Plant Database forum: Adding extra data fields for creating new plant entries?

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Name: Mike Dunton
Liberal, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Plant Database Moderator Tomato Heads Farmer Seller of Garden Stuff Organic Gardener Composter
Vegetable Grower Region: Pacific Northwest Region: Oregon Seed Starter Herbs Garden Photography
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MikeD
Jan 31, 2015 5:42 PM CST
Hi Dave and all,

My first three variety proposals are sitting in the tomato database queue and they present a quandary for me. I started talking to you (Dave) about this subject prior to accepting the role as a moderator. That is, integrity or quality of the data contained in the plant databases versus quantity. There are other plant databases out there, many are quite good, but I see potential at ATP for being the best one. Which is why I am interested in participating.

Anyway, a big problem that is happening at other sites (not to be named) is an almost frenzy or competition for who can introduce the most new varieties or make the most entries in databases. A lot of folks have egos that are stroked by this practice. And then there are the merchants who are unscrupulously renaming existing varieties in an effort to create new sales. Others are just blindly part of that process and sharing what they have obtained. Commercially there are laws regarding this but fairly unenforceable.

My hope in assuming a moderator position is to ensure that my contributions result in a useable tool, removing the clutter and errors, so that searching is more relevant and not so difficult that people give up and turn to search engines or other informational sources.

As I understand it, right now, people basically only have to submit a name and the moderator is expected to either approve or deny the submission. I would never put my name on an approval without performing due diligence so that I am not perpetuating a myth (or inadvertently creating one!). My personal and professional reputation is at stake. These are the current data points I see when I look at a pending proposal:

Add a new plant

Proposed by xxxxxxxxx

Genus: xxxxxxxx
Species:xxxxxxxx
Cultivar: xxxxxxxxx
Trade name:
Series:
Common name: xxxxxxxx

That means that armed with nothing more than a name, I either can be lazy and not caring, and click approve, which I see as being a huge disservice and very unprofessional, or I must take time (that I have very little of) to attempt to research the variety that may or may not exist to verify its validity.

Would it be possible to put the onus on the person submitting the proposed database addition and add required fields listing, Source (where they obtained it or where it is offered), History or Pedigree, and References (links to more information)?

I know that this may slow down the "growth" of the databases, but the actual quality will increase which will increase the reputation of ATP. I see this as critical if we are hoping to attract more professionals to participate in database moderation as well as more end-users of the site and its information.

Thoughts?

Mike

P.S. - I have to step away from the office for a bit so please don't take my lack of immediate response as disinterest. I will be back and will respond :)
Founder and the man of many hats at the Victory Seed Company

Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Jan 31, 2015 6:26 PM CST

Plants Admin

I strongly doubt that any of the mods and admins are automatically approving new plant proposals. I, for example, first check to make sure that the species is an accepted name and has not been relegated to synonym status. I then search for the cultivar on the Web. If I find that the name is a new name for an old cultivar, a misspelled or translated name, or a new trade name for an existing cultivar, I decline the proposal and make the necessary changes in the name portion of the entry. We have trade name lines and also-sold-as lines to cover those possibilities. I never decline proposals without providing an explanation. It does take time, but the time spent is worthwhile.

Some people do provide links to a source when they propose new plants, but these are often questionable. I bought a plant yesterday, for example, that's identified on the label as a Bacopa, but it's actually a Sutera. I bought another labeled Epimedium versicolor, but E. versicolor is now a synonym for E. grandiflorum. It's the job of the database admin or moderator to recognize these common errors, which are committed by most nurseries and many plant sites.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Jan 31, 2015 6:57 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

This is one good reason why we only give moderatorships to those who have a keen interest in their specific plants. They are more likely to already be knowledgeable on the plants.

Mike, in your case, being moderator of the tomatoes database, with your long experience you probably know right away, or can pretty easily find out, whether a tomato cultivar is legitimate and actual. You don't have to worry about declining a proposal to create a incorrectly named cultivar. If it doesn't exist, then it shouldn't be added.

Having said all that, I'm not opposed to adding new fields for the members to fill out when submitting a new plant, and making those fields required on a database-by-database level. It wouldn't be a simple programming issue, though, so I'd want to know that it was important and desired on a pretty large scale.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Jan 31, 2015 7:23 PM CST

Plants Admin

I'm opposed to adding new fields in the proposals on a sitewide basis because we mods and admins would have to erase that extra information to make the entries conform to the database format. Links to sources, for instance, would not belong in the database after the proposals had been approved.

We already have to open some entries to correct them as soon as we approve the proposals because the cultivar name or common name wasn't initial capped, because incorrect species information was added, because multiple common names were added on the same line, etc. If we had to open every entry to erase source names and links, it would be more time consuming than it's worth.

I'm thinking of the times when jmorth suddenly adds 50 or 100 or more new cultivars from a new catalog or website. I can follow along on the websites and make sure the names are spelled correctly, but I wouldn't want to edit every one of the entries to remove a source link or some other information that is unnecessary after the proposal phase.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Jan 31, 2015 8:05 PM CST

Plants Admin

Mike, it seems to me that the best solution in this case is for you to ask the people proposing new tomatoes to provide you with the extra information you want: "Source (where they obtained it or where it is offered), History or Pedigree, and References (links to more information)." You could do this by sending a tree-mail to the person or by declining the proposal and then including a request for this information in the explanation provided with the decline message.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Jan 31, 2015 8:06 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I'm not thinking it would be sitewide at all, and even in the areas where it would be activated, they would merely be informational for the purposes of the proposal and would not carry through to the created plants' entry.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Jan 31, 2015 8:29 PM CST

Plants Admin

That sounds ideal!
Name: Mike Dunton
Liberal, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Plant Database Moderator Tomato Heads Farmer Seller of Garden Stuff Organic Gardener Composter
Vegetable Grower Region: Pacific Northwest Region: Oregon Seed Starter Herbs Garden Photography
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MikeD
Jan 31, 2015 11:46 PM CST
Ok . . . Back in the office as promised. It is such a bummer when life interrupts my time in front of the computer. Smiling I was at dinner and started to read the thread on my Android but my wife put and end to that very quickly :)

@Zuzu . . . I want to assure you that there was definitely no implication on my part regarding moderators automatically approving submissions or in anyway being unprofessional. As noted right up front, I am a noob at this job and I was thinking about my options based on my three hours of experience as a moderator and the first three submissions I encountered this morning.

You obviously have TONS more experience here as to how this all works and I definitely not looking for extra fields to be added to the database. Especially requiring the submitter to provide even more data for moderators to verify and correct.

But whether a webbot or a human submits a new addition, it would sure make life a lot easier if at that point, they not only told us the name, but where they found it (seems like the webbot could parse the URL of where they found it) or if it were an old family heirloom or something they bred and has no other source information, they could at least tell us that and like you said, we could treemail them.

When the first three submissions I received this morning turned out to be varieties that I have not yet run across, and they did not appear to be commercially available and I had to start digging to find out anything about them, I panicked at the thought of looking in the queue one day and seeing 50 or 100 submissions requiring researching.

I think that it is reasonable for the submitter to be responsible for justifying or qualifying their request and not the moderator.

I didn't mean that these need to be new fields in the database, but if Dave can set it up as he mentioned, that is, required informational fields that are visible to the moderator, but not cluttering up the database, I really think that it would save a lot of time and potential for error.

Does that make sense? I don't want to create extra work for anyone, @Dave included. I was just hoping to make the approval process more streamlined and the results as accurate as possible.

Mike
Founder and the man of many hats at the Victory Seed Company

Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Feb 1, 2015 12:04 AM CST

Plants Admin

Yes, it makes a lot of sense to create informational fields that will be visible to the moderator and will then disappear by themselves after approval. Smiling
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
Region: California Plant Database Moderator Roses Irises Clematis Garden Photography
Cottage Gardener Keeper of Poultry Hummingbirder Bee Lover Butterflies Birds
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Calif_Sue
Feb 1, 2015 12:11 AM CST

Plants Admin

Anytime I have a question about anything in the pending queue, I contact the submitter and it's a quick way to get answers. Thumbs up
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 6, 2015 6:26 PM CST
I'm somewhat of a hoarder, so keeping all possible data seems desirable to me. Looking at my house reminds me that others might not agree.

How about a Comment field in proposals?

That could provide information from the submitter to the moderator ("I found this in a sidewalk market in Hong Kong and the name was given to me verbally" or "This lettuce looked like a new variety from an obscure breeder, mentioned no where else I found, and here is his URL".)

I often wanted to say: "This ABC lettuce MIGHT be different from XYZ which has a similar name, since this website described XYZ this way, and all these websites described ABC this different way." So I had to submit the plant's name and Tree-mail the moderator and hope she read them on the same day.

It might have a checkbox for "add comment to entry if accepted".

Is there any kind of information that would be useful to the moderator but of no interest to any other ATP member?

My idea of a "useful" plant entry is one that has information in addition to the names. I wonder what % of our plant entries have nothing in them but a name?

If the moderator thought the comment info was too unreliable or made too many unsourced claims, he/she could accept the plant but reject the comment.

Maybe the Comment fields could be pre-populated with "desired fields" on a custom-database by custom-database basis. Some custom databases might say "Source: (required) " and others "Pedigree: (optional)".

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