I have been engaging with this amazing community since 2018 when I presented at the joint TDWG and SPNCH conference held in Dunedin, New Zealand. The friends and colleagues I was introduced to at that conference have encouraged and collaborated with me on various projects since that time. These collaborations have resulted in me contributing to research projects, scientific papers, workshops, editathons and a hackathon. My main aim in attending this year's conference was to be exposed to the advances and progress being made by and within the community. I was also keen to maintain relationships and make new connections within that community in order to assist with any efforts by them to engage with Wikimedia projects.
My personal highlight of the conference was watching Quentin Groom presenting on the recently published scholarly article titled The disambiguation of people names in biological collections. I was one of the co-authors of this paper. Quentin’s presentation summarised two years of work and compressed it into a 15 minute presentation undertaken at lightning speed. The paper had been published only the week before the conference and it was extremely gratifying to see Quentin introduce it to the community we hope will make the most use of it.
Another highlight were the presentations given during an interactive session on the role of the Wikimedia ecosystem in linking biodiversity data. Some of the presentations gave examples of how the natural history community is already putting the guidance given in our disambiguation paper into practice. I particularly enjoyed a presentation discussing the efforts of the paleontological community to engage with Wikidata. This group had organised and held two workshops this year, both of which I had attended. The presentation outlined the successes and challenges this group had when attempting to add and link paleontological data in Wikidata. I was pleased to see the group publish their Guidelines for Using Wikidata to Mobilize Information about People in Collections: A Palaeontology Perspective just prior to the conference. This document was created during the first workshop after I shared with them a resource titled Wikidata Notes for Bat Collectors that I had previously produced for a bat collector workshop. The Palaeontology group used my document as a basis for their work and then proceeded to massively improve upon it, creating a practical guide that can be reused by any group wanting to add collector biographical data to Wikidata.
Also in the Wikimedia ecosystem session was a presentation titled Using Crowd-sourcing Platforms to Increase and Spread Knowledge on the Biodiversity in Sub-Saharan Africa by Mohammed Kamal Deen-Fuseini Dnshitobu. He outlined issues concerning the lack of knowledge about sub Saharan species and the attempts by local communities to increase this knowledge through citizen science engagement with iNaturalist, the writing of Wikipedia articles in local languages particularly in Dagbani and Igbo, the adding of images to Wikicommons and the improving Wikidata taxon items.
All the TDWG conference presentations were all recorded and will be uploaded to the TDWG Youtube channel in due course. I highly recommend any editors interested in biodiversity data standards and the efforts undertaken by this community to link specimens, datasets and databases into the biodiversity knowledge graph to watch these recordings when they become available.
One of the long-term goals for en:Auckland War Memorial Museum GLAM is to create pages for every species found in our collections, or to improve these pages with images of type specimens. October has been mollusc month, focusing on many of the endemic mollusc species found in Aotearoa. The Marine Department has almost 1,800 are primary types of mollusc specimens in the collection, many of which are professionally photographed holotypes.
This month, 12 new mollusc species pages were created, three genus pages, and a further 24 species were identified as endemic species to further work on. In addition to this, a number of species identified by Baden Powell have pages but no images: five pages had images immediately available from our collections, and the remaining pages have been flagged and will have photographs added once the type specimens have been photographed.
Photographs can be an amazing tool to better add context and understanding to a Wikipedia page. Stage one of this project, which finished in September 2022, focused on reviewing all locality pages in New Zealand and adding photographs where possible. Stage two is focusing on Aotearoa's biodiversity: reviewing every single endemic species page, and adding quality images if possible (via Digital NZ, which has an image directory of NZ GLAM collections, and iNaturalist user submissions). Most fauna species with English language Wikipedia pages have been reviewed so far, and as of October over 600 species have been identified as needing photographs.
Once completed, the requested image list will be a very useful resource to share to different GLAM and research institutions in Aotearoa, ideally as a tool to indicate which specimens should be photographed (or have photos released under a Creative Commons license). Maybe one day, every single species in Aotearoa will have a Wikipedia page, and a nice photo to match!