Plant Database forum: I keep forgetting to ask about this ...

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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jan 7, 2018 4:14 PM CST
A few times when I've been browsing the database, I've noticed symbols for question marks (?) as shown at this entry for Bunny Ears (Opuntia microdasys)

Propagation: Seeds: Needs specific temperature: 68�-86�

Is it something being entered incorrectly by the member entering the data or is it perhaps a system glitch that happens every so often?
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 7, 2018 4:18 PM CST
That looks like the degree symbol (like this: 68°F) was somehow recognized as a nonstandard character. Accents or other weird letters will trigger the same result some times.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Jan 7, 2018 5:30 PM CST

Plants Admin

I've removed the degree symbols from the parent plant and replaced them with the word "degrees." Next time the system corrects itself, that information will be added to all of the opuntias.

Baja's correct, Lin. Our system can't recognize nonstandard characters. That's why we shouldn't use foreign diacritical marks in our common names and cultivar names except in the also-sold-as field. When the system can't recognize a character, the cultivar is often misalphabetized.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jan 7, 2018 5:40 PM CST
Thumbs up I knew it should have shown the degree symbol, i.e. 68º and I wondered why it showed up as question marks ... I thought maybe whoever entered it had hit the wrong key but I've seen it a couple of times at different database entries and just kept forgetting to ask why it appeared that way. Smiling

@Zuzu another question for you; I just went to the general entry for Prickly Pears (Opuntia)

Why is the name Opuntia shown as (Opuntia) (Opuntia)?
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Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
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Australis
Jan 7, 2018 6:11 PM CST

Plants Admin

For those interested in a more technical explanation:

Whilst many systems can accept the larger character sets involving special characters beyond the ASCII character set that most people are familiar with (basically the numbers, letters and symbols you can see on your keyboard), it is easy for encoding issues to occur that mean those special characters don't get represented correctly in the database. It depends on a number of different factors, including how the user's system is set up. The developer has the choice of either accepting the user input or trying to sanitise it (check to see if it's a valid character or in a known character set).

So whilst it is technically possible to put those special characters in, it is discouraged, as they may not get stored the way it was intended - especially for cultivar names as Zuzu said, since the site's search engine does not group similar-looking characters (so if you had a cultivar with an accent on a letter, it would not show up in search results unless that specific accented character was included). Hence the ASCII version of the cultivar name is used and if it has special characters, the correct name goes in the "Also sold as" field, enabling it to be found under both names.


As for the duplicate name on the Opuntia entry.... not sure. @dave?
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[Last edited by Australis - Jan 7, 2018 6:12 PM (+)]
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Jan 8, 2018 9:40 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

It was showing the word Opuntia twice because the word had been added in parenthesis to the name of the database. That sure did make it look strange since it also shows the genus afterward which in this case is the same word! I went ahead and removed the word from the database name so it should look right now.

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