The OpenScience Laboratory The Open University

iSpot Forum


I am finally starting to get access to some of the data from the new version of ispot which is allowing a few other issues to be discovered.

One of them is that there are a lot of ID’s that don’t link to the dictionaries and so the information is of much less value since it does not link up to the rest of the site.

Currently we can’t alter the page where you enter an ID but I would urge everyone to select suitable species from the dropdown list if at all possible. Very many of the species that are currently not linked to the dictionary are indeed in the dictionary but the user appears to have typed in the name rather than selecting it. Of course there are some species that are not in the dictionaries.

That iSpot doesn’t search the dictionary when a user types in the full name ought to be added to the list of bugs if it isn’t already there.

There are plenty of usability issues associated with entering ID but the system should find items if you type the name. I just did this on an observation using exactly what the user had entered and indeed the species came up and I was able to select it from the list. The full panel was then formed compared to almost no panel when just the name was typed without clicking on the list once the species is shown. It is that ‘select from list’ part that users don’t seem to be doing.

At least some feedback from Ispot is absolutely indispensable. Pre 2017 I enjoyed a preview of the completed obs. This is now missing. Some suggestions from Ispot based on the preview would go a long way educating identifiers, many experts, as to not add additional text like cf. and author.

is there a way to ensure that when a name is typed in, the observation cannot be posted WITHOUT first having been linked to the Dictionary? I find that sometimes I type the name in (correctly, I might add) and the link is made and sometimes it isn’t (usually when I am in a rush). I think that a feature which, where a link hasn’t been made, highlights this issue to the user and gives some pop up advice on how to make the link (assuming it isn’t an obscure new hybrid) would be helpful (longer term, once other more important things are out to rights, of course)

Drop down menu problems

I have seen two posts of plants which have been given an animal taxonomy. This is because the generic names are duplicated. One is Chara, the other Salix. I did the Salix id. There were two options in the drop down menu. I chose the first one, but there was no clue that it was the ‘animal’ genus.

What happens if you type in the name exactly right and just use that rather than selecting from the list. To my mind that ‘should’ work and link up but I wonder if it is not happening. Will try an experiment and check next time I have an ID to add.

A prompt or something could be useful here but I’d resist a system that means (as you first sentence suggests) that you cannot post unless it is in the dictionary. Presumably lots of things will not be in the dictionary immediately (e.g. a new to Britain[1] species in the UK or a new to science species[2] in any dictionary) and some things people want ID comment on (e.g. subspecific, varietal etc. ID) may not be in there as well. Being prevented from posting these would be a problem.

[1] Quite early on the iSpot team was rightly proud of the system here allowing identification of a new to Britain moth.
[2] I had one of these in my back graden so they can turn up even amongst us amateurs.

Currently typing the name, however exact, then posting will not connect to the dictionary, one is obliged to select from the list to connect. The biggest problem, of course, is that the dictionaries are woefully behind the times as proffered updates have not been included. I believe the situation for the SA dictionary is 5 updates sent in since the 2014 upheaval and not one of them has been incorporated yet

Pretty sure that is not how it used to work. Oh well so long as people get support with their IDs the system is achieving its main purpose, linkages to dictionaries etc. are nice but not core.

Without a proper link that ID will never be verified. Or retrieved again. It is effectively lost in the other unidentified ones.

I complained about this weeks ago, typing it in correctly does not link. It used to before the update though.

I think you are mistaken there, with no link to a dictionary the post is not linked to anything and will be sunk without a trace except in your own obs list, it won’t come up if someone searches for the name or the family etc

1 Like

It will be verified when someone agrees with it and when the record I submit and identification evidence is accepted by the relevant recording scheme. When I submit the records to the relevant recording scheme they will be retrievable.

Exactly how linked they are on the system I used to gather additional information in support of that identification is of less importance (although it would clearly be better if it did link up).

iSpot failed to bring up the Google Map when adding an observation which had the effect of causing it to fail to convert the GR to latitude and longitude causing it to refuse to accept the observation. Hitting F5 has the unfortunate result of starting the process of adding the observation all over again.

Yes, I had a nice experience this morning.
I edited my project here - note the UK Community. @miked
I saved it and now it’s in Global - cool eh? No-one now will find any of the links I have used elsewhere. And if it’s in anyone’s Favourites (as if) then it’s…

And now this @miked
My signature from yesterday
Now changed by the iSpot Global Witch to
If you have a project, don’t Edit and Save until you have made a copy or you know you can correct the link.

I must admit I am curious as to why you have to admit your records twice. First an unresponsive Ispot where it is impossible to find, and then your recording scheme.

Primarily because it is not reasonable to ask recording schemes (lots of which are run by just one person or by voluntary labour, frequently both) to trawl the vast array of online sites where records might be posted and harvest them themselves. Similarly when I post to the various email discussion groups and other online forums I don’t expect the recording schemes to be carefully capturing all the records from them.

iSpot of course is remarkably poorly designed to function as a recording scheme (no field for number of records, not field for stage, no way to bulk upload data etc.) so clearly is never going to be able to take over as the central database of any scheme. That’s not a criticism of iSpot, back when I got involved (2008/09 I think) it was made quite clear that its purpose was not to be a recording scheme, so it not being designed to be one is very reasonable.

Ispot can with little effort and work very well for a recording sceme, particularly if there is nothing formal in place for the group. For example see the Western Leopard Toads in SA.

However, at the end of the day I would expect all of these records to appear in GBIF. However, I am uncertain if the majority if Ispot data is in GBIF.