New users are leaving

I suspect we have been joined by hundreds of potentially valuable new users in the last week or two. Most have had success at mastering the start but plenty haven’t. How on earth do some manage to make a Complete Project, with maps, filters, photos and not find the easy way to make an Ob?
Miked is supporting as many as he sees but misses a few. WE ALL have a role to play in nurturing new users, encouraging them, helping them though the early stages, correcting their mistakes, maybe even awarding them Icons.
We need a better way to see them - can we have a flag to say Hayleyree made her first observation today **_ Some hope!

Agree - have got husband on board now, but only because I literally sat with him and helped him use ISpot and to do his first couple of obs. Now he’s always on the computer. What he likes best and finds most helpful - and what will keep him using the site is actual feedback from other ornithologists and invert experts - apparently the only person who is doing much in the way of ID support on hoverflies and bees is Ophrys (well done, @ophrys ! - your input has been very much appreciated :slight_smile: )

Perhaps… we need to make a better and more obvious link to “how to get started on ISpot” - at the moment, all we have is this: - which dates from 2009 and thus may not be all that relevant or even accurate following the change to the system a couple of years back. You also have to go into ‘Help’ to find it, when there really should be a “New To ISpot START HERE” at the top of the Home page.

I think we also need an ISpot “Hints and Tips for getting the most out of ISpot”


The site is a bit daunting for new users (and older ones!) The main problems for newbies seem to be:

  1. The bloody awkward identification drop-down list picking, which has more than once defeated me lately (though this may be ingrowing senility),
  2. The picture upload problems - it sometimes fails altogether, and it’s not all that clear that you need to wait for it to finish
  3. The etiquette of not duplicating likely identifications (which was originally supposed to be prevented in the coding)
  4. The fact that you don’t have to invent an identification if you’ve no idea - just pick a group - isn’t clear.
    If people persevere, then they run into other issues, such as the lack of facility to save locations for future posts, the rather antiquated database, and the inability to edit comments.
    All this has been said before, by more eloquent users than I. But it shows no sign of improving, and this is perhaps the most off-putting for those who “survive” the initial culture shock, and start to post more often. I suspect that the site is an expensive one to run - google maps and so on - but the lack of feedback from the administrators is really annoying. It highlights the work being done by two or three users to tackle some of the most significant issues, and it would be good if these efforts were matched by the administration. Otherwise, this looks like a situation that won’t easily be improved.

Facebook has taken over from iSpot and you only have to go there to see why. Hugely active sites for all the different insect orders, with many experts there to give IDs and advice and all done in a very positive, encouraging manner. I know some people have concerns about using facebook, but it is absolutely fine and undoubtedly the place to go for insect IDs and more these days. It is so simple to add photos there and you get almost instant answers to queries. There are also files sections for each group, packed with ID keys and all sorts. For hoverflies, soldierflies, blowflies, general diptera it is the place to be. Same for beetles, bugs…etc.

A shame to have to say that, but I am afraid iSpot has been left lagging far behind. I still do what I can here, but most of my time is given to facebook now.



I agree, I use Facebook Groups quite a lot. And I get VERY good service in most of them - not all. But it’s quite easy to stop input from them (if you want). There are LOTS of things I hate about F’book but it can be controlled and set to receive ONLY the things you wish to see (apart from Adverts, which are geared to your Browsing history - how inposing is that?)

“Facebook has taken over from iSpot…” I think, especially for those with a keen interest in a few families/phyla/insert a taxonomic term here, this is true. It’s much less tempting for the generalist like myself, though I find some (Hoverflies, f’rinstance) friendly and helpful: there’s no disappearing into a black hole with no identifications/corrections/comments being offered.
iSpot has the opportunity to be the one-stop first choice for many naturalists. I’m using the present tense out of optimism: the long silence on, and lack of progress in remedying, the many coding problems may mean that not only has that particular ship, but a whole flotilla, has sailed.
Integration with various Fastbuck sites would surely not be beyond the wit of man. But it may be beyond the vision and/or the pockets of the site administrators.
I, for one, am very glad that ophrys still finds time to dodge the gremlins here.

I am a new user. I am finding the site impenetrable. I had hoped to use it to identify some hatching mini beasts. I tried using the search but found it really difficult (I can’t see what mouthparts they have, why can’t I leave it blank?) and in the end I failed.

I think they might be weevils, but nothing comes up when I search for weevils, I don’t know what groups weevils belong to, at this rate I wish I’d gone straight to Wikipedia. I can’t see how to post a photo to ask about it.

I haven’t found a link to your fb page and I can’t find it when I search fb. Does ispot want the general public to use this site or is it just for professionals and trained amateurs?

