[Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed May 15 16:45:38 CDT 2013

But Wolfgang, can't you see that there is no solution here. Your veiled threats to promote the disregard of the Code amongst the herpetological community would just alienate that community from the rest of the taxonomic community, and their non Code compliant nomenclature (and associated taxonomy) would then be ignored by aggregators who are trying to make Code compliant databases of world biota, and possibly rejected by editors of taxonomic journals that are wider in scope than just herps. In effect, the herp community would become a taxonomic vandal to be ignored, and so the problem grows ...

From: Wolfgang Wuster <w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk>
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Thursday, 16 May 2013 8:01 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

On 15/05/2013 20:25, JF Mate wrote:
> I find it difficult to explain the loophole but it is something like this
> excerpt from Wikipedia:
> "...In 2009, (name removed) started his own journal, the Australasian
> Journal of Herpetology, for which he is editor and, as of March 2012, the
> sole contributing author..."
> I can also think of a couple other entomological journals, one well known
> to some Taxacom members, and all sharing similar features. I agree with
> Paul that "peer review" is more like a hope that it leads to better quality
> work, once you accept it is applied by human beings with their particular
> weaknesses. A clear and specific definition of "valid publication" could be
> developed that at least minimizes the damage.
> Of course it could be misconstrued as limiting potential outlets, but in
> its current incarnation it allows anybody to start their own journal and
> happily publish away. They don´t even need to review their own papers, let
> alone have someone else check them out. And I think that everybody agrees
> that there is something inherently wrong about this. Maybe in another
> decade I won´t care.

Part of the issue is that, at any one time, this problem only affects a 
relatively small number of taxa and thus taxonomists. In consequence, 
the problem is not seen as a major priority, and thus a large part of 
the taxonomic community do not wish to encumber themselves with any 
further restrictions. That is understandable, but it does nothing for 
those sections of the taxonomic community that have been bearing the 
brunt of straight-out vandalism for decades. It is neither reasonable 
nor fair for the unaffected majority to expect a minority to simply give 
up a substantial part of the fruit of their labour for the convenience 
of the majority.

I appreciate that there are no easy solutions that will suit everyone, 
but please understand that for some sections of the taxonomic community, 
the status quo with no prospect of change is not an appealing option 
either, and nor is spending years building a LAN with instant built-in 
obsolescence. If nothing  is done, then the result will be an erosion of 
respect for the Code and its universal literal application. This is seen 
in the wide support the Kaiser et al. paper received in herpetology. The 
reason I posted the link to our paper is to stimulate discussion in the 
knowledge that this *is* an issue of wider concern at least in 
herpetology, as opposed to a personal issue between a small handful of 


Dr. Wolfgang Wüster  -  Senior Lecturer
School of Biological Sciences    Bangor University
Environment Centre Wales
Bangor LL57  2UW                Wales, UK
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