18th Century mentality in the 21st Century

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Thu Nov 15 08:08:51 CST 2001

Yes, Ron, Hendrik, John, Doug, et alia,

we can ignore the Internet and WWW and safely hide behind our codes of
nomenclature and remain happily in the world of Linnaean Science as
practiced in 18th Century. That is easy: Simply ignore anything that isn't
printed on paper (except for those occassional CD-ROM under the ICZN),
declaring it isn't "Science" because it isn't "published" (sensu ICZN,

Unfortunately, the rest of Science has long ago abandoned such a narrow,
primitive view of the World. Digital publication via the Internet / WWW as
well as many other things (such as applying for NSF grants, for example) are
the minimal acceptable standards for communications.

Some of us would like the Public to invest millions if not billions into
community projects like the Tree of Life and ALL (All Life List), but what
is the Public going to think when we declare we are only going to
communicate the same way Linnaeus did 250 years ago, ink on paper, and
despite the obvious fact that that method has only documented about 10% of
the estimated amount of life on Earth and has contributed very little to the
understanding of the hierarchical relationships about those taxa. (Try to
get a NSF grant via paper and the US Postal Service.)

If systematics is going to survive, get the increased funding it views as
necessary to fulfill its challenges, etc., then we must embrace the newer
technologies that the rest of Science has found useful and productive.
Digital communications is one of those. We can make the new ICZN work in
such a World, but, in computer-speak, it will be a "hack/kludge" and once
that happens then it may be time for a new edition or we may discover that
the ICZN is no longer necessary.

Dug, there is a significant different between manuscripts which are
circulated among colleagues and "publishing" information on the WWW. And
while people do circulate manuscripts on the WWW, the difference remains as
always the intent "to make public" that defines "publish" in English. So,
like in everything else, one must seek to differentiate one's intent when
one communicates.

So, for the record, one may and should cite what is posted to TAXACOM, but
it is not "publication" in the sense of ICZN nor in the sense of
"peer-reviewed" Science! It is merely the same discussion which happens at
scientific meetings, and, once, when publication was cheap was printed and
published sensu ICZN! Now it is digital. And obviously, while you guys are
wanting the paper world of Linnaeus, you are fighting for it in the digital
world of today.

Smile :-)

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D. C. 20560-0169
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov [NB: no terminal "n"]
visit our Diptera site at www.diptera.org

>>> Ron Gatrelle <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG> 11/15 2:44 AM >>>
Hendrik Segers wrote:
*Such names (if not published separately in a conventional way, of course)
are to be considered unpublished. The names proposed in the website aren't
even nomina nuda, which are *published* names that do not conform to
requirements set in the code.

Chris Thompson wrote:
*You are missing the point. There are today many ways to "publish"
information. Information posted on the WWW / Internet is "published". I
noted that the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature does not
defined the definition of "published" except in its own sphere of

Ron Gatrelle
* Indeed "_except_ in its own sphere of influence." And I think this is
exactly Hendrik's point. (Hendrik's term was the code relative
"unpublished" not societal relative "non-published".)   This entire matter
is totally framed within the context of the ZN code.  The names Doug is
asking about are "scientific" (Latinized) names.  What is one to do with
these names  _from the perspective of the ZN code_?  According to the
they indeed are _UN_ published.    Yes, the Code does not define "publish"
or "publication" relative to the carpet, tourism, farming or any other
industry -- but it defines these terms relative to nomenclatural
expressions of taxonomic research.   Glossary:  "publish. (1) To issue any
publication..."   "publication (1) Any published work..."  "unpublished
work. A work that is not published within the meanings of Articles 8 and
9..."   "9.8 text or illustrations distributed by means of electronic
signals (e.g. by means of the World Wide Web): "   And on page XXVIII of
introduction under "Changes affecting publication"  point 10(b)
"down-loaded copies or printouts of such material."..."are treated as
unpublished."    These www. names are unpublished within the meaning of
ZN code just as Hendrik stated.

Chris continued
*etc. Obviously, no one now would declare that information put on the WWW
not "published" in our common interpretation of that verb.    Remember
"publish" simply means to make PUBLIC, it is not linked to "printing on

*  We are not talking about "not" published.  We are talking about
"un"published within the meaning and application of the ZN code.  We are
not talking about "common" interpretation -- the names in question were
"common" (vernacular) insect names on a Sports Illustrated web site or
other magazine -- they are latinized names in a format the code clearly
declares "unpublished".   In the generic, a verbal announcement is a
technical Webster's "publication" to the "public" if anyone really wants
see how far away from the specific issue at hand one can go into the

*Under the ICZN a nomen nudum (see the glossary) is a Latin term for a
that fails to conform to the requirement of the Code (Arts. 11 & 12 or 11
13, etc.).

* And 11.1 states "Publication. The name or nomenclatural act must have
been PUBLISHED, in the _meaning_ of Article 8, and ..."  the many etcs.
yield these names unavailable and invlaid.  _These_ names are thus nomina
nuda for two reasons.  First, and if not formost, is that they were in a
"publication" not an "unpublication".  We are not only looking at what
a nomen nudum - but what makes a publication (per the code).  The glossary
states.  " nomen nudum.  A Latin term referring to a name that, if
_published_.."  We have to stop right there and see how the Code defines
"published".  As I pointed out above, no publication occurred in this case
as Article 8 as referenced to 9 as referenced to Into 10(b) renders all
such electronic "stuff" as UNpublished.

Let me present this this way.  Articles 10 - 19 are all just parts of
Chapter 4. "Criterina of Availability".  Before anything gets to come into
the arena of Chapter 4 it must first pass the muster of Chapter 3.
"Criteria of Publication".   What we are doing in Ch. 3 is seeing if that
which contains information is published or unpublished.  Next in Ch.  4 we
look _only_ in the containers that passed the publication muster to now
look inside them at the  _information_ they contain to see what kind of
nomenclature we are going to class this information as.  The info only
becomes nomenclature if it reaches Chapter 4 otherwise it is just
information, conjecture, disallowed words.  In 4 they become available,
unavailable, nomen somethings.

* So, any "scientific" name "published" that does not meet ICZN
standards is a nomen nudum.

*Yes, once _published_ within the meaning of the ZN code, not society or
Webster's dictionary.  An ZN unpublished name can not be anything.

So, Hendrik is simply wrong?   I don't think so.

Doug Yanega wrote
*Your claim appears to be that it's up to the judgment of the
reviser/cataloguer as to whether to cite such names (i.e., the Code
neither *compels* one to cite them nor to exclude them), and I might
accept that - but I almost never see any citations that would qualify
in that category, so it appears that most people's judgment dictates
otherwise. In what way is a web-based name more citable than a
manuscript name?

*Or a name I "publish" to colleagues in a  conference phone call -
preserved on tape of course.  Seriously, I think we need to be very
about endorsing web "publications" unless and until a new Vol. of the code
definitively lays out rules for the same.   A lot of us are using the web
and it surely gets the word out, and quick, and cheep.  It is very
attractive to just slide into using it.  My view is very conservative and
Code narrow on electronic (un)publication.  Chris has been clear (and
totally in line with the ZN code) about www _not_ being a valid means of
nomenclatural publication.  But, there is at the same time an aura of
"credibility" given to that which is outside the code that if left
unchallenged or unchecked will only lead to the perception of "validity"
and then "acceptability".

I will now hunker down.  Cheers :^])
Ron Gatrelle
TILS president
Charleston, SC - USA

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