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5.3.5.  Collision records in the .alt file

In order to record all the known collisions—that is, cases where two or more names encode to the same six-letter abbreviation according to the rules for abbreviation formation—you must add to the alternate forms file one line for each collision. Each such line enumerates all the disambiguations, that is, the substitute form codes that are preferred:

  1. Enter the collision code in the first six columns.

  2. Enter a question mark (?) in the seventh column.

  3. Type all the disambiguations separated by colon (:) characters.

Examples of collision records:

barowl?brdowl:brnowl
belspa?bldspa:bllspa
columb?colba :colbid:colbin

The first example shows that two names collide for the code barowl. The forms are Barred Owl (which is given the substitute code brdowl in the standard forms file) and Barn Owl, with substitute code brnowl.

The last example shows a three-way collision for code columb between the codes for genus Columba, family Columbidae, and subfamily Columbinae. Note that a collision record may refer to forms other than standard taxa.