User talk:Abyssal/Paleontology in West Virginia

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I'm a new user would like to start series of articles on fossil collecting[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Hi. I'm a long-time contributor to Wikipedia's coverage of paleontology. One of my more extensive projects at Wikipedia was a series of articles on the prehistory of and history of fossil discoveries within each US state. I was considering starting an analogous series of travel topic articles for Wikivoyage- a travel guide detailing in each US state where to collect fossils, view them, visit prehistoric themed attractions and events like rock and mineral shows. Not to mention staying safe and within the law while participating in these activities. Sort of a paleontology version of Hiking, Salsa dancing in Latin America and similar articles.

I'm completely new and wanted to verify that this concept was within Wikivoyage's scope. I was also hoping I could ask here for feedback and assistance with this project if it gets the green light. Abyssal (talk) 06:10, 19 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Sounds like an interesting travel topic. Two suggestions: first, if you create a separate article, start out broadly - i.e. don't initially create 50 skeleton articles about fossil collecting in each state, instead create a single, detailed article that can be subdivided if it eventually gets large enough to warrant splitting up. Second, rather than starting out with a new article (or series of articles) you might want to begin by adding info to existing destination articles about museums with fossils and places where fossil collecting is possible, for example adding something to Petoskey about collecting w:Petoskey stones, or updating Capitol Reef National Park with info about fossil hunting (with the obvious caveat that fossils cannot be removed from national parks); your topic article could then reference the info you've added to the destination articles (and vice versa). -- Ryan • (talk) • 06:25, 19 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Sounds great, I am sure hobby paleontology fits very well in the scope of WV. It is surely very much related to travel. You might have noticed that our travel topic articles have a little more flexible structure compared to destination articles. For an inspiration, we have a great collection of Scuba diving articles, and some of them have reached star status. Danapit (talk) 07:15, 19 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I could also see the use of a "global" travel topic on "fossil hunting" that deals with issues like where to go (geologically speaking, e.g. Granite is a bad idea, Limestone is a good place to look) what to take care of (a helmet is a good idea in a quarry), legal hurdles as far as you are aware of them, terminology and etiquette and further resources. We could than maybe one day find enough information for articles on fossil hunting outside of the US, even though it would of course be lovely to have coverage on the US. Best wishes Hobbitschuster (talk) 13:50, 19 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
There also needs to be a robust discussion on the legality, at various sites and in various countries, of removing/keeping anything you might find. Texugo (talk) 13:58, 19 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Speaking of which, do we (have to) include a legal disclaimer like WP does? If there is no obligation, I would think that the fact that we are not an attorney and our information may not be 100% accurate falls under WV:Obvious Hobbitschuster (talk) 14:04, 19 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think we have legal disclaimers in any article; instead, we do our good-faith best to warn people about possible dangers in the "Stay safe" and "Stay healthy" sections, and in warningboxes, etc. Ikan Kekek (talk) 14:17, 19 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Expanded "Paleontology in West Virginia" draft and query about linking to Wikipedia[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Hey, I'm that guy who's working on a travel guide to collecting fossils by US state. I've started a user-space draft and substantially expanded its independent fossil collection section. The section lists and links to various cities in West Virginia along with a brief summary of what fossils can be found near each of them, so that potential travelers can decide which destination seems to be the most inviting. Since most fossil hunters obviously don't have every single individual kind of prehistoric life form memorized, I think the article would benefit from linking their names to their Wikipedia articles.

However, I noticed that the Help pages on external linking sends mixed signals regarding whether or not this is acceptable. Some pages seem to imply that it's never or almost never a good idea to link to Wikipedia articles while others seem okay with it as long as it's of interest to the traveler. I was wondering if anyone could advise me whether or not my intended linking is appropriate (the intended Wikipedia links are almost all internal red links right now) and provide general feedback on how the draft is taking shape. Abyssal (talk) 20:35, 8 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]

