Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington

"Data Points"

Sorry, but this is fast becoming another pet peeve of mine. We are receiving images that are submitted for no other reason than to record "(species) for (state) in (month)." This is ridiculous, especially for species in which distribution and seasonality are already well known (this means all butterflies!). Many of the images are otherwise of very poor quality and should be frassed. Just giving fair warning that I am going to start frassing such submissions. Thank you.

I disagree
Some species of butterflies might be expanding their range while with others their range might be declining because of habitat loss. To see such a statement from you is very disconcerting to me. I agree that posting images just for the sake of a temporal data point could be a problem because of the large numbers of images involved but spatial data points(i.e. county distributions) are very important. If you are going to frass data point images then you might as well do away with the Data Tab in the Guide.

 
That's why I attempted to ask why!
The question was ignored, but I will try again: Are people:

A) Worried about a genuine [vs. hypothetical] limit that the system has for handling the number of images, or

B) People do not want to see bad pictures, period.

And at the risk of repeating my self again, the approaches to solving these two problems are not the same. There are many ways, no doubt, to prioritize excellent images in response to searches.

If there is not a space limitation, why not leave the rest? The may provide useful information to someone, somewhere down the road.

If the problem is the storage space is limited maybe the problem should be stated that way. There are ways to cut down file sizes without loosing any image quality, for example, has anyone considered the size of the EXIF files, color profiles, and other data that has no impact on the picture itself. In general, all pictures that were saved in photoshop contain around 25 kb of data that has no effect on the image being view at all. If the average image submitted is, say 125 kb, then 20% of the size of the files of such pictures could be removed, and it would have no impact on the image itself.

If The problem is that the overhead for maintaining the poor quality images, then of course a mechanism for removing them needs to be used more extensively.

People seem to be discussing different problems as though they were all talking about the same thing, or that it should be obvious what the issue is. Only the people operating the system and establishing the priorities can know this. Until they tell me different I am going to go by the assumption that the mission statement is compatible with keeping the Bug Guide viable, and therefore will continue submitting basically, any thing that I find of interest. I am not the least offended if an editor frasses an image. In time, I hope to do a more thorough job of helping them by deleting pictures that I see are not really of interest to anyone. If we are in a state of emergency, then, of course, I will put a higher priority on culling my image submissions, past, and present.

 
Other Issues
The two points that you mention above may not be the most important ones. There are others that have been discussed before and I will have to point at them again.
1. Searchability. Large numbers of repetitive images slow down the search without making it better (bad images make it worse).
2. Information. Repetitive images add little or no information and take away from the main goal of Bugguide which is to create a guide to all the “bug” biodiversity.
For example, take honeybees. They are domestic animals. There are bee keepers in every state of the Union; therefore there are honeybees year round in every state. An image of a worker bee doesn’t add one iota of information. However if you submit a picture of a drone, a queen, larva or pupa or mite-infected bee, those would be valuable additions. See Wikipedia
Another example, butterflies (Papilionoidea) constitute about one percent of the total number of species of bugs, however almost seven percent (about 6.7%) of the images in Bugguide are butterflies. Rather than saying that butterflies are over-represented I prefer to say that other taxa are very badly under-represented. Granted that many species can’t be IDed by photos alone, others are too small or uncommon to be noticed by the regular Bugguide contributor, but that still leaves many, many thousands of species that could and should be included in the guide. Butterflies are not very abundant in number of species, nor necessarily in number of individuals. When I am looking for pollinators, I have noticed sometimes that for each butterfly I see, there are dozens of bees, wasps and flies. What butterflies have is charisma, oodles of it. They catch our eyes with their flashy colors and capture our hearts with their beauty. But we need to get past their seduction and go for the real gold: let us bring to the guide images of species that are absent or poorly represented!

 
What you are saying makes perfect sense
I was actually a little surprised that I could actually add an image to a guide page. For the reasons that have been mentioned. On the other hand there is a mechanism in place to remove inferior pictures, albeit a labor intensive one.
And yes, it makes sense to have limited representatives of specific groups if you are looking at them as just one subgroup of the group above them.
At some point it may be that all images will be saved periodically in archives, and only the best and most unusual will be a part of the dynamic guide. People would search the guide first, and the archives if they need to look further. The key would be to keep the archives available, in order to make the data accessible.

