more phantom names = ?Conclusions

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Tue Apr 18 17:32:24 CDT 2006

I agree with Chris Thompson on his sentiments below, with just one comment
on this:

"[The phantom name] has been marked as a database artifact in ITIS"

This is exactly the sort of thing I meant in my past comment on this thread.
That is, once it makes it into some semi-authoritative/public database, it
makes no sense to *delete* it (and thus have to figure it out again if it
happens to ever be encountered somewhere) -- but rather flag it for what it
is, and make it effectively "disappear" (only showing up if someone
specifically looks for it, for example).


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]On
> Behalf Of christian thompson
> Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 4:58 AM
> Subject: Re: more phantom names = ?Conclusions
> A couple of points:
> As to the phantom name that started this string of message,
> Pollenia pseudobscura.
> It has been corrected. It has been deleted from Wikipedia and
> UMichigan's Animal Diversity Web and has been marked as a
> database artifact in ITIS so it is no longer visible as a name.
> UNFORTUNATELY, Google has not update their data files as the same
> results that I got on 28 March were returned today (18 April),
> but the links no longer work!
> The name has also be deleted from the BioSystematic Database of
> World Diptera, so the next updates to our online version (due in
> May), to Species2000, GBIF ECat, etc. will be correct.
> This leads directly to a couple of critical points.
> Yes, GIGO and Internet / online faster access can created
> problems, BUT universal and FASTER access also can clean up
> problems faster too.
> Unfortunately some and they were the majority of those who
> responded still feel like the traditional print world that a
> standard of perfection needs to be achieved before information is
> disseminated***. And does not appreciate that using the Internet
> / online access can be useful.
> Now for some history. Back in 1998 NSF sponsored a workshop on
> "The Compilation, Maintenance, and Dissemination of Taxonomic
> Authority Files (TAF)" in Washington DC. The people from the
> library community who have had a much longer experience with
> AUTHORITY files attended and from them the following
> recommendation was made:
> #16 The electronic publication of Taxonomic Authority works
> should not be delayed because they contain errors. (The pretense
> of perfection should be confined to the paper media).
> This recommendation came directly from the experience of the
> library community in pointing out the fastest way to clean up
> catalog files is to have people used them and find the errors for you!
> The proceedings of the workshop can be found at
> Due to this recommendation we decided to put the BioSystematic
> Database of World Diptera online. We went online in August 2000,
> with 141,520 name records. The last version went online this past
> October with 258,215 name records. But if some one wants to do a
> comparison between those versions [and we have archive to CDROM
> serial, the Diptera Data Dissemination Disk, various versions]
> they will detect lots of "phantom names," which have been
> corrected or deleted. And except for Knut Rognes, no one
> discovered them before we found them. So, our position remains
> that the BDWD is an AUTHORITY file. Errors are corrected as soon
> as they are detected. And except for internal purposes we do not
> maintain phantom names in our AUTHORITY file.
> *** Yes, no one reads warning, label, etc., but at the BDWD we do
> maintain QUALITY standards and clearly indicate which name
> records met them. So, there are warnings on all name records
> which have not met our highest standard of peer-review by
> taxonomical expertise.
> F. Christian Thompson
> Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
> c/o Smithsonian Institution
> MRC-0169 NHB
> PO Box 37012
> Washington, DC 20013-7012
> (202) 382-1800 voice
> (202) 786-9422 FAX
> cthompso at e-mail
>  web site
> >>> Paul Kirk <p.kirk at CABI.ORG> 04/18/06 09:22AM >>>
> >let me once again, if I may, point to the real problem of
> 'phantom names' on
> >the internet and how to avoid them. This is because a recent search via
> > revealed many
> more errors and it seems to me
> >the problem is already more common on WWW than it ever was in
> the printed literature. Fast access  >to information is fine but
> fast access to wrong information is an imminent threat that calls for
> >quick solutions.
> I would not say that it is more common ... just more accessible.
> The 'solution' is to start any search at one of the online
> nomenclators (IPNI, ZooRecord (ION), Index Fungorum etc) or
> aggregators (Species2000, UBio, GBIF) rather than just googleing
> the name; the nomenclators would be very grateful to hear about
> omissions and errors (one, Index Fungorum, does include
> unpublished and other non Code compliant names (with known
> provenance - e.g. names from label data in a specific collection)
> but these are hidden from the user interface and primarily for
> automated name resolution services.
> Paul
> Dr Paul M. Kirk
> Biosystematist
> CABI UK Centre (Egham)
> Bakeham Lane
> Egham
> Surrey
> TW20 9TY
> United Kingdom
> Telephone: +44 (0) 1491 829023
> Fax: +44 (0) 1491 829100
> Email: p.kirk at
> Visit us at;
> CABI improves people's lives worldwide by providing
> information and applying scientific expertise to solve
> problems in agriculture and the environment
> ************************************************************************
> The information contained in this e-mail and any files
> transmitted with it is confidential and is for the exclusive use
> of the intended recipient. If you are not the intended recipient
> please note that any distribution, copying or use of this
> communication or the information in it is prohibited..
> Whilst CABI, the trading name of CAB International, takes steps
> to prevent the transmission of viruses via e-mail, we cannot
> guarantee that any e-mail or attachment is free from computer
> viruses and you are strongly advised to undertake your own
> anti-virus precautions.
> If you have received this communication in error, please notify
> us by e-mail at cabi at or by telephone on +44 (0)1491
> 829199 and then delete the e-mail and any copies of it.
> ******************************************************************
> ********

More information about the Taxacom mailing list