[Taxacom] Data query

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Mon Jun 24 23:37:47 CDT 2013

Tony Rees wrote:

"Basically we are talking about the generic area of computerized compilations of taxonomic data and associated attributes, and the benefits of storing these in static web pages as opposed to generating dynamic ones on demand from a data store of some sort."

Well, I'd restate that:

'...and the benefits of storing these in frequently edited webpages (confusingly called 'static') tended by interested people, as opposed to generating rarely edited webpages (confusingly called 'dynamic') on request from data stores whose page-related content hasn't changed since the last machine harvest of some other data store, and for whose content there are limited and difficult editing opportunities.'

Like Stephen, I could give you a 'f'rinstance' or two. When I find a new publication mentioning a named Australian millipede, the 'static' pages on the Millipedes of Australia (MoA) website get correctly updated with synonymy and bibliographic info within a few hours. I don't know any large data stores that do synonymies correctly; I do know that MoA is always ahead with regard to new species.

Similarly, on Sunday I ID'ed new specimens of the rare species Atrophotergum bonhami Mesibov, 2004. It took me less than a minute to add the collecting event and the ID and other info to my data tables. It took a few seconds each for my shell scripts to generate updated Atrophotergum CSV records files and KML files, and another minute to FTP those updates to the MoA server. (The pre-registered specimens themselves will be on a museum shelf in a few weeks; if I worked at a museum the delay would be minutes.) Those 'static' CSV and KML downloads, each dated in the file name, have records that won't appear for years in some online records databases, and when they do the occurrence information will be truncated and may be plain wrong (see my audit paper in ZooKeys), having passed through formatting filters insisted upon by the data storers.

I started this thread by saying that clean-bucket resource builders could use a webpage markup system that allowed people like Tony to harvest webpage contents more easily, for uses other than those for which the clean buckets were designed. I'm sure Tony would be happy to see that happen. An alternative is for clean-bucketers to add all their edits and novelties to the dirty buckets, where they'll get lost among the rubbish. Not me, thanks, but please remember that Wikispecies and MoA are open-access and CC. If you really want the data, you can get it.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania
Home contact:
PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

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