In 2008, following a discussion with a senior staff member within the Wikimedia Foundation, I began a test to “seed” or “plant” links from Wikipedia pages into our newly launched (at that time) Biodiversity Heritage Library web site.
I describe my methodology in the presentation, but in short, I took a list of the 5,000 most frequently requested Wikipedia pages for the closest time period I could obtain. I then read through that list and extracted out any that had to do with organisms. I learned a lot about humanity reading through those requests – people search for some really, really sick stuff on Wikipedia – but I was able to determine a set of organisms in the search results. If we had scanned the book where that organism was originally described, like Lion, then I added the link to Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae, 1758, as a reference. If we didn’t have the original publication online, like Polar bear, then I linked to the Names Bibliography of that organism, showing where the name is found throughout BHL.
I was going to give this presentation at a conference, but didn’t make it for some reason…and there it sat for 4 years. We’ve recently started talking about doing more linking with Wikipedia and I remembered back to this little exercise and the documentation I had captured at the time. I’ve updated the presentation to look at trends carrying through the end of February 2012, giving a nice 3-4year time frame around which to draw some conclusions.
Have a look, post some comments if you have feedback. Glad the work is finally able to make it into users’ hands!