Pause for thought

A visit to this post -

And I find I’d missed a significant question:

So: when should we agree to an ID?
Should we hold back from genus-level or above?
Should we hold back once an ID has an agreement (sometimes one is necessary to create the necessary “Likely ID” status)?
It also brings me back to a quandary I sometimes find myself in - where someone adds a more accurate ID as a revision to a more general one, and I am not skilled enough to shift my allegiance. Should I leave or remove my former agreement?

FWIW, my feeling is that I don’t agree an ID that I am not totally confident of myself.

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Worth a lot.
I raised the subject mainly because the original comment suggested that others may have a very different idea of how iSpot is meant to function than I do.

I honestly feel we should agree to the level we know or can get to, by further research. I often revise my agreements AFTER looking though Other Observations.
Other Observations and their associated comments should promote more agreeing.

I have been proposing for quite a while that we should able to agree to any level of taxonomy and thus let the most favoured ID emerge.
Ideally, those with experience will sway the ID towards species but if a hundred agree to Bivalva (in this case) then the banner may well get stuck.
But what’s the problem? Two high iconners agreeing to Species (one with reasoning PLEASE) should be enough for iSpotters.
Everyone here knows that I began awhile ago adding pretty-certain Species, followed sometimes by an ID to Family. This is to encourage MORE people to simply agree - to say Octopus but not yet Eledone cirrhosa (as an example)
How many Agreements (interested users) would you get for Robin and for just Erithacus rubecula, without the common name?

I do NOT mind my Observations having the Banner at Family because Other Observations are of great interest to me. Goodness I have learned a lot looking at Other Observations in a whole Family and lot of people have ‘benefitted?’ from my attention to them.

Also, and tied to this whole issue, is the reluctance of nearly everyone to pass through a few Other Observations when adding their own or agreeing to one. It is just becoming fashionable to do that but only by very few people - THEY are very noticeable!

And I am against ‘Might be’ species which is quite common even among high iconners. Against, mainly because it is often simply wrong but retains the Likely Banner and, generally speaking, does not get challenged. I propose always adding an ID that you know to be correct and propose that which you feel it might be. In theory no-one will steal it from you.
This Observation is perfect for iSpot, it has encouraged 8 people to agree and dwell a little.

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In the first instance I agree with things that I have seen myself. What persuades me to agree to observations outwith my personal experience is a reasoned description pointing me to others sources and photos etc matching what is in the observation. I often look for other sources, and if things stack up I agree .
I feel no compunction about changing my mind if something more authoritative comes along. That has as far as I aware it how things move on. It does help if people look at their tracker, and respond in the light of new information.
The more I read about species etc, the more fuzzy the whole concept becomes. All of theses things are an artificial construct because people like to be able to organise and categorise. That doesn’t mean that it is not worthwhile or wrong . It is in fact all rather important, especially with the rate of change of the environment as it now is. You have to have an idea of what you have to know what is disappearing.


An interesting thread, I personally only agree where I’m sure and/or have been persuaded by evidence presented. Regarding banners etc, I use iSpot a lot to get help identifying things. However, rightly or wrongly, I invariably want to have a go myself first - though i’m always happy to be corrected. I therefore hought I’d share a recent fungi post of mine, which relates to this thread as I wasn’t sure what to do next. I did post it as “might be this” - apologies Dejay :slight_smile: because I didn’t feel confident enough to put anything else. That said, I’d researched it as best I could and, in the context of my level of knowledge, scurfy twiglet seemed a feasible option. On this occasion parad1se very helpfully commented, which raised the question as to what I do next as it still shows as a likely ID. However, because I don’t what else it might be, I wouldn’t know what to revise it down to - unless it was just Fungi? I know it’s a huge time/ resource issue, but it can be difficult when there’s no interaction with posts, even though it generally seems to mean a wrong ID - as you don’t actually know why it’s wrong, or how/what to change to improve or correct it. Also, even if you do change it - there’s no guarantee anyone will interact with your change so you’re none the wiser and the likely ID remains. I fully accept there’s definitely a responsibility to make the initial obs as informative as possible, and I’m sure I fall down on this all the time. However, sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know and for me that’s what iSpot for - so I can draw upon all that amazing knowledge and expertise that I’ll never have. Case in point, I recently posted what I thought could be peeling oysterling after getting home with the photos and searching what it might be. I didn’t have a scooby doo that the skin could be stretched until I saw it online - obviously that would have helped enormously with ID and I’ll know for next time. However, I posted it anyway because I hoped there was still enough info there for someone to comment if not ID. Unfortunately for whatever reason that didn’t happen, so again any advice as to what to do about the likely ID would be helpful. Is it best to just unpublish them?

The issue of ‘un-responded to’ posts has always been an issue.
The ‘holy grail’ is obviously a ‘to species’ ID with at least one agreement, but quite often this just isn’t possible - or just doesn’t happen. It’s disappointing, and iSpot has (as dejayM’s various projects and others have shown) a plethora of such observations. Two thoughts:

  1. It’s been suggested that there should be an iSpot version of a ‘like’ button: this would simply indicate an interest in/appreciation of the post, but also an inability to contribute anything of value. The ‘favourite’ button does this, after a fashion; but it isn’t visible in the post: it only appears briefly in the Changes Tracker.
  2. Should an ‘orphan’ post be deleted? I’d say not, in most cases. Candidates for deletion would include - for my money - those with no (or perhaps a very poor single) photo or ID notes, and ones where someone has asked a sensible, germane question which has been ignored. I think that most of the others are valid observations, and may in time receive attention. As a f’rinstance, quite a few of the numerous solitary wasps (ichneumons etc.) that had languished for ages have been resolved following the involvement of a couple of very enthusiastic and skilful iSpotters.

