[Taxacom] Best usage - spp (no period) or spp.?

Tony.Rees at csiro.au Tony.Rees at csiro.au
Mon Oct 8 14:53:07 CDT 2012

Hi Geoff,

Regarding the use case for this stuff: for examples in CAAB stored data (as opposed to the CAAB interface) see:


(this link will probably split in the email system and require to be reassembled)

giving a result (in this case for annelids - personalised to you of course) - commencing:

22 000000 .. Class Polychaeta - undifferentiated .. polychaete worms   (group code) 
22 001001 .. Abarenicola affinis .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 001002 .. Abarenicola clarki .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 001003 .. Abarenicola devia .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 001004 .. Abarenicola haswelli .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 001005 .. Arenicola bombayensis .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 001006 .. Arenicola caroledna .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 001007 .. Arenicola cristata .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 001008 .. Arenicola sudaustraliense .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 001901 .. Abarenicola spp ..   (group code) 
22 001902 .. Arenicola spp ..   (group code) 
22 001000 .. Arenicolidae - undifferentiated .. polychaete worms   (family code) 
22 002001 .. Barantolla lepte .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 002002 .. Dasybranchus bipartinus .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 002003 .. Dasybranchus caducus .. [a polychaete worm] 
22 002004 .. Dasybranchus lumbricoides .. [a polychaete worm] 

(and so on).

This is the master list (with authorities omitted in this instance, however the latter are supplied via other means on demand) and these taxon lists and codes are then supplied to internal and external users elsewhere in our region for incorporation into their taxonomic databases and field data recording systems.

At present the "spp" portions have had their trailing periods deleted but half or maybe more of me would prefer to see them there - so I was seeking relevant justification one way or the other.

That's it in a nutshell.

Cheers - Tony
From: Geoffrey Read [gread at actrix.gen.nz]
Sent: Monday, 8 October 2012 6:37 PM
To: Stephen Thorpe
Cc: gread at actrix.gen.nz; Rees, Tony (CMAR, Hobart); taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Best usage - spp (no period) or spp.?

 Sheep farmers seem to cope ok.

"I'm a sheeps farmer"?  Haven't seen it used lately. And how do you
differentiate between sp. and spp. in speech, if say a blind person was
trying to use the CAAB info read out by the computer?  How do we do say
them? Same for both, right. Haven't heard anyone say the equivalent of
Drosophila ess pee pee stop in a lecture. It's species everytime, plural
or singular.  And we understand.

 Not sure how Tony's system uses 'species' outside of sentences and his
opening search page where he has 'spp' several times labelling various
tick boxes. Those would look better if spelled out. There sure is enough
room to do so.

If it ever it matters at all elsewhere there's context and the use of
appropriate preceeding articles.

So there :-)


On Mon, October 8, 2012 6:49 pm, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
> the slight flaw in your argument, Geoff, is that spelling it out in full,
> the single and plural forms are the same, so it is actually *less
> ambiguous"  to use the abbreviated forms ...
> ... and nobody got my pun about Tony's original post being *pointless*! We
> must be entering a dark period in Taxacom ... ahem!
> Stephen :)
> ________________________________
> From: Geoff Read <gread at actrix.gen.nz>
> To: Tony.Rees at csiro.au
> Cc: stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Sent: Monday, 8 October 2012 6:24 PM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Best usage - spp (no period) or spp.?
> Abbreviations might have been necessary when programming the Apollo 11
> module in 1969 and in early databases. But I think we've largely moved on.
> They can hamper understanding.
> Spell it out in glorious full, "species" 7 letters, versus spp. 4
> characters.  And there are people out there who don't have a clue what a
> spp. might be.
> Geoff
> On Mon, October 8, 2012 5:57 pm, Tony.Rees at csiro.au wrote:
>> Stephen - it's not my call to make (in this case) which is why I am
>> after
>> some external guidance. And yes, it does matter when you are relying on
>> computers to match "name strings" between one system and the next - or
>> just for general internal tidiness / consistency between different
>> versions of database content. Or just trying to get 50% of your
>> taxonomist
>> colleagues to change the habit of (half a) lifetime.
>> The following would doubtless make interesting night time reading:
>> Partridge, E. 1953: "You Have a Point There: A Guide to Punctuation and
>> its Allies." Perhaps Mr Partridge's work would contain the answer, but I
>> suspect not.
>> Meanwhile I await others' views and guidance as initially stated,
>> Cheers - Tony
>> From: Stephen Thorpe [mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz]
>> Sent: Monday, 8 October 2012 3:35 PM
>> To: Rees, Tony (CMAR, Hobart); taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>> Cc: Gledhill, Daniel (CMAR, Hobart); Pogonoski, John (CMAR, Hobart);
>> Gowlett-Holmes, Karen (CMAR, Hobart)
>> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Best usage - spp (no period) or spp.?
>> Congrats Tony, you win hands down THE most pointlessly pedantic (and
>> pedantically pointless) thread ever on Taxacom!!
>> Here's a solution: choose an option, make it explicit, and stick with it
>> ...
>> Stephen
>> From: "Tony.Rees at csiro.au<mailto:Tony.Rees at csiro.au>"
>> <Tony.Rees at csiro.au<mailto:Tony.Rees at csiro.au>>
>> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>> Cc: Daniel.Gledhill at csiro.au<mailto:Daniel.Gledhill at csiro.au>;
>> John.Pogonoski at csiro.au<mailto:John.Pogonoski at csiro.au>;
>> Karen.Gowlett-Holmes at csiro.au<mailto:Karen.Gowlett-Holmes at csiro.au>
>> Sent: Monday, 8 October 2012 5:26 PM
>> Subject: [Taxacom] Best usage - spp (no period) or spp.?
>> Dear Taxacomers,
>> I maintain a database here on marine species in Australian waters
>> (called
>> CAAB) covering largely zoology but also some marine plants, where for
>> many
>> years, those responsible for entering and maintaining the fishes
>> component
>> of the content have consistently preferred "spp" (no trailing period)

gread at actrix.gen.nz

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