 
???
Who's discussing what? There have been just three posts on this topic since Robin and I finally worked out an agreeable method for dealing with all the garbage photos back on 9/11-9/12.

Two of those posts are yours.

EXIF data (and IPTC data, "other XML", color profiles, etc.) can be removed automatically by BugGuide. John had something in place to do this (at least for thumbnails), but for some reason it stopped working several months ago. I'll e-mail him a reminder to take a look.

I save all my files in Photoshop. My files don't have all these extra tags and information in them. Use "Save for Web...".

Your files are much much larger than the 125kb average you suggested. Like this hopper at 420kb:
Luckily most of them are also sized at 590 pixels for some reason, so when BugGuide resizes them to 560 the size gets trimmed to a somewhat reasonable 80-100kb, so only editors have to sit through a 400kb download, and only if they really want to.

Try resizing to 560, use "Save for Web...", and set the quality to around 60%-70%. There's no real reason to use "Save As...", and certainly no reason to use the highest quality setting that you appear to be using now.

 
Image pixel count
I have dialup ISP and don't have time to wait forever for highend \.professional Photographic products. It would speed up searchs if they were all down sized (pixel wise) to the BGN guideline. Thanks.

 
Not a problem
The BugGuide software automatically downsizes all images to 560 x 560 or less in the version that shows on the web page. For editors and the contributor who posted the image, there's an option to click on the image and see it in its original resolution. You're not an editor, so you couldn't see anything above the BGN guideline if you wanted to (except on your own images).

Higher resolutions are good where the image is high enough quality that an knowledgeable editor could see useful details not visible at lower resolution that might aid in ID. If the image isn't good enough for that, one might as well lower the resolution to save space on the server and bandwidth, but it's not critical.

One other issue can be a problem: if you have the option, you should always set your software to not embed thumbnails or other bulky EXIF data. The BugGuide software is supposed to remove those, but I see them every once in a while. When those are present, you end up loading invisible data along with the 560x560-or-less-pixel image when you view the page- often much larger than the image itself..

 
??? ???
"Who's discussing what? There have been just three posts on this topic since Robin and I finally worked out an agreeable method for dealing with all the garbage photos back on 9/11-9/12."

That's not quite correct is it? But the point really isn't relevant.

"Your files are much much larger than the 125kb average you suggested..."

I was not saying that my photos had an average of 125 kb, I was saying that if the average were 125 kb for all of the photos uploaded by all of the people who had edited their photos in photoshop, then 20% of the storage being used could be saved. I did not wish to imply that that was anything other than a hypothetical value, I merely wanted to make the point that the amount of space was significant.

"My files don't have all these extra tags and information in them. Use "Save for Web..."."

Did you mean to say that you use save for the web?

"EXIF data (and IPTC data, "other XML", color profiles, etc.) can be removed automatically by BugGuide."

This is precisely why I don't bother removing it. It would be so simple for BugGuide to remove the info that I assumed that there might be other considerations. Perhaps the information is seen as useful. I know I often look at the tags in the photos that others have submitted - Only one or two people whose photos I looked at had deleted the data. It may be seen as a simple way to double check the date that a photo taken. This is data, and having more data than you need is certainly better than not having enough. You could say that I would miss having this information available to me, however given the choice of being forced to loose photos, or loosing this data, I'm sure most people would say delete the non-pixel data from the images.

"since Robin and I finally worked out an agreeable method for dealing with all the garbage photos back on 9/11-9/12..."

Not to minimize the accomplishment of you and Robin being able to agree, or to detract from your solution in any way, my most recent response was made mostly because I felt I could relate to what the previous poster had said. The point of collecting data is that no one knows what conclusions it will be possible to reach if data is collected and preserved. I prefer to think comments made regarding the impressive accomplishments in documenting butterfly and other well documented species was made tongue in cheek. At this point I have to say it makes no difference. People have latched on to this and are determined to have no part in extending and maintaining this knowledge.

I'm sorry if my posts and my photo posting have been a source of irritation for you, or anyone else.

