[Taxacom] ICZN procedure question

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Thu Nov 11 12:15:16 CST 2010

Stan Schultz wrote:

>A recent question arose regarding the prior use of a name on the
>Internet. Specifically, a group of taxonomists are preparing to name a
>theraphosid spider. The paper has not yet been published, but someone
>who apparently has advance knowledge has announced the proposed name on
>a hobbyist/enthusiast forum.
>The questions are:
>Does such publication constitute prior publication by current ICZN
>rules? If so, must the taxonomists now use a different name?
>If its announcement on the Internet constitutes prior usage, but it is
>(innocently) published anyway, and later its prior use on the Internet
>comes to light, how would the problem most probably be resolved?

Under the present Code, this is not a problem, as others have 
indicated. However, there will soon be a change in the Code that will 
permit valid "electronic publication" of nomenclatural acts. There is 
still some serious discussion as to the exact nature of the 
conditions and restrictions involved, but this is fairly close on the 
horizon, so in a year or two, a question such as yours might have a 
very different answer. The botanists have also been wrangling with 
this issue, and preparing a similar change to their Code, though it 
remains to be seen whether the ICBN and ICZN will treat e-publication 
in the *exact* same manner. Under either preliminary version of these 
changes, it is unlikely that a name appearing in a hobbyist forum in 
the manner you describe would have validity. That being said, the 
additional steps needed to validly publish in a hobbyist forum under 
the future Codes might not be very difficult to attain, so I wouldn't 
say that this would NEVER become a concern.

At this point, the perception is that the taxonomic community would 
prefer absolute freedom - anyone can publish anything, anywhere - to 
the imposition of any sort of restrictions (e.g., peer review, name 
registration, or a "whitelist" of acceptable electronic journals). If 
there is an overwhelming sentiment among taxonomists that we should 
NOT allow hobbyists and other self-publishing online sources to be 
validated, then now is the time to make that sentiment known (before 
irrevocable changes are made) - along with an explanation as to how 
we can make the distinction between acceptable and unacceptable 
e-pubs objective (assuming that is a concern).


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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