D.M.H.'s picture


I am bewildered by some ispot members and their use of this site. Here are a few types I find most perplexing.

Type1-never ''gives'' an ID despite identifing and giving useful explanation of their reasoning as a comment.

Type2-Agree with your ''given'' ID in the comments or edit record title to the ''likely ID'' given but dont actually add their agreement.

Type3-Ignore all comments, advice etc and blindly carry on posting single pictures with no information and making ''certain'' ID's which are clearly guesses, usually wrong.

Maybe its just the Fungi and Lichens group that this is prevelent in but I dont think so.

If you know any of these types and others who need clarification as to the purpose of this site and how to behave. please direct them too:-



wolvobirder's picture

I agree

I agree, there is one user I have come across in particular (not mentioning names) that offers very good advice and is quite active on the site but has never added an ID! I find this quite perplexing, especially the first time it happened to one of my observations. I don't really feel comfortable adding the ID myself as I feel I would be taking the credit for someone else's work.

I didn't always used to listen to advice when I first started out on the site but this was more down to lack of experience and thinking that everything could be given a positive ID. I soon learnt my mistake though and listen to advice where given and have learnt quite a lot through iSpot in the process.

I bet the same people get fed up of giving the same advice over and over. Surely there is a better way of getting this advice across, maybe a separate advice page/wiki for a specific problem group or species, the link to which gets automatically posted when an ID is suggested?

Amadan's picture

Different styles -

It's clear that people have different attitudes to how they want to use the site.
Some of the traits noted above are personally irritating, and I could mention others: but perhaps we need to be a bit tolerant of personal quirks?
Fungi are probably the most difficult group for complete amateurs like me, and I understand how some posts must drive the more competent users crazy!
I'm personally grateful to anyone who posts a correction or comment (although when it relates to iSPot's occasionally antiquated systematic names, I do growl inwardly).
Speaking of which, Fenwickfield's recent silence is worrying/disappointing - a very helpful contributor!

Mydaea's picture

I believe I might see a

I believe I might see a reference here to myself.

I can't understand why anyone should be ‘perplexed’, ‘irritated’ or 'bewildered' that I don't take part in a system (acquiring 'stars') that is not fit for purpose. The reputation system (I have been told it is not a game, though some seem to regard it as such) does not provide a proxy for knowledge, as is evident in the number of 'star-holders' who provide identifications that are completely perverse, and yet trump correct IDs of others who have equal ‘star-ratings’ but vastly more knowledge and skills. This is getting worse, and is not helped by some who seem to be self-certified 'experts' or 'knowledgeable' while others with far more expertise and knowledge (and modesty?) do not have these tags.

Feel free to add a formal ID on the basis of any comment I may provide, and I am glad that (assuming I have correctly recognised myself) someone feels my comments contain good advice. I don't see it as taking credit unjustifiably (as long as you are satisfied that any ID I suggest is actually correct).

Amadan's picture

This seems a reasonable approach -

And supports the point that everyone seems to have a different approach and expectations from the site.
We all irritate friends and family at times, so it's unreasonable to expect that we won't annoy fellow site users. You only have to read some of the inanities that pepper FaceThing to realise that iSpot is, in fact, something of an island of sanity in a sea of dross!

dejayM's picture


I REALLY admire Mydaea and Track 'him' frequently.
To be able to respond to so many posts without accumulating a single 'icon' is cleverly deliberate and very difficult.
I do think, however that Mydaea is (you are) sometimes too cryptic for comfort http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/329428#comment-110427
Nevertheless I'm impressed. If it is you being referred to, your response here is excellent.

Mydaea's picture

Thanks for the support!

Thanks for the support! Cryptic? Or accurate, and as precise as I was able to offer? At least it made clear that the title ('wasp') was not correct.

Perhaps you should apply for the Scottish Mentor currently advertised.

JoC's picture

I’ll fly with Mydaea on this one.

