How do we get this fixed?

How do we convince the programmers that they have messed up?

Take the Surfer (Browser): Note that there are three species in this genus that iSpot has decided to flag as having no data on iSpot

(go and see the page here:

But what does it say in the dictionary? That should collaborate this surely? But it shows that those same species do have observations on iSpot
Xenocalamus bicolor subsp. bicolor has 1 observation
Xenocalamus bicolor subsp. lineatus has 1 observation
Xenocalamus transvaalensis has four 4 observations


But the surfer clearly says: “At present there are no examples for this taxon group in Southern Africa.”

And it does not help that for one of those species - quite a rare one - iSpot has lost the pictures!

This bug was flagged over a month ago. And it still sits there. Are they going to bother fixing the bugs at all?

Instead what they fixed was not a bug at all: the fixed the page so that those species that really did “At present there are no examples for this taxon group in Southern Africa.” no longer showed (it did in the draft that was loaded on June 28 - and it was most useful). Instead, while fixing this non-bug, they created one! That still languishes.

It is not a difficult fix.

do you honestly think they are reading all this? Find another way to attract their attention - disrupt the main site perhaps,
I see TREES are Other Organisms now!

You are going to get changes back. Just HANG TEN.
Whether it will work is another issue.

I have had this same discussion with Vynbos -

The only person who is affected by this sort of demonstration is the site. You me and anyone else. Do you really think that the powers that be look at the site? Do you think that they care? Ask: would the site be in this mess if they were even a little bit interested in it?

You will be better off writing letters to the Chancellor every week …

OK, I’ve changed the title. I’ve deleted my second post, made to see if Trees really are Other Organisms - they were.
But my message is to the Rank and File who may not lurk in these pages. I am not the only one to use this blatant tactic - ‘one of your own’ is doing it.
Tell it’s harming the process and I might remove it but there are comments and agreements.

One or two will do. But not any more …

Even if we are gatvol, we dont want to negatively affect the site. We want the OU to take notice, but we dont want to make iSpot worse than it is at present.

I think there is an issue in the dictionary with the some of the entries which are not proper taxonomic ranks (trees would be an example) where they are not properly linked into the hierarchical structure and so wrongly get stuck in ‘other organisms’. This was an issue on the previous version of iSpot I recall (although I’d never tried ‘trees’ so I don’t know if that one was but certainly some of the unidentified inverts ones were - e.g. unidentified lepidoptera was ‘other organisms’).

Thinking back to previous discussions I think this may be because the taxonomic dictionaries come from somewhere else and it is not something the iSpot team can easily adjust - all they can do is feed back to the maintainers of the dictionaries. My recollection could be wrong of course.

Yes, that might be it. In any case I could do with some agreements in O.Organisms!. I will test it again, I tried it with Aves and Animalia they were OK
And Tony is probably right

I may do one more next week, as Obs disappear very quickly from the carousel - proving that the Basic Site is quite acceptable for those who don’t know something is wrong…Most of them never respondeded to comments and suggestions anyway - the fire-and-forgetters (a small but crucial part of our backbone)!

How do you know this?
Sorry, Tony, but I’m getting tired of all the gripes.
Let the programmers get on with their work and let’s get back to what we should be doing.
There are lots of UNIDENTIFIED (or wrongly identified) posts in the SA Community - do we hear the programmers complain about these?
I may be wrong, but it looks to me like some folk have just dumped images (sometimes they should have been dumped and not been posted). They don’t seem to make an effort to ID themselves, or give enough info for anyone else to try - nor do they appear to research to learn about the subject themselves.
Somebody should be monitoring these posts or iSpot will just be a pointless exercise of collecting stats and no way for the novice of learning from them.
RALLY your team of local experts and enthusiasts. There’s a lot that needs to be done housekeeping the existing records. And be ready when the programming changes are implemented.


I agree. However, there is nothing I as an expert can do to housekeep. All I can do is making a comment which will not be read. This has been an issue in the beginning of the year and in 2015/6 as well. It is time to stop any observations and forum activity for the next week or so or until significant improvement.

Please read the bugs report.

All the higher taxa in the dictionary are being treated as “other organisms” which is weird because in the dictionary they are clearly labelled - each and every taxon name - as to their iSpot group.

Of course their is no group “Trees” - each tree has a scientific name like any other organism and it has a taxonomic heirarchy that has nothing to do with its habit. just like there are not groups for bulbs, succulents, vines, shrubs, herbs and medicinal (to give but a very few examples - marine vs freshwater is another).
And so this is a total bugbear - the issue is not the scientific name per se, but that for some reason the higher taxa are not being put into their proper group.

Let me try …

As for the dictionaries: they worked on the old iSpot. These are the same dictionaries. Ergo the problem is the programming.

Regarding lots of UNIDENTIFIED (or wrongly identified) posts in the SA Community. There is not much that can be done about this if the observation is low resolution (thumbnail size) or out of focus or simply just insufficient to make a positive identification. There are very few people who do make an effort by adding additional pics.

An excellent feature of is the Data Quality Assessment. Any of Date, Locality or Lack of ID at the species level will block the observation for Research Grade. It will be good if something like this can also be implemented in Ispotnature. To hove millions of very poor observations around just frustrate me as a scientist.

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If the programmers were doing anything you would be correct, But nothing is happening and there is no progress. So it you are happy with this degraded and almost useless site, please continue - but be aware that unless someone chases up the programmers, anything that you might do might be a total waste of time.

