Recently, Rod Page proposed to add NCBI Taxonomy IDs to Wikipedia pages. Rod outlines the scientific rationale which I won’t repeat here, but I think it’s safe to say that from the scientific perspective, the benefits seem to far outweigh the downsides.

This seemingly trivial proposal was met with substantial resistance (primarily by one user so far) based on a perceived violation of one of Wikipedia’s “rules”. The details aren’t important — read the discussion linked above if you want the gory details.

I highlight it here because exchanges like these often feel frustrating and unproductive. And importantly, they are often the reasons that scientists cite for not contributing to Wikipedia (e.g., [1], [2]).

In light of this ongoing debate, I think it’s worth taking a brief look back at the origins of our Gene Wiki effort. Although I think there’s broad agreement now that the Gene Wiki effort is good and productive, the road to get there was often rocky. In short, sausage making isn’t pretty.

But given the incredible opportunity that Wikipedia affords us as a forum for scientific communication and education, I hope we scientists persist in our efforts. From my personal experience, the “right” outcome usually prevails given enough persistence.