Errors = phantom names on the Internet

Susan B. Farmer sfarmer at GOLDSWORD.COM
Tue Mar 28 16:12:28 CST 2006

Quoting christian thompson <cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV>:

> 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 our record is clearly marked as a WORKING record, not peer-reviewed,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?

For my group of plants, I maintain a database of every name that I've
ever run across in print -- even cultivars (and a couple of phantom
names as well).  At some point, somebody has asked me about several of
them.  I want to be able to look it up and explain why it's not a valid
name.  I like the term Phantom Name.  I've been calling them "nomen
nudum," but there is a distinct difference.

Susan Farmer
sfarmer at
University of Tennessee
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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