2 more cents
I think it is a great idea to upload poor quality pictures for any species that is not listed in the data tab. But I am not sure what is believed to be the harm in this practice. Is it that there is an actual (not theoretical) space limit being approached, that photos are not good enough evidence to support the sighting, or is it simply that some people are offended by bad photos?

If the idea is that the photos are not needed because the data is self evident, then perhaps the answer is to add a third designation on the data map, which in the legend would read, "common throughout the state" This would have the twin benefits that the maps would not be full of obvious holes, and the temptation to add images just to fill in a state would be gone. In this scenario, an insect expert editor could change the data tab to "commonly encountered this time of year" or something like that, and then frass the image. Technically specific data would be being lost, however, in theory it would be information that is not needed.

Or maybe the opposite: An observed and photographed insect would replace the spot on the map where it was previously marked "commonly encountered" I favor this approach because the incentive to remove a bad image is removed, however, actual submissions of new data would be retained. Of course this would require maps be updated for who knows how many insects, and that could be a lot of work. Still, it would be nice to see the data maps reflecting the established body of knowledge.

I think the data tabs is a cool feature. I'd rather not see actual sitings backed up be photos removed, however, I don't know where impractical and desirable meet. Is this about aesthetics or is it about actual resources running short?

Lastly, does anyone have a ball park figure for the ratio of frassed images to submitted images? I suspect that it is already high enough to be discouraging contributors unnecessarily, but this is just guesswork on my part.

I'm just throwing this out there because I read the post and I did not get a clear idea of why these data submissions are seen as a problem. My input should be taken with a grain of salt as I am not aware of the problems of running this site. The reason I ask, though, is because if computer resources are being strained, there are probably a lot more painless ways of saving them, and anyway, I would like to know if I should be more careful with resources that I use here.

 
self-evident?
I'm not so sure that data can be deemed self-evident. Insect populations are dynamic, not static. For example, I haven't seen an American Copper butterfly in my area for 2-3 years. Perhaps I just missed it the last few years but there could be more underlying reasons. Data of this sort is valuable in keeping track of insect populations.

What a collection of ideas!
There have been many great ideas expressed here. I know that data points vs. image quality and volume is a sensitive issue and it's good to see the healthy discussion here. Personally, I have gone back and forth in my head over data points. I'll admit, I love data points. But to determine at what point we surpass usefulness and usability for the sake of data info is no easy task. I would certainly hate to see data points disappear. But honestly, even as they are, they are incomplete and misleading at best.

For instance, an image of a given species submitted in GA marks a GA state data point. But it doesn't cover a true data point on actual distribution because the particular organism may be present in the GA coastal plain, but entirely absent in the GA piedmont or mountains or vice versa. And even habitat info doesn’t always add a distinction, since often habitats overlap regions. I suppose the only way to resolve that problem is having data maps down to county level. But I cannot begin to fathom the mess of images we would have as a result, as contributors tried to fill every little data hole. But at the same time, that sort of narrow information can be quite handy. I submitted a photo of a Callosamia securifera recently. This species is found in GA … in the coastal plain. Yet I live in the northern part of the GA piedmont. This was both a county record and state record, yet the data point on BG merely has it as just GA, as if another average find along the coastal plain. So the data points aren’t perfect.

But I’d like to see BG be a place where data points can be recorded, increasing and adding to the wealth of knowledge without overtaxing the site with image redundancy. And so I think to myself, “Well, every image providing a data point adds to BG, yet every data point that provides an image doesn’t necessarily.” However, Eric is right … we can’t save every image just for the data point. Not to mention, when all those poor quality images are saved simply for data points, so are all the comments with them which in turn can clutter up searches.

I like the idea of the dual BG, except for a concern or two. One, I worry about a decline in the appeal and usability of a dual BG system. And two, I’d be very concerned that the ‘sister site’ for lower quality images may be abused and become free personal photo storage for people.

The suggestion of having the data points remain recorded even after frassing an image appeals to me. This seems good because the low quality images could be frassed to reduce clutter, while the system could retain the data point. However, the problem with that is that if an image is placed in the wrong species page due to misidentification and an overzealous contributor, and then later frassed, that image would leave its data imprint permanently in the system, thus providing an incorrect data point that may never be noticed.

