[Taxacom] are early online publications code-compliant?

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Tue Apr 14 13:43:33 CDT 2015

Hi John,

> In general I would agree with you, but I fancy it would be hard to convince the
> majority of taxonomists out there that they must register their taxonomic acts
> on ZooBank before they become available, even by the time the 5th edition of
> the Code comes out. At present this is done by a some publishers (not for free)
> but only very, very few.

You may well be right about that!

> As Stephen has alluded to, registration alone (as you seem to favour) would not
> work unless it became mandatory for the equivalent of a "published" taxonomic
> act to be deposited and made freely available on ZooBank at the time if its
> registration. 

Yes -- exactly.  That's the whole point.  Registration wouldn't be "part" of the process for making a name available under the ICZN Code. It would BE the process.  And, to be fair, it's a whole lot less effort to register a name online than it is to go through the entire publication process.  In fact, it's so much easier that it lends apparent support to the fear that taxonomists will just register the names and never do any science associated with it.  But I believe that most taxonomists are in the game for the science; not for the legalistic requirements of the Code.  Scientific slackers already have ample opportunity to shortcut the science part to establish Code-compliant names (as we have seen fiercely debated on this and other discussion forums). No doubt, this (unfortunate) situation would continue.  The big question is:  would establishing the "R=A" model increase the frequency of that sort of behavior?  Possibly.  On the other hand, under the current paradigm, there is no real mechanism at our disposal to thwart unabashed science-free self-published Code-compliant names.  Under the "R=A" model, at least we have the POTENTIAL to implement safeguards through the registration mechanism itself -- whatever the community decides those safeguards should be.

> Otherwise there would be a risk that nomenclatural acts would be
> made available without any certainty that the details supporting that
> nomenclatural act would continue to exist into the future; i.e. you could end up
> with a meaningless list of the entirety of all available names/acts in one easily
> replicated file without any information being available to support those acts.

You seem to misunderstand the system I am describing:  the registration system would include EVERY PIECE OF INFORMATION necessary to confer Code compliance (NOT true for the current ZooBank, but easily implementable).  In other words, as long as the registry exists, so too do all the details supporting the nomenclatural act.  There would be no way to have a meaningless list of names without also having all of the information supporting the acts to go along with them.


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