects for the articles in the first category. Even though many of the species and subspecies in the fist category do not have common names, this list is much longer (over 200 entries), but is never really complete. I've included all of the names that I know of that are used in the English language for the taxa in the first category. Mostly, this list is only of use to people who want to browse a list of common names, but at least at least it's relatively complete.
3. is a list of all the synonym redirects -- invalid scientific names according to the taxonomy I've used here -- for the articles in the first category. With over 500 entries, this list is nearly complete according to McDiarmid et al. (1999), missing only a few upper and lower case variants. If someone goes looking for a scientific name in the first list and sees that it is not there, they'll probably find it in this list (if not, it's probably very new, but may still be mentioned in a taxonomy subsection for one of the generic names). For people who are already familiar with many of the current scientific names, this list is kind of like a window into the past, showing the results of previous taxonomies as well as some proposals that may eventually be accepted.
If I were to use common names (where possible) for these articles instead, parts of the first and second categories would be mixed in with each another. To make the list complete, you'd really have to merge those two categories, but then you'd have a single main category with almost 350 entries (and probably more common names to be added later on). I cannot image that most people, given the choice, would want to see these lists merged. Of course, this wouldn't be an issue with your suggestion (i.e. Common European adder (Vipera berus)), but then it would be necessary to create four categories -- not very efficient. --Jaap Winius 10:22, 13 December 2006 (CST)
No matter how exact we may get in the text, at least the titles of articles at least should be immediately comprehensible to the layman--when possible.DavidGoodman 23:40, 19 December 2006 (CST)
You've got it the wrong way around: that certain parts of the text should remain accessible to the layman is far more important than the title. In wiki systems like CZ and WP, there is unfortunately only one title for every article, so in this case logically speaking (see my list of arguments) there can only be one choice. And what's so incomprehensible about an article format such as that of Bitis gabonica? Mind you, this article has GA status over at WP despite being different, so it must not be that bad. --Jaap Winius 10:17, 21 December 2006 (CST)

Your message

My problems were:

  1. To place a "common names" line before the article rather than in the article looks very odd.
  2. To use abbreviations rather than full names of unites is less clear for potential users (as is omitting a link to the relevant article).
  3. To leave in Wikipedia templates that simply show up as red "template" signs is surely undesirable.
  4. Why have something in "see also" which is already in the article? --Peter J. King 09:49, 13 February 2007 (CST)

See my answer on your talk page. --Jaap Winius 12:22, 13 February 2007 (CST)

Have you checked out the new use of categories with Wkgroup?

Check out the cool new stuff we have in the works on the workgroup page! You can now monitor recent changes of biology articles more effeciently! Make sure they get the proper workgroup category tag and it will make monitoring recent changes a cinch! -Tom Kelly (Talk) 18:25, 17 February 2007 (CST) -Tom Kelly (Talk) 18:26, 17 February 2007 (CST)

You should add [ [Category:Biology Workgroup]] to your snake articles! -Tom Kelly (Talk) 18:27, 17 February 2007 (CST)

Snake pictures

Hey, do you have any snake pictures for your articles? -Tom Kelly (Talk) 18:33, 17 February 2007 (CST)

Lots. Check out the same series of articles on WP. However, most all of those images are on the Wikimedia server, which I was hoping CZ would eventually gain access to it, or else copy over to their own media server. I'm still waiting for them to do something because first, I don't feel like uploading all those images all over again, and second, if I did have to upload them again I'd rather save them on CZ's own media server (they're so much easier to organize that way). --Jaap Winius 21:12, 17 February 2007 (CST)

Your snake articles

Hello Jaap. There is nothing wrong with your snake articles. In fact they are great work - keep it up. We are doing some housecleaning and taking out some of the Wikipedia articles and Gareth Leng made us aware that you had some snake articles that we don;t want to delete. If you find that we have, please identify them for us, or feel free to bring them back from WP. If you like you can keep an eye on this list - Category:Speedy Deletion Requests to see if any of yours are on it. Thanks Matt Innis (Talk) 22:11, 17 February 2007 (CST)

Hi Jaap. The logic behind the deletion was that some people were deterred fromwriting fresh articles because of an apparently pre-existing article. Accordingly we set about getting rid of articles which were basically just the WP articles with effectively no change. We remembered you (just in time) as someone who,s systematically imported the snake articles for very good reason... so absolutely no problem; we only wanted to get rid of the strays from WP that were not being actively upgraded. As for asp, keep or add anything you want; I recommended it for deletion just because it seemed to only redirect to non existent articles so for now seemed redundant.