I utterly disagree with
"like some folk have just dumped images (sometimes they should have been dumped and not been posted). They don’t seem to make an effort to ID themselves … or iSpot will just be a pointless exercise of collecting stats and no way for the novice of learning from them. "
Like any museum or herbarium, the iSpot Virtual Museum will (and must) collect observations that will not be identified until an expert visits the site. For some herbaria that can be over 200 years. But you want instant gratification: that is what Facebook is for. And you have a choice. Do you like those little nuggets that come with every 100th unidentifiable (to you) observation? Or is it not worth it? That is up to you.
But dont deny others the opportunity to record all the lichens on their farm or hill - which they have no clue about and will never ever be able to identify - just because you cannot ID them! This site is bigger than you and me. I for one will encourage anyone who wants to post any picture of any organism, even if there is no living expert in the taxon in the world alive today. Because in a few years or centuries time there may well be.

But NOW IS NOT the time to rally experts. The IDs are not working (wrong groups, not linking to dictionary), surfer not working, gallery requiring silly wasteful steps that will frustrate any expert, no changes, no searches, no tracking. If you really want to chase away experts for good, then go ahead. Now is not a good time for housekeeping, because users will not be informed, and nor can users be asked to help because there is no feedback.

Nice sentiments! But totally useless as of this time.

Currently, if you want to achieve something, stop griping about griping and get on with griping. Otherwise we will get nowhere and you might as well just go somewhere else …
There is a time for working and a time for identifying and a time for griping. The time for griping is now!

iSpot has its own data quality assessment. If it has a Likely ID then it is Data Quality Grade.

iSpot goes further: there is a Reputation Score that records the summed reputation for each ID, which can easily be expressed in “Expert Equivalents”. It would be trivial to display this, but for some reason it is not done.

You cannot post on iSpot without a date: how does the date influence quality?

The locality resolution on iSpot is based on the decimal degrees recorded we were told. So it will be trivial to exclude data with too vague a resolution. Except that there is a bug in the new iSpot that corrupts this, and also (since the rewrite) this is no longer displayed (but we are told it is safely stored); and a bug in that usng the map no longer records the map resolution of the data, so that the data are simply corrupt.
We have asked for this to be fixed, but it has not been done yet.
So, despite assurances from the iSpot team in 2012 that locality resolution was carefully recorded on iSpot, the data being recorded at present are corrupt. This has been identified as a bug on 8 July: still unfixed.

A Likely ID is not necessary a Grade that may be useful for a scientist. You still get an Likely ID for a ID for “Dicotyledon”. The date may be wrong. The locality may be too poor or completely wrong. The picture quality may be poor. I do not want that Obs to end up in EOL or in my publication. In Inat the user gets a chance to flag a obs with one of those issues.

Likely ID: yes there is room for improvement here; At present a Likely ID occurs at 0.02 Expert equivalents. Perhaps this should be at about 0.2 or 0.5.

Of course you get an ID for Dicotyledon? What is wrong with that? If you want to look at or use data that is identified to the level of Dicotyledon then why should you not be? If you are a researcher interested in only species level IDs then that would not qualify would it: why do you need to a complicated system? It might well be research grade at the level of Dicot: i.e. its level is 100% certain. And different experts/users might require different research or levels: so one researcher might only want species level data, another generic data would be OK, and a taxonomist might want to get their hands on tribal or family level IDs that are certain (using the Likely ID). Yes, some IDs that are 100% are generic level (research grade) might be impossible to ID to species level (dissection of male organs needed and picture is female). So dont conflate taxonomic rank of ID with ID quality.

How would you know if the date were wrong? At most you could post a comment requesting clarification. How would you know?

Picture quality is irrelevant to research. It could be crummy indistinct picture but might still be the only record of the species in southern Africa, and 100% certain. I am sure you would not discard this data if you had the choice.
The question is not the picture quality but the ID quality. Picture quality is for use as a photograph - please dont muddle the two up. If you want that, you will now need two different quality scales - data and photography.

iSpot is more interactive than iNat. Here the users pose the question and the user responds.

But currently the situation of data quality on iSpot is deplorable. iSpot itself is corrupting data.

The point is if the picture quality is not enough to ID the Obs to species level, then the Obs may well be useless and it is noise in the background.

You can comment on Inat and query the date.

However, I agree the handling of the data on Ispot is poor compared to Inat.

I disagree. It is not noise. It is potential data. You might not be able to make an ID, but someone else might. If we are to throw away data that is not identified to species level than 2/3 of our insect data are useless and 95% of our Lichen data. For all we know they may be unidentifiable to species level: so should we ditch them?

Yes it is noise! What Inat is doing is that the Research Grade is giving me a chance to filter the ID-Needed Obs. In Inat it is still potential data. It is not thrown out. It is still possible to improve the ID and make it a Research Grade Obs. This is a fine and important distinction from the scientist’s viewpoint. Inat is just handling the data much better. Additionally it is giving the observer a chance to improve the quality of his observations.

iSpot can do the same. And potentially in more cuts. But at present: request the data from SANBI: it is far faster.

There are various ways of filtering ID-needed obs on iSpot, but not very well. Use the SANBI back end if you are serious.

Ok, I have been told: You’ve already replied 3 times to @Tony_Rebelo in this particular topic.