Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Image

Some articles require a bit more ecology; and, although they wind up with their fair share of crap, not all crap is created equally well or poorly.

Protected areas of Chad

“The large plain is drained by seasonal streams and contains a gallery forest. Vegetation consists of wooded savanna species of Combretum, Terminalia, Anogeissus and Leiocarpus spp.,[1]”

Just a few problems, since it is close to copied and pasted from its source?

“The park covers a 3,000 km² section of “a vast flat plain crossed by meandering seasonal watercourses, the larger of which are bordered by gallery forest. The vegetation is largely wooded savanna dominated by Combretum, Terminalia, Anogeissus and Leiocarpus spp., interspersed with patches of denser woodland.”

No, not just a few problems. Again, it was copied and pasted without a thought to what should be removed or kept or rewritten, a collaged article, once more, created on a topic about which the editors have little knowledge.

The article says “the larger of which are bordered by gallery forest.” This matters, and “meandering seasonal watercourses” matter; “meandering seasonal” water courses in Africa, particularly in tropical climates, can be substantial. Gallery forests tend to grow alongside rivers and substantial wetlands and in flood plains; if they are growing alongside seasonal streams, give us some more information about the environment, so I don’t click on the en.Wikipedia article on gallery forests (un-wikilinked) and wonder why that article specifies rivers and this article says streams. A river is large; a river supporting a forest might seem to be different from a seasonal stream supporting a forest. Write as if you know what you are talking about and want to impart actual information; don’t just copy and paste without knowledge.

Well, okay, we’ll let them have this one. I am being too picky.

What about Terminalia, then? 

“Terminalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Terminus, who presided over boundaries.”

Maybe they meant Terminalia (plant)

Terminalia is a genus of large trees of the flowering plant family Combretaceae, comprising around 100 species distributed in tropical regions of the world.”

Is it really too much work to click once on the links you’ve just set up to be in an article that will be on a web page viewed by millions of people daily? Is that really too much work?

Leiocarpus is, once again, a redirect to what en.Wikipedia editors consider to be the current name of the plant, Aporosa. This plant is listed in IPNI as being a member of the plant family Euphorbiaceae. However, the en.Wikipedia article has a taxobox placing it the family Phyllantaceae, and opens with this sentence:

Aporosa is a genus of flowering plant belonging to the family Phyllanthaceae.”

This article, interesting enough, was created by the same en.Wikipedia editor who created the misspelling of a plant family name; that is, User:Qwertzy2. This user created a number of plant articles. While en.Wikipedia is a hotbed of cartoon trivia, it does tend to chase away science editors who get tired of being reverted and scolded for removing made-up factoids (no, C4 and CAM photosynthesis are not the same, that’s why they are called different things).  This makes it difficult to have enough editors who can catch errors like the misspelling of a plant family name before it spends  eight years being mirrored into cyberspace.

What IPNI says is that the genus is a member of the Euphorbiaceae. This may be due to the close relationship between the two families that belong to the same order, and perhaps the genus has, since the advent of molecular phylogenies, been moved from one family to the other. The article should cover this. It doesn’t. It just says that the genus is a member of the wrong family, and it is unsourced as many of this editor’s articles are.

The article tells us:

“Vegetation consists of wooded savanna species of Combretum, Terminalia, Anogeissus and Leiocarpus spp.,[1]”

And the source tells u:

“The vegetation is largely wooded savanna dominated by CombretumTerminaliaAnogeissus and Leiocarpus spp., interspersed with patches of denser woodland.”

There are savanna specific species of these genera. However, the source does not limit the plants in this particular protected area to just savanna species; there are also non-savanna woodlands; but, these have disappeared from en.Wikipedia. And, which large plain is it, the one in the last park mentioned? Is this the same for all four national parks? Only one of the parks has a location map, the others latitude and longitude indicate that they are not all in the three carefully enumerated climatic zones from a prior disaster on Chad. It is possible these trees belong to only one of the parks; however, in both Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa outside of the rain forests, tree species can have very wide distributions. So, which is it, one park, all the parks? A little care in English could come out of less focus on collaging together an article copied and pasted from the sources.

A little, or a lot, more courtesy to expert and science content editors by the en.Wikipedia community could prevent future travesties like the eight year misspelling of the plant family Pentaphragmataceae as “Pentaphragmaceae.” Actually, the community needs more courtesy to everyone, and it needs refocused onto its task. Its task is not a boys’ exclusive social network; its task is writing an encyclopedia. And the former chases away the folks necessary for the latter.

It took 8 years to correct the error. Courtesy of en.wiki bad science, if you search for Pentaphragmataceae you get just over 15,000 G-hits (gross). If you search for the misspelling you get 20,000 gross G-hits. The number of G-hits for the correct spelling has increased greatly since the misspelling was removed.

But it took eight years to correct this error.

And chasing away experts with actual backgrounds in ecology, botany, and zoology, and replacing them with editors who have never taken a class in high school biology, and who are racing to create as many articles as fast as possible, is not going to improve en.Wikipedia.

How long does it take to correct an error on en.Wikipedia? 8 years is probably not the record.

There has been a mild uproar on en.Wikipedia in response to my blog, but not much of one. A couple of editors did express concern about the low quality of the DYKs being created by the three main authors of this one and the Omani desert article. One of the editors claimed he had no interest in DYK, and he was just allowing the others to nominate him. However, Wikipedia editors keep track individually of their accomplishments by updating a page on en.Wikipedia. You can look at its history to decide whether or not this author was interested in earning DYK recognition. Or not.

Advertisements