[Taxacom] new nomina nuda (was Re: e-only taxonomic publicat

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Fri Feb 12 18:00:16 CST 2010

Stephen Thorpe wrote:

>I think your point needs rewording so as to reduce "loading" 
>content! The reason that Makhan's names count and the mecoptera 
>names in Science don't is perfectly fine: Makhan followed the rules 
>of Zoological Nomenclature, but the Mecoptera publication violated 
>them (which was the fault of the editors in this particular case, 
>not the authors).

The point is not about injustice, but the arbitary nature of the rule 
in question: "printed on paper". A colleague pointed out to me at 
lunch today - quite correctly - that it is entirely possible for a 
work printed on paper to have no surviving copies and, as such, 
represent exactly the "nightmare scenario" referred to by many of 
those opposing digital publication. We can lose all copies of an old 
printed work more easily, in fact, than all copies of a new digital 
work, so using the "loss of existing copies" argument is a red 
herring (it should also be obvious, ironically enough, that the major 
initiatives struggling to salvage old, disappearing print works are 
all doing so by converting them into digital formats! Or does someone 
here intend to argue that converting printed works into digital 
format only guarantees that they will be lost forever?).

As an ICZN Commissioner, I'll point out the following, which should 
be obvious, but has maybe been lost in here somewhere: the Code is 
full of recommendations, which - taken in conjunction with the actual 
"rules" - establish a framework of what is proper and ethical 
practice in nomenclature. Authors such as Makhan *violate* these 
recommendations constantly, deliberately, while making sure to 
satisfy the *rules* - they defeat the *spirit* of the Code, as they 
are fully aware (since they have a copy of the Code in front of them) 
that they are acting contrary to what the authors of the Code 
indicate is the proper way to act. Maintaining this separation 
between the rules (ostensibly objective criteria), and the 
recommendations (ostensibly subjective criteria) is understandable in 
a philosophical sense, but the practical implications can be 
*counterproductive*, especially in public perception. Why is "printed 
on paper" not a recommendation? Why is "primary types made freely 
available for examination by other specialists" not a rule? Surely 
the latter is far more important for genuine nomenclatural stability?


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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