I often post a comment on someone’s post which gives some salient features and suggests others that may be needed for an id. Sometimes I might suggest an id or even two, which the original poster might wish to adopt. I believe one the roles of iSpot is to help people to learn more for themselves, not just to tell them what it is.
Some people may not be in a position to post photos because they don’t get out and about any more, but they can still share their expertise.


dejayM's picture

turn up

Yes JoC, I like your style too, adding to the original iSpot ethic. As you know, I stalk you, so miss you when you simply don't turn up!

Fenwickfield's picture


I personally would rather get some good advice and help than someone just identifying something for me I think it is important to know how they came to there decision.I try my best to explain when I identify something but if they have got it right and have not put the id on I write in the comments box that there right and try to encourage them to add the observation themselves so I can then agree.I know some will disagree with this but I think it's important to encourage other's and try and share what knowledge you have on the subject.I personally don't take much notice of the reputation points as I am on the site to expand my knowledge with hopefully like minded folks.
As for adding observations I know of one person who does not add ob's or very little and is very knowledgeable and I would trust there id above some of the experts.I also agree some people may not get out to get photo's and this is a great way to still be able to engage with nature and like minded people.I have been on this site for over two year and been active in adding observations but over the past few months my health has stopped me and is likely too for a while but I would hope people would not hold this against me as I will be relying on the site to keep me occupied whilst out of action Oh and my broadband has been playing up to.



D.M.H.'s picture

I did not intend to single

I did not intend to single anyone out or to cause offence. Thankyou for you input on several of my postings and I understand your objection to the rating system.


All given ID's are subject to error/ommissions. Please seek independent verification before acting on ANY advice given. BE SAFE =)

Gill Sinclair's picture

iSpot badges - Knowledgeable, Expert & 'society'

Dear All - I've found this thread belatedly, interestingly as a result of being interviewed by a Masters student writing her dissertation on the concept of 'expertise', using iSpot as a case study.

Just to clarify the situation with regard to badges, Mydaea refers to some people "who seem to be self-certified 'experts' or 'knowledgeable' while others with far more expertise and knowledge (and modesty?) do not have these tags."

The badges of 'Knowledgeable' or 'Expert' can only be conferred by the iSpot team, so no-one can self-certify themselves as either of these.

Also, please note that the 'society' badges (e.g. Mammal Society) can only be used with the agreement of the society concerned, so again no-one can claim to be representing a society or even a member of it without 'permission', but importantly all these badges do is indicate that the person has an association with that society - they were never intended to indicate expertise in that particular area of identification.

Lastly, the reputation system only works (and I appreciate that anyone who is frustrated with and disengaged from it wouldn't mind whether it worked or not) if there are a certain number of Knowledgeable and Expert people in each group, because it is only with the agreement of such people that iSpotters' reputations can progress beyond a certain level. I was asked if I was happy to be badged a Mammal Expert to help with this, based on my past contributions to iSpot in that group, but I did highlight to the iSpot team that I am weak on bats and therefore I don't agree with or give bat ID's unless I'm certain.

As one of (I believe) only two Mammal Experts in the iSpot community, my contribution is I feel quite important to keeping the 'system' working (again, only important to those who wish to be part of that system), and my time is obviously given voluntarily, so please go a little steady when talking about self-certified experts:-) I became one to help out.

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

dejayM's picture

Types and ticks

Back to Mark (D.M.H.)
Things he mentions are getting worse (I trawl history)
Type1- these might be the good guys who wish to encourage the original poster to add the ID and thus get the credit.

Type2- that's silly but happens to me because I forget to tick the box, so self-centred am I about making my point in Comments. I am now far less self centred!

