chrisbrooks's picture

Communities - UK vs Global

Please correct me if I have this wrong but at present any new member will default to the Global Community and any one returning will default to the last community they were in.

I think there may be a problem in that when adding an ID in Global it does not use the UK Directory and therefore the sighting will not go towards recording statistics / NBN records.

Again correct me if I am wrong in my assumption but I would have thought that adding to wildlife recording statistics is one of iSpots core features.

At present there are a lot of posts being made in Global and therefore do not link to NBN records.

Can I suggest that as 99 % of entries are from the UK that anyone logging on to iSpot (irrespective of their last log in) defaults to the UK and Ireland Community. In that way it would correct the problem I have highlighted above. If of course you want to go to the Global Community you can select it.

Happy to be corrected if I have misunderstood or misinterpreted the community process.



wisw2's picture

Depends on URL and location

Hi Chris,
It's a bit more complex than that. Using should default you to the UK. If it doesn't then clearing you browser cache and then going to will default you to UK and Ireland. Also if you go into UK and Ireland from Global regularly then your settings will set your default to UK and Ireland too.

Ray Turner's picture

This doesn’t ...

... address the question of what is counting where. If I report seeing a species in the UK then it should link to the UK in terms stats and so on regardless of where I make the report. Personally I am not going to switch between systems, I expect the functionality to be going on underneath.



Matt Smith's picture


As far as I am aware, iSpot records are not loaded onto the NBN by default. iSpot can provide a data export for Recording Schemes but these have to be processed by the individual Recording Scheme to abstract the data for inclusion on their own dataset.

Tachinid Recording Scheme

TRS Facebook Page!/pages/Tachinid-Recording-Scheme/376652392364707

wisw2's picture


..that's where were getting to, a species dictionary will be associated with polygons describing a region rather than the community. That way you can choose to be in a global community but be about upload UK spots with the UK correct species dictionary. We need further help though with describing methods to allow people to interact to do things like assist with IDing at a global level whilst being part of the UK community. I'd like to engage people who have been on iSpot for a while to work with us to consider how to get the 'views' right to allow people to belong to communities but also contribute on a wider scale if they have appropriate expertise/interest. This is very important especially for new and emerging communities where a small community will need assistance with IDing until the community in that region/country grows to a self-sustaining level.

lavateraguy's picture

Finer scale taxonomic filtering would help

Apart from the long noted fact that there are 3 distinct communities under Plants - students of algae, of bryophytes, and of vascular plants - and probably distinct communities in the other groups ...

When the other communities take off I will have to filter them out because otherwise the volume would be too large (and I don't have the expertise to identify most plants outside temperate Europe), but could contribute to the identification of Malvaceae if I could filter them in. As you have a hierarchical taxonomic database you could offer a form to allow people to select (probably per community) portions of the phylogenetic tree. (Provided the demands on the database and cpu-time are not exorbitant.)

landgirl's picture

UK & Ireland

Like others, I've been eagerly awaiting this feature in order to filter out "foreign" observations. I've waited a few days before posting to allow time for the system to settle down. However, it's clear that the communities are not working as I had hoped. Not only do I still see observations from other countries, now many are in Spanish (I think!). It all seems more muddled than ever.
Add to this the many observations that apparently have no previous, although I know that they do, and the difficulty that some people seem to be having in choosing an acceptable common name.
My comment is "too much, too soon". Why not get it right for UK and Ireland first, instead of expanding prematurely and confusing things?

chrisbrooks's picture


I have to say that now I've got my head around the changes it seems to work for me provided you are in the UK and Ireland Community.

If you select the UK and Ireland Community the next time you log on it should default to that community. Use this community for all your UK posts and ID's, in this way you will be using the iSpot directory that we have always used which recognises the common names we know.

If however you use the Global community it uses a different directory and some species do not figure in it and neither do a lot of common names we are used to using.

landgirl's picture

Yes, that's how it should work

I am using UK & Ireland, but I'm not sure others are! I don't think it's all down to that, though. I really don't see why it's necessary for me to see the Chilean observations, I'm never going to go there. Yet they appear in my Unread list.

chrisbrooks's picture


Ah, I don't use the unread list but the foreign postings do not appear in the carousel.