I think my favorite idea may be the one suggesting a default search/browse of only a select number of representative images, with the option to select view all images once the sought after organism is found. If one were able to browse through Polistes for example, where only 8 representative photos of each species were shown by default, rather than having to go through 3 or 4 pages of just metricus, that would be great. Then when browsing the images, instead of multiple pages of each species, there would be multiple species per page … and once the desired species is found a simple click to view all images reveals all for that species. I like that, and I think new users and amateurs would too. It's essentially taking the format of the current browse feature and applying it to the images tab. I think most people coming here to ID an insect go straight to images instead of browse. That's why I think images need a similar format as browse. As it is currently a person may search for 'paper wasp' which will bring up images of various wasps. If they scroll down they see the taxon "Polistinae (Paper Wasps)". They say, "aha, that's what I what" and click it. Then I'd bet that 9 times out of 10 they click images - not browse - , where they're met with multiple pages of a given species to sort through before they find what they're looking for. If that click on Images took them to a format like browse - 8 rep images per species - allowing them to sort through faster and then select view all images after they selected the species, I think it would be much smoother ... and may somewhat help to alleviate the problem of 'too many images.'

And now after all that, it seems I’ve added little to the conversation … other than I share these concerns about data points vs image quality/volume. I think if we keep brainstorming we’ll eventually resolve this issue. In the meantime, I think Eric is doing the right thing. When it comes to insects such as Luna moths, Monarchs, Wheelbugs, and the numerous other incredibly common organisms, there simply has to be some trimming of the fat in order to maintain this ever growing site. (My apologies for taking so much room to say so little)

Selfish
Ok, here is my own personal selfish viewpoint. I live in Oklahoma which is notorious for NOT having very good species documentation. There are about three or four of us from Oklahoma that are regular contributors so, to me, it is imperative that we post as many species as possible so that good, reliable info for Oklahoma species can be achieved. The ONLY way to do this is to post images of every species that have no Oklahoma data points. Regardless of whether a species has 1000 images of it already posted, if there aren't any from Oklahoma then I'm going to post it. If it is a terrible image then I will frass it myself or expect someone else to, unless there are no other images from Oklahoma. In that case I would want it to go in the guide until I have the opportunity to get a better image to replace it.

As you may or may not be able to tell, I love Oklahoma. I grew up here and will never live anywhere else. So, I want to document, as well as promote, Oklahoma wildlife species as accurately and completely as possible. That can't be done without "data point" species posts. I would think this to be true elsewhere as well.

Also, I've said it before but I believe BugGuide to be an awesome resource and an awesome site. That is why I post here. In my mind, this is how we will get species locales identified and documented for Oklahoma as well as the nation. If Pillbugs haven't been documented from Oklahoma (even though we all know they're here) I'm going to post one, even though they are very common across the U.S.

one thing i've noticed
people have been frassing some of their own photos in species with many photos for just being data points. I would personally rather they didn't, but that argument has been done to death, and people can make their own choices.
HOWEVER, I have a huge problem with people frassing photos in groups where things haven't been ID'ed yet. In many of the fly families, for example, there are many morphospecies and many interesting things, but there are just no editors capable of IDing them right now. For some groups, even if you requested an identification from an expert extension official or taxonomist, you probably wouldn't be able to get a positive ID. THIS WILL CHANGE! Bugguide is growing, attracting more people and more experts, and there are people working out many taxonomic problems and new people learning about groups in new ways. I think that Bugguide will last, and has the potential to be a great
resource to amateurs, students, and experts in the near future. I would really rather not see a budding Muscidae expert in 2014 stop by bugguide and not see the many weird, rare things we might have because people right now are deleting photos that are 'just another muscidae data point.'
I'm not trying to point fingers at specific people. I plainly don't want Bugguide to lose new information and potential new species (new for bugguide or new for science, even).

Data points
Eric, I realize that I'm guilty of this, and it's quite likely that some of my recent submissions sparked this comment. I am still really green to the world of insect identification beyond order, and still rather green at submitting images to either the Guide or ID Request, as well.

