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notifying the youth of Erik's suggestion

re: this thread
Great idea, i'm all for it -- but since there's a good chance many of our promising youngsters could miss Erik's call i encourage the editors to take the trouble notifying the relevant contributors directly via e-mail/online comments.
To avoid duplication, i suggest those of us who come across relevant youth accounts report them here either as 'Marlene X. notified' or 'consider notifying Schmarlene Z.' (just like we report adventive bugs to Beatriz)

I am a 16 year old bugguider...
and I feel that myself and a few other teens are quite capable of being bugguide editors. I am interested moths, and am in the process of submitting hundreds of correctly identified photos to the bugguide database, many with new NC datapoints. I also realize the insect world is incredibly diverse, and there is no way I can be be an expert in all families. As many of you know, I am not afraid to ask for help with beetles, flies, wasps, and other things I am still new at. I have noticed that at times I identify images that are in a broad group, but they never get moved. So I think that while editorship is something not to be granted lightly, it should not be based on age.

Helping young contributors
I don't know whether to start another thread but I think that this will do. There are several ways in which we can help the younger contributors. One thing I am very concerned about is the financial limitations when buying photo equipment; some of them don't have the means. It is sad because I know some who are full of potential but face severe limitations.
There must be somebody among so many photographers who have some leftover camera and could donate it either directly or (anonymously or not) through Iowa State U. to one of them. I don't know how this could be worked out; if anybody has any ideas please let us know. I am thinking of one well deserving contributor in particular, but perhaps this is not the place to name anybody.
Perhaps we could convince some photo company to create an award for a promising young bug photographer.
Please, think abut it.

Following v's suggestion
Here is a list of younger Bugguide contributors who, to my knowledge, have either been notified of Eric's topic or who have commented on it and therefore don't need to be notified:

Molly Jacobson
Breanna Lyle
Vespula Vulgaris

FWIW, I sent an email basically like the following, to the contributor I notified:

"Hello, [contributor's name]. FYI, Eric Eaton recently posted a forum topic of potential interest to younger Bugguide contributors, such as yourself. The address is

"All the best,

"John Schneider
"My Bugguide contributor URL"

[Edit: I just now remembered that this is the Editors' Forum, so my apologies for getting involved in this project/thread as a non-editor.]

user status has no bearing here
I also thank you, John, for your interest, the information, and the contribution to the discussion. Editors' Forum by no means implies any restrictions based on account status, it is just reserved to rather technical matters that mostly concern CEs' activities -- like streamlining the youth referral process, etc.

Thanks, Ken and v!

No apology needed.
Thanks for taking the time to get involved!

i wonder...
...whether this post will ever elicit anything pertinent to the topic...
Erik's suggestion, to which this post is strictly ancillary, has nothing to do with account status/editorship.

Sorry, =v=....
I actually hesitated to leave a comment voicing my opinion for just that reason. I agree that this post has strayed far from your original intent... Perhaps you should re-title this one (something to do with "editor status") and copy your original idea to a new post? Maybe we can all try to do better about staying on topic the second time round... :-)

this is one reason.....
...I would love to see Vespula Vulgaris be given editor status.

He raises wasps, undoubtedly has an intense interest in them, makes many valuable contributions, and knows his limitations.

I would like to see him be given the same priveleges I have: While I may make occasional simple moves after IDs are made by known experts on bugs other than Oecanthinae --- my main editor functions are made ONLY on Oecanthinae. I, too, know my limits.

He has voiced a serious interest in pursuing a career in entomology, and being an editor on this site would be great on his resume.

OK, I don't want to sound like the bad guy and I don't mean anything harsh in what I am about to write, but...

I am a little hesitant about the idea of granting editorial status to high school kids and other youth amateurs. Their image contributions and enthusiasm are encouraging, and BugGuide is a community effort, but this is a scientific endeavor. We always try to do our best to maintain the most recent theories in taxonomy and heirarchy.

Editors should be those with at least some training or experience in the field. You do not have to be a professional entomologist, as there are many ways amateurs can contribute: i.e., have some college-level education in a biological science to understand some of the basic principles of taxonomy, classification and evolution; or published papers in the field (many great works have come from amateurs); worked in a natural history museum; biology teachers with interests in entomology; etc, etc, etc.

It's just that there could be some risks given the rights to create pages, move taxa, create taxa, etc. to those who may not fully grasp, or adhere to, some of the conceps followed here. Or make changes based on literature that may not be generally accepted in the scientific community. Create pages for a taxa not knowing the up-to-date treatments for the group, etc etc.

Just something to consider.

In principle, those dangers are real enough...
In practice, though, I suspect they are unlikely to be realized. It seems to me that anyone--young or old, professional or amateur--who has established a track record of IDs/comments good enough to impress a significant number of current editors would be unlikely to create or change pages willy-nilly, without consulting others. Speaking for myself, I have not hesitated to create new species pages when IDs have been given by recognized authorities. However, I wouldn't dream of creating a new genus page (let alone something higher), or moving a group of images from one taxon to another, without doing some serious research and consulting with those who have better qualifications and more experience. I suspect that most other new editors would proceed with the same circumspection. Just my thoughts on the matter, for what they may be worth.

