[Taxacom] Article 8 compliance

David Campbell pleuronaia at gmail.com
Fri Mar 31 10:43:02 CDT 2017

> 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.

Some problems that contribute to the perception of rivalry:
Too often, the databasing is treated as a substitute for taxonomy.  Many
compilations display poor quality control.  Instead of making taxonomy
easier, they create erroneous synonyms, misspellings, and the like that
create more work for taxonomists.  They make it very easy to generate
analyses, thus creating an illusion of progress.  But the underlying data,
and thus the analyses, are worthless.  Some even create bad data through
flawed synthesizing of different sources (e.g., merging homonyms or bad
OCR).  Taxonomists must have input into the database production and easy
ways to contribute corrections.  (Of course, you don't want it to be
changeable by every user - EOL and the many places copying from it claim
that the common name of a Hawaiian freshwater snail is a western Atlantic
fish, but there needs to be an easy way for a user to flag a problem and
there needs to be someone on staff competent to evaluate the report.)

Secondly, many database projects dedicate all the funding to programming
and data analysis and none to taxonomy.  While those are also worth
funding, it's unsurprising that "stop work on your own projects and
volunteer your time to enter your data so someone else can run an analysis
and take the credit" gets a less than enthusiastic response.

There are good efforts out there that incorporate taxonomic expertise, but
also many that seek credit for their compilations without taking
responsibility for accuracy of content.  How can we promote better quality
and having some support for taxonomy?

> Dr. David Campbell
Assistant Professor, Geology
Department of Natural Sciences
Box 7270
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017

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