Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Viruses

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WikiProject Viruses (Rated Project-class)
WikiProject icon This page is within the scope of WikiProject Viruses, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of viruses on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
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proposed addition to project guidelines[edit]

As there are a large number of viruses, having an article for each virus and taxon would make virus articles difficult to maintain, leaving many articles in poor condition. In order to help keep a manageable number of virus articles, the following guidelines should be adhered to:

*1. Serotypes, genotypes, strains, and isolates of virus species should not receive their own articles unless they are exceptionally notable, as is the case for certain subtypes of influenza. Otherwise, such information should be merged into a species, genus, or family article.

  • 2. A virus species should only be considered notable enough to receive its own article if it is exceptionally notable. If a species stub cannot develop to start-class, even if it is exceptionally notable, then it should be merged into a genus or family article.
  • 3. For purposes of 1 and 2, "exceptionally notable" means that
    • (a) at least one review of research specifically about the virus has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and
    • alt. (a) the virus is mentioned in at least 10 separate research articles, and
    • alt. (a) there is enough information for the species article to develop to at least start-class, and
    • (b) the virus is either pathogenic or beneficial to an organism it infects or is commonly used for research or medicinal purposes.
  • 4. 1 through 3 may be waived in instances in which a novel virus is causing a widely-reported outbreak, but should apply after such outbreak has ended.
  • 5. If any viral taxon has only one taxon below it, such as a family having only one genus or a genus having only one species, then the lower taxon should be merged into the higher taxon in order to avoid duplication.
  • 6. Viral taxa above the species level are to be considered notable enough to receive their own articles if they are recognized by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses in its most recent taxonomy release. Proposed taxa that are not recognized by the ICTV in its most recent taxonomy release should not be considered notable enough to receive their own articles.
  • alt. 6. Viral taxa above the species level are to be considered notable enough to receive their own articles if they are recognized by the ICTV in its most recent taxonomy release. Proposed taxa that are widely used (mentioned at least ten times) in research are notable enough to receive their own articles, but the articles should clearly state that they are proposed and not officially recognized.
Disagree with everything. This is not based on science. It seems based more on one editor's misunderstanding of virology. SW3 5DL (talk) 05:56, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
Others disagreed also, the result is below. MicroPaLeo (talk) 06:10, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Right now there are about 2,000 articles under this project, with hundreds that are definition stubs and not much else (X is a plant virus + taxobox). My proposal would significantly reduce the number of virus articles and improve the quality of many of those that would remain. That's just a draft, but do other members of this project support something like this? ComfyKem (talk) 13:11, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

I agree with this proposal in principle, but the wording needs more thought. We need a definition of "notable" that is not circular, and I don't think one review article will suffice in many cases. I also anticipate a problem with the plant viruses with regard to point number 5. We have to remember that most readers will be looking up common names. Redirects can be used of course, but my observations of student users is that these should be minimal as they have a tendency to drive readers away. Graham Beards (talk) 14:06, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
I've revised it a bit. Feel free to revise my draft or come up with your own. Can't the issue of common names be solved just by including them alongside the species in an article? So something like "Tulip virusvirus is commonly known as the Greek Tulip virus and the Parthenon virus". Or:
  • Tulip virusvirus
    • Synonyms: Greek Tulip virus, Parthenon virus
Mergers don't have to exclude common names. ComfyKem (talk) 16:17, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I strongly disagree with most items of this proposal. There is a long-standing tradition that all species are worthy of articles and I see no reason to dismiss this here. There seems no reason to restrict numbers of articles just because people in this project can't keep up with them -- it seems a reason for trying to recruit more people to the project! There might be something to be said for merging items where, say, four viruses ANYV-1–4 have identical microstub articles, but in an informal way that allows someone to decide to write an article on ANYV-3 if data emerge that would support a longer article. (By the way, as projects go, 2000 is on the small end. I think it's the smallest of all the projects I've been involved with.)
On (6), if a taxon is being widely used or discussed in the literature then it makes sense to have an article, though it should make clear that it is not (yet) officially recognised by the ICTV.
The points I would agree with are (1) on subtypes, which I'd agree should only exceptionally be considered notable enough for standalone articles; and (5) on lower taxons where there is only a single one (though "duplication", not "duplicity"!).
I don't know how widely this has been advertised; it seems to me that proposing to break the "each species deserves an article" tradition would require much wider input than just this project. Espresso Addict (talk) 16:56, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
  • At least one, even two or more, "review articles?" We would have articles on model viruses and nothing else. If there are 17 aricles with the virus as its primary topic and no review article, it would be considered non-notable. The standard is unreal. Writers would keep seeing a missing article with a lt of literature, then, hat, keep creating it and the project deletes it for not having two review articles written about it? Part of this, I think, is that it comes from a bias of looking at human disease viruses, whereas my experience is pure research, but I think the standard is out of alignment with Wikipedia. Upmerging single taxa to their single taxon parent is good. MicroPaLeo (talk) 22:50, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