I usually check the Data tab after I have a tentative idea on things, and previously thought "oh, there are no images of this bug from TN...perhaps the data might be useful." I usually also look at the Info tab on my images that are IDed by the resident experts (or from my own educated guesses from other guide images), but I'll begin to pay closer attention to whether range and/or seasonality info are included before posting images.

However, some guide pages don't always have range or seasonality info. Range is usually there, but seasonal emergences, flight times, etc. are not always commonplace. I understand that to many experts such as yourself, this information is common knowledge, but for many amateurs like myself who rely on BugGuide as a primary source for ID and information, such tidbits are not always familiar. Personally, I feel that such additional information on guide pages missing such would be immensely more beneficial to others like myself not quite as "in the know"...however, I realize that this is a lot to ask from editors/expert contributors.

Previously, I was very hesitant to place anything in the Guide outside of ID request, even if I was fairly sure of genus, or even species, preferring to have confirmation from others with more knowledge/experience. However, I will re-adopt this hesitance and use more caution before posting images in/moving images to the Guide in the future, as I don't want to contribute to (or continue to, as the case may be) clutter in the Guide.

Please feel free to Frass any of my current images (there aren't many) as you see fit. My apologies, and thanks for all your dedication to BG.

Perhaps we should
all follow Eric's example and show restraint in the number of images we post; it certainly would reduce the clutter,

 
A rational, practical approach
and one that saves a lot of grief.

I've taken the initiative
Every image I submitted as a new for Kansas or California, I've frassed. Sorry for the clutter.

 
Great!
Thanks, Will.
I had no idea Thiodina sylvana occured in Kansas.
Well, actually I did thanks to your images and my Fitch, 1963, which I just checked after reading your comment and checking frass. Fitch lists two species.
Then again, how many BG users have that book besides me? My guess: one, two, or most likely, zero.
So, if I did not have that book, and was interested in the species, it sure would stink not having that data.

 
That is a terrible shame!
The consciencious few that read and react to this forum are the kind of people who aren't causing problems. But they are the kind of people who will take some good shots from the system while the drek remains.

Congratulations anti-data pointers! You've really cleaned things up.

BTW, I shoot in KS too and there's a dearth of posts from there.

 
yes it is a shame and counterproductive
to frass new state records even if the photo is bad

For bees and wasps there are genuinely new state records, unpublished anywhere else. Please do not frass these! Even if the photos are bad these are the only known documentation anywhere that the species occurs there.

However I understand why it might be ok to frass datapoints that are new-for-bugguide-only but not really new.

 
Ron
do you mean something like this?

 
Well, not that one.
Why, the moth's wings are all bent!

Sans sarcasm, that's an incredible photo and certainly a keeper.

 
See my comment
here

EDIT: OK, just saw your comment under #138275. However, this does not negate my comment above; a photo of an actual November specimen cannot be equalled (replaced) by an unsubstantiated comment that they occur in Novemebr in FL.

splitting proposal
I think the site's two main purposes (identifying bugs & collecting data) were not meant to live together. On one hand, the "Guide" function of BugGuide is in danger of being buried under a mountain of images. On the other hand, people are reluctant to post photos as "data points" for fear of adding more clutter. To give each purpose the freedom it deserves, how about splitting the site into 2 complementary "sister sites" named BugDATA and BugGUIDE, with one administrator?

The BugGUIDE site would contain a dozen or less representative photos of each species, combined with descriptive information for identification purposes. Only editors could move images to/from the GUIDE because its sole function would be as a guide to bugs.

The BugDATA site would contain all the remaining (non-representative) photos submitted by everyone. These would be used to populate the distribution maps and combined state/month lists, as they do now. The interface would look like the Data tab does now, and the site's sole function would be as a data source/sink. (the photos would be used only to verify data points, so their quality wouldn't matter beyond being identifiable). You could view the photos if desired, but you wouldn't normally visit the BugDATA site to look at photos; you would go there to look at data maps or perhaps query a database with requests such as: Show me a list of all Syrphidae in Nebraska in October.

I think data collection is important and should be encouraged. The current data maps are appreciated by many people, and the growing amount of collected data could prove useful in any number of ways in the future. But the way to separate the "identifying bugs" function from the "collecting data" function is NOT to employ some after-the-fact filtering process; the separation has to occur in people's minds beforehand, and the most effective way to facilitate that is to separate the site in name and in Internet address.