All the very best, we really want you to thrive here, what you want countsGareth Leng 12:37, 18 February 2007 (CST)

Viper articles

(continued from Simen Rustad's talk page)

Jaap, the reason they're a special case is that few if any changes seem to have been made from the Wikipedia versions. For these articles, it looks like we're just mirroring the Wikipedia content, but CZ isn't a WP mirror. Therefore I have a special request: what can you add to the CZ articles that makes them significantly more valuable than the WP versions? Then there would be no question at all. --Larry Sanger 10:30, 20 February 2007 (CST)

That's a pretty tall order. It took me about 3-4 months of solid work to produce those articles. To make them "significantly more valuable", I imagine I'd have to increase them in size by, what, 30-50%? I guess you'd want images too (even though CZ doesn't have its own Commons server yet). I'm wondering where I'm going to get the motivation from to put in so much extra work. What doesn't make me any happier is the fact that there's been no sign of movement in the scientific names vs. common names debate, which means there's still the possibility that you'll eventually ask me to rename all of my articles, and the fact that I still seem to be CZ's only "snake expert", which means that my articles will probably not be approved any time soon either. To have watched all those dangling wikilinks appear in the articles didn't help either.
Perhaps my ideas are too radical and I'm just too specialized to be of any use to CZ at this stage in its development. Maybe I should just step back and let the generalists run the show for now (logical, actually), as well as work out the necessary policies, and come back again in a year or two to see if I can be of any use. --Jaap Winius 17:38, 2 March 2007 (CST)
NO, NO Jaap don't say that. Your articles here represent our only in depth subject. What you are doing is what we need to aspire to and represents an important set of articles to set a precedent. I assume you did most of this work on wikipedia, so to mirror it here seems fine to me. I think steady improvement is all that can be asked. A picture here and there would be fine. These articles are especially valuable with regard to the naming conventions and that is a debate that should be reinitiated.
The only reason there are generalists here now is that there are just too many red links. I see no reason why your articles cannot be approved based on them being interesting and articulate. A none expert biologist should be able to fact check a referenced article. Chris Day (Talk) 18:13, 2 March 2007 (CST)
Thanks for your support, Chris, but it looks I've been given an ultimatum. It's just that I don't feel like adding significantly to so many articles in the short term as long as CZ can't even decide on a proper naming convention. Besides, I've stated my case on this issue clearly enough in the forum; if not enough people are willing to openly support my proposal to change what amounts to a de facto policy in favor of common names, then for now that's that. At least my way of doing things is tolerated over at WP. --Jaap Winius 13:26, 4 March 2007 (CST)

I just noticed this comment, Jaap. I didn't give you an ultimatum. If I did, I'd be very explicit about it. I am actually changing my thinking on this somewhat. I think that if we have satisfactory evidence that a person really is committed to maintaining a set of articles on CZ, as we no doubt have in your case, that ultimately is more important in the long term than just a few cursory edits and then abandoning articles uploaded from Wikipedia to their fate. We actually strongly want to encourage people to do what you do--to upload and maintain and improve very well articles that happened to begin life on Wikipedia. I actually think that we can consider your articles "live" according to a more inclusive definition of "live." I would like to get feedback on this from the community, but I'm thinking this is probably for the best in the long run. --Larry Sanger 11:26, 22 April 2007 (CDT)


Jaap, please, will you upload the images that are in red links in vipers articles? Or may the red links be removed? Thanks -Versuri 18:01, 17 March 2007 (CDT)

I was kind of hoping the images would all "magically reappear" once our sysadmins got InstantCommons to go. If that doesn't happen, it would be nice if CZ could at least create an virtual Commons for me to copy all my images to. I'd hate to copy them all directly to the CZ server, mixing them in with the articles, because they're harder to organize that way and I don't see it as a long-term solution. I suppose I'll have to do it, though, if there is no other way. As for the red links, removing them from 100 articles will mean loosing a lot of information that will, no doubt, have to be re-added again some later point in time. But, I suppose there's nothing to do about that now. --Jaap Winius 22:20, 17 March 2007 (CDT)

