I am part of a collective of volunteers helping bridge the gap between iNaturalist and Wikipedia/Wikimedia projects. Today I met with some of the folks involved in this group—@siobhanleachman, @andrawaag, @adzebill—and discussed an idea we’d like to propose to the iNat team, aiming to add more value to the observations featured on the blog as Observations of the Week.
We noticed that observations that are showcased as OtW are often about endemic, rare or endangered species that lack Wikipedia articles. Case in point, this orchid from Uruguay with only 8 observations available on iNat and no information available in Wikipedia in Spanish or English. These observations typically get a lot of traction and traffic on social and in the iNaturalist community and we think it’s a shame that the taxon page for these observation lacks the most basic information, just because the corresponding Wikipedia entry doesn’t exist.
We would like to help bridge that gap and ensure that whenever an observation is showcased as OtW, some basic content exist on Wikipedia for the corresponding species. We would like to offer to coordinate with the curators involved in the selection of the observation (@tiwane in particular) and make sure the article exists ahead of the publication on the iNat blog.
In some cases, when no free licensed image exists, it will not be possible to create a Wikipedia article with an illustration. Whenever this happens we would like to ask if, in the message notifying the iNat user that their observation is being featured, an invitation could be included to switch the license of the image to a CC-BY, CC-BY-SA or CC0 license, so as to allows its reuse (with full credits) as the official illustration of the species on Wikipedia.
We believe there’s an opportunity to add value to the iNat community by creating these missing articles while also encouraging users who posted amazing observations and stories to have their photo featured on Wikipedia (which will likely give them very significant exposure in terms of traffic).
Please let us know if this is an idea you would like to explore, we would be happy to organize a follow up call in the coming days to discuss what it would take to make this happen.
Dario, Mike, Siobhan, Andra