Martin Harvey's picture

iSpot quizzes

This forum is for feedback on the iSpot quizzes. Please post details of any problems that you encounter or other feedback. A Help page for the quizzes is available at:



BDeed's picture

Hi Martin, Just wanted to say

Hi Martin, Just wanted to say a great new feature!

Masked Marvel's picture

Yes! Apart from the stars...

Yes! Apart from the stars...

BDeed's picture

I think perhaps the

I think perhaps the suggestion below would be good (a star with a number). After all i for one only discovered the quiz because i saw people with them and wondered what they were!

The other thing i think it's important to remember is the primary purpose is to engage and encourage learning, a quiz for fun is different to a competitive ranking (although i would agree it is a fine line!).

iRecord plays the competitive numbers game well enough (if that's what you like) and i would like to see iSpot remain a place for people to learn and encourage each other.

It is difficult to stretch the same features to cover both learners and experts, though i am sure the higher levels may be refined over time.

Perhaps also it would be better to have a separate 'expert' level game that could be set and managed by the expert community themselves?

Ray Turner's picture

Has Potential

Hi Martin I do think this has potential but I also think it is very much a work in progress.

The stars – well enough has been said about these in the several threads that have sprung up regarding the quiz!

I have only had a go at the birds section so can’t comment on others but I have noticed the same species (Blue Tits seem quite popular) occurring in the same set of questions. I suspect the individual questions are randomly generated by an algorithm; this is always an inherent problem, one reason why I’m not a great fan of this method.

They are way too easy from the ‘challenging’ onwards. Great for the novice but hardly a challenge beyond that.

The only real way to get a good quiz is to have a human setter. This ensures there are no repeats, the pictures used are of suitable quality (and actually show the species they purport to) and that they can be tailored to a suitable degree to interest participants at all levels. An example of the sort of difficulty to keep the experts happy can be found here, one of an excellent series (and there have been more than one) posted as a fun quiz by Ophrys. Merely removing the lifelines does not make a quiz harder.



dejayM's picture


Suddenly tonight I lost all my stars. Of course, I had five in every single area; put them back please!
Seriously though, they have gone, my few. I'm only very good with birds (isn't everyone?) failed dismally in inverts, where I am close to getting my fourth icon (I think).
But I don't like the idea of a series of bright stars against names - icons are enough. Why not one star with a small number inside?
I also feel it should be a little harder, well quite a lot harder and I think you should forget being encouraging.
Oh, I did get five in birds without going to expert level.
Hang on, they're back! How could this happen? And now I've got SIX in birds. For goodness' sake what is the maximum?
ð ★★★★★★★★

Jonathan's picture

The quiz stars have now been removed.

The quiz stars have now been removed.

We may bring them back in much modified form at a later date, but for now you can enjoy the quiz in darkness and anonymity. ;-)

University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

mattprince1969's picture

Just as well perhaps :)

The 'difficulty' level of the invertebrate one is very random ~ had an easy one that was all moths (of which I'm useless) then a challenging one which through up some easy stuff.

Also fairly easy to cheat, of course...

Ambroise's picture

Hi, I've just discovered the

Hi, I've just discovered the quizzes, that's a great idea! I've done a few for plants - I like botany - but I am disappointed that there were no bryophytes! Was it just bad luck or are there really no bryophyte questions? It would be a shame to disregard such a beautiful, facinating and diverse group of plant. Thinking about it, there were no algae neither.

Jonathan's picture

Thanks for the feedback. We

Thanks for the feedback. We don't have a lot of bryophytes in iSpot, but as we accumulate more, the quiz will automatically include them. So observe more mosses & liverworts! And encourage others to do so too. The names need to get agreement to become a likely ID before they can be used in a quiz.

