Errors = phantom names on the Internet

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Tue Mar 28 16:40:36 CST 2006


I used the term "Phantom" as the name only exists in "air," in the sense of being only on the WEB.

Both Tom and I do agree that mistakes in the more traditional and more permanent medium of the printed word should be cataloged, whether they are "nomen nudum," that is, names that meet some but not all the requirements of our codes of nomenclature or simply "misspellings," etc. These are easy to deal with as we know the authors (usually) of the books, journals, etc. in which they appear and have a system for citing printed literature.

As for source of phantom names, this is very difficult on the Internet. Notice that uBio with their CU*STAR declares that the name Pollenia pseudobscura Rognes was provided by David Thau 

Who is this David Thau? Did he really provide this phantom name or was it a mistake that I made back in 1988 when we did the original data entry work for the Nearctic Diptera database (never completed, but made available to the community as a working tool back in 1992 via NODC). Notice that uBio provides as far as I can find no information on David Thau. Is he another phantom?

What has become very common on the Internet is people taking other people's work and not carrying forward the source of that work. There is no traditional like in Academia to cite sources, the original author and publication. 

So, some names on the internet are truly "phantoms"

Oh, well ...

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

>>> "Susan B. Farmer" <sfarmer at GOLDSWORD.COM> 03/28/06 04:19PM >>>
Quoting "Pape, Thomas" <TPape at SNM.KU.DK>:


> 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.

But by deleting the record, you also delete the *source* of the name.
Years from now, when someone is doing a revision and trying to track
down the publication/types of these names when that name still exists
somewhere, they will engage in a time consuming, fruitless search for
that publication.  I think it's better to keep the annotated name.

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

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