Errors = phantom names on the Internet

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Tue Mar 28 14:43:11 CST 2006

We all make mistakes. And today an old one of mine was discovered by a colleague.

I do not know how I did it or whether some one else on my team did it, but we created a phantom name. Pollenia pseudobscura Rognes, 1985. That was done back in the late 1980s when we were building the Nearctic Diptera Database. That dataset was passed along to ITIS via NODC in 1992. From ITIS the name passed to Species2000 and GBIF ECAT, and also to uBio. Today Knut Rognes called our attention to the error.

My reaction was just to DELETE the bogus data record. It was a mistake. The name has never existed in the printed literature***. AND our record is clearly marked as a WORKING record, not peer-reviewed, not available for public use, etc. 

However, my colleague, David Remsen, has said we should annotate the name record and retain this error.

So, I wonder what others think? Should we delete database errors? or leave them in with appropriate annotations?

When thinking about that, I should note that I did GOOGLE this "phantom" name and got 10 hits. There was 1 for ITIS, a couple of uBio, but most interesting is the name is now in WikkiPedia under Pollenia as well as at the University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web site.

*** the BDWD is interested only in indexing SCIENTIFIC nomenclature and since the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature remains largely restricted to PRINTed medium and the Internet is excluded, we do not index the Internet / WWW.

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

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