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Public Domain image, en.Wikipedia Zebu article.

Public Domain image, en.Wikipedia Zebu article.

I always love to hit Wikipedia’s main page. But, I thought, after the debacle with User:Cwmhiraeth’s awful Featured Articles on Sea and Desert, that I would look at what others are putting on the main page as Featured Articles. Today’s Featured Article is Ambohimanga, an article about a hill and a royal fort situated upon it in Madagascar. It was expanded and nominated for Good Article, then Featured Article, by Wikipedia editor User:Lemurbaby, who, according to his user page, has been editing Wikipedia since 2007, has lived in Madagascar, and has a Ph.D. in international development education policy.

Wikipedia:Featured Articles

Featured articles are considered to be the best articles Wikipedia has to offer, as determined by Wikipedia’s editors. They are used by editors as examples for writing other articles. Before being listed here, articles are reviewed as featured article candidates for accuracy, neutrality, completeness, and style according to our featured article criteria. There are 4,116 featured articles out of 4,394,300 articles on the English Wikipedia (~0.1% are featured). Thus, about one in 1,060 articles are listed here.”

The Good Article nomination was reviewed and promoted by User:Tibetan Prayer, who quit editing soon after the article’s promotion, or is now User:Dr.Blofeld, who we have already met for contributing to very, very bad flora and fauna sections in en.Wikipedia DYKs and Good Articles. I just could not work to make this stuff up; all I do is click a link on en.Wikiepedia’s main page, and I get rewarded….

Ambohimanga, at its Good Article promotion

In this version there is not much information on the flora, fauna, and geology. The Conservation and management section is mostly about a fee being charged for entrance.

Conservation and management

“The Office of the Cultural Site of Ambohimanga (OSCAR), created by the Ministry of Culture, has managed the site and its entrance fees and state subventions since 2006, when a five-year management plan was developed for implementation by the group’s 30 employees. These management and conservation activities are conducted in cooperation with the local population within the Rural Commune of Ambohimanga Rova. The Village Committee, comprising representatives of all the adjacent quarters and the local community, are also involved in the protection of the site.[1] Conservation of Ambohimanga is further supported by a private association, Mamelomaso, which has also been active in campaigning for awareness and protection of cultural heritage and has contributed to the preservation of numerous other sites of cultural and historic significance in the highlands.”

OSCAR “manages the site and its fees,” and the unnamed “conservation activities are conducted in cooperation with the local population within the Rural Commune of Ambohimanga Rova,” whatever that means. The Village Committee is “also involved” with these unnamed practices, and so is a “private” group. But, there is not really anything about what is being conserved. Or protected. In fact, this section says almost nothing, but uses a lot of words to do so.

In another clicky-wiki-linking failure, fig trees are sacred, but are never linked within the Good Article, and there is an image caption that says:

“The Fidasiana-Bevato esplanade is shaded by sacred aviavy trees (left) and attracts pilgrims who come to make sacrifices to the ancestors (right).”

This image caption uses the term “aviavy trees,” but does not explain that these are fig trees, and, like the other mentions of fig trees, it is not wikilinked.

But, this post is about the Featured Article, and let’s look at its flora and fauna section, called “Natural features.” The article was “supported” for its FA status by a number of editors, User:Squeamish Ossifrage, who has brought a fungus article to FA, User:GermanJoe, who writes history and geography articles, and User:IanRose, a FA director who writes military and music articles (“The FAC coordinators—UcuchaGraham Colm, and Ian Rose—determine the timing of the process for each nomination).”

Ambohimanga, at its Featured Article promotion

Natural features

“The forest at Ambohimanga benefited from customary protection and today represents the largest of the last remaining fragments of primary forest that formerly covered the highlands. It contains a representative assortment of native tree and plant species, in particular the endemic tree zahana (phyllarthron madagascariensis) and a variety of indigenous medicinal plants,[1] many possessing traditional or spiritual importance. Examples include the native bush Anthocleista, traditionally believed to attract lightning and often planted in clusters beside villages; the Dracaena plant, traditionally used for hedges and planted at sacred sites in valleys or other natural features where people would come to communicate with ancestral spirits; and the Phyllarthron vine, which was planted in sacred thickets and harvested for its wood, which was traditionally used to fashion handles for diverse tools.[30] The recent and growing presence of two foreign species (golden bamboo and lantana) threaten the integrity of the site’s ecosystem. The local management authority is currently engaged in activities to eradicate the encroaching vegetation.[1]

No idea what “customary protection” is in this context, if you are trying to use the “best Wikipedia has to offer” to understand what you are reading.

“Largest of the last remaining fragments of primary forest that formerly covered the highlands.” What type of forest? Madagascar had a number of different types of forest; maybe a little information about it? Maybe we can figure out by its elevation? No, although the article is about a hill and its fort, it does not explicitly give the elevation. Let’s see if the source gives any clues.