University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

Ambroise's picture

The fact that the names need

The fact that the names need agreement may be an obstacle for bryophytes to reach the quiz becasue, I have noticed, there aren't many people having the ID skill for bryophytes. So it is already very good for a moss ID to get 2 agreements - maybe this should be taken into account to facilitate more bryophytes to enter the quiz. More bryophytes in the quiz would mean more people likely to get interested in them and maybe more posts?
Thanks for getting back to me anyway! I really like the ispot concept!

landgirl's picture


I would love to love the quiz, but am finding it so irritating that I will have to leave it alone. If I try to enlarge the picture, I have time to go and make a cup of tea before it loads. There's no option to enlarge further. Some of the photos are ambiguous, some very poor, some almost impossible to make out relevant features. If you type in the name correctly and submit it without waiting the tedious time for it to appear on the drop-down list, it's marked as wrong. And numbers 9 and 10 are often identical (plants, expert level). Great idea, but doesn't work well for me. Please take it away and fix it before putting it back for us to enjoy!

Jonathan's picture

Actually, you can help us

Actually, you can help us improve the quiz by querying the questions that do not work. Just hit return without entering an answer and there is a text box where you can tell us what is wrong. If three different people query the same question, it will be removed.

Re load speeds, this should be no different from the rest of iSpot, so I am not sure what the problem is there.

University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

mattprince1969's picture

There in lies the rub

The only real criticism that can be levelled at i-spot is the generally slow speed of response, and as its a free-to-use site its a moot point anyway!


lavateraguy's picture

Manual or automated

That we are asked to describe what's wrong with a question suggests that it's being evaluated by a human; that three people querying a question gets it removed suggests that it's automated.

Anyway, a couple of other points

1) When disputing a answer, it would be handy if there was a means of going directly to the observation, so would go look closer, and add an alternative agreement or identification if appropriate. (I've just trawled though 205 records involving in some sense Cirsium arvense - without success.)

2) On a quiz Q4 was Frullania dilatata; as I couldn't identify I gave a blank answer. The quiz said the correct answer was Cirsium arvense (Q5) and then skipped Q5. I think what may have happened here may have been key-bounce - the return key being answered twice. But the quiz should at least have displayed Q5.

Jonathan's picture

Thanks, everybody for your

Thanks, everybody for your feedback.

And incidentally, we are working on getting iSpot to work faster. If anyone can spare a few more hamsters for the treadmill, that would help. ;-)

University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

jimmymac2's picture

3 Wrong Answers

In the same quiz (mammals, advanced) it gave me 3 phoney answers. There was a picture of a Grey Squirrel and it said it was a Roe Deer. Then there was a picture of a Grey squirrel and it said it was a Hedgehog. Then there was a picture of a Badger sett and it said it was a Grey seal. Last of all, there were only 9 questions! Have I done anything wrong?

My Blog
Longworth Traps or The Bryophyte Club!
NBN awards 15 winner.

landgirl's picture

No idea

But I bet it made you laugh! It gave me a giggle.

lavateraguy's picture

In my experience ...

... it's the plants/advanced quiz that has the 9th and 10th questions with the same answers.

lavateraguy's picture

All levels now ...

... seem to be behaving like this. I presume a fencepost error somewhere.

Jonathan's picture

Just tried it and you are

Just tried it and you are right.

The developer responsible for the quiz will not be back for a couple of weeks, so I'm afraid this will not be fixed immediately.

University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

trudy-russell's picture

hi jonathan, this is great

hi jonathan,

this is great and I really like that that you can ask it to tailor to your iSpot activity.

if you want a hand creating a marine one give me a shout!

Trudy Russell
Marine Advisor
Natural England

To find out about what's going on in the south west check out

lavateraguy's picture

If they want to ...

... it should be trivial to add habitat-based, in addition to category-based, quizzes, using the same algorithms. Or quizzes based on habitat/category combinations.

Chalkie's picture


Just discovered the quizzes and thought I'd have a go at the 'easy' plants one, instead of diving straight into the 'hard' ones.

The first two questions only had non-native plants that I'd never heard of (even as garden plants - I'm pretty keen on gardening too), which was a bit of a shock. Maybe good for my soul though - I'm a bit too used to expecting to recognise most plants easily! I gave up after getting three wrong consecutively.

But I'm not sure how it could encourage beginners to UK plant identification. Perhaps they were Chilean plants? (I see ispot is now active in Chile too.) Not quite what I'd expected!

landgirl's picture


I've just checked it out and there don't seem to be any problems at the Easy level. I wonder if you are using the Global community instead of UK and Ireland?

