"Help the world out and create this page on Wikipedia!"

Ken-ichi added a cool new feature to iNat taxon pages that prepopulates a little template for taxa that don’t have an article on the English Wikipedia. For example:


which makes this:

Learning how to use Wikipedia can be a bit daunting, so having the skeleton of the page set up should be really helpful!


Do bear in mind that you certainly don’t need to complete all of the sections before you “save” the article. It is OK for it to be incomplete, just a simple “stub” article. Just make sure you have at least one reliable reference in there, otherwise the whole thing may get deleted.

Please ask me if you need more info about how to create an article for Wikipedia, what to write or how to say it, or if you have created a stub and want me to look it over and polish up a bit.



Also, in order to have some idea how to write it, first look at a few articles that already exist on similar taxa, especially those articles that have a good rating (look on the Talk page to see what rating they have).


I did insert a bit of my own opinion about what a “good” wikipedia species page should look like, so I hope that doesn’t intimidate folks or result in a lot of stub pages with content-less sections. Personally I think the sections are useful, even if they end up being sparse, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraphrynus_carolynae. Happy to change the sections if folks want (didn’t notice this page Cassi made until just now). I tried to choose categories that are potentially relevant to all taxa (not all taxa have human uses or are of conservation concern, for example).

Susan, maybe you know this: do tools like Speciesbox work for non-English Wikipedias? Part of the reason I only made this show up when the site is displayed in English is because I’m lazy and globalizing mixtures of code and text like this can get tricky, but the other was that I wasn’t even sure if this kind of template would be useful on the other localized Wikipedias. For example, at https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papilionoidea?action=edit&veswitched=1 the actual taxobox code seems to have been translated:

{{Ficha de taxón
| name = Papilionoidea

That seems… kinda crazy from an engineering perspective, and not something I think we can translate easily on our end.


I would note that I think the headings should be reordered. IME most Wikipedia pages have etymology first, taxonomy higher up, and ecology type information last. I would suggest:

  • Etymology
  • Taxonomy
  • Description
  • Range
  • Habitat
  • Ecology

But this could be just from the articles I’ve happened to come across, maybe this is less consistent than I’ve seen.

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AFAIK, there’s no mechanism for sharing templates across different Mediawiki installs, so each language Wikipedia maintains its own templates for speciesboxes. I don’t know if they regularly update based on en.wikipedia which is where I assume development tends to occur.

Yeah, just confirming that they’re all different (and that yeah not particularly well designed…).

While the English Wikipedia uses the internally automatically updating taxonomic templates, most Wikipedias use those manual infoboxes, which means that higher taxonomic changes have to be one-by-one updated in every descendant taxon article.

Some, like Catalan, pull taxonomic data directly from Wikidata: https://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantilla:Infotaula_d’ésser_viu (see related short discussion as to why English WP hasn’t adopted that method)

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Honestly I don’t know. I would hope so…

Thanks, @kueda! I’ve previously done professional web development as a career, but I’m STILL pretty intimidated by some of Wikipedia’s advanced syntaxes (syntaces?) like the species box. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: This and the accompanying discussion might just inspire me!


FWIW, the rate-limiting step in article creation on Wikipedia is generally having someone knowledgeable write a coherent summary of the topic. If you can do that, other people will pop out of the woodwork to frob with the highly specific formatting details, add a speciesbox, and so on.


Yeah, though with taxon pages it doesn’t take a ton of knowledge to synthesize the most important points from a reference or two.


You are right about that! It’s actually very easy to create an OK stub about most species. I would encourage people to try, and not be intimidated. The worst thing that can happen is that it gets taken down if it doesn’t have any reliable sources at all.


The work of User:IceCreamAntiSocial would be a great example to emulate. She created a lot of good, short articles on California flora, but stopped editing in 2013. :(

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Neat tool. The code generated for the Speciesbox is wrong though. The parent parameter is used in the taxonomy templates (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Taxonomy/Hylodesmum) which generate the Speciesbox, but isn’t used in the Speciesbox itself. The example works in spite of the error because Speciesbox is often able to generate the necessary information from the title of the article.

It should be (with additional parameters that are desirable):
| image =
| genus = Hylodesmum
| species = glutinosum
| authority =

Putting the binomial under | taxon = can usually be used instead of | genus = | species =, but there are some circumstances where | taxon won’t work.

It would also be helpful to have the binomial bolded and italicized when it first appears outside of the Speciesbox (In Wiki markup, it should be ‘’’’‘Hylodesmum glutinosum’’’’’)

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Some caveats. As some others have stated, different language Wikipedia use different templates to generate taxoboxes. Sometimes the template name is translated, but the parameter names remain in English. Most Wikipedias use a version of the manual taxobox https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Taxobox that requires each rank in the taxonomic hierarchy be entered in every article. The Taxobox templates in other languages have been copied from English, but aren’t necessarily up to date with the code currently used in the English Wikipedia (and some languages have added additional features to the Taxobox template that aren’t present in English). The French Wikipedia still uses a method to generate taxoboxes that was abandoned on English Wikipedia a good 10 years ago.

English Wikipedia is making increasing use of automatic taxoboxes, where each rank in the taxonomic hierarchy is encoded in a behind-the-scenes template rather than being hardcoded in each article. The effort to use automatic taxoboxes on Wikipedia began around three years ago, and is still a work in progress. The behind-the-scenes templates don’t yet exist for every genus that has a Wikipedia article (let alone genera that don’t have articles yet). Some stats on automatic taxobox use can be found here. Automatic taxoboxes aren’t widely deployed in any other major language (except maybe Chinese), and consequently, the behind-the-scenes templates will not be present in other language Wikipedias.

Hi, the advice by @ susanhewitt above to use an existing article of a closely related species as a template for a new article is a useful suggestion to create a new article on Wikipedia. You can usually use the taxonomy box on the top right of the article to click on the genus and from there see if there are any relevant species articles available to copy. Once you have found a similar stub, click “Edit source” as if you were going to edit the article, then copy all the text within the article to your clipboard. This will then include all the Wiki-markup and paragraph format that is present in the article that you are copying, including the taxobox (whether manual or automatic). Leave the page without saving, so as not to accidentally change anything, and look for the new page title.

When you click on the red link for the article name you wish to create (which you can find either on the genus page or from the results gained by typing it in the search bar), you will be invited to create a new article at that title as long as you are logged-in with a Wikipedia account. The article name should usually be at the scientific binomial, at least to start. Once you are at the new page, you can then paste the wiki-text from the other article to use as a template.

As you will be in edit mode, review the text in the new article and change the info to match the new species. You can just delete any sections that you don’t understand. Once you have completed your article, select “preview page” and then make any changes as necessary. Select “save changes” or “publish page” and include a short edit summary (like “Created page”).

Above all, do not be afraid to make mistakes or use the wrong format. Other more experienced users, such as @ plantdrew above, routinely patrol such new articles and help fix them. You cannot “break” Wikipedia, and any incorrect edits can always be reversed.

I would also suggest that any iNat users interested in editing Wikipedia should check out any relevant “project pages” on Wikipedia to benefit from any resources offered there (article layout formats, references, taxonomy sources, discussions, etc.). Some of the project areas are:

Other projects are listed at the WikiProject:Tree of Life.

You can edit most (but not all) Wikipedia articles without an account, but cannot create any new articles. If you wish to sign up for an account on English Wikipedia, you can follow this link.

If you have any further questions, you can contact me on my English Wikipedia account talk page.