Different opinions of how to handle default common names

Obviously, there’s some bad blood between Australian birders/taxonomists/listers etc. and our taxonomic source Clements, specifically over how what the default common name of certain species should be. This was brought to my attention by Sam Gordon, and it seems there is no clear set policy (at least that I know of) to handle these situations. To provide a few examples:

Southern Boobook
White Ibis
Australian Ibis
Black-breasted Kite

Australian birders/IOC/other:
Australian Boobook
American White Ibis
Australian White Ibis
Black-breasted Buzzard

Pros for choosing the latter names:

  1. Maintains consistency with what locals call these species.
  2. Current names in place appear to be only used by Clements.
  3. Names are usually “Americanized”

Cons for choosing the latter names:

  1. I have noticed a strong push for deviations in iNat lately (adding avian subfamilies; POWO deviations; etc), and I think it’s be worming into curator’s heads that anything goes now for taxonomy. Keeping status quo with the taxonomic source will provide stability to iNat.
  2. Under this logic, why aren’t native Hawaiian names being used since it is their birds; ex. (Nene, 'Io, Pueo, etc)
  3. Under this logic, we can use this argument to reverse recent common name changes by the AOS because the opinions of 12 committee members do not override the thousands of birders calling it name-A for years (ex. reverting back to McCown’s Longspur or Mew Gull).

What are the thoughts? For now, I’m curated the names so that the Australian names are the default for Australia but the Clements name is the global name.

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I think Australian names prioritized for Australia and Clements for global is the way to go. Pretty much a textbook case of why we can regionalize names - to deal with situations like this.


I was going to say the same thing as cthawley, that the Australian names be regional and the Clemants name global

This doesn’t really seem to be a fair or accurate assessment of many deviations. Broadly deviations tend to be added for a good reason, not for any random frivolous reason. Are there exceptions? Of course. But I don’t think people are just en masse adding bogus names. What is important is that these deviations are formally logged. Also, external authorities can and do make mistakes or bad decisions, so just blindly following them for the sake of stability isn’t always the optimal decision


I try to use the Hawaiian names and when I enter them in iNat they certainly work to pull up those species in a search. It doesn’t trouble me much that the English names are the default as they may be more recognizable on a global scale.

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But a lot of these changes are being done without discussion. I was always led to believe the reason iNat didn’t recognize subfamilies for birds was because Clements didn’t. There was even a script we were using for flags when people asked for those taxa. But starting last year, numerous people have been silently inserting these subfamilies, and it’s causing a huge problem.

Here’s a good example: someone added subfamilies to Accipitriformes, but staff has told us in the past that changing the parent taxon for any taxa involving more than 10k observations produce a tremendous strain on the server. Well, now we have Haliaeetinae and Buteoinae but neither Haliaeetus nor Buteo are attached to the subfamily that’s named after them because of the obs count. Staff has to make that change, but these genera have been in the waiting room for months, and to the best of my knowledge, I still haven’t heard any word regarding the idea that we are actually accepting subfamilies now. But I want the air cleared on this issue because at face value, it appears like “iNat” is deviating because some curators were inconvenienced.