Ray Turner's picture


I find it interesting the different ways people access the system; I for one never use the carousel, personally I find it cumbersome and just doesn’t give me the information I want. The first place I go to is My Spot to see if anyone has commented or amended an observation and from there it seems logical to go into the Unread List where I get the added bonus of seeing if obs have had comments or not (these are normally the first I look at).

Obviously this doesn’t suit everybody and it’s great there are multiple ways in.

My issue is almost the opposite of landgirl’s in that I want to be in Global (at the moment) but iSpot wont ‘latch’, every time I come back on I’m defaulted back to UK&Ireland. Actually, when we have multiple countries available, I would like to be able to select which countries I want to view. i have no expertise in S American flora or fauna but I do have some knowledge of Africa so would elect to see Europe and Africa + may be N America too. I’m not convinced it’s going to work like that though:-(



Matt Smith's picture

different ways

Interesting. I never use the carousel system, mainly because it is too slow, can't be filtered and does not go far enough, particularly the "please confirm" lower carousel. I check "My Spot" then go to "Browse Observation" to see whats new in my two regular taxonomic groups.

Tachinid Recording Scheme

TRS Facebook Page!/pages/Tachinid-Recording-Scheme/376652392364707

Tony Rebelo's picture

Being from South Africa with

Being from South Africa with our own iSpot, I watch with dismay at the new system: our ZA is far ahead in some features and the new system that we are going to join is quite a step back.

But, for instance, we seldom use the carousels or each searches, but focus on dictionary summaries of the format:
or dictionary searches:

But with over 20 species of Bubo (now in several genera - see and over 800 species of Erica (dont try this it takes quite a while to process the lists) even these are very broad.

The new filters accommodate these, but the filter we really want is a "I have not seen this" (we will settle for an no ID, no I_agree and no_comment filter), to use with the dictionary. That way our experts can quickly process new data without having to wade through stuff they have already looked at.

Tony Rebelo's picture

PS: I really hate this

PS: I really hate this preview feature with a passion!!!!

Tony Rebelo's picture

revised search

Sorry, the /search/species_dictionary/ is not activated in the UK yet.

Also, the search only summarizes subtaxa at the generic level:
try - to see one of our toad genera.

Why it does not summarize genera at the family level I dont know.

Matt Smith's picture


Dictionary searches are fine if you want to look for something already "tagged" or identifed with the appropriate name or ID, but if you are going through new Observations to make ID's then this feature is of no real use, particularly if the Observation has been wrongly identified in the first place.

I use the Carousels on rare occasions, mainly while looking at the "Help with Confirming ID" list - my only gripe here is these stop after a certain number of images. For all others I just "Browse Observations" with the appropriate groups filters and scroll down untill I come to the images I have seen before. I think the key thing here is there are many way od looking through I-Spot, not just 1 "preferred method"

Tachinid Recording Scheme

TRS Facebook Page!/pages/Tachinid-Recording-Scheme/376652392364707

Ambroise's picture

Hi There Like Ray I would

Hi There
Like Ray I would like to see in the future a system where I can select the area and organism group (I'd look at bryophytes and vascular plant from temperate Europe and the Mediterranean). At the moment it is not possible because either I will get plants from around the World (which I am not always able to comment on and appreciate) or only UK observation (which is very restrictive - especially considering how similar floras we have across Northern Europe). Would it be possible to have hierachical selection for the community? And would it be better to have biomes, rather than countries (as biological organism, apart from humans, don't do borders and politics). For instance I would chose one or several subdivision within Holoarctic (atlantic, continental, montain) etc.