Bio workgroup tag

Hi, I noticed that you removed Biology Workgroup tag from Viperinae, stating that it is enough to have "true vipers". Well, the direct Workgroup tag is needed there for an important practical reason: with the tag the article is visible via the "recent changes" link on Workgroup's home page. I think it is a great feature and see no rationale to delete the tag. Best regards, --AlekStos 09:36, 18 March 2007 (CDT)

That sounds interesting, but with 100 articles in this series, do you really want them all tagged that way? I was thinking that it would be enough to include the Biology Workgroup tag on the True vipers category page. If certain people really want to follow what I've been doing, maybe we should find a way to selectively add groups of pages (i.e. the whole True vipers category) to your watchlist. --Jaap Winius 09:55, 18 March 2007 (CDT)
do you really want them all tagged that way? I think it is a question for people from the Bio Workgroup. If it was in Math and (where I belong in) and I was to answer, I would clearly suggest that I do want watch all the articles. BTW, I did it on 4th biggest Wikipedia (with some "catscan" tricks). Well, some subgroups seem interesting, but without a clear project it is difficult judge.
Further, with the Big Cleanup operation, I think any decision should be taken "globally" and then publicly known. Probably, the question should be asked on the relevant talk page. By default, as far as I can tell, Bio workgroup should be added so I guess that different people passing through the serpents articles would systematically add the tag. --AlekStos 14:05, 18 March 2007 (CDT)
PS. Maybe I misunderstood something, but adding a category page to your watchlist does not make individual articles' changes visible. A solution would be - as you seem to suggest - creating some universal subcategories and then watching them separately through "related changes" links on the workgroup's page. This would however be naturally provided by sub-workgroups structure when created. Anyway, I think it should be decided on some forum (the BigCleanup page, Bio Workgroup page). --AlekStos 17:04, 18 March 2007 (CDT)
Please check out the my user page and notice how useful "recent changes" within a workgroup is. This is only accomplished if we have every article tagged with 1 or a few general workgroup tags. -Tom Kelly (Talk) 14:34, 18 March 2007 (CDT) -Tom Kelly (Talk) 14:35, 18 March 2007 (CDT)

Very well. If that's what you really want, I'll add a "Biology Workgroup" cat. tag to all of the viper articles. I'm sure you're aware, though, that this category has the potential to eventually become absolutely huge. Therefore, I wouldn't be surprised if this series were later to be split off into a "Herpetology Workgroup", or an even smaller a "Snake Workgroup". --Jaap Winius 07:21, 20 March 2007 (CDT)

Best articles?

Jaap, I am in touch with two very real herpetologists. Could you please nominate one or two of your very best articles for review by such an editor. Neither has signed on yet, and this will not be an official review, but they will read it and I'd like your input on which ones you think should be presented. (PS they are due for a late lunch, so if you see this, answer right away) Nancy Sculerati 11:12, 22 April 2007 (CDT)

The articles linked on my user home page are fine: Atheris, Bitis, Bitis arietans, Bitis gabonica and Daboia. Some others good one are Vipera berus, Vipera ammodytes (those two have not yet been cleaned up), Echis and Echis carinatus. I'll be interested to know what they think. --Jaap Winius 12:33, 22 April 2007 (CDT)

Jaap, they are not here yet. Give me ONE. :) You pick your most finished - the one that would, in your opinion be the EASIEST to approve as is. These are busy people and I am trying to show how this volunteer job for them is not overwhelming. (If they sign on you will have years of their reading.)Nancy Sculerati 12:45, 22 April 2007 (CDT)

Then just take Bitis gabonica. The WP version is the same, except that it has the missing images and distribution map. We'd have them as well if our technicians could finally succeed in establishing a link with the Wikimedia Commons server (where all the images are that I've uploaded). --Jaap Winius 17:40, 22 April 2007 (CDT)

I read a forum post saying

that Dr. Nancy Sculerati was trying to recruit 2 additional snake experts! Are you excited? I am. -Tom Kelly (Talk) 12:22, 22 April 2007 (CDT)

We'll see what happens, but at any rate I'll be very interested to hear what they think about the articles I've produced. --Jaap Winius 12:36, 22 April 2007 (CDT)

Scale articles

Scale articlesJaap, denk je dat het een goed idee zou zijn om alle scale articles samentevoegen tot een artijkel, met een goede tekening zodat het direct duidelijk is? Kim van der Linde 17:44, 17 October 2007 (CDT)

Please join us for Biology Week!

