TaxonWorks in production at the Species File Group

This document will change, please check back frequently until this message is gone. It is essentially a memorandum of understanding to manage expectations and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Why this document?

This document is here to help to communicate the relationship between Species File Group collaborations pertaining to their production-instances of TaxonWorks. It is provided as a resource so that collaborating scientific parties: 1) the Species File Group (SFG), and 2) scientists who use an instance of TaxonWorks the SFG maintains (scientists), can better collaborate, communicate, and understand each other’s roles. We ask that our collaborating scientists read this document before they begin to use a production instance of TaxonWorks maintained by the SFG. Some aspects of this document do not pertain to scientists who are staff at the Illinois Natural History Survey.

This is a non-binding memorandum of understanding.

TaxonWorks in production at Species File Group

There is no one version of TaxonWorks, rather it is free software intended for use by anyone. Indeed, the SFG’s long-term goal is to make TaxonWorks ubiquitous, usable anywhere by anyone. The SFG is working to make TaxonWorks community-supported and maintained software, i.e. we strive for a future where the SFG is not the primary nexus for TaxonWorks developments.

This document pertains only to the instance(s) the SFG maintain(s), presently exclusively at It does not relate to any other collaboration, planned or existing (including public pages derived from data within When the SFG provides a new service to serve public facing websites then a new, second memorandum for that service will emerge.

Memorandum of understanding

This document

TaxonWorks and the Species File Group

Scientists using TaxonWorks

Code of Conduct

The TaxonWorks community follows a Code of Conduct. Scientists using TaxonWorks are part of this community. * Don’t abuse our collaborations by doing stupid things that aren’t legal, that wouldn’t be cool. Our collaboration is no-different than any-other between you and any of your other scientific peers, you wouldn’t abuse those collaborations, don’t abuse ours.

Questions and feedback

Questions, concerns, and suggestions for improvement to this document, and any of the services the SFG participates in, can be added to this repository via the Issue tracker. Private concerns can be addressed to Matt Yoder or Ed DeWalt.


Does the SFG charge for use of

No. This is an open collaboration, in turn the SFG hopes that our collaborating scientists will help contribute back to the community.

Will the SFG ever charge for use of

As an endowed group we hope to do as much as we can to support the global biodiversity informatics community with the resources and people we have. As our collaborators grow we would be naive to not be realistic about the costs of these collaborations.

As of now we are committed to growing our collaborations in the manner described here, until at least January 1st, 2023. On or around January 1st, 2023 we anticipate holding a community-wide review, engaging all parties, as to how things are going. These reviews may precipitate change, but it’s in the best interests of the SFG and our collaborators to see that these changers are not drastic. We anticipate similar reviews on a multi-year (3-5) cycle. The primary purpose of these is to keep communication open, not to figure out a way how to charge our collaborators, we really, really, really, don’t want to have to do that if at all possible.

If the SFG charges for the use of will I have an option to migrate from it to somewhere else offering TaxonWorks as a service?

Absolutely. If we ever get to a point where we are forced to have to charge we will outline steps, far in advance, to take our collaboration and move it. We can’t promise that there will be free services elsewhere, but we can promise that if we cease to host then there will be a lot of documentation and discussion as to where to go next, and that the underlying software remain open-source so that others can offer services if they have the means.