Thank you Ken
Those are the very concerns I was thinking about. And you are right, they may not ever happen. As I said just something to consider.

Knowing one's limits and social graces...
Blaine, I tend to disagree with some of what you wrote. I don't really think that one's age should inherently be an obstacle to editorship. Although I myself am in my 30s, I can claim no formal academic scientific background, nor do I have any work experience in this field. I have not published any papers and I don't consider myself necessarily up to date on all the literature regarding taxonomy, etc. (I do try, but I know that I fall short in this area.) Still, I think I serve a useful and helpful role as an editor. I believe the two key aspects that should be evaluated when considering a contributor for editor status who is not inherently qualified as an expert should be as follows: 1) Are they aware enough of their own limitations/deficits to responsibly abstain from making editorial decisions that they are not qualified to make? 2) Can they be good stewards of the site by conducting themselves with politeness, open-mindedness, and a good dose of humility? (I might also add that another good trait to assess is the desire to learn from others and the ability to retain and apply that knowledge in future situations.)

I knew that I could make good in those areas and that is why I chose to pursue being an editor even though I also knew that I was not one of the more qualified or experienced people in this community. I help contributors out with IDs where I can, I move and frass images as needed, I participate in the forums, and sometimes I take the initiative to enlist real experts' assistance with issues that I think need addressing. (For instance, here is an example of how I think one can be relatively clueless about taxonomic intricacies and still be an astute observer with something to offer the community as a whole.) It's really all about knowing where and how you will be useful on the site and conducting yourself accordingly. :-)

[I realize that I've sort of rehashed some of Chuck's earlier comments which were along similar lines, but I felt the point was worth reiterating....]

Actually, it's not a hypothetical
We've had at least one editor named while still jr.high/middle-school-aged, and one while high-school-aged. Both have done a good job as editors, and both have contributed a great deal to our site.

I can add
that while the mentioned high-schoolers did a fine job, there were one of two editors with "college-level education in a biological science" whose poor judgment created serious problems. Common sense and caution are more important than a college training in biology.

I agree
and that's my concern with your two bullets above; can high-school aged kids do that. Perhaps many can, we will see!

I must admit, I am a little gun shy on this subject. Maybe because much of my work is also medical, where you really have to prove yourself before being accepted. May just conditioning due to my 'professional upbringing' :)

To add a note in this regard, I will point out that he has been rearing different species of juvenile cockroaches to adulthood in order to obtain definitive identifications for BugGuide. That is a real contribution to the site and demonstrates patience beyond what most general arthropod enthusiasts are able to muster. (I am certain that most will be aware that cockroaches are outside his main area of interest.) In addition, on at least one occasion he pointed out the worthiness of another contributor’s photograph for retention in the guide. Despite this, it was frassed by an editor without explanation and pending deletion when I stumbled upon it. I agreed with his assessment, and placed the image in the relevant page. It is my opinion that he should have the authority (and encouragement) to make these sorts of moves himself.

Worthy of reconsideration, at least
When he first started participating here, he was very enthusiastic, but his lack of concern for detail was made all the more obvious by his atrocious spelling and grammar.

Since then, he's matured quite a bit. Not only is his spelling and grammar better, but he's become much more responsible and careful about getting things right.

Being an editor is less about expertise and more about judgment and temperament. It's great to be able to make reliable IDs, but a great many of us would never qualify on that score.

You need to be willing to put your ego aside and do what's right for the integrity of the site, even if that means admitting you know nothing about the subject at hand. You need to learn how to assess the credibility of those making IDs, and how to use references to fill in the gaps left by the limits of your knowledge.

You also need to be fair, polite and helpful in dealing with contributors and site visitors, as well as diplomatic and open-minded in dealing with other editors and the experts. At the same time, you need to be assertive enough to do what needs to be done even if it doesn't look like it will be appreciated.

If Vespula Vulgaris isn't up to that level, he's certainly headed in that direction and well on his way.

Not intended as a criticism
It has been brought to my attention that the first sentence of the preceding reads as a strong criticism. That wasn't my intention. The traits I was describing are quite typical of many at the age he was then, and not indicative of any defect in his character.

That description just emphasizes his remarkable growth in the relatively short time he's been with us. It's been a privilege to be here to watch him add layers of maturity and good sense to his already considerable intelligence and good nature.

He indicated at one time that he requested to be made an editor and wasn't. The Vespula Vulgaris who first showed up here wasn't ready to take on that role. My intent was to point out that things have changed.

It's not for me to tell John VanDyk whom to make an editor and whom he shouldn't- but whether Vespula Vulgaris is almost ready or completely ready(I have no doubt he will be soon if he isn't yet), he should be judged by who he is now, and not who he was then.

Well said, Chuck
I'm glad to see that Vespula Vulgaris is well-regarded by others beside myself.

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