Hello Jaap,

I am giving you this personal invitation to join us this week for Biology Week!

You're a Citizendium Biology Author and we need authors as much as editors here to get involved. Did you know that there are over 200 biology authors here? Yep!

Please join us on the wiki and add or revise biology articles. Also, please let your friends and colleagues who are biologists, biology students, or naturalists, know about Biology Week and ask them to join us, too. Any way you can help make it an event would be most welcome. Think of it as a Biology Workgroup open house. Let's see if we can kick up activity a notch!

Thanks in advance! --Larry Sanger 14:53, 22 September 2008 (CDT)

Welcome to CitizendiumArticles related to flightInvertebrate biologyPopulation biologyHumanArticles related to DNAArticles related to pollenCZ:Biology Workgroup/Biology WeekArticles related to chloroplastsArticles related to treesArticles related to bacteriaArticles related to fungiEvolution of CetaceansBig catArticles related to metabolismInsectCore articles
The first Biology Week took place here from Sep 22-28, 2008.


Hey Jaap, good to see you here. I have just moved in. Cheers. Dalton Holland Baptista 19:54, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Hi Dalton, It's nice to hear from you, but I haven't contributed here since mid-2007. I started here in the fall of 2006 after Larry Sanger promised that he would leave the naming standard for natural history articles up to the CZ's biology department once it was big enough. Well, I guess he was only saying that because he expected a different answer. By the time it got big enough, I pressed the issue and most of us (>75%) were in favor of using scientific names. But, then Larry came back and insisted that we use common names anyway. Apparently, he has the last word in such matters around here and things have not changed since: "Dog" is still at Dog, as opposed to Canis lupus familiaris. Even more revealing is the fact that Canis lupus is still a red link; it looks like the biologists at CZ have not been so productive over the past few years... I wonder why?
Larry's a really smart guy, but in this case I fear that he has been just a little too smart for his own good, or in this case for CZ's good. Oh, well. for Natural History articles, perhaps the project to keep an eye on -- the one that will eventually lead the field -- will be EOL. I'm currently growing weary of WP, so perhaps that's where I should be spending my free time instead. Cheers, --Jaap Winius 11:17, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Yes, Jaap, yesterday I spent three hours reading all the posts on foruns, etc. Despite the recent ongoing discussion at En-wiki because of two guys, everyone there, at least on plants, keep doing Scy names, I guess. French, Italian and Spanish wiki naming conventions have already addopted the scy names to articles as a rule, Portuguese also informaly does, at least, all important editors only use them. I confess I was very sad when I saw this happening here after the wiki experience we had. We know no noted taxonomis will ever comply to write plant articles with common names for they just do not work, claims that common Encyclopedias do so do not apply to the case, these are not common encyclopedias. Plant encyclopedias do not use common names. Common names are just too inapropriated and inconvenient. On the other hand, WP has other problems that are even worse, children and simple unprepaired people editions on articles we dedicated a lot of time to write. As we know Internet, with exceptions, is far from being a reliable source that can be addopted as a trustful reference. En-wiki and Es-wiki are in pretty bad shape regarding orchids, only Ducht and German are better established. The problem is, after having writen more than 2K good sketches and many featured articles, the only thing I do all the time is dealing with wrong corrections to already fixed articles. Most of them just imported translations of other wikis. More and more, troublemakers that know nothing about orchids come to ask the reasons of reversions I do, therefore, pointing out things that are already writen on articles texts (which no one seems to care about reading before editing and requesting explanations) is the only thing I do. I'll try editing here for a while. But, haven't you given up too soon? things do not seem settled as yet and you are an important voice to help, beside being a great loss to CZ. Dalton Holland Baptista 13:05, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Agree; this not a settled issue and you have my supportGareth Leng 14:51, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Dalton, what's this: have the French now gone all the way as well (not just for flora)? To both of you, here's the forum debate that so pissed me off with CZ. It must be important to people, because after all this time it still has the most views. I haven't bothered to read it since, but it left me with the feeling that things were never going to change. It looked to me like Larry had set himself up as a benevolent dictator and then proceeded to micromanage in areas that are not his specialty. I suppose it was just too tempting for him in this case, but it's something he should never have done.
