NET NEWS: Calling All Taxonomists

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Science  18 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5712, pp. 1021
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5712.1021a

It's such a daunting job that nobody has pulled it off in more than 200 years: compiling a list of the world's known species. But the organizers of a new project called Wikispecies hope that everyone from biologists to birders will lend their know-how to a comprehensive online catalog of the world's roughly 1.8 million kinds of living things, such as the raft spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus).

Wikispecies hails from the same organization that launched the user- written encyclopedia Wikipedia (NetWatch, 5 September 2003, p. 1299). Like Wikipedia, the entries will evolve as contributors edit, correct, and augment one another's writing. But Wikispecies is aimed at scientists rather than the general public. “You won't have to fax your degrees” before you can add to the site, says Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, but submissions will have to pass muster with a technical audience. The site includes preliminary classifications for some groups, and the first species pages should post later this year, Wales says. Researchers can join the conversations about the site's structure or flesh out the classification for various groups.

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