Earth to iSpot?

We keep posting observations but no way of seeing whether anyone is actually out there. Increasingly disillusioned but clinging on for signs of life? Andy

Hang in there.

Soon you will have enough rope …

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Tony, comments like this just underline how out of touch iSpot has become.

List your issues.

There are people listening. And some trying. (But we are in summer recess).

But a list of problems gives both priority and direction …

We’re promised a notification system (i.e. Changes) shortly (providing the original estimate included the development team’s holidays).

Yes: but the problem is that we are getting a “Changes”!
The big problem is that we dont want “Changes” (even though that it what it was called): what we want is UNREAD!

Alas we are getting changes only!

I’ve been meaning to write a “what we want” about a notification system. We need a notification system that caters to all levels of users. The old one had the Your iSpot page, which told you about identifications on your observations, which would cater for the casual user, Changes which caters for the person using iSpot as an identification and learning tool, and Unread, which with adequate filtering capabilities could have catered for the power user/specialist.

With the loss of even minimal filtering with the 2014 changes I considered Unread to be no longer usable for my purposes. It seems to me that adding filtering on change status (new observation, edited observation, new identification, new comment, edited comment if we get that back) to projects would be the easiest way to cater for power users - you set up a project with the appropriate filter to report changes to the set of observations that you want to monitor.

If In had written a “what we want” I would have recognised that getting something back quickly was important, i.e. in the short term let the OU implement changes rather than argue with them about a specification for a better system.

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In your wildest dreams. We wont even get an iSpot half as good, let alone better!
No dictionary updates have been done since the Sept 2014 amalgamation, despite SANBI having produced 5 new versions. All the curation rights of SANBI to southern African data were lost. There are still several dozen bugs outstanding on the Sept 2014 amalgamation. We were promised that these were temporary and would soon be fixed.

We were hoping that these bugs would be fixed in this rewrite. Sadly, not only are they not even looked at, but there are hundreds of new bugs, and reduced functionality. And no forums (thousands of pages lost - including compendiums of references, species lists, reports by teams of iSpotters, etc.). A vague promise of “searching ability” (we will design the site to be searched by Google, but we wont let Google map the site), And curation: what little curation we were left with has all gone - the only thing we can do is assign society and reputation badges - even access to statistics has gone.

Well. You got something back quickly. I trust that you are satisfied! Please next time: specify that it must at least work …

There were three options:

  • Changes, which reported on any observation, project or forum of yours that had been changed, grouped by type of change.
  • Unread, which reported on all changes and new content, and which had the cool feature of reporting how many comments/replies on an observation you had not read. A very useful feature was being able to sort up/down the list by its headings (number of comments was especially useful to me as a curator, group and user where also very useful).
  • Track: which was associated with a user’s profile, which listed all observations, projects and forum pages they had contributed to (although I think it did not include identifications, but I am not sure of that).

Together those three were a pretty comprehensive for my curatorial needs. While it would have been nice to have more they catered for more than 80% of what I needed for administering the site.**

Of course, if these were possible as filters in the community observations that would be really cool. The filters would be:

  • seen by me
  • contributed by me (observation, ID, agreement, comment, reply (and tag - if we get the ability to add tags))
    But what would be far cooller is being able to sort the community observations. The sorts I would like would be:
  • number of comments
  • number of reads
  • ID score (reputation per observation)
  • date observed
  • date posted
  • user
  • species
  • title

There I have written “what I want”. What is it exactly that you want?

The community filters (and projects, which are merely justified filters - although after Sept 2014 the map extent did not filter for filters and thus “polygon” filtering was confined to projects) catered for most of the rest. But what many users who are using the site to extract data (rather than get IDs or add in data) need is - specifically for projects:

  • species lists (with a nice to have of compiling a field guide - a fancy name for a species list with a picture of each species)
  • user lists
  • rate of data submission
    Specifically these and the observation list must be downloadable as a csv.

Stop complaining to the developers. They do not appear to be listening or doing their job. Complain about them to their bosses at Open University. Surely they must be accountable to someone.

Tony - as a matter of interest, does Sanbi (or any other SA institution) pay a fee to use this site?

Yes, but we stopped paying last year (the OU did not want to accept our payment until the rewrite was done, despite us wanting to pay).