 
Like the idea Robin
Better information means more work. I really think County, instead of State, would be much more meaniingful for Range mapping by species.

 
...
...

 
Good Idea
2 BugGuides: regular BG where everyone posts images, the good, the bad, and the ugly;
and BugGuide Pro where editors, and only editors, can add just a few (1, 2, or perhaps 5) of the most representative images for a species.
Move the Taxonomy tab, which should be renamed Classification, and the Info tab to BG Pro; have a category named Gallery for the few images of each species; may also want to move the Browse function.
Regular BG would have a simple classification; just Order, Family, genus, specific epithet; most images would be posted as now under ID Request; the relatively few knowns on the species pages.

 
Fascinating!
I made a similar suggestion over two years ago, when Bugguide was just a juvenile with accelerating growth. A guide or a museum? forum.
Maybe the time has come.

 
Cosmic, Robin
Very insightful. I would be eager to provide just data in many instances, and would guess there's a whole different group of people out their that would love to log their sightings.

 
"just data"
is not of great long-term scientific use unless documentary evidence (a photo) is permanently associated with it.

Doing The Math
I read somewhere on Bugguide where someone was worried about the amount of images that could pile up on here if we went with the "one insect per state per month" route. He did the math and came up with a figure of 353,263,200 images. True, that's a lot of images. Too many, maybe. But, I carried the math out a little further. Considering there have been slightly over 100,000 pictures posted here on Bugguide so far, and it's been in existence for approximately 4 years, it looks like when it gets to be sometime in July of 14,130 a.d. maybe we should start worrying.

 
Growth curve
You are ignoring the fact that the rate of submissions has been growing exponentially. http://bugguide.net/node/view/91591/bgimage

 
Okay
So, instead we get worried sometime in 9008? Do you seriously think Bugguide is going to get 300 million photographs posted anytime soon?

 
Beating this dead horse to the ground with a stick
After thorough digression analysis it has been determined that your magic number, 353,263,200, which came from this forum message, from 18+ months ago, when BugGuide was running on a desktop PC in Troy Bartlett's basement, was for an entirely different statistic.

Based on my new calculations, using numbers pulled out of thin air, BugGuide will stop accepting new images next Wednesday at 10:31pm GMT.

 
What Happened?
I wonder what happened? Wednesday came and went and BugGuide still accepted my picture. This is it, posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2007, the day after the "deadline":


How about an auto-frass feature?
The photo rating idea is interesting, but it could easily have unintended consequences. Unless ratings are limited to editors, or at least subject to review before action is taken to remove an image, it may just be that a lot of amateurs vote for "pretty" over usefulness or vote against unusual, but valid forms.
For a beginner like me, one of the great benefits here is not being limited to one drawing and one photo in a guidebook. Yes, there are too many images of some species and displaying one of each state and province for each month is unwieldy. On the other hand, if the geographic distribution map and time of occurence chart are to ever be useful to those who don't already know what should be on it, they will have to be filled in. Otherwise, just junk them altogether. There are guidebooks with maps and other websites where you can get range and flight data for various species, sometimes down to the county level.
Permit me, if you will, to offer a suggestion. Perhaps Bugguide could offer the opportunity to post images - even poor but identifiable ones - for purposes of the range and time of occurence data only. Such images could be set to auto-frass (or disappear entirely) within 15 or 30 days which should be enough time to allow for challenges to the identification offered by the contributor.
In any event, the goal of a photo collection ought not to be one or two or four (male and female, top and bottom) perfect images, but to show different angles and different lighting conditions as well as seasonal and geographic variations and even (for butterflies which are my primary interst at the moment) some instances of wear and damage. For those of us who are amateurs and trying to figure out what it was that we saw in the woods or the pasture or the garden, that is the kind of photo collection that would be most valuable. If that is not at least a part of the mission here, perhaps I have wandered into the wrong place.

 
"15 or 30 days which should be enough time"
"to allow for challenges to the identification"

This is not enough time.