geff.2007's picture

I am really concerned about

I am really concerned about the introduction of the new Communities section and do wonder if changes have not gone through too quickly and are perhaps bringing up unexpected glitches.
The first is that several times I have gone to log in and find everything is in Spanish – not what I want even if I have selected Global.
Yesterday I suggested an identification for someone in the UK (Isle of Man) and because I am in Global it did not bring up the UK common name but the Global name, which cannot be logical surely?
Similarly because I holiday abroad, many of my postings are from Europe and many are plants that are common to the UK but people logged in to UK and Ireland will not see them so no agreements. Surely we are not expected to keep swapping between communities?
I know that on earlier forums some people have expressed the view that they will only look at UK postings and that is a choice they were free to make without dividing the iSpot fraternity into communities.
However, I think we should remember that the flora and fauna does not change just because we cross the channel and the common plants do not stop at Dover. “Foreign” species are continually turning up in this country and spreading due to the proliferation of road transport, container vessels to say nothing of airborne seed, so the more we know about species from abroad, the better.
Furthermore many of the species of naturalised plants that we all know and love were collected and named by the famous plant hunters of the Victorian period so this quest for knowledge has been going on for years.
I do not believe that there are that many Global postings that they can interfere with the running of iSpot and the choice is there to ignore them with the loss of new knowledge and learning that they impart and it seems that iSpot in introducing communities has taken a sledgehammer to crack a walnut – Oh dear, my apologies, the English Walnut originated in Persia !!!

Rachy Ramone's picture

George, we were not "free to chose"...

... UK observations, that was the problem. There was no way to filter out "foreign" ones.

I completely accept your (and others') opinion about widening of horizons, but I am one of those who only want to see UK postings, as I am currently concentrating on UK ID.

I found it maddening to have "foreign" observations scattered through the UK ones, it wasted a lot of my time as I would start to research the (in my case) plant, before noticing that it was a foreign one, and therefore outside my area of expertise.

I appreciate your point about the invasion of foreign species, but at present I just don't have the resources to try to learn everything, and I want to concentrate on my chosen field, ie UK vascular plants.

iSpot could have chosen to add a filter for country of observation, several people have asked for this in the past.

iSpot could even have chosen to move or highlight the Location to make it easier to spot the non-UK ones, although a filter would have been preferable.

They chose instead to split the communities - I don't know why, there must have been a reason.

As a seperate point, I am somewhat confused by your desire to share your overseas observations with your home community. Surely you will get better ID suggestions from the overseas community, as it is "their" plant/organism?

Rachy Ramone

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

geff.2007's picture

Thanks Rachy for taking the

Thanks Rachy for taking the time to respond and I quite understand that you only want to concentrate on UK ID's.

One of the main factors is that an awful lot of plants are identical in Europe and I am sitting with a host of photos taken in France that I know you and others would be able to agree but I feel I cannot post them because they are now unlikely to be looked at and agreed. Examples are; Crane's-bills, Fumitories, Whitlowgrass, Mulleins, etc.

Yes, there are plants native only to "foreign" parts but I have always been careful to "drip-feed" these, hence my suggestion of limiting the number of postings in a day. I posted two Alpine plants in the last week and got nil response.

From my experience since I joined iSpot I don't think the site was ever in danger of being overwhelmed by overseas postings and quite often the identity of the person would give you a clue.

There are many other arguments that I could put forward such as the beautiful flowers of Catalpa bignoniodes taken in Italy this year but the tree and beans taken within 200 metres of Victoria Station - different time, different place but same species. Under the new system only one would be likely to get agreement and personally I like to keep the photos of a species all together.

To come to your final point, I have no idea how many iSpotters are registered in France, Italy or Europe in general but I do know I have never had an agreement from one of them.

There are many other arguments that I could put forward and some I have taken up directly with iSpot but I feel that one of the main points that is being missed in all these forums is the question "who takes the decision to make changes and are those decisions what the users want"? The old saying - you can't please everyone all the time - seems very appropriate. It works for you but not for me!

Rachy Ramone's picture

Aha! So what you need...

... is to gee up the iSpotters in other countries!

Seriously, your final point is the one that really counts - who decides that "we" need these changes?

I have already expressed the opinion that iSpot should have a "sandbox" area for proper user testing of new ideas. And it does seem that they have created a massively complicated way of splitting the site, when all they needed to do was to allocate a "country" tag to each observation and add a filter to the search parameters.

Oh well, I guess we will have to wait and see what happens - after all (a ray of hope) with the infamous Quiz, the horrible yellow stars were, in the end, removed!

Rachy Ramone

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

martinjohnbishop's picture

I posted two Alpine plants in the last week and got nil response

Well you have now and one of them appears to be British.
I tend to work through iSpot by taxa rather than by date submitted.
Also, I live 7 months of the year on this side of the Channel and 5 months on the other so totally sympathise with your point of view.

Ray Turner's picture

Accepting there ...

