Amadan's picture

Unresolved Observations

I have posted a few observations where (not surprisingly, either due to photo quality or complexity of identification), no positive identification is ever added.
In other forum topics, the issues around available expertise, incorrect identifications, and the way the "reputation" system works have been raised: I think that they all point to one fact. When someone posts an observation, what they need is what the social scientists nowadays call "closure".
What would be good to see, for those observations where no positive identification is offered/possible, a reviewer could - eventually - add (possibly from a pick-list, for speed), a reason, such as "key features not visible", or "require specimens for positive identification".

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Fenwickfield's picture

maybe

Maybe in the winter months they could re run them for identification as I think it is so busy from spring to early winter that people don't tend to tackle the more difficult ones and as you say it would be nice to know.I have had this with lot's of fungi I have put on and the photo's have not been bad nor the information on them either,but there are not that many interested in that subject which is a shame.

Fenwickfield

jhn7's picture

I agree about closure.

Like Fenwickfield I have lots of fungi with no positive ID, even though some fungi folk (including her) are brilliant about trying to help. I know I always hope people I trust as experts will see them but in some cases photos and descriptions are not enough because species are so similar or they are not those people's areas of interest because the subject is massive.
I think the problem is the site relies on its members and can't possibly employ an expert to go through all obs and explain reasons for no ID. I often try to go through the second carousel and offer suggestions. I know Fenwickfield and others including me try to comment when more photos or info is needed. Unfortunately people don't always read the guidance about details needed so we seem to be repeating ourselves. Perhaps once people have a reputation of 5 symbols they could be asked to monitor the obs from their area?
Sorry, I'll stop rambling and hope someone has a better suggestion.

Janet
Certificate in Contemporary Science (Open)

Rachy Ramone's picture

Keep on rambling....

...as these are all valid points, and worth raising, so that the site operators can see what aspects of the site are causing consternation.

Personally I've been on here for a couple of weeks, and I have only just realised what you mean by carousels, and the significance of the second one. ("duuuh!")

I was trying to work out how to "bump" an observation that had not attracted any response.

Now I have realised that it sits in the second carousel, or "slide show", until it gets an approved ID.

But I completely agree, I think that we do need "closure". Either something gets a correct ID and becomes part of the "other observations of this plant" slide show, or it needs to be marked as to why it can't be identified.

I suppose there might be some people who just like to see their photos up here, but I really do think that most folks want either confirmation that they are correct, or to be told what their item actually is.

Personally, I would also be very happy to have the option of "disagreeing": I know this has been discussed on the forums before, and has been turned down on the grounds that it would deter beginners. This is a valid point, and I was quite deflated myself when what I thought was an uncommon plant turned out to be very common.

But a disagreement might, I would hope, stimulate discussion, which should lead to a correct ID.

It would have to be "disagree for the following reasons:...." of course!

Finally, to take up your point about contributors not giving enough info, I wonder if some of the contributors are unclear as to the point of the site?

I know that I am still a little unclear myself!

I thought it was to get an ID of something you didn't recognise.

Then I noticed people putting up lots of "I am as sure as I can be" observations, so I thought maybe it was a way to compile a national dbase of locations/spread.

Having spent some time reading forums, it appears to be "for people of all levels, who are interested in wildlife", which is lovely, but I do think it would help if the site gave examples of how to do a good observation, ie for each Group, to specify what aspects to look for and comment on when posting an Observation.

This might encourage people to "look" more closely, and if they give more details, why, then they stand more chance of getting an ID.

Thoughts, anyone?

Rachy Ramone

How to take close-ups with cheap phone and hand-lens:
http://tree-and-shrub-id.blogspot.co.uk/p/how-to-close-ups.html
Field Guides for Budding Botanists:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01A8YB0WY

Matt Smith's picture

I'm sure

The "I'm sure as I can be" is a measure of the individual identifiers confidence in their identification of that observation.

