Species names (to be specific)

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In the world of the biological sciences (english-speaking and not), the standard for referring to a species is the Linnean species name, a phrase in Latin containing both a generic and specific part. This name can be equated with many differing local names. For example, Cervus elaphus is the red deer (in Europe) or elk in North America. Alces alces is moose in America, but elk in Europe.

In Wikipedia, we currently have Linnean entries redirecting to 'English' names - the equivalent of Cervus elpaphus redirecting to 'red deer'. I would like to suggest that this is horribly wrong as it ignores the primary place of the latin specific name in taxonomy. Throughout the English-speaking world, differing common names are given to a given species, yet there is only one single Linnean name, and it is the latter under which a species should be classified.

Should WikiPedia be shifted to the new PhP software, would it be possible to have a program to automatically sift through the redirects, fixing this?

Secondly, I suggest we addopt some generally accepted taxonomic standard for the naming of biological groups. The Tree of Life project (http://phylogeny.arizona.edu/tree/phylogeny.html) would be a good place to start for the broad classifications, while individual works (such as the Smithsonian Mammal Species of the World at http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/) would give acceptable guidance for individual groups.

John Lynch

John, this makes a lot of sense to me. But I do think that whenever we create a page with a Linnean species name, we should always also create the English name or names for that species, include a short stub on that page that it is the English name for (Linnean name), and let people click through to the Linnean name entry. In other words, it's just going to be very confusing for some people to click on moose, only to be redirected to Alces alces. They thought they clicked on moose, but now it says they've been redirected to Alces alces. Is this a joke? They have to read the article itself to understand why.

So, with that caveat, I totally support your proposal. --Larry_Sanger


Oh, it was implicit im my proposal that multiple English names stubs would lead to the Linnean entry(e.g. moose and elk -> Alces_alces & C. elaphus).

Do you agree with setting up taxonomic standards which then can be used as frameworks for entries. If you get a chance, browse the "Tree of Life" project. John Lynch


Your proposal should be on some semi-official Wikipedia policy page, saying you and I (at least!) agree with it and that so far (??) nobody has disagreed. --Larry_Sanger

Let me know where you think would be appropriate and I'll write it up. John Lynch

To avoid the extra click, why not put the common english name(s) just at the beginning of the article? --Seb (wondering about less tiresome ways of signing...)

In some cases this will work.

>Throughout the English-speaking world, differing common names are given
>to a given species, yet there is only on [sic] single Linnean name

ideally, yes, but in fact there are plenty of disputes between "splitters" and "lumpers". e.g. most sources give Thalarktos maritimus for the polar bear, but a few classify it under Ursus.

But I support this proposal. Where there are inconsistencies, we'll find ways around them - clasqm

Those discussions, although I dont understand everything, sounds interesting. Why I found this place was because I was wondering if it would be wise to put the scientific names (eg. Latin, though I think sometimes also greek?) on the latin wikipedia? Meanwhile, you might find how I have been trying to solve the tree for organisms at the Swedish wikiepedia, the basic is named [1] and example can be seen at the polar bear, [2] As you see there, a horizontal concept is used, admitting the visitor to freely move within the systematic tree up and down, and stille have this "framework within reach. There is a risk of some pages becoming cluttered, since a coommon name also has other meanings. This has been solved however, and the cases are so few so its not actually a big problem, compred with "problem to find a good "system" keeping millions of organisms ready at the fingertip so you dont have to search for them.

The application of this system, used in alla plants and animals, interlinks through the word "systematik" with the explanation of the system, as well as a link to Linn. Those three komponents as parts of the framebar, follow every single animal plant and organism in the Swedish wikipedia, giving people possibility to instantly move to close or distant relatives at their choice.

As for the nuclear point for this discussion I can tell I made refering explaining pages from the latin names to the common, but figure the common name in each language is what "people" serch for.

The case of taxonomic conflicts about what n animal shoud be called is no hinderance for a system. Its easy to inform about this, altough until internationally decided on meetings of nomenclature, each animals has only one name, although someone might want to change it, and has a ready suggestion.

I belive the Danes will evetually adopt this method, (see [[3]]) so if you have on the meta level better ideas, I would be happy to know, before this work takes to much time and we do it in vaste.Dan Koehl

And an extra question: instead of every language wikipedia has a page with text:

Canis lupus [[latin]] for [[language name for wolf]].

Would it may sence that all latin words like canis lupus was kept in the latin wikipedia, and with language top links back to the different language words for wolf. Dan Koehl

Quick note about the previous thread (ending with clasqm's post): The thread before this one is well over a year old. The English Wikipedia flirted with the idea of using the Linnean Latin/Greek naming system for organism names but found that that convention to be cumbersome for plants and animals that have well-known common names. It is also counter to core en.wiki naming conventions about using what most English speakers use and is not in the spirit of ad captandum vulgus.

