What motivated you to join WikiProject Fungi? Do you have an academic background in mycology? Do you enjoy eating any varieties of fungi?
Casliber: My father's family (being Polish) collected wild mushrooms for eating. He had a bunch of books with illustrations that I found fascinating when I was a kid. I guess I still do. I do like eating different varieties too.
J Milburn: I started writing articles on mushrooms because I had access to a few books on mushrooms- I quickly realised just how fascinating a subject mycology is, and how the existence of other interested editors makes writing so much more rewarding. I have no background in academic biology; it's just a hobby for me.
The project is home to 46 Featured Articles and 171 Good Articles. Have you worked on any of these articles? Are there any resources you've found that are particularly useful in sourcing fungi articles?
Casliber: I've nominated seven FAs and co-nominated two with Sasata. Sasata and I have been meaning to collaborate on some of the heftier ones....sometime
J Milburn: As of right now, I have nominated four FAs and co-nominated one with Sasata. I've written over a dozen good articles, and reviewed many more. One amazing resource for fungi articles is Mushroom Observer; think of it as a Flickr for mushrooms. Many of our 31 featured pictures are originally from that site, and countless articles are illustrated thanks to the site's membership. Cyberliber is another useful website, archiving a number of mycological journals and academic texts.
The project has a list of "unwritten articles" that need to be created and stubs needing expansion. What have been the greatest challenges preventing the project from expanding Wikipedia's coverage of fungi? What are some sections or templates a non-expert can easily contribute to existing articles on fungi?
Casliber: It's a fairly trouble-free area to edit really. Some more obscure authors and fungi lack good online sources and require some ferreting around libraries...and university access to online journals helps immensely!
J Milburn: I agree with Casliber: much use has to be made of hardcopy books and scholarly databases, rather than a quick Google Web search. The key difficulty is that the WikiProject covers such a huge area; there are hundreds of thousands of named and described species of fungi, and there could be millions more as yet undescribed. I try to write articles about more significant species when I can: our articles on the largest ever and a a fewfamiliarwoodland species were written by me. That said, I also write about comparatively less important species.
How difficult has it been to acquire images for fungi articles? Are there any species of fungi that are more difficult to locate and photograph than others?
Casliber: As a field, one of the main issues is accurate identification - made much tricker in countries like Australia where only 5% of the mushroom species have been officially described (!). Timing is the key, as if they are not throwing up mushrooms, then they are to all intents and purposes invisible...and some species only seem to fruit every few years or so (!) We've had some great photographers such as Luridiformis (talk·contribs) contribute over the years though.
J Milburn: I'm based in the UK, and so identification is less difficult for me. However, many species can be accurately identified only by microscopic characteristics. As I've said, Mushroom Observer is one excellent resource for images, and there are others, too. Also, I've found that academics are often willing to share their images if you ask nicely. Three of my featured articles are illustrated thanks to the generosity of the academics who first documented the respective species.
How does Wikipedia's coverage of fungi compare to the coverage of other living things? Are the fungi of any geographic regions better covered than others?
Casliber: It has improved dramatically since 2007. Amanita phalloides was the first Featured Article in 2007. Since then the FA crop has grown to 47, with Sasata and J Milburn producing some great content. Active writers often write about what is near them or what they know, hence I've buffed some content on Australian fungi which are generally poorly known. We've buffed material from Europe and North America. Africa is underrepresented, and some of the better known widely cultivated fungi such as regular button mushrooms and Shiitake have been in the too-hard basket for a while...but we'll get there....
J Milburn: Inevitably, I started by writing about fungi local to me, and perhaps even fungi I'd photographed. However, I've since branched out, writing about fungi from North America, Asia and Australasia. Africa and South America are probably underrepresented, but that is perhaps true of mycology generally, not just on Wikipedia. As for fungi compared to other areas, by FA and especially GA count, mycology compares well to botany (though lags well behind zoology).