Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Fall Fund Drive

Work in progress - Dos and Don'ts

I'd like to come up with some brief tips for contributors. There's lots of BugGuide ettiquette that has sort of evolved that isn't really codified anywhere. So I'll start the list, which is by no means exhaustive, and I'd like for others to chime in. When we've got a well rounded collection, I'll add it to the help pages and mention it in the registration email.
  • Do conduct yourself in a courteous, mature, and respectful manner.
  • Do remember that this is a family friendly site and that people of all ages visit.
  • Do read over the help pages.
  • Do consider turning on 'auto subscribe' on your account page.
  • Do provide a full name on your account page so your copyright reflects your name instead of your handle.
  • Do consider providing other details on your account page, especially if it will help us recognize you as an expert.
  • Do crop your image to emphasize the bug so we can make out details.
  • Do provide accurate image details, especially location, date and size, to enhance the value of our virtual collection.
  • Do consider measuring your specimen. Size estimates are easily exagerated.
  • Do manage your own 'ID Request' submissions by moving them to frass or to an appropriate spot in the guide.
  • Do indicate how you arrived at an identification.
  • Do link images of the same specimen (individual) or group of specimens.
  • Do submit images in jpeg format, preferably 560 pixels on the longest side.
  • Don't submit images that were taken outside of the United States or Canada.
  • Don't delete your image after comments have been made. We'd rather you move it to frass and give us a chance to decide whether or not it would be a useful addition to the guide.
  • Don't delete and resubmit the same image, even a cropped version. Simply edit the original one.
  • Don't post more than three 'ID Requests' per day. Otherwise we get overwhelmed and things get overlooked.
  • Don't post mutilated bugs. It offends some of us and makes identification difficult.
  • Don't spend all your time here posting photos without taking time to help others by offering encouragement, pointing them in the direction of an identification, or helping to organize the guide.
  • Don't link images of different specimens. Instead use the thumb markup.
  • Don't submit multiple images of the same specimen that don't add any value to the images already submitted.
  • Don't submit images with decorations such as borders or with text other than your copyright notice.
  • Don't submit images that are not your own unless you have permission from the copyright holder.

Added
This has now been added to the Help page.

 
Help Page
The help page link seems to be broken.

 
Fixed
It's fixed now.

Its A Guide
I'd like to echo Mike's suggestion.
  • Do use this site to try and identify your specimens before submitting them to ID Request.
I even suggest this be the first item on the "do" list. Back in the olden days BugGuide didn't have enough in its collection to make this work well but now I think it does. If people adhere to this suggestion it may stem the notorious deluges to ID Request and minimize otherwise overwhelming petitions to the time and attention of volunteers. Maybe this can help without strict quotas. We don't know how many visitors do this already but I don't think ID request (or the site) would suffer from lack of submissions. (Sorry, my carriage return doesn't seem to work after using the [list] BB Code. And I'm multi-tasking, can you tell?)

 
I agree, sorta:-)
I would say "Do use this site to try and identify your specimens or images." I can see how someone could "identify" their image, then post it to the completely wrong guide page. We already have enough problems with that without actually suggesting people do it:-)

I would also say that this is a "community" site, and to recognize there will be mistakes. Anyone should be free to suggest identifications. Any given taxon is not the sole province of any one contributor or editor here at Bugguide (are you arachnologists listening?). Thank you.

Nice list
I think that it is time that we take another look at this list of Dos and Don'ts and update it. Most of it is still applicable.
Unfortunatly, I am sure that most contributors don't even know that such list exists. It would help if more people followed these suggestions.
And we should have a similar list for contributing editors.

 
....
Once this gets updated shouldn't it be moved to "Help" as Trot suggested back then ?

 
....
Sorry, I obviously meant "TROY". My tongue got wrapped around my eye tooth and I couldn't see what I was saying.

 
Email
It should probably be emailed to every new member as part of their email address confirmation - welcome - intro.

 
E-mail
E-mailing sounds like an excellent idea. But, why wait until it is updated? I would like for people to start paying attention to these suggestions as soon as possible. It would be very helpful. Newer versions could be sent as soon as they are approved.
I hope that John is listening.

Cleaning up ID Request.
I am happy to cruise through and help ID images, but I both don't have time, and don't know how, to move images to guide pages. I agree that this should be the responsibility of the one who contributes the image, once it has been identified. Thank you.

another suggestion...
...if you're 100% positive of an ID (common, distinctive species), whether of your own or another's submission, do move it to the appropriate species page (or to frass) instead of leaving it in ID Request. I spent a loooong while just moving ID'ed specimens to the appropriate guide pages.

 
moving
We must confess that we tend not to worry too much about moving ID'd images until they get to about page 20 or so on ID Request. It seems to take three weeks or so for that to happen, and we figure by that time everyone who might look for it on ID Request has had a chance to do so. A number of visitors in the past have actually resubmitted images to be ID'd because they were moved so quickly into the guide that when the visitor returned to ID Request, their image was gone! They had no clue where it went.

We definitely agree that, if the image owner is a regular on BugGuide, they should be the one to move it to the guide when it has been positively identified, and we certainly try to do that with our own images. Many visitors, however, only post a few pictures and don't visit often enough to really get to know the guide, to know how to move images easily, to get to know which comments on which families can be taken as producing a "positively" identified image. And thus much of the tagging and moving does fall on a reasonable number, but still relatively few, editors. We actually think that is better than having all kinds of visitors moving all kinds of images all around the guide.