Gareth, I'm still involved with this issue at WP and have produced something like an essay on the subject that you can find here. Still a work in progress, maybe there's something in there that you will find useful around here, although whether it will ever get you anywhere at CZ is another question entirely. Please regard it as the white paper that Nancy asked me for towards the end of that forum debate. Cheers, --Jaap Winius 16:03, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Yes Jaap, you're right to ask about the fauna naming convention there on other wikis. I do not know about them. As I am mostly concearned with plants, this is what I've checked. Sorry for the overgeneralization. Unfortunately I see animals names are an even thorny problem, that's why I suggested Chris Day to split the fauna and flora discussion on that. From what I observed, I foresee great dificulties to CZ to catch writers and editors on taxonomy before these conventions are settled. My fellow editors in WP were amazed when I told them that this is happening here, lol, it is not the sort of think one would expect to find here. Its kind of unthinkable, as the advantadges of scy names are so obviuos to anyone dealing with taxonomy. Will see. Sure dictatorship won't work over people that have dedicated their lives to a particular subject, most if not all have opinions to be heard and I hope they are interested on them, aren't they? Oh, I guess and hope they are. Regarding your assay, as we have talked about it before, it is great, possibly it will work this time. Dalton Holland Baptista 16:28, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Dalton, wait a second: You mean you don't know if the Spanish or the Italian wikis are using scientific names for fauna? I was under the impression that both had adopted an overall standard of scientific names for all articles on organisms.
Regarding the catching of writers, yes, this is one of the problems you get when you decide that there are no limits to the compromises you are prepared to make in putting readers over editors. The fact is that good editors are a scarce commodity, a valuable resource, and need to be treated as such. If they feel unloved and unappreciated, they will not work for you. And remember, these are all volunteers we're talking about, so if an organization like CZ or WP is not even prepared to shown them any respect, what right does it have to expect anything from them? --Jaap Winius 17:30, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Jaap, regarding Spanish I know they gave gone all the way through with scy names, even dog is a redirect there check it out: Canis lupus familiaris. Now, regarding the whole name issue, we know all editors on WP have been battleing for that during years. We just lost a couple of weeks dealing with that once more in EN-WP and I just do not feel like starting this discussion all over again from the scratch. It is too time consuming and to distressing. I suppose it is enough to check out the number of accesses of this website to see that common names are not important at all, I doubt the 1,400,000 users that visited this website during the last couple of years were all scholars. And the website does not even mention any common name most of the times. Dalton Holland Baptista 17:48, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I remembered you telling my how "perro" redirects to C. l. familiaris over at the es-wiki -- I was just worried for a second! :-) But, I just checked out the it-wiki, and they also have an article titled Canis lupus familiaris -- excellent! The fr-wiki, unfortunately, is still at Chien, so I guess they haven't (yet) followed down the same road.
Arguing about the need to introduce scientific names as a default standard for natural history articles is indeed time-consuming, and it can at times be stressfull, but I'm so tired of being hit over the head with the current policies that helping to change them has become increasingly important to me. As a biology editor, I feel that at the moment it's probably the most important contribution I can make. --Jaap Winius 18:59, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Right and I think editorial commitee here should urge a decision on that matter. You're absolutely right to press this decision. There is a sort of funny thing was just thinking: having a taxonomist (as the name already indicates, is someone who deals with names) to write articles about species, relegating the core of his research to a secondary position, is about the same to request to a mathematician to write some articles then asking him that, as possibly numbers will be too abstract to readers to understand, if he might, please, place numbers at a secondary position on his articles. I doesn't make any sense, does it? Names are the most important and primary tool. One cannot give up on them. Having a unique and well referenced name is mandatory to any good article and this can only be achieved through the scy name. Dalton Holland Baptista 19:37, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Going back to the depths of my memory there was another thread that was relevant to this debate.,1654.html We need to remember that in a computer environment the actual unambiguous name of the page does not have to be the name of the article. I noted that in encyclopedia britanica their article names are actually numbers (see article-9053639 for moose and article-9032422 for elk). At the time I remember thinking this might be a compromise where those who write the taxonomy articles can always use the unambiguous name and yet when we reach articles with an unambiguous common name that name can still be viewed at the top of the article. Chris Day 16:39, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Regarding the forum link, that's an interesting point. It's one that also came up at Wikipedia a few months ago. ITIS is one such system that uses numbers instead of names for their pages, so I decided to ask someone I know there what was behind this decision. Here's the reply I got:

