Errors = phantom names on the Internet

Chris Lyal C.lyal at NHM.AC.UK
Wed Mar 29 09:06:23 CST 2006

I'm with Rich.  Whether we as taxonomists 'meant' the name to be out there or not is now irrelevant.  It is known outside of Chris's database and those that have used it; it has an independant life.  Whilst Chris (or any one of us) could edit Wikipedia and state that the beast has no real existence, the name is still being used in some sense.  Therefore, just as we deal with other unavailable names by identifying them as such in catalogues, so we should with this.  The ITIS record should be emended to identify the name as unavailable (not published) and,when we get ZooBank up and running, registered there also as unavailable.  We do not need to have 'loose ends' flying about in the net - cutting off the end that is tied down is one solution, but a better one is tying down the end that is loose.

This does bring up the issue of web publication again.  Despite Chris's best efforts and clearly stated intentions, and despite the injunctions of the current Code, de facto web publication has taken place.  Once we place taxonomic/nomenclatural information on the web, whatever we say or beleive, someone somewhere will take it as a 'real' publication.  Given that we are not going to stop placing taxonomic information on the web - quite the reverse! - we have to develop a method of dealing with the situation very rapidly.  ZooBank should provide a means to demonstrate whether there is Code compliance of animal names, but there is to my knowedge no equivalent being considered for botany.  Even with ZooBank, we face a potential disjunction between what the ICZN and taxonomists say can be used and what web users *will* use.  To deal with this we need to have modifications of the Codes, and be sure that the global list of names and concepts is very easily accessible.  This list must also be easily annotated, so that comments in a case such as this can be made public a.s.a.p., and not lost. 


Christopher H. C. Lyal,
Beetle Diversity and Evolution Programme,
Department of Entomology,
The Natural History Museum,
Cromwell Road,
London SW7 5BD
tel: +44 (0) 207 942 5113
fax: +44 (0) 207 942 5661
e-mail c.lyal at
personal page -
electronic Biologia Centrali-Americana -
World Catalogue of Weevil Names -

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