...are several points of view over the pros and cons of the new setup it would help if the darn thing worked. I wanted to be in Global but that is impractical because if I post a UK Blue Tit, say, in Global no one is going to see it (unless they too are in Global) and I am not about to jump back and forth between communities.

When I was in Global I had to go to it every time I entered iSpot because it insists on reverting back to UK&I every time I log off.

Now I have made the decision to sit in UK&I until the African community joins (the area outside of the UK&I have a little knowledge and interest in) I am continually bombarded by Obs from Chile.

I’m afraid the whole thing really is quite a mess and I have a sneaky feeling it won’t function in quite the way any of us would like once it is working properly. One size fits nobody!



chrisbrooks's picture

Blue Tit

Ray, if you post a Blue Tit in Global it will be seen by both the Global and UK communities because the location would be in the UK.

Ray Turner's picture

Is that the case?

I’m not quite sure that’s the case Chris, certainly it should work the other way round but the whole point of communities is to localise it and not foist my Global Obs. on any specific community. In any case it’s likely to be called something like the ‘Azure-capped Tit’. I’ll have a read through the forums latter to see if I can evidence my belief.



chrisbrooks's picture


Hi Ray, If you look through the UK community and see postings with an identification added but without the 3 links at the bottom (NBN etc) they have been posted in the Global Community.

This is an example, the ID is correct but the links are missing.

If you then look at this link in Global it will have just 2 links, the NBN one missing.

Martin Harvey's picture


Thanks for all the feedback, just wanted to let you know it is being read!

The aim of the recent changes is to make iSpot work more effectively on a global basis, while allowing people to more easily choose what they want to see and be involved with on the site. The end point (which we haven't reached) is to allow people to get straight to the 'community' they wish to be part of, based on both location and species group. This has been driven by a combination of requests from users in the past, plus the need to fulfil the aims that we agreed with our current funders.

The next stage of updates will be appearing on the site shortly, and I'll post a news item about that as soon as I can. I'd be surprised if we do manage to entirely please everyone, but with your help I hope we can continue to develop the site in a positive way for most users.

Entomologist and biological recorder

Rachy Ramone's picture

Thanks, Martin,

... it's good to know that iSpot are listening, and that there are still improvements in the pipeline!

As an interesting aside, you mention that you have the need to fulfil obligations to your funders, and of course we users are completely unaware of that. We rather assume that you are here to bow to our every wish! (we are so very selfish, sorry...)

Possibly it might help us be less critical of developments if we realised what the overall aims are - is there a Mission Statement, anywhere?

Even if not, do please keep up the good work, and we really do appreciate feedback from yourselves on the forums.

Rachy Ramone

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

geff.2007's picture

I agree with all your

I agree with all your comments Rachy.

In the meantime I had been in email discussion with Rachel Ward, iSpot Project Officer and have her permission to publish my questions and her answers which may be of interest to anyone on this Forum.

Q. I have already left a comment in the above forum but as it only got one reply I feel I must ask the iSpot team directly where the community filtering is going and what the timetable is.
Many of my spots have been taken in France and before communities came along I had a really good response rate. Sadly this has now almost completely dried up.
Chrisbrooks was one who would always id spots quickly and you will see in the same forum started by him that in order to overcome difficulties he has switched to UK and Ireland.
Many of the European spots are plants common to the UK and it seems that this fundamental point has not been taken into account in the programming.
We now, bizarrely, have a Chile community but not one for countries 21 miles across the channel.
Can you tell me if and when a French or other European countries are planned.
Until that happens my enjoyment and participation in iSpot will have to be very much restricted.
There must be so many more useful additions that could have been made such as being able to search for a specific item in one's own observations.
I look forward to hearing from you.

A.We do understand your concerns and I have raised this issue with our development team, who advised the following.

We have been aware of this issue since launching communities (and suspected it would be the case before this launched) and we are testing a version of the site that will essentially de-couple the species dictionary from the community, thus allowing for example observations in France to benefit from the "UK and Ireland" dictionary, where the species dictionary is applicable to that area. This will allow users to identify species using the correct dictionary.