I'm listed as an "Expert" for a couple of groups, so I use "I'm sure as I can be" for ID's I a very confident of - when I offer IDs for other groups where I have less expertise or look at something where I go "hmmm" then thry get tagged with with "It may be this" or lower rating. It is difficult to characterise a "good" observation, sometimes it just comes down to "can we see the right little bit in the photo to be sure of the ID", even for fairly common species.

I-Spot does offer to disseminate their data to national recording schemes as a by-product of the site, so the data does get used to help compile distribution maps and does appear on the NBN, I think my scheme gained 170+ records that way last year. Of course, I had to be "I'm sure as I can be" for all of the ones that made it onto my database here - some of the ones that made me go "hmm" had to be marked down as "not sure so don't map it"

Tachinid Recording Scheme

www.tachinidae.org.uk

TRS Facebook Page
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Tachinid-Recording-Scheme/376652392364707

Ray Turner's picture

Picture

It is worth pointing out as well that the observation does not consist of just the photo. Indeed it is pointed out to OU students studying Neighbourhood Nature (S159) (for whom posting observations is mandatory) that a camera is not a requirement of the course. A good description of the species, taken from field notes (Not quoted verbatim from a field guide!), containing the diagnostic features and/or characteristics should elicit an agreement.

Ray

Ray

Rachy Ramone's picture

Cycling old unresolved observations...

...getting back to this point, there have been comments on other threads about a "weighting" systems for reputation, whereby you get fewer points for an ID which comes up "frequently".

So how about giving these "old" unresolved observations a higher points rating?

They would then pop up in the carousel with a flag of some sort noting that they were unresolved, and therefore "worth" more.

Might encourage people, perhaps?

Of course, there would have to be a limit of how many times an unresolved observation could cycle round... and the option to mark one as "unresolvable" if, for example, the photo simply isn't good enough, or if the poster is unable to revisit the item to get more details which would allow an ID.

Or perhaps a third carousel, for old unresolved ones?

Rachy Ramone

How to take close-ups with cheap phone and hand-lens:
http://tree-and-shrub-id.blogspot.co.uk/p/how-to-close-ups.html
Field Guides for Budding Botanists:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01A8YB0WY

Fenwickfield's picture

usually

They are usually unresolved because the photo's are not good enough also if there is very little to no information been added except for the photo.I have even asked for more information and get no response from the poster.I am not sure what the percentage rate is of unidentified photo's but I don't think it is that high.

Fenwickfield

Rachy Ramone's picture

Agreed...

...and that's exactly what I said, there must - if old observations are to be cycled round - be a mechanism for marking those with poor photos, or where the poster can't/won't supply additional information.

I expect the percentage to be very low, I think that iSpot has an excellent clean-up rate: but there are cases where an observation gets missed - perhaps during busy times of the year when everyone is posting like mad. And it's a shame for the poster to not get any response at all.

Rachy Ramone

How to take close-ups with cheap phone and hand-lens:
http://tree-and-shrub-id.blogspot.co.uk/p/how-to-close-ups.html
Field Guides for Budding Botanists:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01A8YB0WY

scarpermac's picture

Re-posting?

I read the above with great interest but don't think I have a solution.

I have posted some reasonable photos (of a bee) and made a tentative ID and not had one single ID or comment. This seems unusual but I'm no further forward with my ID.. what might I do?

Feel free to look at my ongoing (hopefully improving) collection of pictures on Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/46256910@N00/

Matt Smith's picture

Bee pic

Do you have a link to your bee Observation on here please.

Tachinid Recording Scheme

www.tachinidae.org.uk

TRS Facebook Page
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Tachinid-Recording-Scheme/376652392364707

scarpermac's picture

Link

..sorry, didn't add a link because it was supposed to be a general query rather than begging for a specific identification, although I see you found me and corrected my identification! Thanks.

Feel free to look at my ongoing (hopefully improving) collection of pictures on Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/46256910@N00/

John Bratton's picture

Bees and wasps are mostly

Bees and wasps are mostly just plain difficult. They are often pretty and you tend to think "that must be recognisable", e.g. Nomada, but it is a big genus and they are all similarly marked. The distinguishing characters are not things captured in a whole-animal photo. Also, experts on bees and wasps are themselves rather scarce.

John Bratton