BDeed's picture

Comment agreement

Just thinking while reading some comments on a spot that it might be nice to be able to show your agreement for a comment the same way as you can do for a species identification.

This might be particularly useful for a couple of reasons:

1 - It could encourage users to leave comments and so help build a more in depth knowledge base and engage better with the community.

2 - Sometimes it is not possible to leave an identification and a comment on why this is or how better to collect photographic information in the future could the alternative.

3 - agreeing with comments would help show appreciation for the sharing of knowledge and also that they are not the only one thinking it!

Obviously, they shouldn't replace the species identification agreements and should probably be kept separate, but i believe you already have a system like that in place with the social points?

Reply

Comments

Rachy Ramone's picture

Commenting on comments

At present, people are perfectly free to leave a follow-up comment, which might be considered sufficient.

I have to say, I'm always pleased if someone says "thanks for your comment", especially if I have been trying to be helpful.

Or if they respond with additional comments or info - that's always good.

An interesting idea, though - do you mean a little like the "like" system? Or like that thing they do on Amazon, whereby you can select "did you find this comment helpful yes/no" and the comments with the most yesses rise to the top.

Mind you, the current "nested" thread style does allow for conversations, which I find useful and agreeable.

I'll be interested to hear what others think about this.

Certainly I'd be happy to see more commenting, I think it makes the iSpot experience more personal, and more interesting.

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

Rachy Ramone's picture

Wups!

Duh, please see post headed '"Like" button for photos and/or comments?' by Amandan, it covers almost the same ground! Sorry!

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

DavidHowdon's picture

Interesting idea

Do you mean that people could gain reputation in a group by having their comment agreed with, that this should count only for the 'social' reputation points or that there should be a separate system for commenting reputation?

Must admit I still find the comments bit here less than ideal as a series of (often very useful and relevant) comments stays with a specific enbtry rather than being associated with the taxon. To get round this I've marked as favourites various threads where the comments contain interesting discussions on ID (e.g. http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/91) and can then link to them when discussing the same ID elsewhere.

On your point 2) what I tend to do is put in a very generic ID (e.g. "Lepidoptera") and then add comments in the ID notes about what else would be needed to get to a specific ID.

Rachy Ramone's picture

Now that's a good idea...

David, I like your comment 2): many times, I am as certain as I can be as to what the Genus is, but I am not prepared to go to species as the photo(s) simply don't show the characteristics that I would need to make a firm ID.

(I do envy the experts who can "tell" just by looking at a general photo... I need all the help I can get!)

I hadn't realised that a generic ID was possible in this situation: if I had thought about it at all, I think I had assumed that a generic ID was from someone who just didn't know more than Genus names. Oops.

I'm trying not to get too "hung up" on this reputation thing, but it's awfully easy to get sucked in to striving for a high score, which makes me reluctant to make a "wrong" or partial ID in case it counts against me.

Sad, I know.

In an affort to grow out of this competitiveness, I have stopped "agreeing" if four or five others have already done so: the ID is confirmed, and I'm here to learn, not to get a score.

I find it quite frustrating when posters (what do you call them, here? OBSers? ) don't give enough detail for a firm ID. Sometimes I ask, in the comments, but so far I rarely get an answer, possibly because the OBSer is not able to return to their plant to check the point which I have raised.

Your point about collating comments that contribute to the ID is a very good one: perhaps there could - one day - be a way to link a comment to the scientific name of its observation?

Perhaps it could be renamed as Observation Point or ID Point.

Then ultimately, when entering the scientific name of your Observation, you could be offered a short list of Observation Points to "check" before saving your ID.

And/or each Observation could have its list of Observation Points between it and the carousel of "other pictures".

This might help reduce the number of incorrect IDs, and might help OBSers to realise which features they need to check or take photos of.

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

DavidHowdon's picture

Wrong-ness

You do not lose any 'score' for giving a wrong ID (just fail to gain any). Personally I'm not convinced that this is the best way for iSpot to develop and would like to see it changed so wrong IDs reduce reptuation. However I suggested this to team iSpot earlier and they (for good reasons) did not agree so it is not likely to happen.

