[Taxacom] Article 8 compliance

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Thu Mar 30 16:29:58 CDT 2017

On 3/30/17 11:41 AM, John Grehan wrote:
> 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.
> Just a million or so (or much more) here and there for databasing while the
> practice of taxonomy sinks.
It seems you are using the term "databasing" here as if it were an 
enterprise divorced from taxonomy, and maybe even trivializing any 
efforts to maintain a database regardless of its utility. Maybe you're 
not implying that, but in case you are...

An authoritative database containing all published names for all species 
(plus citations of authorship, year, type specimen, type locality) is 
not a trivial endeavor, and would arguably be the biggest boon to 
taxonomy since Linnaeus. Such a resource would do more to PREVENT 
taxonomy from sinking than just about anything I can think of, because 
the difficulty of finding and retrieving all of this information is 
presently a monumental challenge, and one of the exact things that most 
profoundly discourages people from entering the field of taxonomy.

If you intend to do a proper taxonomic revision on any group of 
organisms, then you NEED to know exactly how many names there are that 
have been used for that group, who published them, when, and where all 
of those type specimens are - if you don't know all of that, with 
absolute confidence, then the results of your revision are going to be 
equally lacking in confidence. There are very, very few groups of 
organisms for which all of this essential taxonomic groundwork has been 
compiled into a single universally-accessible resource, and that makes 
taxonomy a right royal pain to choose as a career path.

Expecting taxonomists to devote years of their lives to doing 
*literature searches* (before they can even *begin* a revision!) is one 
of the reasons the practice of taxonomy is sinking, and we should be 
spending MORE money on databasing when those databases help ensure that 
taxonomists do NOT have to go through that sort of ordeal any more. It's 
not fair to make every generation of taxonomists re-invent the wheel 
this way.

If what you're bemoaning is that you feel like every nickel for 
databasing is a nickel less for revisionary taxonomy, that's a POLITICAL 
argument about how science is funded, and that's a very different 
proverbial kettle of fish, and fraught with contention and subjectivity. 
If you dump all of science into one big funding pool and ask people to 
fight to justify their slice of the pie, it gets real ugly, real fast. 
Even if you just treat taxonomy as a zero-sum game, you're going to get 
people at each other's throats over how much to allocate to 
nomenclatural resources, gene sequencing, paleontology, revisionary 
taxonomy, collections improvement, and so forth. I don't think we want 
to go there. ALL of these things are integral to the practice of 
taxonomy and they are ALL worthy of support.


Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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