[Taxacom] Re; Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Mon Feb 8 19:11:14 CST 2010

Unfortunately, there is the way things are vs. the way they should be. Sure if things were the way they should be, there would be no Hawkeswood or Makhan to start with, but granted that they do exist:
maybe honest specialists like yourself judge merit (fairly), but there are some who do not. I wouldn't have a problem in stopping Hawkeswood/Makhan, if I was confident that it could be done without "collateral damage"... But, alas, I think we just have to put up and shut up with those few extreme aberrant individuals, or else risk putting measures in place which will facilitate a more wide ranging exclusion of potential contributors to taxonomy, at the hands of far less scrupulous specialists than your good self. There is some parallel here with the parallel EOL vs. Wikispecies thread. EOL are taking the "reliable by professional status" line too far, and the collateral damage in this case is an expensive website with very little actual content ... You can't fix a leaky tap by plugging it with a chunk of metal that you have just cut out of the pipe that supplies the tap! OK ... horrible analogy!


From: Bob Mesibov [mesibov at southcom.com.au]
Sent: Tuesday, 9 February 2010 1:52 p.m.
To: Stephen Thorpe
Subject: Re; [Taxacom] Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?

OK, let me be clearer:

(1) e-only taxonomic publication will be much easier than print or e+print, and will allow a much greater volume of taxonomic work to be produced more quickly. The second point is one of the benefits which has been promoted by e-only enthusiasts as a 'widening of the bottleneck' currently restricting our efforts to document the world's biodiversity. The fact that junk taxonomy can appear now, before e-only availability happens, isn't the point. The point is that without controls on e-only, vastly *more* junk taxonomy can appear, and appear faster. Will it be in proportion to the hoped-for increase in non-junk taxonomy? That's a conservative position, but even that's a disaster, because it's the *absolute* number of taxonomic entities we specialists will have to deal with, and I for one don't need that much more work.

(2) Hawkeswood's and Makhan's attitudes are relevant because the two of them are sociopathic in exactly the same way spammers, botmasters and other delinquents are sociopathic. You don't produce good taxonomy by thinking the taxonomic establishment is a bunch of snobs and by God, you'll show them! You produce a heap of junk in which disinterested, honest compilers like Stephen Thorpe and specialists might possibly find something worthwhile. You clearly want to judge taxonomic work on its merits. Well, that's what specialists do: judge merit. And this specialist wants to stop Makhan and Hawkeswood before they trade in their single-shooter for a high-powered automatic with a huge magazine.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Website: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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