Why aren't automatically generated changes created until the parent swap is committed?

If taxon changes are set to “Move children to output”, why doesn’t a swap get immediately drafted for each child? I understand that this might make a lot of unnecessary drafts before they’re needed, but here’s some reasons why it would be nice to have them:

  • Currently there is no warning about a drafted swap at the top of the taxon pages of the children. This could be added without even creating a swap: just have the regular “Heads up, this taxon will be replaced” and link to the parent swap.
  • When the swap is committed, the automatically generated changes are timestamped with the commit time, because they weren’t technically created until they were swapped. This is misleading information because the parent swap was created earlier. You wouldn’t need actual changes for this either if you just had the timestamp match the parent swap (maybe not technically accurate but more helpful). If you’re aware of this, it’s not really a problem to go to the parent swap to see the timestamp (if it’s really that important) but if you’re not aware you might be a bit confused (like me).

Maybe there’s other reasons for/against this too. I can make a feature request if this protocol isn’t intentional/helpful, but it doesn’t seem like a bug.

Since I have never been able to use the “Move children to output” option for various reasons, I’d never given this much thought. There may be other reasons, but one might be that if the parent swap ends up being deleted and never committed for some reason, the system would need to track all of the child swaps and delete them too. Another reason might be that a curator could find one of the child swaps that they had already wanted to pursue themselves, and commit it without realizing it was part of a larger project. Preventing that would need some extra messaging and coding in the management of swaps.

I do agree that if that option is specified for a draft parent swap, it should propagate the heads-up messaging automatically to the child taxa too, which could be done as you said, without actually creating the child swaps at that point.

I also agree that the time stamps on the parent and child swaps should be forced to be the same, which again could be done at commit time, without needing child swaps to be created beforehand.

All that said, I implore every curator to consider very carefully all of the ramifications of the “Move children to output” option before using it. In all the taxon changes I’ve done, it’s never once been appropriate. Two of the major reasons:

  • different gender endings between old and new genus
  • a different species or subspecies epithet becomes priorable in the new genus

I’ve seen too many instances of wrongly terminated or combined names having been created this way, and having to be corrected with further swaps that could have been avoided. The option seems handy on its face, but in my experience it really hasn’t been at all.


OK maybe it’s not the best to go all the way and draft swaps automatically, but it would be helpful to give a heads up.

I agree that the Move children to output is rarely useful, but I definitely use it.

1 Like