[TDWG] Announce: Proposal for "microformat" for marking-up taxonomic names in HTML: comments and contributions sought

Andy Mabbett andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk
Sun Sep 24 22:57:56 CEST 2006

Hello - my first post to this mailing list.

I'm not a taxonomist, but I've been told by one that you might be
interested in recent proposals for a formula (a "microformat"
<http://microformats.org>) for marking-up, in HTML, the names of species
(and other ranks, varieties, hybrids, etc.).

Microformats are a way of adding additional, simple markup to
human-readable data items on web pages, using common and open HTML
standards, so that the information can be extracted by software and
indexed, searched for, saved, cross-referenced or aggregated.
Microformats are also open standards, freely available for anyone to

The proposed format respects all existing biological taxonomies, and is
not intended to change or supplant any of them - it merely provides
webmasters with a method of either:

   1)   marking-up a taxonomical name (or taxon-common name pair) in
        such a way that its components can be recognised by computers


   2)   marking up a common name, so as to associative with it a
        taxonomical name, in such a way that the latter's components can
        be recognised by computers

For instance, if I mark up a list of common names on a page I maintain:


using that microformat, a visitor might have browser tool which lists
all the species on the page, sorted into alphabetical order within
taxonomic class, or in taxonomic order, and then creates links to, say
(for Joe Public) their entries in Wikipedia, or the British Trust for
Ornithology, or (for scientists) some academic database of the users

Early thoughts on the format are on an editable "wiki", here:


Please feel free to participate - the proposal needs both messages of
support (particularly from people or organisations who have websites on
which they might use them) and, especially, comments and constructive
criticisms - does the proposal understand and use taxonomy correctly; is
the terminology right, are there any omissions or overlooked, unusual
naming conventions?

You can use the above wiki, or the microformats mailing list:


and/ or please feel free to pass this e-mail to other interested

Thank you.

Andy Mabbett
Birmingham, England

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