A generalized Paleontology / Natural history / Fossils article would be useful, with links to important sites and museums. /Yvwv (talk) 20:55, 8 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I intend to write one, don't worry. Abyssal (talk) 22:09, 8 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
As for the external links to Wikipedia... I think we rather recently had that issue and it ended up with: There is no consensus to change so we keep the current policy how ever flawed it may be. Also, there is a slippery slope argument to be made. Hobbitschuster (talk) 21:39, 8 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
But it's not even clear what that policy is. Abyssal (talk) 22:08, 8 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
There should only be one link per article to Wikipedia, which you already have - from there the reader can navigate on WP to get any background info that they want. Rather than linking, try giving brief description of some of the fossils e.g. blastoids (which look like small hickory nuts). Normally we only link to cities, states etc, and occasionally to travel topics.
I see that your article links to Bethany (West Virginia), but I can't find anything about fossils in that article. Please start by putting the details as a See or Do listing there. AlasdairW (talk) 22:11, 8 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Your draft looks very good already, full of great information! The only drawback I'm seeing so far is that you have lots of red links on the names of animals and plants, and your blue link on "mammoths" goes to Mammoth Lakes, California. You can italicize or bold the names of important varieties of fossilized life, but they should not be linked. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:20, 9 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I also agree that looks great and there should not be links to WP. In my opinion, the article would benefit from having coordinates added, either as part of Do or See templates or Marker. Like that the interactive map of the state can be added with all the sites in it. Danapit (talk) 07:15, 9 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • I'm on the fence about this "topic". You clearly have a lot of knowledge about the topic, and of course it will be useful to those interested in collecting fossils, but is a collector's guide within scope? Do we want hobby guides? That's why I had suggested sticking to Paleotourism with information about museums with the best specimens, visible dig sites, etc. to keep it travel-focused. This focus of how to pursue fossils as a collector seems out of scope. Would we have articles about places to scout your own gold/diamonds/etc? ChubbyWimbus (talk) 12:07, 9 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I don't see why listing places to find fossils is more out of scope than places to scuba dive. Abyssal (talk) 15:14, 9 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I think fossils are a fine issue to cover, when the vantage point is primarily travel and not primarily natural history. (Explaining geologic terms or saying a rough time range instead of the era can go a long way in doing so, imho). But there is a lot to be said for a general topic before we make topics for individual US states. Not that the latter would not be needed at some point. Hobbitschuster (talk) 16:44, 9 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I intend to write a general paleontology article if the completed state draft is well-received. My current tentative goal would be an article on paleontology, paleontology in the US overall and then an article for each US state. This would be a book-length endeavor and the community's general lukewarm reception of the idea makes me hesitant to invest too much effort. I don't want to write the state draft and then the general paleontology article and then the article and then maybe a few more state articles only to have the community end up concluding that this project isn't suitable for Wikivoyage after all and everything get deleted.
Also, I get the impression that the community has a very specific and somewhat narrow vision for what its content should be like and I have concerns that there may end up being significant "artistic differences" between my own vision for the project and the kind of thing that might actually be acceptable to the community so I'm trying to proceed as cautiously as I can. Abyssal (talk) 18:15, 9 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
There have indeed been arguments about how broad "travel" is, but I can't see why travel-related articles about fossil-collecting that include needed background would be out of scope. Ikan Kekek (talk) 18:22, 9 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I think articles on fossil collecting would be a good addition since it requires travel to get to the fossil sites, but I share the concerns of others that have led to a lukewarm reception. In particular, if a destination is a great place for fossil collecting, or has a great fossil collection, that info should definitely be mentioned in the existing destination article, and I think there is a fear that lots of great info is going to be added to just the topic articles, while the destination article is what most users are most likely to read. Second, lots of people propose creating detailed hierarchies of topic articles, whether about sailing, scuba diving, or other subjects, and the majority of the time those efforts tend to be abandoned before completion, hence the guidance to always start out with a general article that is subdivided as the content grows ("Fossil collecting" → "Fossil Collecting in the Eastern USA" → etc). It is highly unlikely that any content you add would be deleted, but if dozens of articles were created but left unfinished for some reason, it would create a significant amount of work for others to then merge that content back into something manageable, hence the caution and suggestions to focus on existing destination articles and on an initial broad topic article rather than immediately diving down to the detail of state-level articles. Again, I'd encourage you to proceed, but would reiterate that starting broadly and ensuring that destination articles also contain relevant information would help to instill confidence in this project. -- Ryan • (talk) • 18:33, 9 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with everything Ryan posted above. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:11, 10 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]

