Errors = phantom names on the Internet

Pape, Thomas TPape at SNM.KU.DK
Tue Mar 28 22:55:17 CST 2006

Yes, the web is "public", and much information may 'hang on' for considerable time through various online sources. We only need to decide on what information we WANT to deal with.

If we decide to keep phantom names like "Pollenia pseudobscura Rognes, 1985", much as we database unavailable names from the scientific literature, would we even want to annotate phantom misspellings? I prefer to keep nomenclatural information that are 1) meant to be permanent, scientific records and 2) have some (potential of) permanency. Chris mentions that the record was not peer reviewed but a working record. I would guess that the Biosystematic Database of World Diptera contains many more phantom names than "Pollenia pseudobscura", and most probably some of these are already finding their way into other online products. I am not sure the 'permanent' registration of such phantom names would serve the taxonomic community - nor the biological sciences at large - any good.

At least for Diptera, we are currently seeing what appears to be an exclusively digital and certainly NOT peer reviewed journal proposing several new names.

So, my recommendation is to discard these phantom names as errors or working records or dummies, etc. - and concentrate our efforts of designing a mandatory registry system including peer review.

Thomas Pape
Natural History Museum of Denmark

-----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
Fra: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU] På vegne af christian thompson
Sendt: 28. marts 2006 20:43
Emne: [TAXACOM] Errors = phantom names on the Internet

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 AND our record is clearly marked as a WORKING record, not peer-reviewed, not available for public use, etc.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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