You do not get repution for agreeing (although I think you do get social points) only for being agreed with, so no need to stop agreeing things just because others have.

Rachy Ramone's picture

Thanks, David...

...I'm still new to iSpot, so much to learn!

Having thought about your response, I think you are right, there should be a reduction in your reputation for a wrong ID.

I can see why the team would not want this - people would become too nervous to submit an ID - so maybe there should be a separate rating for overall % of correctness. I would expect an Expert to be 99% correct, but would appreciate that a mere 2-spot like me would only be 50-60% correct.

If it were rated by month, then you would (hopefully) see our % rating increase month by month, as we get more experienced.

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

Ray Turner's picture

Hung Up?

"I'm trying not to get too "hung up" on this reputation thing" ;-)

LOL

Ray

Ray

Rachy Ramone's picture

Stop laughing.....

...I am naturally competitive, I always strive to be the best that I can be, and getting "points" is, I find, almost irresistible!!

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

BDeed's picture

Nothing wrong with a little

Nothing wrong with a little competitiveness, i think whatever drives you to want to learn more should be regarded as a benefit!

BDeed's picture

Sounds far too complicated to

Sounds far too complicated to me! I think that because this site needs to be able to appeal to all levels of experience it can be difficult to balance and judge what new features may over-complicate and confuse and which will actually add something.

I would agree however that it would be nice to see 'something' other than the score system to feed back to those that have been using the site longer and/or to the 'experts' in various groups who may otherwise not be seeing much back at the moment? (i don't know, i'm no expert!)

BDeed's picture

I actually like that spots

I actually like that spots can't be down rated as it removes potential negativity from the equation that so often can over-run a publicly accessible social site such as this one.

I think an 'agree with' on the comments might not only prompt further help and discussion, but may also help solve a problem you have pointed out in that if people agree with useful comments then it may allow them to be collected together on a 'tips' type page for a species.

Such a page would then be live as new comments are added and rated though would of course have to be moderated in some way to remove duplicate or irrelevant comments that are also likely to come through to some extent.

This entire site seems to work based on tags and scoring system and i think this process should fit into that nicely, the addition of social points while showing appreciation to the commenter where a follow up comment may not be necessary or appropriate, will not do any harm as as far as i can tell they don't do anything!

Your comment has also just reminded me of something i considered a while back, rather than down rating there could be some kind of time expiry on a score, though perhaps this would be unfair on people going on extended holiday or unable to use the site...

Rachy Ramone's picture

Time expiry?

Hmmm, I don't agree with that: I think it takes a long time to build up a score, and I believe that is the right way to do it.

I take your point that over-complication is a bad thing.

I guess all newcomers, like me, have a spurt of suggestions, then calm down and get on with it!

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

BDeed's picture

Innovation is the key to the

Innovation is the key to the future! Never calm down!

Rachy Ramone's picture

Just call me Tigger...

*bounces around, refusing to be calm, grinning gleefully*

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

Jonathan's picture

Thanks for this interesting

Thanks for this interesting discussion and airing of views. Just a couple of points. iSpot philosophy is that nothing bad happens here. So losing points is definitely out. The other core principle is simplicity. If the reputation system becomes time-limited, that will add a whole new dimension that will complicate matters enormously. We are going to review the reputation system, but it will be tweaked, not changed in any major way. We shall also try to make it more transparent than it is at present.

Jonathan
University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

WS159's picture

Any clues as the tweaks you

Any clues as the tweaks you are considering ?

One issue it may be worth looking at is this situation: one person posts a number of different obs, some uncommon or less well known (harder to ID) and gets very few if any agreements or comments. The other posts repeated slapdash obs of the same common and well known garden creature, gets loads of agreements on each and gains the rep.

It should be possible to add a weighting for variation at least, maybe even obscurity too.

Otherwise it's just another thing that seems to make the reps system a little less credible.

Jonathan's picture

Nothing definitive as yet,

Nothing definitive as yet, but we will consider all the ideas being posted, so thanks for those. One likely thing on agreements is that we shall move to a traffic light system, so you will be able to use green, amber or red buttons for "I agree", "It's likely" and "I disagree", which will be weighted accordingly when calculating the likely ID.

