1416RE: [SoWestOdes] Re: AZOdes Website
- Oct 26, 2013
I started using iNaturalist only about a week ago, and I am very impressed with the site. The vetting process, if it could be called that, is community-based which I find appealing, and this determines the quality of each submission. When added, a submission is considered “casual” by default. If the submission has a date, a georeferenced location, an identity (not limited to the species level), and one or more other users agree with the identity (and no one disagrees), then its quality is considered “research” grade.
Submissions are easily filtered by taxon, place, quality, user, whether a photo is included or not, and several other qualifiers. And individual submissions do receive a unique identifier. Here’s a black witch I just submitted from Ecuador: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/441061. Note the its quality is still considered “casual” because no other users have agreed with the identity yet (but that could change any second).
Users set the accuracy of the coordinates, which can also be obscured (they are then only visible to the site admins and those users designated as “curators”).
I will still use OC for my odonate records, but iNat has many appealing strengths too.
I've browsed iNaturalist (iN) but haven't yet uploaded anything there (other than providing some photos for their species accounts). I think it is a good educational site, from what I've seen, but I also find it too "busy" and hard to navigate ... which is probably a reflection of my age since I have the same complaint about social media sites in general. For submitting and looking at odonate photo-records, I prefer OdonataCentral (OC), mainly because it functions as a virtual museum collection and is arranged in a logical, simple, easily searchable way. A submitted record is assigned a catalogue number, as with a museum collection, and therefore the record can be cited in a publication or within another record (I didn't see that capability in iNaturalist so I'm not sure how an individual record is "tracked" within the iN site).
Obviously iN covers much more than just odes, so a side-by-side comparison with OC is not really possible. But for odonate research purposes, I think OC is the better, but iN might be more suitable for many educational purposes for the general public, especially if it gets more ode submissions than it has now.
Also, in comparison to other odonate websites (or even to iN), the OC site currently has a significant leg up on content which is a big plus when deciding where to submit new records or to see what species have been recorded from your geographic region of interest. If I wanted to learn about the ode fauna of a particular state, I'd go to OC.
James N. Stuart
From: Paul Johnson <pjpolliwog@...>
To: Ann Johnson <aj@...>
Cc: Jim Stuart <jnstuart61@...>; SoWest Odes <SoWestOdes@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, October 26, 2013 10:07 AM
Subject: Re: [SoWestOdes] Re: AZOdes Website
Mind if I jump in?
I've been concerned about this issue lately, but perhaps from a different perspective. What I see is that even when a small, local database is being actively used and maintained, it's still missing a lot of the data that's out there. The best Odonata database would be one that is easily accessible to everyone who wants to record their observations, right? Provided data quality is maintained, of course.
In CA we have the CalOdes listserv, Odonata Central, a Facebook page, Bugguide.net, the published literature, folks keeping their own county data, folks keeping data in notebooks or photos, and Kathy Biggs doing a wonderful job herding all of us cats.
What if there were an online database that served most or all of these purposes, and was widely used and easily accessible? iNaturalist might be just that. It's a hybrid of social media and nature observation database. It can send automated emails to alert folks about observations of interest. It allows users to set up categories of interest, such as AZ odes. It can at least theoretically be tweaked to meet your data needs. And it's highly accessible, available online and as a smartphone app. You can upload the date, time, and location (if camera is GPS equipped) of your observation straight from your photo data. Many people use it to record all of their nature observations, so people who know nothing about the AZ Odes database end up contributing records of odes in AZ.
I am not affiliated with iNaturalist in any way. I've only recently begun using it and I think it still has a ways to go, but it has a lot of promise. National Geographic will be holding a BioBlitz in Golden Gate National Recreation Area in CA next year, and they are strongly considering using this as their database. I work for a National Park, and I love the fact that someone else is keeping a widely used database of observations in my park for me. All I have to do is query the location and I have all the data at my fingertips. Amazing!
