In the past (before Sept 2014) the dictionary updates were not easy but they were trivial. All that happened is that new species were added.
There were no instructions. So we found out the hard way.
- Dont change a name. If the old dictionary had Genus speciesA and the name changed, dont change the name, because iSpot will show the old name as the ID and then inexplcably link to the new name. The correct thing to do is retain the old name but make it a synonym of the new name.
- Do not use an old number for a new name. Everything will go horribly wrong.
- Do not decide that the beetle taxonomy borrowed from CoL is terrible and delete them all and start again with new numbers. All the old IDs will become lost and disconnected from the dictionary and then have to be reidentified as the same name to link them to the new numbers.
But why is it trivial?
Because with each dictionary update, proper curation will be to change the IDs from the old names (synonyms) to the new names. It may be nifty to merely use a lookup to display Protea mellifera as Protea repens, but users - especially non-biologists will get confused. An intelligent site will display the new ID with an explanation.
But on iSpot with “Agreements” this is an issue. A workaround is to - every time a dictionary update is done - to Curatorially add the new name as a Revised ID, carrying over each Agreeer, so that the old ID and the new ID have the same number of votes. Because of the “changes” (if they ever get our unread changes working) all agree-ers will be notified of the change and can then decide to go with the new name or the old. And any users who dont care, have left or have died, will not mean that the old name will thus forever the the Likely ID on iSpot.
Similarly, species that are subdivided need to be re-evaluated, and agree-ers should be informed that the observations need to be re-evaluated. This is more tricky as iSpot wont know which of the new names (or the old) to reassign the observation to. But a curatorial comment will alert everyone, and a list of observations to be reassessed can be posted. Yes, disinterested and lost users will be a drag, but hopefully enough users can be found to update the names.
Why is it missing? Prior to Sept 2014 iSpot had a dedicated programmer who handled these things. Now the IT department managers iSpot and none of them even know how the dictionary works, let alone how to update it.
Our problems now are exactly the same as in 2014. Too few programmers, not enough money, and time and money ran out before the programming was completed. So dictionary updates were simply never got to. Along with curation. And about 50 significant bugs. And everything had to wait for 2 months because of the Xmas recess when the IT department shut down.
This time it is changes, forums and curation that have lucked out. And it does not appear that many of the over 500 bugs are being got to neither. And everything has to wait for ? months because of the summer recess when the IT department shut down.