Inability to remove Wikipedia content from About section

In cases where there is a Wikipedia article that shares the name of a taxa but does not cover it, trying to remove the content seems problematic.

You can of course check to not auto-populate the content, which should leave it blank, or default to the EOL content, but in practice, removing the check mark seems to have no effect, or at least a very delayed impact.

See for instance I turned off the auto Wikipedia population on this taxa, but no amount of refreshing the page, resaving the taxa page etc seems to be able to make the content disappear.


I changed it to “Maira (fly)”. Even if that page didn’t yet exist on WP, you could change it to that “in advance” of its creation.

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It would be nice to not have to rely on hacks like that, if you configure it to show nothing, it should show nothing.

Every taxon on iNaturalist should have a corresponding Wikipedia article or redirect, so I wouldn’t consider that a “hack” per se. Relying on iNat curators to know what the future Wikipedia article title would be is problematic though.

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Yes, it should also not be assumed that iNat contributors know how to or are willing to create Wikipedia content.

That being said, this was more about the iNat site, if you choose the show nothing configuration option, then the resulting behaviour should be to show nothing. Right now, that is not always the case.

For context, I added the Auto description checkbox to handle situations where we wanted to quickly hide totally irrelevant content, but it was only ever meant as a stopgap measure to be used until someone updates Wikipedia, so

  1. If we’re going to show the Auto description checkbox then it should work, and by “work” I mean unchecking it should just show nothing from the description and remove the cached description we have in our database.
  2. I agree with Cassi that the best way to address issues like this is to add a disambiguated Wikipedia title and to add to or update Wikipedia. I don’t think it’s too much to expect of iNat curators that they do this. iNat reaps huge benefits from Wikipedia by showing their content on our pages, so we should give back by providing more / better content. I don’t do it as much as I should, but I do do it sometimes. EOL content is, in general, a less-organized, less-edited, and much patchier substitute.

FWIW, I’m an en.Wikipedia user of (too) many years’ experience, and I’m happy to provide help if anyone’s having trouble getting new taxon descriptions into the site. Validly published taxa are “presumed notable” in Wikipedia, so they shouldn’t get deleted.

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Ok, I just made it so unchecking the “auto description” box will simply not show any content. What it will show is a message saying that site curators have temporarily blocked Wikipedia content for this page, and that the remedy is to fix wikipedia or to bug the curators some more.


@kueda - I’m not sure the fix worked entirely.

I want to edit this taxa :

The wikipedia article is at :

When I remove the check box so it does not try to load

When I remove the checkbox and add Elater(beetle) to the title:¨

  • if I try to refresh the content via the refresh link I get an error saying ‘Could’t retrieve the Wikipedia summary for Elater. Make sure there is actually a corresponding article on Wikipedia.’

If I just try and save the change, on the page the error message about bugging curators is shown, even though I’ve put a valid Wikipedia link in the appropriate place.

The checkbox stays checked, just change the name of the Wikipedia article title when it’s disambiguated there.

Did that change, or am I remembering incorrectly ?

I think it used to work either way, checked or unchecked, if you entered a new Wikipedia article title…but not sure on that.

As far as I can tell it’s working as intended, though perhaps you’re misunderstanding the difference between the cached Wikipedia summary that you can refresh at and the Wikipedia content you see at The cached summary is just that, a cached bit of text from the Wikipedia article that we keep in our database for situations where we don’t want to load dynamic content from Wikipedia (e.g. showing lots of taxa at once, small pieces of text to show to search engines, etc). On the taxon page, it shows the cached summary at first then quickly replaces it with dynamically loaded content from Wikipedia.

So if you uncheck “auto description” there’s really no need to refresh the cached summary. When you save the taxon after having unchecked that box, it will wipe out the cached summary, b/c it presumes you wanted iNat not to show Wikipedia content at all.

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