We do, we DO!
Just add an observation Susan and let us guide you, we are on the lookout for new users in the quest to keep the site ALIVE.

Don’t give up you’re nearly there. Suggest you click the ‘Add an Observation’ icon and then follow the steps that appear, upload an image, location etc. On iSpot, weevils are in the group ‘Invertebrates’. If you’re not sure about adding a specific identification just miss it out. Good luck!

iSpot was partly conceived as having an educational role, so, yes, the general public are wanted.

To echo the others: yes - “general public” should be welcome. I hope you will get used to its foibles, and persevere. But without going into the saga of iSpot (more along the lines of the Japanese iconic heroic failure than an Icelandic champion), the site often falls short of expectations. The “impenetrability”, as you call it, has been exhaustively detailed in previous forum posts, but change is slow to come.
However! I don’t think any one site can always provide all the clues you need for an identification (assuming that’s possible, given the difficulties posed by some groups of organisms and some photo submissions). I regularly visit others in order to try to verify (or disprove) an identity. No site is infallible, though some are better than others.
And, just possibly, there’s a bit more satisfaction in defeating Kobbold pestilens (the iSpot gremlins) than an entry on a more specialist, more user-friendly site? Well, that’s what I tell myself.

Thanks everyone for your encouragement to continue. I have successfully posted my spot and had an ID, Green Shield bugs.

Can anyone who knows Damselflies help to identify Geoffleah’s first observation.

All sorted now thanks to Amadan’s agreement and all the welcome messages.

Lot of googling and bit of reading (it bugged me, so I got up early!): I’ve tentatively agreed as noted in the post.

I think Amadan may have it. But it’s touch and go. I am not certain what else it may be.
I’d MUCH prefer it to be certainly a Damselfly (Coenagrionidae or Zygoptera say) than not be certain about species. In such cases I think it OK to have two IDs, Species first then Family second. The second attracts the Likely Banner which will move IF someone agrees. BUT we cannot expect new posters to do that and so it MAY be up to us to add a Higher Tax ID - perhaps?
Beyond that, this is a very ‘young’ observation and it often takes a week or two for a decent ID to emerge, as the good ‘guys’ may be on holiday, so an encouraging comment could be left for new posters. If only they knew about their Changes Tracker, which should be the default opening page when we log on (chus sayin’)

Coming late to this thread: yes, it’s important to welcome new users and to support them and I agree with Derek that a flag of some sort for a first post would encourage existing users to provide feedback. Well done Derek for keeping us reminded of that.

Educational use is at the heart of this site and one of the important features for me is that responses are provided for photos that might not pass muster on photo sharing sites - how wonderful that folks can achieve such standards, but often examining a ‘snap’ helps someone on this site to connect with nature in a meaningful way. That all points to the ‘general public’!

For me too, one site is unlikely to do it all, a bit of further research is one of the joys! Using keys is a skill in itself in my view, and the necessary vocabulary can be a barrier depending on stage and experience. Worth persevering!

I dashed off a comment on the Hatching Bugs observation before properly reading D’s comment re Changes Tracker.

Janice’s recent front page post does include reference to funding bids, so that sounds like potentially good news.

PLEASE can you go through the Help-confirm-global-observations Carousel occasionally and see WHO is about to disappear?
Even a comment of encouragement is worthwhile
Here’s a Cornish lass in her very last hour in view
What a shame to lose someone who holds so much promise - a near perfect observation.

Thanks for the reminder. I will try and look at some…

I agree with Amadan on the biggest issues for new users, and also dejayM saying new users might not know where the changes tracker is. When i first used iSpot I’m sure it logged straight in to a dashboard which also gave some statistics on your ID’s. It was a bit disappointing when this disappeared and it took me a while to find the changes tracker, which isn’t really the same. I use facebook but wouldn’t stop using iSpot as I think they are very different.

Facebook is great for instant responses and you have a better idea of who you are talking to - and probably reach a wider audience. But the downsides of facebook I have found are:

  1. The response is incorrect (not frequently, but enough) / there is no way of attaching a level of confidence
  2. Groups can seem to be more about photography enthusiasts rather than identification.
  3. You can’t collate all of your records or sort them with tags
  4. Group politics - continual conversations about invasive species and whether a plant is a weed

At least with iSpot, identifications are taken more seriously, and comments / ID’s can’t be deleted so you can see the identification process.

The only suggestion I have is that the focus is on identifying things as quickly as possible with the expectation that that is what people want. But maybe it would engage new users more if they had the opportunity to identify some observations without (as well as) posting their own. Maybe there could be a descriptive tag for new users to ID or something, so that they can interact with the site more, without it just being the clunky process of adding observations.