"Scientific names are neither stable nor unique, despite the desire for them to be so via the various Codes of Nomenclature (granted, they are USUALLY unique, but that doesn't cut it for a database...). There are many many examples of this, each of which would have to be "manually" handled to distinguish them from one another if it were not for some name identifier like TSN. Sometimes the names are even not yet resolved in the literature (younger one has no available synonyms, and nobody has yet provided a replacement name, etc.). In an ideal world we could rely on concatenating SciName plus author plus year, but I even have examples of cases where that is not unique, thanks to people moving species around from genus to genus (secondary homonyms)... I don't have an example of 2 names from SAME page of the same work, but have no doubt that it has happened (I do know one where the names were on sequential pages).
Even if you disallow using homonyms as valid/accepted 100% of the time, we still want to be *able* to ACCOUNT for them in ITIS, so it is just logical to use a machine identifier to guarantee the db key is 100% unique. Of course people don't have to use such an identifier outside of this context (particularly when they become unwieldy, like the GUIDs that are all the rage now), but the database really has to have a unique key or things go haywire. Plus a numeric key like TSN is easier to process/search than concatenated text keys."

Interesting, but in my view this approach is unfit for a collaborative wiki system. The reason is that for every article two things need to be done anyway that might as well be done at once: give the article a unique name and simultaneously let everyone know that the article's content only supposed to deal with one very specific and unambiguous subject. If we were to use numbers instead, then, since all redirects are equal, in many cases we could never be completely certain about what the scope, or even the actual subject, of the article should be, simply because it's too easy to change its content and/or make more redirects to it. --Jaap Winius 18:04, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting we use numbers but the "scientific names" with an option to have a different title. I would hope that people would realise that the title is not really that important except for its need to be unambiguous. Possibly others would not even bother adding a different title and instead go with your neat hatnote template that you describe below. The key is to have the unambiguous home so that all these arguments get shoved aside. Endless arguments bring the productivity grinding to a halt. Chris Day 18:33, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
At WP, it was explained to me that it is possible to use the DISPLAYTITLE magic word to completely change the displayed title of the article, e.g. from a sci. name to a common name. Unfortunately, this was deemed too confusing for general use and the sysops there have restricted its use. However, they may have a point, because even if some form of title modification were ever to become acceptable, it would still be important to make sure everyone could see what the actual title of the article was in order for its actual scope/subject to remain clear and unambiguous. --Jaap Winius 19:15, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
The same issue chased away Kim van der Linde (coincidentally also Dutch). To reopen the discussion: I really don't see why the title of an article on a biological entity cannot be the scientific name, as long as (i) the first sentence mentions the vulgar name (if it exists) and (ii) the vulgar names are included as redirects. I regret it that Larry let two good authors go because of this non-problem. --Paul Wormer 16:49, 20 February 2009 (UTC) (also Dutch).
That's what I've always thought. Check out Bitis gabonica with its common-name hatnote at the top of the article. We later decided on a slightly different format at WP: Bitis gabonica. This is an old invention of mine, designed to highlight common names in articles with scientific-name titles, but it also helps editors to deal systematically with many common names. At WP, I mention this approach on my user page and discussed it here. --Jaap Winius 18:21, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
That looks great. I'm almost certain that most people do not read the titles anyway. As long as they get to the page that is consistent with their search term they will be happy. Chris Day 18:33, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
AgreeGareth Leng 14:31, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
Yes Paul, I agree that people who are serious about writing taxonomic articles will not bother working here without the ability to use scientific names. Any other system is just not workable in a collaborative project since the arguments never cease.
Re: the thread I linked to above, Another good reason for separating article title and name is that the fight for which common name gets priority is restricted to the article title, those that would rather go with the unambiguous name will be content to stay out of the fight since the article name is fixed. This would save valuable hours (weeks!) that would otherwise be wasted fighting over common names. Only those that enjoy fighting over trivia need bother attending the article name debate. I suspect that most articles would have the same name and title. Finally, redirects are cheap, and who really reads the title anyway? Most of us jump to the meat of the article. Chris Day 16:54, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Apologies for intruding on an overheard conversation, but I really like the idea of separating page-names and titles. Perhaps it's time to go ahead and start a 'Separating article page-names and titles' proposal. I suspect that many of the members of the Editorial Council would be in favor of it, and, at the very least, we'd have an up-or-down vote on the matter. Brian P. Long 11:00, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
