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Species choice in dropdown menu for ID

IN which case if you are correct, then iSpot should not allow you to post an ID without selecting.

This is very poor programming where the user is encouraged to do something that the programme cannot cope with.

But sometimes one does need to type something not in the dictionary: so iSpot should note that it is not in the dictionary or that there are several options in the dictionary (i.e. trap the potential error) and give you an appropriate choice!

One should expect nothing less than this.

Obviously iSpot UK is not well curated. On the southern African site all Unlinked IDs are either linked (if the mislink was a bug) or flagged for attention (either to the identifier for more information,or to be added to the dictionary for the next dictionary update. Sorry: I take pride in how we are looking after the data in southern Africa and I bemoan the fact that since Sept 2014, I have had to ask the UK curator to do lots of curation on my behalf, since I am no longer allowed to.

But to be accurate you should just delete the common name if you do not know it.

On the southern African site we have championed this approach, and are using iSpot to discover new Vernacular names not in the literature (yet).

The species is Gymnosporia buxifolia. (SA)

You cannot link it.

Try it: change your community to southern Africa.
Go to the Community > Observations and select any of LIST/GALLERY/MAP view.
Click on the filter.
under scientific name type: “Sorg bico”

OH: the Global choices are similarly impressive: must be near 50 options displayed when only one is required! Guaranteed to confuse!

Ah: a summary here - no sorry - despite the fact that it is in the dictionary, the dictionary taxonomy page does not show the genus Sorghum. It shows lots of genera without observations, but for some reason it has left out Sorghum. ANOTHER BUG!!!

Goodness - here is less than half that list!
NOT a bug of course, just an exuberant Taxonomist with a flair for collecting synonyms and local names.
What a chore it would be if all Species were dealt with like this. I cannot see a way 'round this issue and it will get worse as regional reps demand their own language versions be included.

If you are interested, I had help in sorting this out from the southern African community: here is the final transcript:

(email: Tue 2017/07/11 07:23)

Hi Alex

You are of course 1000% correct. Amazing how easy it is to fall into a trap because somebody did something.

If you use a current name, why on earth should iSpot tell you about any synonyms?
Ispot should only tell you about synonyms when you are using one.

So if you type in:
Dias prot – you should only see:
Diastella proteoides

And on selection of this in the common name box
Flats Silkypuff
Flats Silkystar
Flats Starlet
Heathleaf Diastella

All the rest is unnecessary.

And if you enter:
Dias eric it should find
Diastella ericaefolia | Synonym for : Diastella proteoides

And on selection of this in the common name box
Flats Silkypuff
Flats Silkystar
Flats Starlet
Heathleaf Diastella

And – for that unbelievably long list - if you typed:
Sorg bico
You should only see:
Sorghum bicolor | Synonym of : Sorghum bicolor subsp. arundinaceum
Sorghum bicolor | Synonym of : Sorghum bicolor subsp. bicolor
Sorghum bicolor | Synonym of : Sorghum bicolor subsp. drummondii
Sorghum bicolor subsp. arundinaceum
Sorghum bicolor subsp. bicolor
Sorghum bicolor subsp. drummondii
Sorghum bicolor X halepense

And on selection of one of the names, AND NOT BEFORE, you should see the common names for that species alone.

Knew that there was something fundamentally flawed with what is displayed. I just could not see out of the box.

So the current iSpot approach is totally over the top.

The catch is what to do when a name is both current and a synonym:
Leucadendron salignum
Leucadendron salignum | Synonym of : Leucadendron xanthoconus

And of course iSpot must:
• Display both in the ID box
• But in the dictionary any posting of Leucadendron salignum as an ID must always be assumed to be Leucadendron salignum and never treated as a synonym of Leucadendron xanthoconus.
• (and of course in the dictionary summary – all the synonyms must be displayed)

The same applies to species that have been split into two (e.g. Amietia angolensis into angolensis and quecketti).
• Both must be displayed in the ID box (to alert the user to the split, esp. if it is recent).
Amietia angolensis
Amietia angolensis| Synonym of : Amietia quecketti
• The original must always be assumed in the dictionary, and the old species ID must never treated as a synonym of the new.

I cannot believe I was duped by this iSpot “solution”.
I cannot believe that no one complained about it!

The important thing is that capturing of the name has to be done in two steps.

  1. Ascertain if the matched name(s) is current or a synonym
    a. For those that are synonyms provide the current name as well, for those current show just the name.
    [the old iSpot took the matched name and then you had to click GetRecommended to find the synonym; the current iSpot tries to show you the synonym before taking the name, but makes a hash of it by showing synonyms when they are not needed]
  2. From the current name, select a common name.
    [the old iSpot provided the common name after getting the name with a click of GetRecommended; the current iSpot tries to show ALL the common names before knowing the scientific name: this does not work]

Thanks: that was most helpful.
How do we take this to the programmers please Mike?

And you consider this a solution??

Sorry, dejayM - I was talking to Cassine …

OF COURSE IT IS A BUG!!! Not a an electronic one, but a design one!!! That is simply ridiculous.

The search for Gymno bux should find:

Gymnosporia buxifolia
Gymnosporia buxifolia var glomeruliflora (synonym of Gymnosporia buxifolia)

and nothing more!!

That list is an abomination!