I'm not involved with Virus articles, but I support any guidelines that promote better encyclopedia articles, not simply more. An often overlooked "rule of thumb", posted on this and several other taxon projects in some form or another, readsAs a general guideline though, combine several species or subspecies into a single article when there isn't enough text to make more than short, unsatisfying stubs otherwise. If the article grows large enough to deserve splitting, that can always be done later. I'm all for that. --Animalparty-- (talk) 04:02, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

I agree with this because the one sentence stubs are not maintained or watched by anyone. There are 4000 poorly categorized Insects of Europe (parent category, when more useful child exists, but other problems, too). Many of these could be gatherede into a list of species, and leave a cople hundred articles instead of thousands to fix. MicroPaLeo (talk) 04:11, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Is there an example of a virus that meets 3a but not 3b? Or which meets 3b but isn't worthy of an article? It seems like an overly strict set of requirements. As it's easier to build on a stub than to start a new article, stubs can be generally useful to encourage further editing. —Pengo 05:56, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
    • Viruses are a little different from ToL organisms, as it is not unusual to have one familiar taxon in a genus or family. In this case having stub articles on obscure genera is almost worthless, imo. But, I will try to find an example. Yes, it seems 3a, given 3b. MicroPaLeo (talk) 06:07, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
    • There are many 3bs that have at most five reliable sources and cannot develop to more than a stub. 3a is a sort of "cap" on 3b. ComfyKem (talk) 07:54, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
      • Can you give an example? I don't work in human health, and it may be more obvious to you, but in plants, the level of research necessary to establish pathogenicity is such that you tend to wind up with enough reliable sources that you could write an article. I could write almost any Wikipedia article with five reliable source, btw. Most articles I look at have one reliable source or appear scrubbed from a database. MicroPaLeo (talk) 07:59, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
        • To be clearer, I should have said that there may be some viruses that cause a disease but that also do not have a review about them because scientists likely don't consider them as important as other viruses. So among the grapevine viruses, there are 68 PubMed sources,[1] but 50 of these mention Grapevine virus A[2], 28 mention B,[3] and the only review is about the vitiviruses as a whole, so it is likely that the genus, A, and B are the only ones with enough sources to get out of stubitude. I think that 3 could be relaxed since grapevine A and B viruses have enough sources to be well developed (but no specific review), the other grapevine viruses not so much. ComfyKem (talk) 09:16, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
          • Okay, I thought you were saying the opposite. I agree. MicroPaLeo (talk) 15:46, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

So far, there appears to be support for 1 and 5. User:Espresso Addict has a reasonable objection to 6 (the objection currently applies to Megavirales[4]), which I would like others in this project to comment on. The primary disagreement is when a species is considered notable enough for its own article, since given the sheer number of species in existence, maintaining an article for all species (and WP:VIRUS is nowhere near close to that) becomes increasingly difficult. Some users support having an article for each species while others support merging certain ones into the genus. I think that User:Animalparty's comment is reasonable not just for viruses but for all forms of life. ComfyKem (talk) 07:54, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

  • My position on species doesn't quite fit into ComfyKem's summary. I'm opposed to generating notability criteria for virus (or any other) species. However, I have no objection to merging micro-stubs on species until at least a viable stub can be written and I like the wording Animalparty quotes.
Re (6), I'd suggest not quantifying "widely" but leaving it up to common sense; 10 papers from a single group not associated with the relevant nomenclature study group would be less convincing than a smaller number of papers from unconnected groups, particularly if they were part of the relevant nomenclature study group. Espresso Addict (talk) 16:53, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree with not quantifying. MicroPaLeo (talk) 18:46, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
  • 1. Serotypes, genotypes, strains, isolates, and other subtypes of virus species should not receive their own articles unless they are exceptionally notable, as is the case for certain subtypes of influenza viruses.
What exactly qualifies as "exceptionally notable?" SW3 5DL (talk) 07:02, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • 2. Articles for virus species that only have a definition and a taxonomy box should either be improved or merged into the relevant genus article.
  • 3. If any taxon has only one taxon below it, such as a genus having only one species, then the lower taxon should be merged into the higher taxon in order to avoid duplication.
  • 4. Unless 3 applies, any taxon that is either recognized by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses in its most recent taxonomy release or is widely used in scientific literature is notable enough to receive its own article.