(indent) There's a huge difference between scuba diving, which no one disputes is something travelers do as a travel activity versus collecting things, which may require traveling but is not itself a travel topic. I think most of the support seems to be simply because someone wants to create the article. Will we also have a guide on where to find the best gold? Seashells? Arrowheads? Dolls? Postcards? Paleotourism sounds like a topic, while paleontology could go in a lot of different directions, not all of which are congruent with our goals. I like the topic, but my concerns still stand. ChubbyWimbus (talk) 17:32, 22 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I'm not sure I agree that traveling for scuba diving is significantly different from traveling for fossil collecting, rock collecting, seashell collecting, or in search of Native American heritage. There may be fewer people doing the latter, but if popularity was our sole measure of article-worthiness then some of our best articles about little-visited destinations would need to go away (note that with regards to postcards or dolls, I'm not sure that travel specifically for the purpose of retrieving either item is actually something that people do, so I'd be hesitant about those examples).
To a larger point, I think we need to be very careful about telling people what not to contribute, and should instead try to find ways that allow people to contribute in areas that they are interested in - for example, an article on doll collecting may not make sense, but including listings for doll museums or doll stores in articles would make sense. In this case, Abyssal clearly has an interest in contributing fossil-related info, and we definitely want that info in destination articles, but if it also ends up in a general guide for fossil collecting, I see no harm. -- Ryan • (talk) • 17:51, 22 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I don't care if the activity is popular or not. I just don't know that collecting seashells or fossils constitutes as travel. As for postcards, there are countries where people do/must travel to get certain postcards like Japan's Gotochi cards. To get a specific prefecture's card, you MUST buy it at a post office within that prefecture [1]. I could write a guide to collecting them, with information about the cards, the mini-cards, what post offices have Saturday, Sunday, and holiday hours for those traveling on these common travel days, possibly websites where people trade the cards for those who cannot go to the location, etc. BUT would an article about these cards meet our goals? Would you say they do? ChubbyWimbus (talk) 11:16, 23 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Websites where people who can't travel trade collectables are obviously not germane to this site. However, I would hold that you could create a valid travel topic about Gotochi card collecting. I know you've disagreed with this in the past. Ikan Kekek (talk) 11:29, 23 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I think I would feel more comfortable with the fossil hunting portion if it was not solely that. If the focus was on museums or other places that feature unique fossils/the most complete/ holotypes / "best specimens" of particular species, famous dig sites that can be viewed, etc. and THEN include places to do it yourself it would seem to have a travel-focus. But a "Where to pan for gold"-type article just seems like it's left the realm of travel. Abbyssal, could you perhaps expand the "See" section to say specifically what is noteworthy about those locations and the fossils that are on display there? ChubbyWimbus (talk) 14:44, 23 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
If you have a look at the article draft, sections for museums and other attraction are included already. Still, I don't see any difference between traveling for diving or for fossil digging. Both are valid travel topics. The latter can even be done without any special equipment and qualification. I am happy for the diversity in travel topics and we should be careful not to be too keen to discourage new contributors, who have slightly different interests. As for Paleotourism, this term is very unspecific and broad, it can also include prehistory or archeology. Danapit (talk) 16:20, 23 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I think that these could go either way. I'd be surprised if you really "must" go to a post office to get a gotochi card (ever heard of eBay before?), but an itinerary that takes you past to each prefecture to get a complete set (or a couple of itineraries, since that might be a long trip) would be a fabulous travel idea. Similarly, you can "collect" fossils without leaving your home, but you can't "hunt" them without traveling. It's just a matter of focus and the approach you take to writing the pages. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:41, 24 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Well, this is awkward...[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Guy who's doing the fossil collecting series here. I've been using a book called Fossil Collecting in the Mid-Atlantic States by Jasper Burns as my primary source for fossil sites in West Virginia. I've actually been considering visiting one of these sites and decided to scope the place out on Google maps. I found that the area depicted in the book had apparently overgrown considerably and it's difficult to tell exactly how much rock is even exposed there now. It's likely there are still some fossils to be found there, but it doesn't look like the site is the prime collecting ground promised by Burns in his book any more.

I thought that this book was published fairly recently, maybe around 2005 or so, but it actually dates back to 1991. I've lost a lot of confidence in it's reliability as a source of specific fossil sites and I'm not sure how to proceed. It's likely that even if fossils aren't available at the exact site Burns discusses that similar fossils can still be found in the local areas. Is it okay to list it like that? Like "Such-and-such fossils" were reportedly available at [specific location in area] in 1991, but if this exposure is no longer available or productive try searching for other rock exposures in the local area like road cuts or quarries"?

I'd hate to lead someone astray if fossils aren't available at specific localities but that's kind of the nature of the game. Sometimes land gets bought by private owners, or grows up, or gets played out, or is only avilable seasonally. There really aren't any guarantees. On one hand, the more specific I am, the more likely the information is to be misleading and outdated. On the other, the more general it is, the less immediately useful it is. I was wondering if you guys had an opinion on what the proper balance would be. Abyssal (talk) 18:39, 10 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]

It's a wiki. Sooner or later someone who's been there will set the record straight. Hobbitschuster (talk) 19:57, 10 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]