[Taxacom] Proofs for opinion
Paul J. Morris
mole at morris.net
Thu Jan 8 11:32:14 CST 2015
On Wed, 7 Jan 2015 22:44:58 -1000
"Richard Pyle" <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:
> A couple points:
> - There are no correct answers to any of my questions in the
> preceding paragraph.
> - All of these problems disappear if we establish a system whereby
> registered = available.
A good goal for a system of biological nomenclature is for it to be able to provide answers to nomenclatural questions. Errors will occur, and the problems won't entirely go away under a system of registered=available, but under such a system, it is much easier for there to be correct answers to nomenclatural questions and for those answers to be determinable.
In Mycotaxon in 2011 (doi:10.5248/116.513), several of us from IPNI, discussing the proposals for registration of fungal names, pointed to a "principle of eventually consistent" between a registration system and publication systems. Much of the messyness in this thread and in Rich's example in particular come from a registration system and a publication system which can both vary independently in order to try to become eventually consistent with each other. The problems don't go away (people will still make errors) if the registration system establishes certain facts and the onus is on the publication systems to become eventually consistent with those facts, but for nomenclature, there will be clear, easily discoverable, and unambiguuous answers to a large set of questions if publications can become eventually consistent with facts established in a registration system.
Under the variety of existing electronic publication and prepublication systems, certain facts about the publication of names are mutable in ways that are not easy to discover or establish, data and metadata may change with little or no provenance data about those changes, and authors may have limited control over these changes. A nomenclatural registration system that seeks to become eventually consistent with publication systems within which the facts may be rewritten feels much more prone to failure (and less likely to be able to assert clear answers to questions) than a system where publications can become eventually consistend with nomenclatural facts established by a registration system.
Paul J. Morris
Biodiversity Informatics Manager
Harvard University Herbaria/Museum of Comparative Zoölogy
mole at morris.net AA3SD PGP public key available
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