Is this an agreeable addition to the guidelines? Not as strict or narrow as the original, but still helps to keep things in this project clean. I've removed quantifiers since those are likely to create issues. ComfyKem (talk) 18:17, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

  • I'm reasonably comfortable with that. We'd need to watch out as a project that it didn't mean that microstubs on species get deleted, rather than merged, if they have any usable unique content at all -- I know deleting admins can get a bit over-enthusiastic at times. Espresso Addict (talk) 19:36, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I think this is easy to understand and sensible. We should make sure all virus articles have a project tag, so, umm, is there a viruses for deletion category? MicroPaLeo (talk) 21:25, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
It's possible to get a project-specific article alert, which would include deletion among other things -- does anyone know how to go about getting this set up? I know when I was trawling for material for the portal, I found numerous articles that were not project tagged. One can also request a new articles alert which is helpful with catching & tagging articles not written by project members (and recruiting new members, potentially). Espresso Addict (talk) 22:18, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes, there is a bot that does this called AlexNewArticleBot or something, and individual editors can get or watch it for specific projects. I think I have seen it at plants, but, if there is a central bot listing, you could find it and how it works. MicroPaLeo (talk) 23:54, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
See this plant page for article alert information. Also, for finding insects by family I just used a boolean Google search, which would work for finding virus articles. MicroPaLeo (talk) 23:59, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Absolutely not. None of these guidelines will improve the virus articles on WP. The research article requirement of 10 alone will wipe out all the emerging bat viruses. And what is so magical about the number 10? That alone shows the lack of any solid rationale for this. SW3 5DL (talk) 06:28, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

That requirement has been removed, and for the reasons you state. As I noted above, it appears the proposal was originally written by editor(s) who work with human pathogenic viruses, where these standards are easily met. MicroPaLeo (talk) 06:31, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
These standards are not easily met with emerging viruses. And who are these editors? And WP allows primary sources. This is most needed in the viruses. We're not writing medical disease articles. We're writing about the viruses. We can't sit around waiting for review articles to show up. That's a nonsense standard in the case of viruses, especially the emerging bat viruses. SW3 5DL (talk) 06:38, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
I am having a hard time explaining this. People already disagreed with the number of articles and review article requirements, so these are no longer being suggested. The small box below is the current suggestion, not the big one above. Review articles is not part of it. 10 articles is not part of it. MicroPaLeo (talk) 06:48, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
My point is that none of these proposals are useful. If something needs to be accomplished it, it needs to be defined first with an ICTV rationale. He appears to be simply doing this to eliminate articles, but to what end? To create space on servers? It doesn't matter even when something is deleted, it still exists on the WP servers. So he decides that a strain isn't important? Sorry, no. The coronavirus strains in MERS are relevant, and I shouldn't have to explain why. It should be obvious, yet he blanked the pages and redirected them. These proposals have no basis in science or even in WP policy. SW3 5DL (talk) 07:02, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't know what you are talking about, but it doesn't seem to be the proposals, so I will leave it be. MicroPaLeo (talk) 07:35, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Project reports and finding untagged articles.[edit]

@Espresso Addict: I noticed the discussion above about article alerts. WikiProject Viruses was already signed up for a number of reporting tools, although these reports weren't linked from any of the project pages. I've added links to the main project page for the Article Alert tool, Quality Log, New Pages report and the most Popular Pages. Feel free to move them to a subpage if you think it clutters the main page. If anybody is interesting in monitoring these reports, I find it helpful to watchlist the pages that are edited by the bot that generates the report (what's linked on the project page is transcluded, so while it will update regularly, you won't be notified of changes by watchlisting the main project page). The pages to watchlist are: Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team/Virus articles by quality log, Wikipedia:WikiProject Viruses/Article alerts, User:AlexNewArtBot/VirusesSearchResult, and Wikipedia:WikiProject Viruses/Popular pages.

There is an additional reporting tool that WikiProject Viruses is still not signed up for. It's the Cleanup listing, which monitors articles with various clean-up templates (e.g. citation needed, clarification needed, general cleanup, etc.). For an example of the report generated by this tool, see here. I can see about signing this project up for the cleanup listing if people are interested.