If the average reader of an article can't recognize or can't pronounce the title of the article because we used a binomial name instead of a common name for an otherwise well-known organism, then we have failed in our mission to inform because that person will likely leave without reading the article (technical title = technical article). So it is best to keep it simple and consistant with the rest of en.wiki.

Any other language wiki is free to choose the Linnean system for naming all organisms (although I would argue that that isn't very useful to your readers...) but the en.wiki will, for the forseeable future, continue use to the most common common names used in English with the Linnean form on the first line (and also redirected to the article). But Linnean names will still be the dominant forms eventually since the majority of named organisms don't have common names at all.

And the idea that the Linnean names are consistant is incorrect since biologists are changing their minds all the time. This is especially true for anything above the genus level at all times (since there are the competing 2-kingdom, 3-kingdom, 4-kingdom, 5-kingdom, 6-kingdom, 8-kingdome and 3-domain systems). This situation is really bad with fish species and genera and almost as bad for many plant groups. Oh and hybrid plant names are a taxonomic nightmare.

Common names can and should be disambiguated and regional differences explained since this is what readers will be looking for (also searching for: External search engines will rank our articles lower if the common names are not the titles of pages). But if and when there are two roughly equally used common names for an organism then we could then use the Linnean name. Above all else; Regnat populus --Maveric149 (who is both a biologist and has taken a couple years of Latin)

Hi Maveric, and thanks for your time. Instead of trying to explain what I meant once more I ask you please read once more what I actually wrote, please follow the links, (which in no cases goes to latin names) so we can go on using a platform where both knows what the other is speaking about. Appreciating your time. :) Dan Koehl
Sorry, I thought that I was clear in stating that my words were directed at the year-old talk and not your comments. I haven't had time to respond to your comments yet. But I will find time soon. --mav

I am still thinking about the linking of latin species names to the latin language, like in the swedish wiki, the word for wolf - varg - could have a language link [[la:Canis lupus]] to the latin, and from the latin back again to the different common names in different langauges, when and if apropriate. Dan Koehl 13:34 Jan 27, 2003 (UTC)

Seems a good idea to have one reference page for all languages, and even for local variants of names in one languages. But I doubt that la.wikipedia.org is the right place for this. How about standards.wikipedia.org where all items can be listed by a standard and then every language has to look to insert one or more entries. URI could be standard(s).wikipedia.org/Linne/Canis_lupus or for countries standard(s).wikipedia.org/iso_3166-1/se , or for languages standard(s).wikipedia.org/iso_639-1/sv as well as standard(s).wikipedia.org/iso_639-2/sve. If no parameter is submitted like standard(s).wikipedia.org/iso_639-1 there could come a page referencing pages that describe what the standard is about.
better idea than subdomain would be something like wikipedia.org/wiki/Codes:Linee:Canis_lupus for providing cross links to all languages Tobias Conradi 14:09 8 May 2003 (UTC)
What about central image administration for different wikipedia? The picture of the Polar bear could be used on English and Danish pages. Naming of the pics then should be after a standard. Advantage: Hard disk and bandwidth can be saved. Disadvantage: Google finds images according to their name. So maybe in the background one image but delivered under different names. We would need a big mapping database. But keep in mind: You can save a lot of work if e.g. flags for countries or animal images can be used in every wikipedia. Thus wikipedia could grow faster, people can concentrate on editing texts and if someone contributes images she will know that much more people will use and see her work. Tobias Conradi 04:03 7 May 2003 (UTC)
I understood this would be the case in a phase IV version of the software. Along with common user database, and possibility of easy links between wikipedias (currently the english wiki can be linked easily on every wiki using the "w :" and the meta with "m :" but no other wiki can do the same - this imho is also slowing down growth and crossing). I have many pict of landscape and flowers I take myself, but uploading them small size and sometimes big size on even 2 wikis is boring me to death :-) Clearly, a lot of time and energy is lost here. I would also love to see maps of the w:ecoregions, but just the idea of having to make them, in several languages, then to upload them is unthinkable.

I saw once (where ?) that phase IV would not be planned before at least the end of this year. I do not know if this perspective is still correct though. I think developpers have more important things to do before.

[[w:foo]] links are a historical artifact from the days when only English-Wikipedia and Meta existed, and are deprecated. If they behave differently from [[en:foo]] this is purely by accident, and should not be relied upon, as it's a bug which will eventually be fixed.
A common store for images is planned, but not yet set up. The cancerous growth of GFDL-incompatible images on the English section should probably be stopped before we do that, though. --Brion VIBBER 22:05 7 May 2003 (UTC)