I think the old iSpot list was better Cassine: it said:

Gymnosporia buxifolia
Gymnosporia buxifolia var glomeruliflora

Now which to a novice is the more confusing?
Especially seen that if you select the latter, the iSpot dictionary automatically connects it to the former as it is a synonym! (that still works)

Of course it will get worse with more common names and more synonyms. Remember is South Africa we have only captured 2 of our languages: we still have to add the common names for the other 9 official languages.

There are elegant solutions that will make these problems vanish. The programmers merely have to speak to the experts to resolve it instead of coming up with cranky half solutions in isolation!

I think the current is better. This at least is telling you that Gymnosporia buxifolia var glomeruliflora is a synonym of Gymnosporia buxifolia. It should say so in that words. It could be refined.

The issue here is the numerous vernaculars compounding the issue. Lookup uBangalala It is not Gymnosporia buxifolia! A while ago I was involved with this issue.


edit 1. (so much for that theory of 20 characters?)

edit 2. [quote=“Cassine, post:28, topic:260”]The issue here is the numerous vernaculars"[/quote]

The issue of the numerous vernaculars is exactly the same as the issue of the numerous synonyms.
Why on earth are the vernaculars shown in the scientific box in the first place.

If the user knew the common name he would go to the common name box. There is no need for the scientific name in the common name box, but there is no harm or confusion having it there.
On the other hand if the common name has more than one scientific name - then the scientific name should be shown after the common name in the common name box.


try it:
community: southern Africa
Observation > filter: elep shr

Your issue of uBangalala not being Gymnosporia buxifolia is a SANBI dictionary problem. This has nothing to do with iSpot (or the programmers) other than that the dictionary update correcting this would have been made a while ago if the dictionary updates were working …

I posted this observation today, but it’s not appearing as it should. My comments on the post explain. If anyone can offer help, it would become the second observation for this species.

Do you mean “comments” in the ID boxes (they are called ID notes): because there are no Comments on the observation? (see below on the observation: I left a comment)


What did you do?
ID one looks cool. (and it is not inverted as you intimate).
So does ID two.
But they did not link to the dictionary.

But note, the ID does not seem to stick if you dont choose one of the options. If you type it and dont select then it just ignores it, and does not link it: A BUG!

But if you select it, and then type in an English (or French) name, or remove the names that it puts in, then it seems to be happy.

Please confirm that you did what I inferred. Otherwise I have parameterized this bug incorrectly.

I have been and gone and ruined any continuity tween Jo and Tony. Sorry. I follow Jo (everywhere she goes!) so saw her post before seeing any of this.
I think there is a serious issue with iPads, this not the first time Jo’s IDs have failed in this way.
I suppose someone ought to be charged with looking at how Androids and iDevices respond to the layout, input and display.
One might have (sorry WILL have) expected that those who write code for programmes like this, to have done so - but alas…

Remember that we were only supposed to have this version in September. So we should expect some bugs. Especially on the rarer platforms.

But why are they not fixing those that we have identified? What are they waiting for?

(forget the continuity - it is all still perfectly clear!)

I like a new word, and parametarized is new to me. As to the post I used ‘comments’ ambiguously; mea culpa. However, deejay has enabled a complete id, so all is well with A. nana. I have noted both your comments here and on the actual post, so I will note carefully my process of posting next time and report back if necessary. Merci à tous,

I posted this issue as a bug alphabetical “S” for issues with the species dictionary. There are multiple issues as detailed in the response to your post. They should have an option for species without subspecies. And the synonyms showing is silly and confusing.

I may have found another bug, haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere (that I’ve looked) I was entered Charaxes for the ID but the dropdown list I got started with Chae… and it never got down as far as Char… and it was only after I typed the complete species (and subspecies) name did it produce the ID. ( I don’t know how to obtain a screen freeze, sorry)

It did the same thing with my next ob - Lepus, it picked up on the first 3 letters only

I can sometimes type in the full name before iSpot gets round to displaying the drop-down list. I think that this is just a case of asynchronous operations with unpredictable timing.

Yes, the Drop-down list sometimes REFUSES to function. I am tempted to go there BEFORE compiling the post (which I am not doing very often).
The WHOLE site is grinding to a standstill. The length of the Help confirm global observations is filling after only two days sometimes a single day.

It looks like items go straight onto the ‘help confirm’ carousel on the current system. On the old version of iSpot there was a gap of a few days between it being posted unidentified and getting to that list.

Both approaches are valid (although I am sure someone will be along shortly to state that since they do not like the current approach the current approach is a bug).

I can see the old approach causing confusion - someone posts an unidentified observation and cannot see why it does not appear in the unidentified carousel. I suspect more of an issue for new users who are less likely to go to a forum to post their concerns.

For me I preferred the other approach since it meant that was usually the more tricky IDs (where contributing some effort might add more value) and because it gave my unidentified posts a second chance on the front page where they were more likely to be picked up.

Yes, they are getting there MUCH too quickly, which is certainly Bad Programming. But it is (supposed to be) a carousel reserved for Observations that have no Likely Banner or no ID. At a guess it ought to be of posts older than say a week.
Its current content suggests, to me, than novices are posting more frequently than the ‘more experienced’ and that the ‘more experienced’ are not adding agreements - there must be a reason for that…Nothing of course to do with the Drop-down menu
Edited three times - a blessing

I :heart: that bit David