Hi Jaap, I did not arrive here before you and Kim left but after having been around here for a while, I (being no taxonomist but working with different species nonetheless) noticed the same problem (without having seen all of the relevant discussions) and hoped to reach a decision before Biology Week but this did not work out (current state is here. During the course of the discussion, I came to think that, as Chris mentioned above (following a suggestion by J. Noel Chiappa, made in a different context), the separation of page identifier (always scientific) and article title (scientific by default but open to debate for those who care) is perhaps a good compromise. I am not aware of feedback on this from the tech guys and while the split is not implemented, I would strongly vote in favour of scientific names for both. As a sidenote, there are related discussions on disambiguation in general and, very recently, on a separate namespace for child content (where Dog would be appropriate). -- Daniel Mietchen 13:41, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
Sure everyone is welcome to the discussion, afterall what we indend is to have the best possible solution. I myself am too new to CZ and actually feel sort of awkward having spent more time in this discussion already than on articles, anyway I am not sure about the tech implications of having different names to articles. Maybe we should try. I agree I'd rather have only the scy name but, if it is not possible, why not? Dalton Holland Baptista 13:54, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
Of course it's possible. I don't read the forum discussion as being as being particularly negative. Larry's job is to ask questions, contrary to occasional belief he's not a dictator. The decision is for the Bilogy workgroup for articles primarily in that workgroup. I see a very strong preference among Biology editors (and biologists not yet part of this project). Some articles (hobby articles on pets) may properly be outside the workgroup. We don't yet have an Agriculture workgroup; there's a case for treating domestic animals differently. But what we're talking about here is articles about the species, and I think scientific names are the only coherent way; unique, coherent and international. Gareth Leng 14:41, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
CZ claims to be expert driven. Since about 1½ year I'm a regular CZ contributor, but during this time I haven't noticed much of this. The only thing that editors (i.e., experts) can—and authors (non-experts) cannot—is ask a constable to put a green check mark on top of certain articles. If CZ had indeed respect for expertise it would listen to its experts. (In this case experts in taxonomy, a branch of science that I don't know anything about, but I have faith in the opinion of the taxonomists. I find the case of the gaboon viper, butterfly adder, forest puff adder, swampjack, and gaboon adder very convincing.) In addition my humble opinion is that a title of an article is of secondary importance; as Chris, I "jump to the meat of an article" and hardly notice the title. I ignore it completely if it is some incomprehensible (for me) Latin.--Paul Wormer 15:20, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
PS I had an edit conflict with Gareth when I wrote the above. Let me ask Gareth, why is it that Jaap stopped contributing, Kim (and some experts outside biology) left CZ, all claiming that their expert opinion was not heard?--Paul Wormer 15:25, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

Citizendium charter drafting commitee nomination

Hi Jaap, You've been nominated by a fellow Citizendium member to be a candidate for election to the Citizendium charter drafting committee.

If you haven't been following the discussion in the forums, we're getting ready to establish a charter for Citizendium that outlines the project's goals, ideals, and basic structure. To get the process moving, we put together a plan for electing a group of Citizens to compose a draft of the charter, which will then be submitted for community review. You can find more about the plan here.

You've been nominated by another Citizen to be a candidate for election to that committee. The next step is up to you: you may either accept or decline the nomination by going here and following the instructions at the top of the page.

If you have any questions, just let me know. --Joe Quick 14:57, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Charter drafting nomination

Hi Jaap,
You were nominated by a fellow Citizendium member to be a candidate for a position on the Citizendium charter drafting committee, but you haven't indicated whether you want to accept or decline. To learn more about what the committee is all about, you can go to the page that describes the process. To indicate that you either accept or decline the nomination to participate in the process as a committee member, you should visit the subpage for nominations; there are instructions on what to do on that page.
Thanks much!
--Joe Quick 03:48, 30 September 2009 (UTC)