Jonathan
University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

ophrys's picture

Agree

I do agree with that comment. It never quite seems right that some people, for example, post garden bird after garden bird and so build a high bird reputation, ahead of others who post more unusual species (and clearly know more about birds) and so get little agreement. It's nothing that worries me too much(!), but it is a drawback of the way the system works.

Ian
_________________

My Flickr photos...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/52163027@N02/

Rachy Ramone's picture

Oh, I so agree.

Ian, couldn't agree more: I am only here for the Botany, but one dull, rainy, morning with not much to do, I put up some observations of garden birds.

I'm now really embarrassed to have accumulated two points for bird ID when all I have are blackbirds and starlings, etc, and I can't even recognise a chaffinch! (Well, of course, I can NOW!)If there were a way of deleting those observations, I would.

I like the traffic light idea: particularly to be able to give two degrees of agreement.

Personally I love the idea of the red light for disagree, but I do appreciate that this does carry the risk of "flame wars" developing.

Presumably you would keep full visibility of who gave what rating?

I would hope that the users of this site are somewhat more "grown-up" than the general internet forum crowd.... but you are right to take it seriously. It would be a pity to spoil this resource.

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

DavidHowdon's picture

Delete

If you really want to you can delete entries, just use the edit tab and then you get a delete button.

Rachy Ramone's picture

Thanks, David,

I knew that entries could be edited, didn't realise they could be deleted.

Although on reflection, that seems a bit unfair to everyone who commented on an entry... I'll have to think about this!

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

DavidHowdon's picture

Views vary

on the desirability of deleting entries. Personally I only do it if a mistake was made (wrong photo added for instance).

Two points in birds is hardly a lot anyway so I'd not worry about that.

Rachy Ramone's picture

Thanks again!

OK, I'll let them sit. As you say, two spots isn't many....

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

Jonathan's picture

Two spots is no big deal.

Two spots is no big deal. PLEASE do not delete observations unless there is a really good reason to do so. E.g. the owner of the photo has not given permission (in which case the photo should not have been posted in the first place).

Even observations of common things are valuable. House sparrows and starlings were once very very common, but both are now considered threatened.

Jonathan
University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

Ray Turner's picture

Too Easy

Rachy I believe it is not your posting common or garden (no pun intended) birds that is an issue, couldn’t suggest that without kettles and pots coming to mind anyway, but that it is so easy to get points. I appreciate the first one or two points should come quickly and easily for encouragement, particularly remembering the site is for people of all ages and abilities. However from my experience the third came quickly too.

I try to have a purpose for a posting, either an interesting or rare (sadly not many of these) species, an observation showing some aspect of behaviour or simply a new location; though invariably there are many repeats. For this reason my forth point seemed to take an age and I suspect my fifth will take some time yet and I don’t have a problem with this. I do think points two and three are quite easy to come by though, perhaps they should be just a little harder to get.

Another aspect to consider is what is common? In three years of recording I have seen a chaffinch in my garden six times. If I looked out the window today and saw one I would be reaching for the camera and long lens right away and posting it on here with relish.

Perhaps the solution would be some form of weighting per species. I know this has been talked about before and is fraught with difficulty but it is a possibility.

Ray

Ray

Rachy Ramone's picture

I agree.

Ray, I do agree, the first point should not be quite so easy to get: or maybe it's the second point that should be quite a bit harder.

However, there are some interesting changes coming soon, according to the forum, with weighting for "common" sightings, to give rarer sightings greater significance when IDing.

It think the idea is to base it on how often a particular species comes up here, as opposed to "in the real world" and I think that is a very workable idea.

I also agree whole-heartedly with your philosophy of posting observations that may be of "common" species but are of interest for another reason.

I did an Ash seedling for that very reason - after all, I know what they look like, but many other people might not realise how innocuous they look at the seed-leaf stage. Also my "starling in the snow" I thought was good enough to share (it still makes me smile, she said, immodestly).

It will be interesting to see how the site develops.

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

WS159's picture

As others have said it's not

As others have said it's not the posting of ordinary or common species that is the issue, it is that the icon system then rewards quantity and familiarity rather than actual expertise.

