The OpenScience Laboratory The Open University

iSpot Forum

New users are leaving

One of the major sources of new users is OU courses. Judging by the trouble they have with the mechanics of iSpot I think we can conclude two things

  1. the OU courses fail to effectively teach their students how to use iSpot
  2. iSpot’s user interface is insufficiently intuitive

New users can agree with observations, but that’s not quite the same as making identifications. I doubt that it is practicable to provide observations for them to identify, but if quizzes weren’t broken they would be a partial substitute.

It has crossed my mind before that when people sign up to iSpot they should be sent a welcome pack/user guide. To which I now add the provision of “play through” videos showing the correct use of iSpot. Perhaps @miked can record his usage.

The two bits of the old interface that I miss most are Unread (which let me monitor all activity on plants - to do that now I’d have to favourite everything and not miss stuff rolling off the carousel while I’m away from my computer) and the ability to step through carousels. (The first is a functionality issue, and the second a usability one.)

1 Like

Certainly good ideas and things we might be able to address in a few months time and hopefully well before the next lot of students are using the system.

I have been compiling a list of specifics regarding this which you should not really need. But they might make their lives a bit more interesting and ours a little less frustrating.


I’m sorry if seem overbearing but I have just added a comment to this (fairly typical) Observation.
We know Mike cannot be expected to see all these.
Similarly Such excellence IGNORED

This post by a new user has run into an iSpot mechanics problem.

My attempt to fix the group hasn’t worked - so could someone else see if they have any more luck.

The site is much more speedy than it used to be, which is great. But still lots of things that are rather irritating. Way too much clicking needed to get to an observation (and then to get back out of it). If one puts in an ID, then an impressive list of possible names appears. You need to be an immense specialist in taxonomy to make sense of it all. The ‘search’ does not work at all and results are randomly ordered (they should be ordered chronologically, the most recent ones first). No possibility for a definite ID. Change tracker is a bit of a mess, so past mistakes can’t get rectified etc.etc…

I think the group is now ok since John B id it.

2020: This user hasn’t been spotted and I don’t know how to help them.
(Paul Latham 36)
Member since4 December 2019Location / HometownBlairgowrie, ScotlandBadgesN/AField of Interest
Flora of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Flora of the Southern Highlands of Tanzania
Edible insects of Africa
Beekeeping in Africa
This is one of his entries which should be Global I think,

Please advise

New users are appearing!
Looks like the Covid-19 lockdown has prompted more people to make use of their 30-minute daily exercise, or have a nose around the garden, and then find and observe something of interest. I hope they can find something to make them stay beyond their initial impulse, and beyond our eventual release from lockdown!

1 Like

Disappearing observations
Several thousand precious observations (and Observers) were lost in iSpot, because no-one could be bothered to comment.
I think it might be a……” or "I’m sorry, I can’t tell but it surely is a… " perhaps even “this is a newt, honest, but….” or “lovely picture, can’t help with ID….”
What about, eventually adding a High Taxa ID to put it in a Collection and Other Observations - WHO should do that, and when?

Well, these forgotten posts spend three weeks in the Help-with Carousel, fall off and then…well…get forgotten…
These are from one person, who still sticks it out.
If you’d like to add comment about the forgotten, PLEASE go here
Name withheld…ha!

Hi All
Coming to this thread rather late…
I used to post things regularly on this site and found it extremely friendly and useful. Unfortunately the IT upgrade a few years back was awful and really put me off, too cumbersome and slow. Occasionally I dip back in to see how things are doing. I’m sorry to say that the site is still far too slow and clunky. I still don’t use Facebook, and I realise I may be missing out there, but I do use iNaturalist which is miles quicker at uploads and has a good ‘robot’ ID facility.I know all of you who have persevered will find my comments a bit disheartening, but that’s what I find as an end-user.
Nev W

Such a good ‘reputation’. You added some agreements today. Thanks

iSpot is by far the slowest site I use. I think that problems are partly with iSpot’s user interface (mark 3 made changes which adversely affected workflow), partly with iSpot’s performance, and partly with Windows 10 being a memory hog. (My computer was adequately specified for Windows 7, but Windows 10 installed itself over it.) (I used to have problems with some other sites, but I solved those by adding an ad blocker.)

One of the problems I get is the plants carousel often hanging up when switching to it from the main carousel. At the moment it’s also giving me a blank profile and a blank changes tracker - it looks rather as if iSpot is failing to respond to requests for data. (In the last two hours I’ve managed to look at one observation - I might have entered an identification, but iSpot hung up when redrawing the observation so I’ve had no confirmation.) Is anyone else have similar issues?

The whole site is a dying slug, most of the time. iSpot never works like lightning. It often hangs up when I use Your (actually My) iSpot/Observations. I cannot, right now, see them. I have just drawn this (the bad straw)
500 - Internal Error
Something has gone very wrong - please try clearing your browsers cache & cookies, restarting your browser and returning to the page that caused the problem. If the problem persists contact iSpot.
This suggests to me that right now (20:00 5th May) the site is behaving specially badly.
I often clear my Browsing History, Flush my Memory, Clear my RAM, consider leaving iSpot and then still have to go to another site like this one (no slug) to see if it’s actually my Chrome/WIN10 combination.
We need to inform Admin when we think the site is failing but first we need to log out, leave the site, open the site and log in again.

I’ve been using Firefox because Chrome is a memory hog, but switching back to Chrome iSpot is behaving rather better.

Nuking the Mozilla cache seems to have cured the hangups (if it’s not coincidence) but it’s still not fast (but perhaps a trifle more responsive).

Usually, when I mail Admin, things improve within hours.
There is a HUGE improvement in the last 24 hours. I received an explanatory note in return for my report,
Right now, it’s as good as it probably gets - 21:00 6 May - five seconds to list all my1500 Observations (via Your iSpot).
It’s a good test (not too demanding) How long for your 1600?
A more demanding test is to look at the map here and to refresh it until you have the final number of Obs. (3400) Each refresh for me is currently 27 secs. It is usually longer. Surprisingly it is less for a page in Gallery view BUT that is for only 49 Observations. !2 secs

It hasn’t stayed fixed for long. It’s now regularly hanging up on the plant carousel again; the changes tracker has failed once, and subjectively it’s generally reverted to greater sluggishness. Is their a memory/resource leak in the web/database server?