[uf-discuss] species microformats & OpenSearch

Andy Mabbett andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk
Thu Dec 7 01:15:29 PST 2006

In message <004801c7199e$1149e0d0$33dda270$@ca>, "Shorthouse, David"
<dps1 at ualberta.ca> writes

>ou wrote (END)
>[David Shorthouse wrote:]

Please note my earlier comment on quoting formats.

>And this is exactly what uBio already provides with their LinkIT tool
>(http://names.mbl.edu/tools/linkit.php) and essentially nullifies the
>need for microformat mark-up.

I fail to see how you can claim that the uBio "nullifies the need for
microformat markup"; when it provides virtually none of the functionally
provided by microformats. I refer you again to the initial proposal:

        Imagine viewing a web page with a reference to a species - and
        being able to use an add-on to you browser to be taken directly
        to information about that species, on, say, Wikipedia, or
        Wikispecies, or Google Images, or another site, such as in an
        academic database, of your choosing.

        Your software would automatically know to search site A if the
        scientific name referred to a moth, site B for a bird, and site
        C for a plant - and you could set your preferences as to which
        sites those were to be, and in which order two or more were to
        be searched (e.g. for moths, try UK Moths
        (http://ukmoths.org.uk/) first, if not found try The Global
        Lepidoptera Names Index

        Or supposing someone writes a long, chronologically-ordered web
        page about all the birds, insects, mammals and plants they saw
        on a wildlife safari, with lots of prose description about the
        paces where they saw them and the people they were with, but you
        want to extract a list of species, sorted into alphabetical
        order within taxonomic class (birds first, then insects then...)
        or in taxonomic order.

        Those are just two of the things a "species" microformat might
        do for you.

Please explain how uBio does those things; taking:


as test cases.

>I previously argued with you on my forum (http://canadianarachnology.dy
>ndns.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=118) this point and you provided no
>compelling argument for me to spend effort marking up my pages with

I wasn't aware that you were the person with whom I'd had that
discussion, some months ago. Nor was I aware that the discussion had
continued, since your forum does not appear to send e-mail notices of
further replies (leastways , I received none). I note also that Charles
Roper, my co-proponent of this proposal, subsequently gave you a lengthy

>A glib reply was not convincing.

Nor was one given. My reply may have been short, but it was accurate and

>I argue that using such generic microformats as "species" or "taxon"
>provides no valuable information & is no better than having binomen.

And I have already shown you how it does; nor is having binomen a bad

> In fact, I would argue that using such mark-up may dangerously provide
>mis-information if not intelligently implemented.

Unfounded scare-mongering.

> Take for example a politically-charged scenario where a genus receives
>revision, species renamed, and consequently erroneously struck from a
>red-list merely because the name cannot then be found via a
>hypothetical web page aggregator that uses microformats.

Such bizarrely hypothetical speculation - not to mention the political
slant - is way outside the scope of microformats.

>I have no fundamental problem with microformats; I believe there is a
>responsibility here to do it right and not simply provide "something"
>because "something" is better than nothing.

So do I. However, you don't appear to see, or to appreciate, what the
"it" is that we're trying to do.

Andy Mabbett
                Say "NO!" to compulsory ID Cards:  <http://www.no2id.net/>

                Free Our Data:  <http://www.freeourdata.org.uk>

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