[Taxacom] ICZN and Wikispecies (was Re: "nude" Coccinellid genera?)

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Mar 10 14:46:36 CDT 2013

Well, publishers are the main users of ZooBank who gain anything tangible from the "services" of ZooBank. They use it to facilitate e-only publication which is nevertheless Code compliant. ZooBank doesn't really offer any other "services" to anyone!


 From: Lyubomir Penev <lyubo.penev at gmail.com>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> 
Cc: Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu>; "TAXACOM at MAILMAN.NHM.KU.EDU" <TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Sunday, 10 March 2013 8:49 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ICZN and Wikispecies (was Re: "nude" Coccinellid genera?)

In my opinion, a realistic funding model for both, ICZN and ZooBank, should be based on a newly established membership organisation (e.g., similar to CrossRef, DataCite, or Dryad). Natural history institutions, zoological departments, bioinformatics oganisations (GBIF, GenBank, EoL), publishers, as well as private persons  are expected to form the ground of such an organisation.

Too many institutions and people use the services of ICZN and now of ZooBank. Why they should be entirely free? I do not say they should be expensive, but the community must find the way to support its own Commission and Registry!


On Sun, Mar 10, 2013 at 1:41 AM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> wrote:

Given that ZooBank's purpose is so closely linked in with ICZN, what are the long term funding prospects for ZooBank? Couldn't ZooBank and ICZN be funded as effectively one entity rather than two?
>From: Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu>
>Sent: Sunday, 10 March 2013 7:50 AM
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ICZN and Wikispecies (was Re: "nude" Coccinellid genera?)
>Jsaon Mate wrote:
>>I am very sorry for my very late reply, but work has kept me away. In
>>your email you said that:
>>>  Speaking as a Commissioner, I can confidently say this could never
>>>  happen, for one very obvious reason: the ICZN deals only with
>>>  nomenclature, not taxonomy, and Wikispecies deals with taxonomy.
>>However we have to be realistic. Only a few thousand people will
>>notice (or care) about the distinction between nomenclature and
>>taxonomy. Most information users are not taxonomists but biologists,
>>conservationists, etc and they don´t really care about the process
>>behind their only want, a list that is to the best possible degree
>>accurate and up to date. In fact ZooBank, although very useful to
>>taxonomists, should be piggy-backed within such a list.
>There is a very big difference, conceptually and
>*especially* in a political sense, between
>resources developed in parallel versus resources
>that are "merged" (your *original* suggestion, as
>opposed to "piggy-backing"). Merging would imply
>that the Commissioners of the different Codes
>such as myself would not only be arbitrating
>disputes over which name to use when two taxa are
>declared to be synonymous, but ALSO deciding
>whether those taxa are synonyms to *begin with*.
>The various Codes of Nomenclature have always
>maintained a very strict policy of neutrality on
>issues of *classification* and *validity* of
>taxa; if author X says taxon A is a valid species
>in family B, but author Y says taxon A is a
>synonym of taxon C and belongs in family D, then
>the ICZN has nothing to say about any of that. We
>(please don't forget that the ICZN is not the
>only ruling body involved) could not merge with
>Wikispecies and maintain our neutrality. There is
>no parallel "ruling body" that can settle
>disputes over classification and - to be
>perfectly honest - the taxonomic community seems
>to have so many factions and "iconoclasts" that I
>find it hard to imagine how any sort of ruling
>body could ever come into being, let alone
>maintain any semblance of authority if it did.
>Just look at the difficulties encountered in
>trying to have a unified nomenclatural Code!
>>I am not saying ICZN should be running a list of everything, I am
>>suggesting that they should be working together with others
>>(Wikispecies comes to mind because I am an entomologist)  to produce a
>>single source of taxonomic information that also integrates the
>>nomenclatural data to make the list complete, accurate and ultimately
>>useful to all parties, with a mechanism that allows the financial
>>viability of the enterprise without excluding (i.e. not paying 20
>>dollars every time you want to access it). It could also serve as a
>>repository of orphan websites. A lot of work has been done already by
>>individuals working on their own groups but when they retire or die
>>these online resources disappear, even if they were in a museum.
>And I am saying that the Commissioners would be
>working in a vacuum, since there are no "others"
>to work with - no parallel ruling body - that has
>the authority to declare an official, single
>classification hierarchy (I don't think even the
>ICSP does this), or the authority to declare
>which taxa are or are not valid. Whether it's
>Wikispsecies, EoL, GenBank, or any other entity,
>just because there is an infrastructure does not
>mean there is any authoritative oversight, and I
>can't see how this endeavor could succeed in the
>long term *without* some form of authority - and
>every time this sort of thing has come up in the
>past, people have vigorously shot down *any*
>proposals to limit the autonomy of taxonomists.
>That is not to say that I (and others) don't
>perceive a NEED for a unified taxonomic resource,
>and that a certain percentage of taxonomists
>might be willing to tolerate a loss of autonomy,
>but if this feeling is not *unanimous*, what are
>the odds of it ever happening?
>To get back to the idea of "piggybacking", yes,
>it would be fantastic if ZooBank could establish
>some deep-pocketed alliance, such as with GenBank
>or the Wikimedia Foundation, but I can't see how
>it could ever function as anything other than an
>independent entity in regards to its
>decision-making and administration. Again, the
>distinction between "merging" and "piggy-backing"
>is not a trivial one. Maybe you originally had
>one thing in mind, but phrased it differently,
>and it seems to you I'm playing a game of
>semantics, but this is very important to clarify.
>If we can't even "merge" the zoological,
>botanical (there are 2 separate botanical Codes -
>the ICN and ICNCP), viral, and bacterial Codes,
>we're a long way from any other sort of mergers.
>>Have the Code online with DOIs and hyperlinks to all the acts instead
>>of a printed version and let it be part of your annual taxonomists
>Trust me, the ICZN is definitely discussing the
>possibility of doing away with a printed version
>(at least, a *bound* version as opposed to, say,
>PDF). But even *that* idea is likely to encounter
>significant resistance.
>>Of course we could just let EoLbecome THE source of all wisdom and
>>then complain about the quality of their work before the party moves
>>on and it also disappears together will all the information.
>The one resource in existence that we can
>confidently state will never disappear (short of
>the collapse of civilization) is GenBank, because
>there are substantial *commercial* interests at
>stake, and money makes the world go 'round.
>Objectively, that would be the ideal choice for
>piggy-backing. The Wikimedia Foundation seems
>unlikely to ever collapse to the point where all
>their resources would be *lost*, but I'm not sure
>how that compares to GenBank.
>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)
>              http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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