[Taxacom] Article 8 compliance

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Thu Mar 30 12:42:18 CDT 2017

Hi John,

> Fair enough, but maybe it is not so much crafting the 5th edition of the Code to
> offer a more stable solution but crafting ZooBank to do that. 

Yes, the two go hand-in-hand.  Note that I said the new system should be "modelled after" ZooBank.  A LOT would have to change with the existing ZooBank before it could fulfill the function I imagine.

> Do you have a cunning plan? 

I'm not sure "cunning" is the best adjective, but there certainly is a plan.

> By any reckoning it would take an
> investment of at least $10m. 

More like ~$1-2M for initial development, and then something on the order of a few $K per year to maintain, plus occasional small (5-figure) grants to add major new features/etc. as needed/requested by the community.

> Meanwhile we still have to live with the 4th edition
> and the Article 8 amendment . . .

I predict a new, robust ZooBank will be in existence well before the 5th Edition goes into effect, but they need to happen in parallel.  Of course, to build a radically new approach to how names are established in a Code-compliant fashion requires very strong engagement by the broader community.  I believe the new system should be designed bottom-up (i.e., by the community establishing a clear set of priorities), rather than the top down. And that means many conversations like this one.  Before we even get into the detailed discussions, we (the community) needs to decide things like:
- What are the minimum required pieces of information needed to confer availability to new names and acts?
- What additional optional information should be accommodated?
- If provisions such as Art. 13.1.1 are maintained, then exactly what objective threshold should be used to determine whether the requirement for "a description or definition that states in words characters that are purported to differentiate the taxon" has been fulfilled?
- Should the rules go beyond stating the name and location of the collection where the type is deposited, and, for example elevate Recommendation 73C.6 to a requirement? (e.g., require an explicit actionable identifier for a type specimen be indicated)
- Should all new names and acts undergo some form of independent review prior to being established as available?  If so, how are the reviewers determined, and who arbitrates disputes among conflicting reviews?

I could go on and on, but the point is that the system should be defined by the identified needs; not implemented first to figure out what the strengths and weaknesses are after the fact.  THIS is the conversation we need to be having as a broader community.

In addressing your point above, another option would be to craft another Amendment (= "band aid") to the fourth edition; but I'm strongly opposed to that because it would represent a significant distraction from getting the more important work of the 5th Edition completed.


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Database Coordinator for Natural Sciences | Associate Zoologist in Ichthyology | Dive Safety Officer
Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252 email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org

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