Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Fungi in Wikipedia

One response to the analysis I did of the Google rank of mammal pages in Wikipedia is to suggest that Wikipedia does well for mammals because these are charismatic. It's been suggested that for other groups of taxa Wikipedia might not be so prominent in the search results.

As a quick test I extracted the 1552 fungal species I could find in Wikipedia and repeated the analysis. If anything, the results are more dramatic:
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Once again, Wikipedia dominates the search rankings. Over 75% of the pages are the top hit in Google. More specialist fungal sites, such as CAB Abstracts Plus and the American Phytopathological Society's online database do pretty well. EOL and the nomenclatural database Index Fungorum barely make an appearance.

If fungi are less "charismatic" than mammals, the implication is that the less charismatic the taxon, the better Wikipedia does (perhaps there is less competition from other sites). Of course, Wikipedia is severely underpopulated with fungal pages, so one could argue that for fungi not in Wikipedia, sites like EOL may do better (relative to other sites), but that would need to be tested. I suspect that sites that provide more broadly useful information (such as APSnet) will continue to dominate the search rankings, followed by scientific articles (for the fungi in Wikipedia the publishers Springer, Wiley, and Elsevier all appear in the top of sites that appear in the Google rankings).