There have been a number of criticisms about starting this wiki, but we went for it anyway! Here we will try to address some of the objections that cropped up during the advertising stage of this wiki. If you can think of more objections please include them.
Other resources already existEdit
It is true that many other online resources help people with identification. However they are hard to navigate. Wikis provide the technology to link pages by categories, which makes things easier to navigate. Think about it: in practice, you have an unknown cactus with this and that feature. So you want to see a list of cacti that have these features. This is possible on Cactus Wiki.
Also, the full taxonomy is almost never strictly observed, but here we try to build a complete tree. Alternative scientific names mean that the tree will have multiple inheritance, something that is very easy to do with categories. Common names become redirects to scientific names. The wiki model fits perfectly for this kind of work.
Also, many online resources are not free. Cactus Wiki will be a free reference guide. We will not duplicate wikipedia or other pages but link to them when possible. Make sure you read Project:About and Help:What Cactopedia is NOT.
There are other wikisEdit
The only wiki I have heard about is Cactus Study and afaik it is not very active. I could be wrong, but in any case we also aim to produce a resource that
- can be browsed anonymously without registration, and
- that is freely licensed.
Couldn't this be done on wikipedia?Edit
Wikipedia aims to be an encyclopedia, while here we aim to build an identification guide. The -pedia ending of Cactus Wiki is only to make the name more catchy! :) We are not building an encyclopedia. We will observe the taxonomy and all scientific and common names better than what is possible on wikipedia. There will also be a Template:Cactusbox that will be specifically tailored for cacti, unlike the taxobox which is used for all life forms and virii. This will allow us to add attributes such as e.g. "spines".
If you have encyclopedic info about a cactus that you want to share, consider contributing to wikipedia.
Forums are better than wikisEdit
While it is convenient for some to post an image on a forum and request identification, this method is not perfect. You might not get a good reply or you might get replies of poor quality. Think of Cactus Wiki as a self-service means to identify your cactus. If you can't find what you're looking for on Cactus Wiki, you can ask on a forum. There is some time delay from the time you post a question until you get the right answer, but if you have a browsable index things get done much faster, and without bothering people.
It has been said that forums are better because they are more like social networks, however this is not true because wikis are very advanced social networks, among other things.
Still, forums are useful for things that can't or shouldn't be done on wikis, like swapping pictures and chatting about non-wiki-related things.
Saying that we don't need an identification wiki because we have forums, is like saying that we don't need books on cacti because we have forums.
Wikis are bad, unreliable, have problems, etcEdit
This is a classic case of wikiphobia that is not specific to Cactus Wiki. Fortunately, it is easily cured by learning, and controlled exposure therapy to wikis:) Wikis are self-correcting, which means that they have mechanisms whereby active users observe the history of recent changes to revert articles from vandalism and other problems, and they observe rules and guidelines to make their work consistent. Granted, wikis are not meant to be 100% correct, at least not from the start, but you could argue that this is also true for forums, websites and even reference books. We aim however towards correctness and consistency.
Who is wikia?Edit
Wikia is an online company that helps people start their own wiki. Concern has been expressed about who they are, probably because it's a .com site with google ads. However there are worse things in this world than wikia. Besides, many cacti resources have ads.
I am still not convincedEdit
If we cannot convince you that building Cactus Wiki is a worthwhile effort, that's OK. We're sorry that you don't want to be a part of Cactus Wiki but no one is forcing you to. Not everyone agrees with the GNU Free Documentation model and the concept of open content. That's OK. Those of us who love wikis and cacti will continue to put our efforts on Cactus Wiki.