 
60, 90, 180 days, a year ...
The time period is less important than making the downgrade automatic absent intervention by an editor. The basic idea was just to junk the superfluous photos without losing the data on the chart and map. Such auto deletions don't even have to disappear altogether, just from routine display. They might well remain available as supporting documentation for the data points available for specialist review in the future. The basic idea was a way to limit clutter that doesn't overtax editors or rely on the submitter. Could you comment on that part of the suggestion, please?

 
Perhaps
an auto-archive feature would meet the purpose better. That way occurance data could be preserved without clutter. The editors could have frass-representative power to create a representative collection of images. The representative images would serve the purposes of ID while the archived images would serve for verification of ID for range/occurance research. Not being an editor I'm glad to volunteer them for more work. :)

 
Wandered
No, Mr. Holland, you have not wandered into the wrong place. What you are talking about is exactly what this site's mission is and always has been. One only has to go to the home page and read it to find this out. Anything else that you or I or anyone else might desire or wish or try to mold Bugguide into other than what it was created for is just opposite of it's creator's purpose. If one is looking for another kind of site, there are plenty of search engines to try and find one. I know this won't be a popular viewpoint, but it's not up to us, so I don't know what else can be said.

My opinions, for what they're worth
Eric has been here since nearly the beginning of BugGuide's existance, has authored over 450 guide pages, and has probably contributed more accurate identifications and helpful background information than any ten editors/contributors combined. So, as far as I'm concerned, his voice should be influential in guiding the group. So he gets a little pissed now and then. Big deal. To suggest he has "commercial preferences" here would be silly.

BugGuide can certainly have multiple specific
purposes that don't clash with each other.

One clearly identified purpose is to obtain high quality photos that can be used to fully identify a specimen. I don't know that there has ever been a formal request for "pretty" photos. If you have a pretty photo that also happens to show identifying field marks, unique or interesting behaviors that are not already documented here, or adds other worthwhile data to the guide, all the better! But if it's only pretty and nothing more, buy a domain name and create a website, or dump it on Flickr or some other site. Others seem to think otherwise, but BugGuide is not a "photo sharing website".

Another clearly identified purpose (sorry Eric, but this is straight from BugGuide's default home page) is to "[capture] the place and time that submitted images were taken, [to create] a virtual collection that helps define where and when things might be found". I'm sure there was an assumption that all of these submitted images would be of reasonably good quality. They aren't. If a poor image of a properly identified specimen supplies the guide with additional collection data, then I suppose it might be worth having, but I don't want to see it in the Browse and Info pages, ever. We need a simpler method of selecting/deselecting representative images, or, if this directive ever changes, a quicker way to send stuff to Frass. :-) We could easily drop 80%-90% of the images here if data points were no longer being used.

John's rating idea is a very good one, and is worth persuing and refining. If it happens, I'd like for the "uncheck representative box" to override any arbitrary rating value to make sure the "data only" photos never show up in the Browse and Info pages, without regard to any user configuration parameters. And I'd love it if the Images tab was then configured by default to present images sorted by quality, so the garbage can get pushed to the back of the room.

With the overcrowded "popular" species, I feel it's imperative for us to begin (or continue) specifying representative images for the info pages. I also think we should start with every single link in the "Clickable Guide" on the left side of the page, and then work on some of the families under them. This is probably the exact path a typical "lost user" will follow when they have no idea what they just just saw in their backyard. This is exactly where our most common ID requests for each species group should be. There is really no reason for another Monarch caterpillar or Argiope Aurantia to get posted to ID Request.

Kenneth, The frassing of Donna's image says nothing about your images, which are actually much better quality for the guide than that one, for the reasons the Balabans already noted. Many very good Jewelwing photos are already in the guide, here, here and here. (just to give some examples of what is looked for in a good dragon photo)

 
home page
Where the home page says "By capturing the place and time that submitted images were taken, we are creating a virtual collection that helps define where and when things might be found," in my opinion, it's not supporting the posting of datapoint-only photos. Rather, it's just stating a benefit that results from the fact that BG captures the date and location of each photo.

 
Data points - helpful in comments?
I've read lots of posts on the topic of data points, and would appreciate clarification on this specific question - is it considered helpful to indicate in the comments that an image is a data point for BG?

