[Taxacom] Chameleons, GBIF, and the Red List

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Thu Aug 21 21:12:22 CDT 2014

"This Googling/email/phoning/bumping into people doesn't sound terribly scalable to me :("

Then you missed my point, because you're continuing to think from the point of view of improving your Big Shiny Database.

The point of view I was working from is that of the Skeptical User. The S.U. does not want and cannot use 508,157,131 occurrence records (GBIF this morning). The S.U. wants and needs the 10-1000 records relevant to a particular taxonomic or conservation project. For that use, Doug Yanega's taxonomist/georeferencer is indeed going to google, email, phone around and talk to people at conferences and other events. The result will be carefully vetted records, hopefully then published with open access.

Now what? It sounds like you want to say 'Let's grab those published, vetted records and stick them in GBIF or link to them'. Where they'll conflict with dozens of existing GBIF records, so that you'll have to annotate the lot. And future GBIF users will compare, contrast, query and finally give up and say, 'Bugger this, I'll just stick with the vetted, published sources'.

Doug and many others (me among them) keep saying that if you want more reliable data, you need to upgrade the data at source. This is rarely easy, often slow, cannot be done by code and typically involves "Googling/email/phoning/bumping into people". The dream of having access to all biodiversity data at the click of a mouse involves a massive trade-off. You get what you pay for, in effort. Lots of effort, great data. Minimal effort, lousy (or worse, doubtful) data.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania
Home contact:
PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

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