January 10, 2011

Working on a free repository of info on prehistory and genetics

As you may know, I do not collaborate with Wikipedia anymore (since years ago) on ideological reasons. But I do feel that that a wiki on human prehistory and genetics is something almost necessary. 

So I looked up wikifarms and found one that is free and does not use adverts (they request donations hence, of course). Also they seem to have a quite libertarian (as in anarchist, i.e. free and cooperative) philosophy. Hence I have created an account and submitted a project to OurProject. They will reply, hopefully in approval, in 72 hrs. (three days) and I'd like to begin working in it as soon as it is ready. 

So, even before the project is available to begin working with, I want to ask to the readers of this blog if they would be interested in helping with creating quality unbiased content on these matters. I think I can produce some quite decent stuff alone but slowly but it'd be much better and faster with other collaborators.

While I do not understand yet quite well the details, I see in their documentation that they emphasize multilingualism to at least some extent, so, if you are not fluent in English, this should not be any major obstacle. However my priority is of course in the modern lingua franca, English.

I chose as license type public domain, what means that any collaboration automatically becomes owned by 7 billion people altogether on this planet. There was a host of licenses to choose from (though no private copyright or anything like that) but I think public domain is simplest. 

While I have not thought much in further details, there are some things I have in mind already:
  • Comprehensive and as objective as possible pages on each of the haplogroups, including relevant paper references and known distribution and phylogenies.
  • Dumping some of my best maps there, so they are not just in my blogs.
  • Mapping archaeological cultures throughout the World.
In brief, gradually building a comprehensive repository, available to all for free, on human origins, emphasizing objectivity and neutral point of view. As no current affairs/politics are directly involved this should not be a big deal, however I am also considering, if possible and compatible with the project, the existence of distinctive, signed and clearly marked as such, opinion articles if someone feels the need. But my priority is to gather all or most relevant information in a publicly available site. 

What do you say?

Update: the project has been approved and it should be available withing 6 hrs. The address is http://humanorigins.ourproject.org/  and the full title is Human Prehistory and Genetics. As far as I understand, you need to create an account with this project in the corresponding field (the full name) in order to be able to edit the wiki. However I am still a noob and I will need some practice before I become acquainted.

Actually you may need to create an OurProject account, visit this page and request to join. 

Policies and administration privileges will be discussed as need arises and we see who is taking the wiki seriously. I just realized that there is the possibility of having more than one license but all are in the line of open access (no private copyrights) - also to be discussed as need arises.

Update(2): I have (as recommended) categorized the project as:
  • Topic: Encyclopedia, Archaeology and Anthropology (3 categories are possible and there was no "genetics" one)
  • License: Public Domain (two other can be added, probably Creative Commons is a good idea)
  • Natural language: English (two other can be added but I wonder how to work in multiple languages)
  • Status: planning (to be changed to initial development as soon as something is in)

Update - Jan 11

I managed to figure out how to create a "MoinMoin" wiki within the main OurProject wiki. (LINK, feel free to edit with good reason - create a user first anyhow prefereably). This is however quite disappointingly complicated to manage (of course it may depend on your expectations but I am used to Wikipedia and other user-friendly GUIs).

There is the possibility of uploading some wiki software to the main subdomain but I fear I am not sufficiently techy for that (at least not yet).


    1. What exactly do you mean? You want us to help by finding and summarizing primary material, then posting it. Right?

    2. As soon as the page is up (not yet), I'm going to start listing and referencing all mtDNA haplogroups, so all the data is available. This was what triggered me to do this most immediately.

      If people is interested, I'd love help in that and other tasks, Y-DNA, prehistory, etc. If people is not interested, then I'll proceed on my own. But the project is open anyhow to whoever wants to add up.

      It's essentially improving Wikipedia on these matters without touching it (I'm allergic to Cop-pedia, and an specialized project seems needed anyhow).

    3. Greetings Maju,

      It seems a good idea, the problem for me is to write long articles in English.

      If we can finally include articles in Spanish, maybe I can collaborate on this project when time permits me.

      Another thing I can do is let on prehistoric Spanish documentation if you are interested in something that I have.

      If you include individual items can have some article of my blog, if you want some, perhaps easier for me because they are not as long as the depth in a particular subject.

      If you know of any other way that I can help you can contact me by mail.

    4. For me personally is not any problem to include Spanish as second working language. Just that two different pages would exist for any entry (one in each language). If there is people interested in working in Spanish (not my personal priority) I think I can welcome the idea easily.

      My first idea is to outline key knowledge instances such as haplogroups or archaeological cultures, referencing all relevant papers (it's a reference site first of all) and eventually expanding the content in each article. An encyclopedia of these prehistorical matters.

      I thought of the "opinion" entries because I figure some people may want to expand in some matters beyond strict objectivity and this is a way to do it (in a signed form), without entering into conflicts or breaking the objectivity of the main article. Just a trick out of the hat anticipating some potential issues. But it is not my main goal, rather to gather all available info in an encyclopedic, objective, neutral, manner.

      In this sense I adhere to Wikipedia's NPOV (neutral point of view) policy, which sadly is not always implemented properly. By this, different points of view (POVs), as long as they are minimally justified, should be covered but according to their weight in mainstream scholarship. For example, in a 'Indoeuropean origins' article, the mainstream Kurgan model has a preferential attention, with other hypothesis being mentioned in secondary positions.

    5. Post just updated with latest news.

      Sadly it seems more complicated that I first thought. The OurProject people are working on more user-friendly stuff but I have not the slightest idea on when that will come out (surely not in months, maybe years).

      At the moment we have a project under the main OurProject wiki (MoinMoin) and the main project page but we lack the ability to use the subdomain unless we upload some software or whatever. This is too techy and totally beats me (I'm just interested in content, not in informatics or web design).

      So no idea what to do. Maybe trying Wikia? It has adverts and I have no idea how decent it is anyhow. All other wikifarms I know of charge you.

      By the moment the (sub)wiki is functional even if rustic and lacking content. Check it out if you wish and tell me what you think.

    6. I also added Spanish as alternate language and creative commons as optional license (what makes you to choose what license to use each time you add content, I believe).

      If you guys remain interested, email me at lialdamiz[AT]gmail[DOT]com and I'll add you up as project members. To edit the wiki this is not needed apparently anyhow (you can edit as anonymous or create and ad hoc user, it seems)

    7. I think it's a great idea Maju. I'll do anything I can to help but my most useful contribution is likely to be our arguments here.


    Please, be reasonably respectful when making comments. I do not tolerate in particular sexism, racism nor homophobia. Personal attacks, manipulation and trolling are also very much unwelcome here.The author reserves the right to delete any abusive comment.

    Preliminary comment moderation is... ON (your comment may take some time, maybe days or weeks to appear).