From my reading it seems that it might be helpful info, for example, for editors who are trying to weed images, but it also seems that data points are some times considered by some to be a vanity label that leads to otherwise redundant images being added to the guide.

If including mention of data points is considered helpful, what level does that apply to? State, month, county? (I live in a county in NYS that has flora, fauna, and weather more like that of Ontario, Canada than that of counties downstate, such as New York County (Manhattan), so I find the county issue more interesting than others might.)

Thanks in advance.

 
No need to call it a data point
Every submission to BugGuide is a data point. The more data we have about each submission, the more questions can be asked of the data.

The next version of BugGuide will allow you to rank submissions on the basis of (1) its quality in relationship to the taxon represents, as in "this is the perfect image of a Didymops transversa -- I show my students this image when I'm explaining how to identify them" and (2) image quality; that is, focus, depth-of-field, and so on.

We will use these rankings to create a filter to display images. Guide pages and Browse pages will show only the best images (in both senses).

 
Well said!
This has been my point all along: “We need a simpler method of selecting/deselecting representative images, or, if this directive ever changes, a quicker way to send stuff to Frass. :-)”.
Right now I am spending ridiculous amounts of time deactivating the “representative” feature. New submissions keep piling up faster than we can move them to a “warehouse” (making them inaccessible to browse and information pages). I would rather spend that time doing more constructive things such as filling in information pages, moving images from ID request to their rightful place, or just submitting photos of my own!
We desperately need an automated way to do this operation. Contributors who keep swamping us with lots of repetitive images don’t realize that.

"Not a representative photo"
Does this brief phrase present a simple solution that's already in place? (It seems we can have the data without the visual clutter.)

Data point
As a regular "data point" contributer, I'm a little confused here. I see BugGuide as being a unique resource in this aspect and would hate to see it devolve into a guide book of selected images. Participating in a community mission to expand the knowledge of humanity is a driving force for net community and I see it as integral to BugGuide's existance.

But that doesn't mean it's perfect. The rating idea is great. The number of images is growing to the point that in some categories it is becoming cumbersome to leaf through the images to get to an ID.

But don't stop collecting the data. In the past year, I have documented numerous species that were outside of "well establish" ranges. I think we need more not less "data points." It surprises me that with all of the noise about "global warming" professional voices are still clinging to historical ranges instead of aggressively trying to document changes. What tool better than BugGuide? Talk about a driving mission! And if you don't believe in global warming what tool better to disprove the supposed massive changes that are occuring in the ecosystem?

 
I'm also in total agreement
We need more data points with permanent associated photo documentation

There are very many bad images with no interesting data either and these and only these should be routinely frassed

 
I'm in total agreement with Steve.
I've been "guilty" of encouraging data point contributions for the reasons he states. The data are important, and I don't see why this aspect should be compromised solely for the sake of pretty pictures. Certainly, we can have the latter as well.

Another perspective:
It seems that I take an interest whenever Eric gets grumpy - believe me it is nothing personal (I would Eric, bye the bye, without hesitation purchase Volume II (congrats on your second printing of V1!)) but I really see BG (as explained on the introductory page) as a community of other-than-ID-fetishists. I have a distinct memory of some major player here encouraging submissions to fill in the location matrix (and why, really, is Mike Boone spending so much effort on the 'next-generation' location maps if only one "perfect" picture per species is all that is required?)

Personally, I have shifted from BG to Eric's 'Kaufman' as my first source for identifying some new critter but still, very often, one picture is NOT enough and BG is my second choice specifically because there are several views and often several variations on the same beast, one of which might approximate what I have seen.

I do not think that BG should shift focus to meet Eric's (commercial?) preferences. However, I am quite in agreement with Beatriz's we need a "well defined philosophy" suggestion.

I have in each instance, where I have chimed in, really noted Eric's (and other's) reasons for their preferences. They are not wrong, but neither should they guide the 'group'. Different ones of us have different backgrounds and priorities. I am here to learn (and rarely, help others learn). I don't think that 'one-picture-per-bug' is likely to assist me much in my quest (although, again, it is much appreciated in a 'thumb-through-able' book).

Let the discussion continue!

 
 
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