Type3- there are far too many of these. They do not understand the Ethic of iSpot and ought to be put right by Admin (who have too much, far too much, to do). These culprits usually do not have their Filters on, nor do they check My Spot.
Those of us who do a lot of agreeing might do well to run FEW filters but one Filter should ALWAYS be active - it's 'Observations authored by you'.
Those of us who do a lot of Commenting should tick 'Observation [sic] that you've commented on'
But then you still have to open My Spot.

scarpermac's picture

all of the above

As a non-expert in any particular field but a very keen amateur in a few I feel slightly alarmed, reading these comments, that I may have been incredibly naive. Although I've seen the occasional comment or ID that I'd thought a little over-enthusiastic I'd generally assumed for example that people want original posters to get the ID and that those with 'high scores' are reasonably knowledgeable or expert? It seems I was wrong. Frankly I'm gutted. I'll continue to use iSpot (I need the help)but think I'll treat things much more guardedly. I guess that not a bad thing but it's all very disappointing.

Feel free to look at my ongoing (hopefully improving) collection of pictures on Flickr:

lavateraguy's picture

You may have swung ...

... from naivety to an excess of cynicism.

The rating system is flawed as an evaluation of individual expertise, but works well enough as an evaluation of a collective identification. But you need a lot of correct identifications to get to 5 stars, so anybody with 5 stars is going to be reasonably competent.

However, even the experts get things wrong sometimes, for a number of reasons.

1) unless the observer is very careful even visual information is lost from photographs. Often enough a photograph is effectively more of an identification challenge that a observation for identification.
2) expectation bias - once someone has put up an identification you see what one expects to see rather than what's there - I've made a few bad mistakes because of that, and so have some genuine experts.
3) some groups of organisms are genuinely difficult
4) the scope of expertise doesn't always align with the grouping in iSpot - for example plants includes algae, bryophytes and vascular plants, and these are separate specialisms. There shouldn't be any problems on these lines with birds, but for invertebrates I would be surprised if anyone was an expert across the board.
5) locality bias - the range of taxa one is familiar depends on where one does ones observing. I read of a case where a professional botanist misrecorded Mercurialis perennis in the IoM, in error for Mercurialis annua.

I haven't looked much as birds and invertebrates, but I think you should be able to rely in general on identification of birds, and macrolepidoptera, where good knowledge is fairly widespread.

Update: See http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/337275 for some examples.

Ray Turner's picture


I do feel it is important to get a feel for people and what they are knowledgeable in as well as the reputation. This allows an informed interpretation of the reputation system, which unfortunately is necessary. There are very few 5 stars around and several of them are very knowledgeable indeed (arguably more than the badged experts in a few cases) however it is true that one or two are there by sheer weight of numbers. There are those who like to load dozens of observations every day, that is the way they chose to use and enjoy iSpot and there is no harm in this, and it is inevitable they will progress very quickly through the points system.

Conversely there are people out there with very low reputation scores who are clearly very knowledgeable in their field. This may be because they have no desire to acquire a status or it may be, and there appear to be a number of these around in the bird section at the moment, simply they are new to iSpot.

For the above reason and one other, comments from people with low reputation scores should be taken seriously too. The other reason; someone without much knowledge in a field but wanting to learn may well be trawling through relevant observations with several text books open on their lap. They will spot any mistake made by an expert (I have been that person) and there will inevitably be some. I know I’ve made a few mistakes for sure; normally one of the regulars will ‘invite’ me to ‘have another look’ at a particular observation. Click in hast repent at leisure.



dejayM's picture


"I do feel it is important to get a feel for people..."

Yes Ray - wisdom indeed.
Not everyone knows though, that reputations can be checked by anyone on the site.
Simply go to 'Track' in your chosen poster and check out how they've gained their reputation. It's not as onerous as you might think - sneaky yes. None of our agreements are recorded (thankfully) but all other contributions are.
I've just done it with you, your secret's safe with me!
Name withheld..

Rachy Ramone's picture


So that's what "Track" is for!

*rushes off to stalk some pet iSpotters*

Rachy Ramone

How to take close-ups with cheap phone and hand-lens:
Field Guides for Budding Botanists: