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Making comments and/or moving images

As BugGuide has gotten more popular, images are being posted in ever increasing numbers. We are spending considerable time moving images to the guide after they get to page 30 or so on ID Request assuming not many editors will look that deep into ID Request to consider IDs. (We used to try to keep ID Request down to around 20 pages, but now images on page 30 are barely two weeks old.) Much of that moving is in large batches - all the spiders to the main spider page, all the bugs to the main bug page, etc. And even then we can barely keep up. What we're suggesting here is, if you have a favorite group of insects, would you be willing to go to the base page for that group and start making comments on identification of specimens. If you have the editorial ability to move images, would you consider spending the time to move them from their base page after you make your comment to the appropriate page deeper in the guide? With Eric on vacation and Lynnette on dial-up and Patrick very busy, etc., BugGuide can use some serious help to get through this busy season. You can tell from the comments that just a few of us here are doing a lot of the image moving.
We readily admit to being amateurs. Neither of us has any formal training in insects. We can do editorial maintenance, but we depend on others' expert knowledge to know where to move things. All such comments on any images are greatly appreciated (including comments that say the image should be frassed because it is not likely to be identifiable). For example, we don't even have a clue where to move any of the images on the last three pages of ID Request!
This is in no way any kind of complaint. We certainly appreciate, as we're sure all BugGuide visitors apreciate, all the work so many of you do to keep the site functioning. Guess we're just asking for just a little bit more! :)

We're now up to 66 pages
of ID Request images, and BugGuide has recently been receiving a total of 100-300 new image posts a day - not all to ID Request, of course.

It's obviously more than the current editors can keep up with, so I'd like to again suggest that a time limit be put on how long images remain in ID Request. In a comment below, I mentioned a period of 30 days, after which time an ID Request image automatically goes to Frass. While it's true that some previous ID Request images have been identified long after 30 days, I don't think that's reason enough to keep all of them there indefinitely. If a posted image doesn't get moved or IDed within the time limit (and eventually leaves BugGuide via Frass), the poster can always submit it again later, hoping for a better result.

By setting a time limit and automating the process in the same way that Frass is handled now, the backlog in ID Request would take care of itself (i.e. nobody would have to make decisions on whether to send images to Frass or move them to the Guide; images that aren't worthy of attention would eventually disappear through benign neglect).

I disagree
If we aren't able to keep up with all the images, that means that a certain percentage of images are guaranteed not to receive any attention at all. Others may be left alone because they require more specialized attention.

What would happen is a bias toward the common, easy species, while the spectacular rare finds would be at the mercy of the experts' schedule. Now the experts wouldn't be just trying to deal with mountains of images- they'd be racing the clock to catch things before they disappear. The image of the 'I Love Lucy' episode in the candy factory comes to mind...

We need a speedier process.
What is happening now is that in some cases we take more steps than really necessary because we have to wait for the poster to read the comments and only then we feel that we can move the image. So, if posters were instructed in the ID submission page about the fact that the answer could be a mere move to the right place and that they would find the image under their account, we could do it right away and, in some cases, we could eliminate the comments, saving us a lot of time and giving the needed information all the same.
As for the rare and spectacular, in many cases they belong to a recognizable family or at least suborder or order, they could be moved there and would be safe from the ax, giving specialists a chance to look at them.
Also if your system was in operation I would be inclined to let the common and ordinary (especially if it is a mediocre image coming from a well represented state) remain in the ID request so it ends up in your limbo and disappears eventually; in such cases I would certainly add a comment and link to the corresponding page to satisfy the needs of the inquirer; for example there are 120 images of Polistes sp., about 80 of Danaus plexippus, maybe we can accept good ones but don’t need any bad ones. In other cases, I would move the image to families such as Tachinidae or Syrphidae and save the time that it takes to do it in two or three steps as we are doing now.
Most of all what we need is to discuss this from every angle. My suggestions are just tentative and I would like to hear what other editors have to say. I would be happy to adopt other ideas if they serve the purpose of streamlining the operation. We are reaching a critical situation and I am sure that it will continue to get more serious if we don’t find the way to handle the growing number of requests more promptly and to maintain a high quality at the same time. It is terribly exciting to see the tremendous growth of Buguide but can success kill?:-)

I agree we need more information upfront
but I think it should be at the top of ID Request, which is where new contributors look for their image after they've posted it - maybe in the form of FAQ or a more obvious link to Help (it's surprising how often I've had to point out that we have a Help section).

Moving images
This wasn't going to be about the ID Request problem, but I'd like to comment on Robin's idea anyway. In short, I think that's the way it should be handled (but that's just opinion). In my short experience as an editor it seems that anything unique or rare gets quickly moved to guide pages and the common stuff (that no doubt has many images already in the guide) gets pretty much ignored after an ID, as the experts move on to more IDs. In addition, many are duplicate images just taking up space.
Anyway, I'd still like to help with moving things that are worthwhile. The problem is I'm no computer whiz and nobody has really informed me how to move images (or if I even have the capability to do so). If I knew how to do that I can help at least a little, as I am on the site every day. Thanks in advance for any info.

If you've moved any of your own images, you already know how.
It's the same process - tag what you want to move, navigate to the image page where you want it to be, then "Move tagged images." As an editor, you can do this to any image. Others can only move their own.

If you've never moved any images, I suggest you practice on your own ones first. More instructions are in the Help section.

A different suggestion
I think that what we need is to automate some of the responses. Many ID request submissions can very easily and reliably be identified down to family, in such cases we should be able to move them without spending the time to write a comment (recently, it took me two hours to do just one page of ID requests). What is needed in such case is to instruct submitters to check periodically their account page and if the image has been placed in a guide page they can learn the name of the family, some information on it and they can view images of related bugs. Besides, if we want the specialists to help us, that is where they would be looking and not on the general pages.
I am not offering this as an alternative but as a complementary measure. We really need to lighten the job of the editors without neglecting the contributors at the same time. The demand will probably keep growing and we need to think ahead.

Ooh, I think this is what I've been looking for!
I'm a new user, and I've been trying to figure out just what is expected of me, or what my responsibilities are, as the submitter of an image; and the comments here regarding newbies possibly not being able to find their images if someone moves them, and what-not, are sort of getting at that same question. I've been looking in Help, and while it's very good at telling you exactly HOW to submit or move an image, I couldn't find anything in there as to WHEN or even IF a user should be doing this.

For instance, I submitted some images earlier this week to ID Request, and a few of them have been positively identified by at least one person. Is it now up to me to move the image to the proper bug page? Do I need to wait until there are concurring IDs? And how does one know if the image is quality enough to "add value" to the guide? If there are already a dozen images on one insect's page, does it even need more? -- my personal opinion is yes, but then again, I'm not the one paying for the web-space. ;) And who makes the determination as to the "frass"ness of an image?

I would think that most new users are probably of the one-time (or very infrequent) variety, just here hoping to ID some hideous beast they found in the kitchen sink, and they don't give a second thought as to what happens to the image once ID'd (or just assumes that some expert bug person would take care of it, once it was ID'd). But for others, like me, who are somewhat curious about how the whole "big picture" thing works, it would be nice to maybe have some guidelines, so we know what's expected of us. Because if I *knew* that I was expected to move my images, and that it was okay to do so, that'd be just that many fewer images sitting in ID Request for the rest of you to wade through. :)

Some ideas for you...
You asked some good questions, the very ones that occurred to me last fall when I found and started using BugGuide. In general, when there's a definite, clear, confident identification of your image, you can go on and move it where it goes. You don't have to wait for someone else to move it.

There are people whose IDs I now trust "fer sure" and others where I'll wait--to see if they're backed up by others. If the person who identifies them gives a reference or a thumbnail, you can check yourself to see if you agree. (I can think of only one time when I haven't...and I might still be wrong.) If someone says "I think it's an X, but maybe so-and-so will come take a look" then I'd wait to move it, in case so-and-so does, for at least a week, maybe two. If there's discordance in the ID, then I'd suggest waiting (but others may disagree.)

If you look at your image, in comparison with others of that species, and you think yours isn't as good or isn't useful, you can "frass" it yourself. Other than that, one of the more expert editors can decide. IIRC, last fall sometime someone pointed out that even when there are many pictures of the same species, each one may contain useful data about the range, the time of year it was seen, etc. Most of us have found at least one specimen "out of range" on the basis of range maps produced years ago, especially when those range maps were built on the basis of specimens deposited in museums. There's still a lot to learn about what lives where, and when it's active.


Thanks, Elizabeth! I will go
Thanks, Elizabeth! I will go about frassing those that I *know* are frass, and moving those that have been ID'd (and letting someone else determine from there, if it's "of value" to the guide).

ID Request > Frass
It's true that "As BugGuide has gotten more popular, images are being posted in ever increasing numbers." but I'm not sure how many of them actually need a permanent home in the Guide. The common species are already well represented, and postings of the less common ones are usually commented on and placed somewhere fairly quickly.

How about implementing a time limit rule in ID Request similar to what already exists in Frass? If an image posted to ID Request receives no comments and/or isn't moved within a certain period (say, 30 days), it automatically goes to Frass.

If everyone was made aware of the new rule, the backlog of images in ID Request would take care of itself through a "natural selection" process.