The source:

“The site is in a good state of conservation, vegetation covers the slopes of the hill evenly despite the invasion of certain exotic or local species (bambusa, lantana, pinus). The forest on the Hill constitutes the most important residual element of the primary forest, with deciduous species that in earlier times covered the interior of Madagascar. This forest contains endemic, woody and herbaceous species and medicinal plants. The abundance of “zahana” (phyllarthron madagascariensis) and medicinal plants constitute the specific character of the Ambohimanga forest.  In addition, the forest has retained its regenerative powers and biogeochemical cycles, in particular that of the water, which continue to be active, ensuring the continual use of the sacred fountain and lake.”

The forest, it appears, is not “primary forest that formerly covered the highlands,” but, rather, “primary forest, … that covered the interior of Madagascar.”  Minor difference, a few other minor issues.

” It contains a representative assortment of native tree and plant species, in particular the endemic tree zahana (phyllarthron madagascariensis) and a variety of indigenous medicinal plants, …”

Zahana,” not wikilinked, thankfully, is also a town in Algiers. It is a common name, and it should not be in italics, although it is from a foreign language…. What is “phyllarthron madagascariensis,” maybe another foreign word, as it can’t be a binomial name, because all of these editors working on the best of what Wikipedia has to offer must surely know that the genus name is capitalized? On the other hand, if you plagiarize blindly from the source without any understanding, and the source has the binomial name without a capital, you might just copy and paste without any thought to what you are copying and pasting.

In fact, if you are a Wikipedia main page content editor, this is most likely exactly what you will do: you don’t have the fundamental knowledge of biology or geology, so you just copy and paste without the least understanding and present crap to the readers under the guise of “the best that Wikipedia has to offer.”

If crap is the best, then Wikipedia should stop offering. And take a high school science class.

It’s not linked, even to its genus or family or anything, so there is no clue what this mysterious, unidentified, and improperly written “best of Wikipedia” plant is. The easiest place to look up plant names is http://www.ipni.org, but it is not very useful for plagiarizing, hence, out of favor among those writing “the best of what Wikipedia has to offer.”

Phyllarthron madagascariensis is actually Arthrophyllum madagascariense, and there is an article on the genus on Wikipedia, unsourced since 2009, and a stub with almost no information. Still, it does give the plant family, and the family is a mostly tropical family of woody plants.

Another unlinked plant, Anthocleista, has a slightly usable genus article that describes it as a mostly tropical African and Madagascar genus, so, why not wikilink it to help the readers? Because the best is promoted by the incompetent and the lazy, it seems.

Again, Dracaena, is unlinked. It’s a fascinating genus of plants, with a few species that are horticulture spectaculars, and, again, mostly native to Africa.

Is the Phyllarthron vine, the same as Phyllarthron madagascariensis? Or another species of Phyllarthron? The book lists this as the particular species, but on the page in question, it just uses the genus. Although, incorrectly, again, the wood of the vine is used for tool handles, not for tools. There is a difference, a wooden tool might be a comb, or a club, or a spear, or a tailor press, but a wooden tool handle is a far more sophisticated creation, and it gives a sense of the purpose of the tool that is very different from a wooden tool.

We’ve avoided linking the exotic species that are both interesting and possibly less familiar to Western readers of the article, but, what plants are linked in the article?

“The recent and growing presence of two foreign species (golden bamboo and lantana) threaten the integrity of the site’s ecosystem.”

Threatening foreign species are usually called “invasive species,” but, okay. “Golden bamboo” is a pretty good common name, although, actually, the source says “bambusa,” and bambusa, is the source’s mangle of the genus name Bambusa. The en.Wikipedia article on golden bamboo, however, suggests that it may be native to Madagascar.

So confusing, as usual. Let’s go back to the source.

The site is in a good state of conservation, vegetation covers the slopes of the hill evenly despite the invasion of certain exotic or local species (bambusa, lantana, pinus).

The sources does not name two foreign species. It names three exotic or local species. But, they are not species, they are genera, and the en.Wikipedia article converts, without explanation, three exotic or local species to two foreign species, then makes what are actually three genera into one foreign species, that may or may not be native, and one foreign genus, that is again, not properly italicized as Lantana, but again, does not capitalize the genus.

Encroaching? Is that like when en.Wikipedia editors vomit the worst of what Wikipedia has to offer into cyberspace to have it copied by wiki mirrors and forever trash actual information?

If this is the best, then bad science is entrenched on Wikipedia, and if this is an example, no wonder the editors at DYK are churning out such garbage. It is not accurate, as the editors don’t understand what they read, don’t even know how to use binomial names, misread that the species are exotic, didn’t realize that they were genera, not species names, then made up a species for a genus, and contradicted another Wikipedia article, and it is incomplete, as the editors could not even be bothered to wikilink or look up exotic plant names. Style? Does that include capitalizing the genus? Apparently not.

Thank you en.Wikipedia for more bad bad science.