The second step is making the observations taken outside the UK visible to the UK community, and again there are steps being taken to explore the use of an additional carousel to allow observations taken in places (like France) to be seen by those in the UK and Ireland where currently the majority of the expertise in ID'ing resides (although we hope that will change over time as other communities like France gain experts who support their local community and help with ID'ing observation in those countries).

We expect to apply the changes shortly but want to test these thoroughly before applying them to the live site. The species dictionary changes will be applied very shortly, and will allow experts to ID observations taken in France and places which can use the UK dictionary (Western Europe), they will simply need to swap from UK to Global to do that ID'ing. The second step (which may add an additional carousel) will then allow them to see these observations without having to leave the UK community.

We will be sure to make our users aware when these changes have happened.

Reply - Thanks for your reply. I can only wait to see what the developers come up with - the one thing that worries me is the comment that people "will simply need to swap from UK to Global to do that ID'ing". Personally I don't think people will want to keep swapping about.

Ray Turner's picture


Totally agree on your last point Geoff. The way I hoped this would work (when fully running) would be to opt in to communities (mine would be UK (Europe?), East Africa and possibly North America) and thus see any/all observations generated by those communities in one place.

Up until now I enjoyed seeing the occasional European or African observation cropping up and would suggest an ID or comment if I could and would be happy to continue to do so. However I am not going to jump around communities to do this, I have enough problems finding the time to look on iSpot, to achieve this.

I’m not keen on iRecord because of the lack of community but in terms of functionality it knocks iSpot into a cocked hat. This irony for me is the introduction of Communities to iSpot seems to be reducing the community aspect; in which case, as a wildlife recording tool, iRecord starts to seem very attractive.



chrisbrooks's picture

Additional carousel

Just adding my opinion that a third carousel seems like a good idea to solve George's (Jeff.2007) genuine concerns. In that way we will be able to see those european sightings that have gone missing so to speak without having to swap communities. I don't think members will switch backwards and forwards between communities very readily.

A third carousel would suit both camps. Those who do not wish to see foreign sightings can just ignore that carousel, while those that want to view it can do so.

landgirl's picture

Unread tab

Unfortunately none of this addresses the problem of the Unread tab, which is a mishmash of observations from anywhere in the world. No idea if it's catching all the posts though.

Ray Turner's picture


This version of communities is quite clearly broken. I have already mentioned I can’t stay in Global, every time I log back on I find myself back in UK&I, so I have given up selecting Global for the time being – and yet today I see;, and , just three examples of several on my supposedly UK&I Unread list. The observant may notice the URL and believe that I’m in Global, this is my URL from My Spot!

It’s broke guys. I also agree with geff’s logic; if, whilst in Global, I view a UK&I observation and want to suggest an alternative I should be given the UK&I list. It does need to be that dynamic. It is not up to us the user to leap about the communities, that’s what good software is for. At the very least we should have a dropdown box to select the relevant species list when in Global.



Major Bombylius's picture

I am also finding the

I am also finding the communities idea a backward step. In practice observations from Europe now get no feedback because they are filtered out. The observations from Chile surely need a separate website since the comments are in Spanish and the flora and fauna so different. inaturalist (which in many ways is a much better designed website) deals with worldwide observations but allows you to select the geographic area you are interested in (so you can select UK or Europe etc)

lavateraguy's picture

One of the problems is that ...

... a lot of people don't want community and locality to be identical - they want to include their European holiday snaps in their (UK & Ireland) community.

[Observations from Europe (and Chile) aren't filtered out if you use the Unread tab on My Spot, rather than the recent observations carousel. This is arguably a bug, since imposing Chilean observations on the average UK user (and vice versa) is less than ideal, but does mean that the European observations aren't yet being totally ignored.]

Ray Turner's picture


Perhaps an issue (apart from the Unread Tab not working – the first thing that should work in my opinion) is trying to create totally artificial demarcations only recognised by a bipedal hominid certainly not by the rest of the natural world.



dejayM's picture

time and place

This comment is added whilst I was in the Chile Community - will it show here?
Is it fair for me to join in and awake the thread - I really regret being late!
Things have changed a bit since much of the above was written (we now have three communities) and I think thoughts may have refocused, so MIGHT it be the time to start a new one - chrisbrooks?
Also no-one has responded to this
A country tag would allow simple filtering for those who do not want, ever, to see the Canaries (you'll know what I mean, surely..