Frass or non-representative
There is another problem with the glut of images that perhaps could be dealt with by making all the superfluous images non-representative so that they don't show up when browsing. I have done that sometimes in a one by one basis which takes ridiculous amounts of time, but perhaps there is a way of doing it by batch operation. My concern is with some contributors that add large numbers of similar images, for instance, somebody submitted 12 images (three specimens, all from the same location) of Polistes sp. in the course of two weeks. There are already over 140 images of Polistes sp. so this looks like overkill to me.
In summary, can we, editors, get the batch operation function for this kind of things?

Time limit?
I agree that it is imperative that we do something about the glut of images, but setting that kind of time limit may be a little too drastic. I have had images IDed many months after I had posted them after giving up all hope of any help (of course by then I had moved them to order or family group); but perhaps one thing that we need is to start sending more images to Frass, especially when somebody posts five or seven images very similar and equally bad, perhaps we should select just one or two of them to keep and try to discourage contributors from submitting so many. I am always very reluctant to be the one that sends images to Frass but I would feel comfortable selecting some out of a large group of "same specimen". Also, it is possible that many one time submitters don't care about what happens to the image, all what they want is an answer, so we shouldn't hesitate to eliminate a mediocre image from a one time contributor after waiting period.

Time limit needs thought
Like Beatriz, I've had images ID'd months after I posted them--and appreciate that.

Personally, I'd like to see poor images sent to Frass more quickly, since they're unlikely to be identifiable (perhaps if someone with expertise in that area commented "Sorry, this image just doesn't have the detail necessary to make an identification" before that, it would help.) And yes, where a common species has many images, it makes sense to keep in the guide only excellent images or those which show important or unusual behavior/range/markings data as well as the specimen itself.


I think we also need to go through the existing images of some of the common species and 'purge' images that are of poor quality. There should always be room for exceptional images, images depicting behaviors, state records, etc.

I'm glad I browsed this secti
I'm glad I browsed this section of the forum today - being fairly new to both this site and an interest in bugs, I am totally unqualified to mess with anyone else's pics - but I will make a serious effort to move my own out of the ID request area as soon as someone has identified them (or left a comment to the effect that they aren't identifiable). It's a drop in the bucket, I know, but every little bit helps, right? :-)

Thank You:-)
Yes, every little bit DOES help! I visit almost daily, but I am getting increasingly pressed for time, and can't devote as many hours as I would like to this site. I wish more people would become editors so they could move their own images (and those of others as they become increasingly comfortable with identifications). Thank you for YOUR help.

Contributors Moving Images
Anyone can move their own images. It's moving others' that requires being an editor.

Timing moves
Is a consensus arising for how long newly identified images should be left in ID request and when it's best to move them to their proper location?


How does someone become an editor?
I'm becoming more comfortable with *some* identifications, and would be glad to help out.


Becoming an editor
You don't have to be an expert to be an editor. If you're willing to help out, are responsible, and have a basic understanding of how we do things here- you're qualified.

All you need to do is send a request to

And the request was granted... now I can help.

Thanks for the info. You more experienced editors can expect some questions and cross-checking from the newbie.


I'll do that. This has been a very helpful site for me, and I'd be glad to give something back.


I agree with your concerns but, maybe, we just have to resign ourselves to a backlog of unidentified images during the busy season and to catching up during the winter. Perhaps it would be nice to place those intractable three or four final pages into a different place called "unresolved mysteries" or something like that. Also, there are many pictures that should be frassed but I am reluctant to take that responsibility.
I usually work on pages twenty to twenty seven or so of ID requests to avoid the most recent ones and even those are pretty recent nowadays. I prefer not to move images to the guide unless the owner has acknowledged the comments because, as you know, beginners usually get upset and think that their photos have disappeared.
I usually leave a note: "moved to guide, you can do this next time".
I also take some of the higher taxa, such as Diptera and move images to lower taxa whenever possible.
I look forward to the winter when things are so well under control that I can devote time to fleshing out guide pages, you can learn a lot that way.

I heartily agree with all of your concerns.
However, I worry that if we start shuffling ID Requests off into Spiders, True Bugs or wherever, contributors will feel that they've been given the brush-off. So many ID Requests come from first-time users who have trouble locating their images when we move them, I generally wouldn't feel comfortable taking that approach without putting an explanatory comment on the image - and that ends up taking a lot more time.

... I had added a comment here about wishing I could tell which images had comments on, and when they were posted, without opening them. Then I just realized that I can do this, by using the "Recent Images" function [Troy, you are a genius] and skipping to the end. But if anyone wants to try it, let me first warn you that 35 pages of ID Request thumbnails translates to 83 pages in the "Recent Images" format. (The horror, the horror!)

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