Dictionary Query

A version, I think, of a question that’s been asked before but I don’t think I’ve ever seen - or understood - the answer.

When I enter a scientific name for a species I’m often faced with what looks like the name I’ve typed and a number of possible synonyms as separate dictionary entries. Which should I choose?


I normally just pick the first one in the list because, at the moment, I don’t know any better. Does it matter? How can I improve my selections? Taking this as an example, I chose “Sylvicola | Anisopus”. Will this put my observation alongside those of “Sylvicola | Rhyphus” and “Sylvicola | Phryne” or will there be 3 separate groups of observations?

If they are straightforward synonyms, why are they not listed as “Sylvicola | Anisopus | Ryhphus | Phryne”?

In another context, I would read “|” as “or”: is that the case here?

It doesn’t matter. (Read “|” as synonym.) iSpot only pays attention to what’s to the left; the stuff to the right is for the benefit of people using books, etc., that use alternative names.
As a practical matter, collapsing all synonyms into a single list sometimes wouldn’t fit in the drop down box, breaking the use case above.

Many thanks. That’s pretty much what I’d assumed.

Re not fitting in the drop-down box, why not make the box bigger? Let’s not have the science ruled by the computer. Computers make useful tools but poor masters.

Thanks for the explanation, L’guy. I had wondered about it often, but never thought to ask…
The answer - it doesn’t matter which I choose - is satisfying…

“I had wondered about it often, but never thought to ask…”. Aye, I know how you feel but after years teaching - in a wide variety of contexts - that there is no such thing as a daft question, I’m happy to put my head above the parapet and just ASK! I’m happy to console myself with the thought that if I don’t know the answer, then there are probably a few others out there who don’t know either!

You don’t make the box bigger because you want it to fit on screens, including mobile phone screens, and you don’t really want to have the box scrollable horizontally as well as vertically.