I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think:
Sent from my iPhone
On Oct 24, 2013, at 14:00, "Ann Johnson" <aj@...> wrote:
Point well taken, Jim. The critical mass of interested persons plays out in two ways. Although there has been an exponential interest increase in odonates (as well as butterflies, moths, wasps, etc.), that critical mass of people hasn't yet been realized to create a decent infrastructure to keep things going. First of all, you need enough people willing to take a little time to share their information with others in some kind of structured way. One analogy I like to use is that I keep my birding records in AviSys (my private collection if you will) but can then add anything significant to the database maintained by the Iowa Ornithologists' Union for seasonal field reports and eventually North American Birds. I can even upload a day's worth of records to eBird for the greater good. It does take a concerted investment on my part to do that, however, and it takes a fair number of people doing the same to eventually collect anything meaningful. Odonata Central is a good case in point. County lists and range maps are only as good as contributors make it.
I've built a number of state-oriented web applications over the years and am not overly concerned about the birding-related sites since they have organizations with ownership and commitment to continuation. Content is maintained by members of the organization. The back-end pieces occasionally require an additional skill set but finding that isn't an insurmountable problem, either from a volunteer with some familiarity with the technology or from a contractor. I do worry about Iowa Odes, however. Our informal infrastructure is working well for content management and record review and things are relatively up to date, but I would dearly love to find an interested group to take over the ownership. Heck, I'd even pay the $100 a year for hosting and provide free labor as long as I can. I do worry about what happens if I get hit by a truck tomorrow. That's a lot of information to lose and right now it exists in my personal account. I'm not sure what the answer is. For us the most obvious answer would be to bring all these things under the umbrella of our state's DNR wildlife diversity bureau but I should live so long as to see that idea ever get much traction. Data is so much easier to organize than people J.
From: SoWestOdes@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SoWestOdes@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jim Stuart
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 9:46 AM
To: SoWest Odes
Subject: [SoWestOdes] Re: AZOdes Website
I suspect all web-based databases are potentially vulnerable to neglect and eventual extinction, even broad-based well-established ones like OdonataCentral (although I hope in the case of OC, it has sufficient support in place to buffer against that possibility). The broader and more established such a database is, the greater likelihood it can secure support funds and that it will be carried on by others if its originator(s) aren't there to do so since so many are invested in it. The situation is comparable to small specimen collections in research museums ... some have been lost and others will be lost as they are "orphaned" by lone curators who retire and pass on.
It might seem nice to have a web-based site dedicated to just your state, but the critical mass of interested persons just might not be there to maintain it once its creators are gone.
From: " <mailto:dennispaulson@...> dennispaulson@..." < <mailto:dennispaulson@...> dennispaulson@...>
To: Ann Johnson < <mailto:aj@...> aj@...>
Cc: <mailto:SoWestOdes@yahoogroups.com> SoWestOdes@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 8:12 AM
Subject: Re: [SoWestOdes] AZOdes Website
I think what you are writing will be a perennial problem, as group after group is formed and website after website is set up. There are already far too many such things for me to keep track of, and at one time I prided myself on being up on all things odonate. The ease of doing all this prompts many to do it on their own rather than contribute to a centralized place, and I suspect that this decentralization will continue apace. This trend has to lead to the dilution of already established programs, and yours is a good example. I pine for the days when it was easy to keep track of dragonflies or anything else!
From: "Ann Johnson" < <mailto:aj@...> aj@...>
To: <mailto:SoWestOdes@yahoogroups.com> SoWestOdes@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 4:44:03 PM
Subject: [SoWestOdes] AZOdes Website
What seemed like a good idea many years ago; i.e., a centralized repository of Arizona county records and early/late dates, has just never taken off. I just checked the record review queue again and there has been nothing new entered in well over a year so I am beginning to dismantle things. AZODES.COM domain is due to expire on 4 November and I am going to let that happen. If anyone is interested in that domain name for themselves, let me know ASAP and I can transfer it to you before one of those scalpers grabs it and wants to sell it for $1000! The site will continue to be hosted on <http://azodes.org/> http://azodes.org/ until next spring when it expires. If you want that name before it happens, let me know that as well. As much as I like having good information available on the web, I really hate having stuff that is inaccurate and this site is rapidly falling into that category and must go away. Hopefully Odonata Central will be helpful to everyone at least on the county level and thanks to Kathy the early and late dates are kept in a spreadsheet from messages posted here.
Enjoy your bugs down there! It is supposed to be 30 degrees here by morning. Ugh.
5362 120th Ave
Norwalk, IA 50211
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