Requests for comment/Wikispecies - Use of venacular names

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
The following request for comments is closed. Resolved locally, [1]

Language restriction debate[edit]

Hi, these guys at WikiSpecies Wikispecies are doing lengthy work to create a major database. They buy and borrow old books. they send off for photocopies of even older ones. In short, it seems they are making a fantastic collection. The problem with it in general is that it cannot be read by anyone who does not speak Latin. Various debate goes on about if and how to use venacular (standard language) descriptions in their articles. Signifigant debate goes on that no language other than scientific terminology is acceptable. Persons adding parts in readable language cause various disruption and debate. The problem is, most articles cannot be found in the standard search without prior knowledge of the scientific term. Aside from an occasional picture, no additional information is added. Therefore the site is of no use, containing a list which may only be referenced from a list. Should the editors who are attempting to disseminate the list in readable languages be allowed to go on without disruption and debate so long as they do not affect the content? Should the site be strictly mono-language or should it be strictly multi-language? ~ R.T.G 00:27, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

I would like to point out that all scientific names used in categorizing species are in Latin. This is the norm of the scientific community. You are not going to be able to change it. First of all, the general terms can be searched without prior knowledge of the scientific term. We have a template which uses these codes. {{VN |de= |en= |ja= |zh= ...}} Inside them, we add in the general names in different languages. Even if you don't know the Latin species name for dogs, you can type in Dog in search field and the first result returns the correct page. Second of all, according to Wikispecies FAQ, it explained clearly why Latin name (and not English nor other languages) should be used because it allows Wikispecies to be more international and not dependent on a single language. Hence, this is not about mono-language vs multi-language. Third of all, using common names in Wikispecies further fuels disruption, conflicts, and drama because in different geographical locations, same English name could refer to different species. (For example, "black oak" could be referred to Quercus kelloggii or Quercus velutina. Others such as "red oak" could be referring to over 30 species.) Fourth of all, if we create, say like 10 different pages in different languages which point towards the scientific name, I feel that this is redundant because the search results would have accomplished the same goal anyways. Fifth and last, I suspect that RTG is forum-shopping. RTG has raised this issue on Wikispecies' Village Pump and the majority of the community (6 in support, 2 in oppose) agreed that the current system does not need fixing. I am questioning the motive behind the creation of this RfC by RTG. OhanaUnitedTalk page 02:35, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
But curiously enough, Cat in search field does not return the requested item. This is not the question of using Latin names but the question of adding other names and/or a brief description of the item (Meta provides for all languages without making lots of pages). In good faith, to OhanaUniteds suspicion of my motives, I have made only one pathetically minor mainspace edit to Wikispecies a few months ago and really have nothing to add to the site. My personal interest is that I have visited the site several times without finding any useful information. I thought at first that this meant the site was bare or in its infancy. I now beleive that there is a lot of information on the site and know it has been active for years. Anyway, it is one thing not to add various language yourself, it is another thing to prevent any commonly understood language content being added with the crazy assertion that having only Latin will make it universally understandable (as the story is going over there). I learned Latin in school. A scholar with a high class degree in Latin would have no easy job understanding scientific taxonomic naming without a professional standard of knowledge. I applaud your work but I challenge your restrictions. ~ R.T.G 06:10, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Question: what are the chances of a "Species of the day" on the Main Page? If that is fairly unlikely, is there not enough species to have one good one each day? ~ R.T.G 06:19, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Particular support[edit]

Adding venacular names and descriptions to entries is unscientific and controversial in an area of reference designed for the scientific community[edit]

Adding venacular names and descriptions is essential for dissemination to the average reader and should be hindered only to ensure factual content[edit]

  1. I beleive that the site should not be restricted by language and readable in some part by any person. If the name of a species is not available in my language, it will be very difficult for me to know it is on the site without knowing the scientific name. ~ R.T.G 00:27, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Adding venacular names is acceptable but adding descriptions is unscientific and would pollute the entries[edit]

Venacular words should be restricted to Wikipedia articles and Wikispecies must keep itself distinct to Wikipedia[edit]


One very relevant fact here is that >90% of the species on Earth only have a Latin name and no common name. Only a few specialists are even interested in them. The aim of Wikispecies is to document ALL species on Earth in a CONSISTENT way. Hence the latin names MUST be of first importance. RTG is wanting a site whose aim and scope is quite unlike Wikispecies, so I suggest that he looks elsewhere for that, or starts up such a site himself/herself... Stho002 05:34, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

How many millions are left in the 10% and more important, how many species on WikiSpecies can be matched to a standard name? Is there something Latin or incorrect about "A type of Oak tree"? ~ R.T.G 06:13, 19 February 2009 (UTC)


  • I agree with RTG in as far as it would be better if it were possible to restrict a search for cat, for example, to just the vernacular names section of species pages. At the moment, a search for cat pulls up mostly the abbreviation Cat. (for catalog/catalogue) in references sections! Stho002 20:10, 19 February 2009 (UTC)


I am following this useless conversation, started without any logic and any sense. Species under venacular names are written and described on Wikipedia, and articles on Wikipedia should have link to Wikispecies. Knowing that, all this writing is just wasted time. --Lasta 13:52, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Why is this here?[edit]

Why is this discussion not taking place on Wikispecies? I can find no reason for this at all - I suggest this be abandoned in favour of the appropriate venue.  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 00:10, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

I agree with the suggestion. Hillgentleman 04:36, 9 March 2009 (UTC)