The Plant Encyclopedia

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The Plant Encyclopedia
Image for The Plant Encyclopedia
Statistics (2012/05/14)
Pages: 2454
Users: 222 (5 active)
Properties: 34
Categories: 167
Templates: 131
Forms: 8
Table of Contents

The Plant Encyclopedia, located at theplantencyclopedia.org, is a not-for-profit, openly-editable wiki resource, authored by the public worldwide. The Plant Encyclopedia's development began in the Aden Earth offices in Toronto, Canada, with a small team, using MediaWiki, the same platform behind Wikipedia. Passionate gardeners, horticulturists, and botanists around the world create these plant pages.

Background

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The Plant Encyclopedia is meant to hold a page for every plant species on Earth. Currently the site includes 300,000+ plant pages. The information in the Encyclopedia is designed for fast and easy gardening reference. In its structure and breadth of knowledge, The Plant Encyclopedia is the first public resource of its kind.

The purpose of this site is to provide the most extensive and superior access to plant information globally. The Plant Encyclopedia aims to build the most comprehensive horticulture canon for all of humanity's, and the Earth's, benefit.

A typical page

Each plant page on the website and app provides detailed scientific information, and valuable instructions for gardeners. Also, a slideshow of images is displayed on each page. It is designed to help people identify and grow their own gardens. The ability to easily access this information on your computer or phone, while gardening or while out experiencing nature is very unique and valuable. Each page also features an edit button, which allows all users to easily and conveniently edit and add information to the site. All that is needed is a login, which can be done through Twitter, Facebook, or directly on the site.

These plant pages were created through the help and efforts of horticulturists, gardening authors, data scientists and semantic technology experts around the world. The Plant Encyclopedia was created with new technology that organizes massive amounts of information from sources like science journals, Wikipedia, Wikispecies, and even piles of old gardening books. The site also serves open data from other places; for instance, if someone uploads an image of a plant elsewhere, you may see that image served dynamically on The Plant Encyclopedia.

Differences from Wikipedia

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The Plant Encyclopedia is very different from Wikipedia. It has been specialized to plant reference, with a branching structure of categorization. This branching structure mirrors scientific plant categorization and actually uses 'binomial nomenclature' and the Latin names of plants to build the structure of each page and the architecture of the entire website. In The Plant Encyclopedia, data is linked to data, allowing edits that are made to affect changes site-wide on multiple associated pages. The Aden Earth team refers to this structuring of data as "Wikitree".

Wikipedia is the most comprehensive source for public information in the world, but it cannot serve the public as an accurate gardening reference -- its plant pages are not easily found by gardeners, since they are not organized by horticultural categories and common terms. Also, most Wikipedia plant pages do not contain much information on how to grow plants. The Plant Encyclopedia's pages serve this specialized need. They are easily and quickly accessible by any gardener, horticulturist, or botanist.

Easy Edit, no wikitext

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Using the Semantic Forms extension, The Plant Encyclopedia offers form-based editing of pages, via the 'Easy Edit' form. To contribute properly to Wikipedia, an editor must know coding called 'wiki-text'. On The Plant Encyclopedia, however, even non-computer-savvy users can edit and contribute to a page. There is an easy step-by-step form used to contribute; just click the 'Easy Edit' tab on any plant page, or click 'Add A Plant'. Via Semantic MediaWiki, the added information then shows up not just on the page, but on all other associated pages.

All media within is available under the BY-NC-SA Creative Commons License.