The OpenScience Laboratory The Open University

iSpot Forum

Re iSpot changes - from the iSpot Team

I’m fairly sure that this topic was discussed on the forums a few years back.

As habitats are implemented as tags, there’s no reason why the users can’t be presented with an expandable menu, nor why different menus can’t be used for the different communities. It’s a bit more complicated for filtering reports, but it boils down to an a list of ORs on a database query, which is not rocket science.

1 Like

Different menus are available for different communities. The problem is that they are not properly integrated. A hierarchical system is thus better (i.e. the habitats need a taxonomy ((the same is true for interactions))).

The big problem comes for users who want to cross communities. Integrating the taxonomy and habitats is an issue that iSpot has not dealt with at all.
The way I see it, there should only be one dictionary on iSpot, with communities viewing their relevant taxa. Similarly, there should be one habitat dictionary, with communities viewing their relevant habitats. Different dictionaries and different habitats are not the way to go, especially if we are going to encourage new communities to join.

The advantage of a heirarchical system is that Hong Kong could have 20 different “Urban Parkland” and southern Africa just one type, and yet a filter could access this with just a single tag name and without the need for ORs and OR NOTs.

Agree, at least a few more would not hurt, one for ‘urban area’ would seem desirable to me.

We’d probably want to stop short of NVC though (http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-4259)

Stop short of NVC? No why? I disagree?

I think that requiring people to do NVC will be totally inappropriate, if possible. But having the capacity to allow those who do want to use it is certainly to be encouraged. However, it needs to integrate hierarchically with other classifications, which may take some effort

(Having just integrated our southern African vegetation types and Marine ecosystem types with the IUCN for our national Red List and Conservation Assessment databases, it is not that impossible).

Allowing people to use more complex categories isn’t the same as forcing them to. We can identify observations to genus, after all. But with habitats it would take some thinking about, and might not add much for someone trying to extract useful information - a lichen habitat could be regarded as woodland, or a tree with bark of a particular acidity, or degree of shade, or run-off, or mossiness and so on. Many acid habitats in the UK support lime-loving lichen on man-made structures like cattle troughs, and so on.

The question I don’t have the answer to here, or maybe on of them is “Who are the end users?”. I find ispot useful because I spend a lot of time looking at stuff on my own, and it’s useful to have ids confirmed or corrected. But I’m not clear whether obs go any further than that - do county recorders use them in compiling bird or moth reports, for example?

Does anyone know?

1 Like

I occasionally add identifications to tribe (e.g. Anthemideae or Cichorieae) or family (e.g. Apiaceae or Brassicaceae); I’m not the only one to do at least the latter.

I dont know about the UK.
But we feed the southern African data regularly to at least 10 government institutions and at least three national projects. That is apart from requests by taxonomists and conservation scientists and EIA specialists. But the majority of these get their data from filters and projects, so we only see the really big data requests.

iSpot data are really used!!!
But the major end users are really those who are putting in the data. Look at our projects: there are lots of users making species lists for conservation areas and local farms. There are projects on threatened species and monitoring projects.
Our profile of user is quite different from the UKs.

Habitats will not require much thinking, provided that it is heirarchical and not haphazard (it is haphazard at present: Mountains is an absurd habitat in southern Africa - quite meaningless. Even an “alpine” class (I dont think the UK habitat equals this) is better regarded as a community in Fynbos or Grassveld, than as a separate category.)

But: a man-made concrete trough cannot by an stretch of the imagination be regarded as Heathland. This level of habitat is man-structures and - if such fine detail is required - would need to be included under that classification, and not under natural communities.

We try - not that I am a VCR - but I have gone through my home county records and passed them on to the local VCRs after checking and editing. My concern (or one of them!) currently is that many of the BSBI VCRs such as Cicuta appear to have quietly given up on the new ISpot and without the benefit of their validation of records, I am concerned that the new records simply won’t make their way into a records database (plus I am personally missing the ‘high level’ ID verifications - the VCRs word on tricky IDs is final)

1 Like

Cicuta is having problems accessing iSpot. (The rest of the VCRs, and Tim Rich, do seem have to reduced their participation.)

what is a VCR?
0
9
8
7
6
5
4
3 (20chars)

Vice County Recorder.

1 Like

I want to thank you for your reply, but the site says I am posting too many replies and should allow other people to contribute and that I should not dominate the content.
I hope you dont mind if I thank you.
Also “Thanks” is too few characters.

Or am I supposed to LIKE it and that = thanks?

Well thanks!

Your probably meant to like it.

We’ve had a similar discussion with new users on occasions with regards to thanking people for identifications. Yes, we can understand why people might want to express thanks, and even why people might like to receive thanks. But doing so had the effect of adding noise to uninvolved active users’ feeds via the then notification systems (changes and unread) so there was a consensus that the expression of thanks should be used sparingly. (Before the 2014 changes, when unread was usable, if everybody had gone around expressing thanks it would have made unread unusable.)

A like/thank system would have allowed notifications to be restricted to the addressees only

The dynamics of the forums are different, but the avoidance of public clutter may be one of the reasons behind the adoption of like systems on social media. (Like counts also act as a sort of popularity/reputation indication, but as often as not it’s just a marker as to who is part of the in clique, and acts as an exclusion mechanism as much as an inclusion mechanism.) I haven’t thought about the topic before, but there’s probably sociology/pyschology/informatics papers out there on the operation of like and flag systems.

On another forum my likes to posts ratio was well down the rankings, so I thought I wasn’t a particularly admired participant, until I was nominated for poster of the year in the annual forum awards. In hindsight my reserved and sober mien may have affected the likes to posts ratio.

2 Likes

Are you in touch with Cicuta et al or shall I email round them all? I have contact details. Don’t want to lose them for ISpot…and it may be that whatever issues they are experiencing are shared issues and some of these we may have found ‘work-rounds’ for.

I suspect it is likely to be a combination of loss of the ‘next’ and ‘previous’ function and also ‘changes’ which is putting them off (I know the former was causing me immense irritation until someone pointed out an easy short term ‘fix’ (until it is properly sorted out)).

Have a ‘Like’ - no idea what you look like but your idents and posts always make good sense!

I’m only in touch with Cicuta.

If you do contact them, advice for those who can’t access iSpot at all is

  1. use HTTPS rather than HTTP (I was a week late getting back because of this; I was getting connection refused, and incorrectly assumed that there was a delay in getting the site back up and running).

  2. if you’re on Windows XP use FireFox rather than Chrome or IE. (I don’t whether this works, but Chrome and IE on XP are known not to work with more recent implementations of SSL.)

OK - thanks - will do.

Try to encourage Cicuta to come back - he is much missed

1 Like

I did try to explain the issues with various operating systems that are no longer supported but it may be good if some others on the site also offer some encouragement and ways round the issues. I am not sure if there are any of the plant recording packages that don’t run on recent operating systems and how easy it is to reinstall them.