Except for the new article report, all of these tools are based on having {{WikiProject Viruses}} present on the articles Talk page. There are a number of articles on virus species that don't yet have the project tag. Catscan is a tool which will find many of the untagged articles. In particular, this search should show most of the untagged articles in the scope of WikiProject Viruses, although there are some false positives. I've excluded a few subcategories related to prominent human disease causing viruses because they included large numbers of false positives; there are surely some relevant articles under Category:Smallpox, but it also includes hundreds of articles on people who've been infected with the disease. A more carefully constructed search of the subcategories I excluded could winnow out most of the false positives. Plantdrew (talk) 21:51, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for these, Plantdrew. I believe I requested the popular pages listing when I was expanding the project's portal, and then never got around to linking it here. Some form of automatic project tagging would be very helpful -- I tag all the pages I come across in my portal-related searches but it's tedious work. Espresso Addict (talk) 00:25, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
Well, I'll probably work some on tagging species (and other taxa) as time permits; I like multitasking the tedious stuff while I watch TV. There really aren't that many untagged virus taxa. Aside from taxa, I'm not sure what else should get the project tag. Antiviral drugs? Viral proteins? Articles on outbreaks of a particular virus? Animal reservoirs of a particular virus (e.g. Gambian pouched rat)? There are ways to automate project tagging but they are basically category based and depend on the categories being only including relevant articles. Charity Treks was recently tagged for the virus project by somebody doing semi-automated tagging, but it doesn't seem very relevant to me. Plantdrew (talk) 02:17, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
From the point of view of the portal I'd be keen to include virologists (as one of the major suggested sections for portals is biographies) but I can understand why others here might object. Espresso Addict (talk) 03:14, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
From my point of view, I'd favor including the articles on virologists and virus outbreaks. Viral proteins are borderline, but I'd include them before antiviral drugs. Animal reservoirs and specific HIV charities shouldn't be included (although some broader articles on cultural impacts of certain viruses may be relevant). Plantdrew (talk) 04:55, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Table of Viral Information[edit]

I have a new article I'd like to publish, but it's essentially a giant table. I would like some advice/help formatting it and getting it into a usable format. I am thinking I should add the relevant parts to existing pages (such as all the genera in a family to a new section in that family's page). I may not be making much sense; please take a look and tell me what you think. It's currently on my Sandbox.
Espresso Addict, MicroPaLeo, and ComfyKem, you were all very helpful in helping me publish my Taxonomic list of viruses, and I'm hoping you can point me in the right direction again.
Thanks! Bervin61 (talk) 18:41, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

I haven't heard from anyone yet, but I've created my table here. Please give feedback; I'm not entirely happy with how it turned out, and would like to get some suggestions on formatting. Thanks! Bervin61 (talk) 14:30, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
I think it's too big for it's own article, but the information can easily be split off into the relevant articles, like what you did with Yualikevirus. ComfyKem (talk) 09:25, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm planning to do the same with each page I create, hoping it becomes standard practice. I'm still pretty new, but is there any way to make the tables into a template for genera (and/or other taxa)? Also, I'm interested in building a database of such information - keeping the tables linked in some way and centralized somewhere would be ideal for my uses. Any advice? Bervin61 (talk) 19:51, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure what you're looking for, but some of Wikipedia's sister projects might serve your goals better. Wikispecies is heavily dependent on templates (but allows little content beside basic taxonomic information). Wikidata is a database (there's really no good way to do a structured data scheme on Wikipedia or Wikispecies). You might find {{Automatic taxobox}} useful here on Wikipedia. There have been bots in the past that have created taxon articles on Wikipedia from external databases, but the bot generated articles had various problems, and I don't think people on English Wikipedia want to see bots making more taxon pages at present (the Swedish Wikipedia on the other hand has upwards of 1 million bot-generated articles on biological taxa). You could use regular expressions to convert a table or other structured data into a simple prose article, but that might be more trouble than it's worth. Plantdrew (talk) 21:47, 16 March 2015 (UTC)


Over the past couple of months, I have worked to expand the Viruses portal, and I think it is now reasonably well developed. I have set up a suggestions page for new content, if anyone is interested in suggesting articles or commenting on my latest suggestions. It is still not getting all that many hits; would anyone object if I were to add a graphical link to the portal in the See also section of some of the project's popular articles? I note it has already been added to some articles (not by me) at the very bottom, underneath the virus templates, but that isn't the place where such links are recommended to be placed. Espresso Addict (talk) 04:48, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

Excellent work. Well done you. SW3 5DL (talk) 18:24, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

Request for Opinion on Redirect[edit]

In Wikipedia:Teahouse/Questions#Article_that_should_be_a_redirect I asked the following: "I noticed that the Groundnut crinkle virus article looks like is should be a redirect to the Cowpea mild mottle virus. Both articles list the other's species name as a synonym, and none of the other synonyms listed (identical for each virus) have an article. Is there someone with some level of expertise in virus taxonomy who could take a look and change Groundnut crinkle virus into a redirect if appropriate?" It was recommended in the response that I inquire here. Thanks. Carl Henderson (talk) 23:02, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

While GCV is not listed by the ICTV, I do not find anything (other than the Cowpea mild mottle virus article) claiming that they are synonymous. The best I've found (from a short search) is that they are "serologically related." I would suggest that the claim of synonymity needs a citation before the articles be merged. I am, however, by no means an expert in the field. Bervin61 (talk) 17:34, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
For what it's worth, this citation says they are "closely related by can be differentiated by their host ranges"
The Plant Viruses: The Filamentous Plant Viruses
by R.G. Milne, Springer Science & Business Media, November 9, 2013
Carl Henderson (talk) 03:32, 21 April 2015 (UTC)