User:Jaap Winius

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Born May 30, 1963, in the United States, I've lived in the Netherlands since 1976. I'm an IT consultant (systems administration) with a passion for Linux and Open Source, but my contributions will not be in that area.

I am a serious amateur herpetologist with a keen interest in viperid snakes. I used to collect and breed snakes, but that was a long time ago. Now I just like writing about them and continue to acquire many books on the subject for reference material.

That was from the "CV" with which I applied for a Citizendium account, and it's true. I figure I'm responsible for creating/writing several hundred articles at Wikipedia, all on the subject of viperid snakes. Most of these are in Viperinae, but I'm now working on Crotalinae as well. A few examples would be Atheris, Bitis, Bitis arietans, Bitis gabonica and Daboia. There are many more in various states of completion.

Since I started writing these articles, certain issues have become very important to me:

  • Never assume anything. Don't just write what you want because it's probably correct, but quote (without plagiarizing) from a reputable source.
  • Cite your references. At least one reference should be cited (using the footnote system) for every bit of information in the article. Readers should be able to tell where the information came from, or else why should anyone trust it? If there are no references it also decreases an article's research value. Obviously, this means no original research, or else you can't cite any references.
  • Follow a single taxonomy. If you don't, you'll eventually run into conflicts and your synonymy won't work either. For vipers and other snakes, I use McDiarmid, Campbell and Toure's 1999 checklist together with the ITIS online database. This is widely considered the most authoritative checklist.
  • Articles titles. Use of scientific names instead of common names for this purpose to avoid confusion. See my talk page for further discussion of this (unfortunately) divisive issue.