Another thing to take in account along with variety and obscurity would be credit for those who provide difficult IDs for others as well as their own obs. So 4 or 5 star would require: "has id'ed n total obs of which x different species and y uncommon and z for other users"

Rather than the current system of: "here's my 1000th blue tit"

DavidHowdon's picture

Interesting ideas

The problem I suspect is that either you would need to derive 'rarity' from the iSpot data (in which case I think there could be some interesting algorithmic issues where the interaction between the rarity classification of a species and an individuals reputation could be complicated) or classify each taxon in advance as by rarity - which would involve a lot of work.

But certainly interesting - must admit the nerd in me would like to see what alogrithm for reputation is.

Ray Turner's picture

Rare for who?

And rare for where? As mentioned elsewhere what is rare for me in SW London (which results in me submitting overexcited observations; I have not seen a Greenfinch in my garden for a long time) may well be common place in another part of the country. An observer may well live next door to a nationally rare species and therefore gain massive points for submitting observations of their 1000th Cetti’s Warbler.

I do actually agree that an approach along these lines is needed but any solution is likely to be frighteningly complicated if fair.

Ray

Ray

DavidHowdon's picture

I suspect

an easier approach (although not neccessarily easy) would be to have the amount of points you can get from a given taxon capped. So if you submit your first ever record of a blue tit you get points, but your 100th Cetti's Warbler gets you nothing extra.

Still a problem for groups like mammals or reptiles where there are so few in the UK that you could never build up a reputation unless a lot of same species obeservations were allowed. But different scales by each group would work.

All rather complex though and perhaps not the top priority for the iSpot team (even if they agree with those of us who think something like this is a good idea)

Ray Turner's picture

Interesting idea, I quite like it.

One issue I see though. My understanding is we are recording observations at three levels; taxon, personal and location. In which case my 100th Cetti’s would still be valid if it was the 100th observation of a Cetti’s where all are from unique sites (and if someone managed that I’d let them have all the points they liked).

Could be done but this algorithm is getting to look really interesting.

Ray

Ray

WS159's picture

Yes, it is not totally

Yes, it is not totally straightforward and a "perfect" algorithm would be impossibly complicated, or probably just impossible.

Something that is part way there should be feasible though.

(btw Ray, thank you for the input on some of my old obs)

Ray Turner's picture

No problem, noticed ...

... you talking about them so thought I’d have a look. One or two fell within my incompetency. ;-)

Ray

Ray

AlanS's picture

But what is "wrong"?

Noted that a wrong ID does not substract from reputation, but how do we define "wrong" anyway? The iSpot indication is the pale orange highlighting of the "likely ID", but this is not saying it is the definite ID, and sometimes it is misleading.

Personally, as a badged "expert" in my main areas, reputation is of little importance, but sometimes I add an ID that is in a specific specialisation of mine and yet it doesn't overturn the existing ID. This tends to happen with naturalised daffodils, when people are too free with "Narcissus pseudonarcissus" and even my "expert" badge may not be enough to overturn a clearly incorrect ID.

Now anyone actually reading such an observation will see the reasons for the IDs and will be able to see the probable true identity, and so the system basically works, but it would have been wrong to penalise a person who doesn't go along with the casual agreements and astutely recognises something as being a bit different. If they are lucky, an "expert" will come along and add support, but that will not always happen, and their more knowledgeable ID may be left as seemingly incorrect.

Alan

JonathanWallace's picture

Several commenters on this

Several commenters on this thread have raised the issue of whether or not identifying common species should be worth as much in terms of reputation as identifying a rarity. This is a fair question but I think it is a bit more complicated than that. For example, as a botanist of only moderate skills I am nevertheless pretty confident that if I should ever be lucky enough to stumble across a flowering Lady-slipper Orchid I would know what it was whereas I am equally sure that some common sedges, for example, might leave me scratching my head. Similar examples can be raised whether we are talking about birds, invertebrates, mammals (I daresay most people in the UK are much more likely to be able to identify a once in a life time view of a killer whale, say, if one appeared off-shore than any of the commoner bats that they might frequently encounter during an evening walk) etc.
Clearly rarity is sometimes a factor but the degree of difficulty in identifying many taxa is actually independent of this.