A more challenging problem, we think, than ID Request are those images submitted into the guide high in the taxonomy hierarchy. For example, the three pages of images just titled 'Flies'. Our fly experts do visit those and make comments, but unless you're the image owner or have subscribed to the image, there's no way to know it has been ID'd unless you're wandering through Recent, or just happen to visit and open the image to see the comment. There are many images high in the hierarchy that are identified and are awaiting moving or may be waiting for the guide page to be constructed. As Robin says below, that's a place where we really need some help.

There are contributors, as Eric points out about himself, whose role here at BugGuide is to make IDs and comments that increase the knowledge of all. We don't want them spending any time moving images, even if they know how! But we would hope that other editors, knowledgeable in a particular family, would kind of adopt those families, and check the images occasionally, high in the hierarchy all the way down to posted at the species level, to make sure things are ok, that images are moved lower in the hierarchy when possible, that guide pages are made.

It's a big job and, as Troy points out, BugGuide will always be a work in progress. But it is an amazing community of people from all over the country and beyond helping produce something that is unique on the web. A little disorder is a small price to pay for that. -- Well that was a too big response to your short little message, but it's a bunch of things we've been meaning to say for a while. Thanks to all of you for our opportunity to learn from you.

 
and another...
to Editors: Please don't create a new guide page without also including at least one piece of supporting documentation, either as a link to a relevant EDU or GOV web site (preferable), or reference to a book/field guide, or reference to a recognized expert in that taxonomic field (saying "IDed by so-and-so").
Linking to other reliably-identified photos allows visitors to immediately judge for themselves how well the photos match. Describing the distinctive feature(s) of a species/genus is also helpful in distinguishing closely-related taxa. The more info you add to a page, the more help you provide to others.
If you have time to take photographs of bugs and look up their identity, you also have time to create helpful guide pages - ones that aren't blank.

Great idea
I think this is a great idea and will help with some of the problems that crop up over and over and over again.

--Stephen

Stephen Cresswell
Buckhannon, WV
www.stephencresswell.com

A few suggestions and questions
Good list, Troy.

I think you should put the ID Request "rules" at the top of the ID Request page. It might even be necessary to enforce that 3-a-day limit. I moved a bunch of ID Requests into Frass and the Guide today and it hardly made a dent. I might add a "Do some browsing of the guide or research in common field guides before posting to ID Request."

With regard to image size...what is the preferred method? Should we always crop to 560 pixels to save storage space or upload bigger stuff? I've been compromising at 800 pixels to give the editors a little more detail if they want it. I wonder if we could use a page that gave basic photo editing techniques to show someone how to crop or resize; so many new users have no idea how to do that. Perhaps there's a good tutorial on the web we can link to.

To reduce the frequency of people adding a similar but not-the-same-specimen image, I would change the "add image" link on an image page to read "add image of same specimen."

On a related note to the specimen size, can we increase the size of that data field, to allow people to be specific as to what they measured? I try to put stuff like "head to abdomen" but the size limit prevents me from being more specific in other cases.

 
Top Ten List Idea.
One of the few things I like about the "WhatsThatBug?" website is that the very first thing you see is an image of a house centipede. I might suggest a "top ten" page showing the most frequently-posted mystery bugs (i.e. dobsonfly,stag beetle,pseudoscorpion,etc). I can work something up in my copious free time I suppose, but have no idea how to link images or anything (bugs I know, computers I don't). Let me know what you think of this. Might cut down on ID request overload.

 
Not a bad idea.
I could certainly help by mentioning some of the bugs that frequently end up on my desk.

 
Great
Can you list the top ones here now? Then I'll know when I put the page together. Which, of course, I've been planning to do forever but haven't got around to yet.

 
A Few For Starters.
Based on my experience here, at AllExperts.com, and Whatsthatbug.com, my top ten would include: House centipede; Dobsonfly; pseudoscorpion; giant ichneumon (Megarhyssa spp.); Jerusalem cricket; camel crickets; rove beetles (frequently mistaken for earwigs); springtails; fisher spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus); leaf-footed bugs; dark-winged fungus gnats. There are so many, of course, but certainly about the first six there ALWAYS generate inquiries.

 
Here's a dozen
These are some of the ones we think generate many questions, but they may not be the top 12. We think the page should also carry a note saying which are harmless and which are even beneficial! House centipede. Misumena. Hummingbird hawkmoth. Golden Argiope in its strange web. Some big Lycosa. Great Golden Digger. Some Cicada. A Cicada Killer! Some Large Cranefly. A bug nymph - Coreid? An immature Katydid. And a painted Lady. A lot of FAQs there.

 
The two that sprang to mind with me first
The two that sprang to mind with me first were Golden Garden Spider (which John and Jane mentioned) and Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus).

--Stephen

Stephen Cresswell
Buckhannon, WV
www.stephencresswell.com

 
Also
I might add that the subscriptions should be turned on by default if it isn't. I see lots of comments that are followup questions to a specific post that never get replies, presumably because the poster wasn't subscribed.

It would also be nice to require some sort of contact info on the profile when a user creates an account. It's frustrating to not be able to contact certain users occasionally. Perhaps BugGuide could have a contact form that doesn't reveal the recipient's email. Not that I want to add more work, but I'll help if I can!

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