Thanks Amadan - yes, unresponded to posts do seem to be inevitable, and indeed there are lots I don’t contribute to due to lack of knowledge. I therefore really like the idea of the “like” button as I often feel quite bad when I can’t offer anything - especially where no-one else has either - so something quick and easy like that would be brilliant.
My concern about leaving my incorrect IDs in there is the potential to misinform - or be “fake news”, but then I guess if no-one has agreed that’s a pointer for caution for anyone viewing them. So I think I’ll just leave my ‘orphan” ones be for now - thanks again.

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I think that coincides with both my view and my practise, Luisa. The only observation I’ve deleted was one where someone said that the photo was so poor that it was lowering the tone of the site. As it was a poor photo, taking it down seemed to be the best solution. In any case, I knew what the bird in question was - I only put it up as part of a Bioblitz.
I’m not sure where I stand on ‘might be’ IDs. What’s the point of having that option on iSpot if we aren’t meant to use it. But I do think that there should be a degree of rationale before using ‘might be’.

That’s an easy one. The banner is probably in the wrong place. We KNOW this is Agaricales.
The first ID still stands for agreements. The question is, is anyone going to agree to Agaricales?
Do it, (with an explanation) and I will.
Please do NOT delete it. Part of the iSpot process is making small mistakes. It is the reason why there is no delete ‘button’ (or innappropriate) in the ID panel

Just a simple early development mistake. People are still adding additional IDs at might be, there are a few with several Might be’s
There are hundreds and maybe thousands of Might be’s with the Likely Banner and no agreements. Many are plainly wrong. iFocus addresses that issue whenever it can.

Why not not write, “It IS surely Capaea and it might well be a pale C.nemoralis”. I have seen Observations with Might be species, added agreements and then an added identical ID ‘I am as sure as I can be’

Please no. Favouriting works, It sends a message to the user via the Tracker, though many people use Favouriting to remind them to return, possibly to write ‘your photo is not clear enough for an ID!’
When you clear your Favourites it does not sent out ‘UNfavoured by…’ messages!
BUT it is far better to add a comment. ‘I love the photos but cannot help with the ID’

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The great advantage of a ‘like’ button is that it would be quick and easy for busy iSpotters to use.
Afterthought: if the post could display the number of favourites - ‘favourited by x users,’ that would be equally useful, and would probably be easier to code.
One could save time by adding a version of ‘I love the photos but cannot help with the ID’ to a collection of other useful iSpot comments, stored in a notepad-type programme, for copy-and-paste, but making it really easy for people to interact is usually a Good Thing.

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Hi, I fully agree that any like button or similar should not replace comments. However, with the best will in the world, I’m not sure that people always have time to comment. Similarly, I’m unsure how often the favourite function is used for this purpose - although it may well be used more than I realise. Obviously the ideal is where people comment to suggest ways of making an ID more likely and/or explaining why it might not be possible, but again this is a huge commitment and usually requires a good level of expertise and subject knowledge which someone like me may not have, thus putting more pressure on those that do. I think Amadan makes a really good suggestion of maybe having a specific comments list to cut and paste from. My overall personal view would be that whilst the default position should always be a comment, in the absence of that, any interaction, be it a like button or something else, is better than none as it’s at least acknowledgement for the poster that someone has taken the time to read it - which for me is one of the key points. Purely just my opinion though :slight_smile:

Thanks v much Dejay - I’ve changed it.

On a related point - I’ve always thought it might be good to be able to “like” a comment - say if it’s been helpful, interesting or amusing etc. I’ve found this particularly in relations to comments on other peoples posts as sometimes I feel a little like I’m intruding if I respond to the person who has commented and it isn’t my observation.

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I think it’s fine to comment on a comment. After all it nice to know things are being read and enjoyed and not just disappearing into the ether.


Comment and discussion trails, separate us the other online ID Sites. Honest I’d much prefer comment to an agreement. And I like to read ‘I agree with the above comment but think the out of focus picture could be removed’ (sort of thing)
Might be’s
I tend not to store Observations I find that might be useful for a cause
Found this morning
This is where iFocus comes in VERY useful. Who would like to do the Crusts, so that we could all learn a little?

In Mark I there was the unread tracker, which I used to read every observation, identification, and comment in the plant group (in the Western Palaeoarctic). I use favourites to add observations (that I haven’t created, identified, agreed to, or commented on) to cause them to turn up in the changes tracker, though I sometimes don’t bother for observations of common taxa that are probably correctly identified, but which I am not confident of from the photographs and descriptions provided.

The favourites button can also be used as a reminder to revisit an observation.

What I have thought would be useful would be a thank button on identifications and comments (and perhaps observations) - it would allow expressions of gratitude or appreciation without cluttering up the comments, and could be restricted to the recipient’s changes tracker, to avoid cluttering up other peoples changes trackers.

So, there are 3 or 4 functions in the category - track (follow), thank, like, and perhaps tag (for revisiting).


Thanks to all for an interesting discussion.
Since there doesn’t seem to be the funding/will to correct some of the more serious flaws in the latest version of the site, I guess the chances of any minor changes proposed here being implemented is unlikely (and is far from being a priority).

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