Jonathan Wallace

Rachy Ramone's picture

What do we mean by "common"

Excellent point, and I think this is the issue: you picked a very good example.

Sedges may be "common" but they are an incredibly difficult group to get to grips with - partly due to their deep, deep boringness, ha ha, partly due to the subtle differences being hard for a beginner to spot.

But Primrose, Bluebell... not much of a challenge there, and not many things to confuse them with.

So - as you say - it's not rarity that is the issue, it's the difficulty of IDing them.

I would like to see less "weight" given to the simple taxa, and one way to do that would be to use an algorithm that counts how many of that particular ID have been made on iSpot, and reducing the weighting accordingly.

So beginners could continue to put up their lovely primroses (for other groups, read Blackbird etc)and get lots of agreements, but would not be able to quickly accumulate a lot of icons.

Sounds simple, doesn't it?!

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

DavidHowdon's picture

Common on iSpot

I suspect people mean something like "common on iSpot" so in your example fully identified sedges (which are hard) would not have many entries on iSpot (or many agreements with them) because fully identifying one is difficult. Things that are both common and easy to identify would be very common on iSpot.

That would at least mitigate some of the concern although Lady's Slipper Orchid would likely still remain rare on iSpot reflecting its real rarity.

If iSpot were to explore a system for adjusting reputation I think it would have to be something self-derived from on iSpot information. Having experts go through and rate the difficulty of ID for each taxon feels wrong.

Personally I think a system based simply on limiting the number of points you can get from identification of an individual taxon might be easier. Obviously you would need to vary the number of points by high level group (because there are so few herps for example) but that could work.

That said I'm still not convinced there is enough of a problem to really make this worthwhile - in theory people could game the system to become a bird expert by posting and identifying hundred of pictures of Robins. In practice not many people do this.

lavateraguy's picture

Gaming reputation

Posting hundreds of pictures of robins wouldn't do the trick. After about 10 any regular user (which would include anyone with any significant reputation) would stop bothering to agree.

The reputation system isn't very useful as a guide to how trustworthy an identification/agreement is, because it is more a measure of volume than of accuracy. Instead you need to evaluate each poster by observation.

However, it does seem to work adequately as an automatic system for selecting the correct ID from several offered alternatives. (But is that because of the iSpot recognised exports overriding the earned reputation?)

peterapp's picture

The thoughts of an iSPot "newbie"

I have only just joined iSpot. Until I spent some time this morning browsing in the Forums (should that be Fora?) I wasn't aware that this website operated a "scoring system". Does it really matter?

Not to me, it doesn't. I've had a fascination with the natural world ever since my childhood (some 60 years ago!). I have taken photographs (OK, let's be honest - snapshots) of the natural world since I was in my mid-teens. 99% of the time I either knew what I had photographed at the time of taking or I was able to identify it using field guides once I got the image home.

I came to iSpot to address the remaining 1%: those that I have been unable to identify from field guides. I'd been told that I could post images of plants, critters, etc. on this website and have them identified by "experts".

I have found that the system works. I have posted about half a dozen images that had defeated me and my field guides, and have had suggested ids for all of them, so far.

In almost all of the examples I have submitted so far, there has been at least one additional comment containing useful tips on how to sort out the id. So I have learned something over and above the simple "This is an xxx".

I don't know how to increase my standing on iSpot - and I don't care. Keep on solving my id problems for me and I'll be happy! Teach me how to identify the ones I don't know and I'll be in seventh heaven!

Peter

____________________________________________________
A photographer first; a field naturalist second.

Jonathan's picture

Thanks, Peter. Glad that

Thanks, Peter. Glad that iSpot is giving you what you want. Reputation is used in a variety of ways by the website to add confidence to the names that people offer. Its especially important in working out which name is right when more than one is offered. Do you need to know or worry about, though? No. You don't!

Jonathan
University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

JoC's picture

Aims of iSpot

You have discovered one of the main aims of iSpot, which is to help people to identify their observations, and to learn how to to do it for themselves. I see you got helpful comments on your ferns, so it's already working well for you.
Jo

Jo