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Purpose and content

Species-ID is dedicated to the description and identification of life on earth. Identification means to have an unknown organism at hand and to correctly infer the scientific name for it. Identification may be based on any kind of inheritable features, morphological, physiological, behavioral, or molecular, as well as on other stable incidental information like geographic distribution. Any content contributing directly or indirectly to this goal on a local, national, or global scale is welcome. Supported content includes:

  • information on conventional or software-aided methods for identification
  • software directly installed on or downloadable from this site, aiding in the creating species identification material
  • datasets supporting identification
  • mini-reviews of species, genera or higher taxa

Species-ID is not a "database" with a fixed definition of fields and purposes. It is a versioned authoring and publishing platform (a "wiki"), supporting rich media text, embedded structured data and semantic web (RDF/OWL) functionality. It uses the Mediawiki software used by Wikipedia, plus the semantic mediawiki extensions. This software is open source and has a very long-term stability expectation. In contrast to Wikipedia, however, more detailed information as well as original information may be published on Species-ID. Furthermore, Species-ID can (and does) install supplementary software specifically aiming at using biodiversity data for identification and data analysis.

The project supports two content types:

  • Authored pages must contain the author's names (or a project name) in their page name (in parentheses after the main title; example: "Key to English Trees (B. Press)"). Authored pages may be citable mini-publications or project pages. Authored pages may express particular and original views are and not required to be neutral. Other authors are automatically ask to limit changes to improvements of markup, fixing linking issues, or minor spelling errors that do not change the substance of the text. All other comments are requested on the discussion page associated with each page.
  • General pages require consensus and neutrality. This does not have to be agreed upon in advance (therefore a general page will not be guaranteed to be neutral), but consensus have to be achieved where other collaborators challenge a view. Consensus is achieved by respectful discussion, not by a simple majority vote. However, unique views by a single collaborator that are not shared by others may be overruled by the vote of at least 3 other collaborator. In general, consensus will be achieved by providing the differing points of view in parallel, often linking to authored pages elaborating these views.

All forms of pages must observe all legal bounds as well as the rules of polite intercourse. Respecting each others opinion is an essential part of participating here.

Species-ID offers a friendly platform for widespread collaborations. The founders of Species-ID believe in the power of sharing and collaborating. The charter of Species-ID aims to reduce the need to set up little boxes by providing a space able to support general as well as specific content and bring the community interested in species identification closer together.

Although general in scope, this site does not intends to become an all-encompassing, only place in the world. But it can be a neutral and friendly place for like-minded people.


Species ID offers a publishing platform using open mass-review. Subprojects may desire to set up, within the platform, their own peer-reviewed "namespaces". These namespaces will have a submission namespace (e. g., "species report submissions") and an accepted, peer reviewed namespace (e. g., "species report"). By keeping these forms an article can be started in the main namespace, later moved to become a submission, and finally accepted or rejected. Links to the original article outside of reviewed publishing space remain valid and will automatically be forwarded.

Mechanisms of trust

The content of Species-ID is community owned, and the service is provided by a consortium of sponsor organisations. By excluding direct control by a single organisation the neutrality and fairness of the service is guaranteed. By guaranteeing the service through a consortium, long term viability is guaranteed. See Ownership and sponsors for further details.

Mechanisms of control

The projects aims to minimize control and maximize the ability of collaborators to make their own decisions. The model is closely modeled on current practices in Wikipedia. Three types of users are required:

  1. Registered users have registered themselves with a real name (pseudonyms may be granted but require special justification) and have provided a confirmed email address. Registered users will be able to edit almost all content through the web interface. Unlike Wikipedia, Species-ID will not provide anonymous editing.
  2. Administrators have a small number of additional rights: confirming new users, performing some difficult or error prone task, and can make fundamental changes to the way the wiki user interface looks and behaves. As many collaborators should, over time, become administrators, and each specific project using Species-ID should name at least one administrator. If several wikis share a platform and shared user database, the selection of administrator and other special roles remains always specific to each Wiki.
  3. Server Operators have access to the underlying server and to the means by which the entire machine can be backed up, duplicated, or moved. All service sponsors can name one or several server operators.

TO BE CONTINUED AND REVISED. Please participate in supplementing missing elements by contributing a discussion on the discussion page.

Related documents

In addition to this community charter, a Service Sponsorship Charter for the biowikifarm is available.