Chalkie's picture


You are quite right! No wonder they were tricky - though once I'd figured out how it worked (same things coming back in later questions) I did much better.

But some very weird names: 'venuscup teasel' for Dipsacus fullonum, and 'morning-glory' for bindweed. Set my teeth on edge, provincial little me!

Thanks. I shall go back and try again. :) (I really ought to be doing something much more useful!)

landgirl's picture

Yes, different database.

I find the quizzes frustrating because they are so slow, it takes ages if you try to enlarge an image. Good luck!

Chalkie's picture


Did much better, though trying to identify alder from an out-of-focus photograph of a shire horse was an interesting challenge! It did make me think a bit harder about identifying some things that I might have otherwise jumped to (wrong) conclusions about.

The best one though, was on 'easy' birds: first question was a picture of a robin. Choice of answers did not include robin. Apparently it was a cuckoo. I took a screen shot as evidence that I didn't imagine it. Hmm. Made me laugh though, and I was very pleased to get both twite and linnet right.

It's not all that slow on my computer, so maybe it's your internet connection, rather than the site that slows it down?

landgirl's picture


I'm lucky to get a connection at all some days! That's the price I pay for living in such a rural location.

miked's picture

More specific quiz

It would be useful to include projects as an option in creating a quiz. For example if you want to create a quiz on New Zealand plants you could select the New Zealand plants project as a criteria. This would allow the quizzes to be even more flexible and useful for teaching.

Tony Rebelo's picture

That would be cool

But if they cannot even get the southern African quiz working after two years, I dont think that you have a hope in hell ...

"Oops - we couldn’t create a quiz with these criteria. Perhaps there aren’t enough suitable observations and identifications." - when 180 000 observations are not enough, then you have to wonder ...

miked's picture

I guessed you would say this,

I guessed you would say this, however there might be a remote chance that going down the projects route might be a way of getting the SA and indeed any other area/project quiz to work. Technically it might or might not be easier than what was required to get the SA quiz working in the way they were previously approaching it.

Tony Rebelo's picture

Of course I would!!

But if you think that there is a hope in hades of this approach working, then can I please request another wrinkle, that might also be "just as easy" (I am taking careful note of the "remote chance' and "might or might not").

Instead of having to choose the group, why can we not choose a taxon.

For instance, why not follow the same philosophy as the surfer:
species (rather pointless, but on principle am using it)

For instance above I might want to specialise on the order, or family, or subgenus, or might just be in the mood to get to grips with the subgenus.

In a quiz it would be really cool!!

jimmymac2's picture

I agree

It would be cool!

My Blog
Longworth Traps or The Bryophyte Club!
NBN awards 15 winner.

Tony Rebelo's picture

What would be really cool

What would be really cool, is linking the quiz to a project.

So I could make any project and anyone could run a quiz on it.
- e.g.
* for some region : schools of the southern suburbs and then the local schools could contribute to the project and take a quiz on the species found in their area.
* for some taxonomic group in an area : birds of the garden route

It could even be used professionally:
* spoor of mammals (project: tag = Spoor & Signs; group = mammals) of the Kruger Park. Use the quiz to test your proficiency. (and the project to run the course).
* alien plant ID (project: tag = Alien). There is much need for a course on this!!
* caterpillars of crops.
* customs plant ID at border posts (project: tag = collected & collected medicinally; group = plants).

or just fun
* can you ID sploshed animals? (project: tag = roadkill) - a fun way to create awareness!

I see the lichen portal has a simple flashcard quiz. - perhaps iSpot is trying to be too fancy?

Tony Rebelo's picture

when will the quiz work for southern Africa

Still the quiz states:

Oops - we couldn’t create a quiz with these criteria. Perhaps there aren’t enough suitable observations and identifications.

We only have 200 000 observations, 90% identified with a LIkely_ID, so how many do we need to get the quiz to work.

But perhaps after TWO YEARS WITH QUIZZES NOT WORKING we should not complain too much, after all they do work in the UK. And who cares about the other communities?

Tony Rebelo's picture

Working now - sort of.

Working now - sort of. Please log any southern african issues with quizzes at ::