[Taxacom] human involvement (was Re: BioNames)

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue Jun 4 17:20:36 CDT 2013

Yes, it is preferable for the bucket to be *clearly* labelled as dirty or clean before one washes in it! A disclaimer in the small print doesn't really cut it. The problem, though, is that it will take so very long to clean the data (decades, centuries?) that the task will have trouble getting funding unless it can (pretend?) to deliver something useful in the short term ... BioNames being perhaps a good example of this ...

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia at gmail.com>
To: Taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Wednesday, 5 June 2013 10:08 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] human involvement (was Re: BioNames)

> For the retrospective stuff, there is very clearly a need for a two-pronged
> approach:
> 1) Automatic processes to generate a dirty bucket;
> 2) Manual processes (with some semi-automated guidance) to filter & migrate
> the "dirty bucket" into the clean bucket.

Also, dirty buckets need to be clearly indicated as such.  Currently,
plenty of dirty buckets are treated as clean, and the problem is compounded
when databases compile whatever they find, making identification of the
original bucket challenging.

Dirty buckets are useful, but only to those who know enough to be able to
dig through the dirt and get whatever is of value.

I'm glad to see increased attention to making it easy to submit
corrections.  Generally they will be spotted by someone who is in the midst
of a project, searching for information on a particular taxon, not by
someone who has the time to spare to be systematically making corrections.
Thus, an option to send off a quick note about a problem is more likely to
get used than a complex process, or worse yet, either no evident option or
telling you to contact someone else (and you get to figure out how to
contact them).

Dr. David Campbell
Assistant Professor, Geology
Department of Natural Sciences
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017
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