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5094 Views 12 Replies Last post: Aug 3, 2013 3:05 PM by Florin - Museum ID team RSS
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Jun 27, 2013 8:52 PM

Starfish Confusion

EDIT:- As Starfish confusion has been (surprisingly) answered by a member,& in hope that some of these may also get an answer, I've put up some more 'no-answer assumeds' Icelandic saxifrage? (teamandrew) part mole & part cricket? but not a mole cricket. (real or alien?) long horned beetle (in package from N.China) tropical butterfly house butterfly (akin to a Monarch butterfly) shark's fin (presume fossil??) Capetown large colourful spider Seville S.Spain colorful stripey beetle Sumatra, lantern bug? beetle larva?

Starfish Confusion

Or, Why is Starfish confusion labelled 'ASSUMED ANSWERED' when it's received no answer at all?

It's [EDIT was] about ,which is a starfish still unidentified; but not really about what it is nor why it hasn't been Id'd,as I've no clue about the ID, but why it's been categorized as "assumed answered" since nobody has answered it at all. Florin explained what he'd done in :-& said

     " I only have limited expertise and limited time. What I can do is mark those messages that seem to have received reasonable replies as "assumed answered". ...I hope that marking old threads which seem to have been answered with "assumed answered" is a good compromise. If not, please let me know and I will stop doing this."

So I found everything I'd answered changed from not- to assumed answered; but not only mine: in the 112 questions in 'on the seashore' not one was unanswered -barely credible- including this about starfish in XclareX's tank & her question "..we still have no clue... wanted to know what they are or who may know" what answer did Florin assume here?

  As this example might be a slipup I turned to Identification, starting at end page 52 & found plenty of questions with no answers, & all now "assumed answered" I gave up at P.32 having found 38 in 21 pages, & went back to P. 52 to check I'd not missed any unanswered questions & find the 1st unanswered. That was carder bee 21st may2013

The latest "assumed answer" with no answer is by tonysims 'another bug from Capetown any ideas'  (A colourful large spider) [5may2013].


The consequence of this 'promotion' (or dumping) is that all former "unanswered" questions are now indistinguishable from answered questions, so even if someone finds one there & answers it,promoting it to top of the list, no-one will look at it thinking it already answered, eg the broad-bodied chaser F that I ID'd at ,which Mike Hardman recently agreed with

Though some of these zero-answer questions are 'self-answering' eg "is it x y?", most that I looked at weren't, & some intriguing eg 3416 fossil sharks fin, 3991 colorful 'beetle larva', 4723 looks between a mole & a cricket.

So for some conclusion it's obviously preposterous that every question more than a month or so old is either answered or can be assumed answered; obviously there's a fair quota of fuzzy photos & lots of unresolvable cases. So 'Assumed Answered' at present just means it's more than a month or so old. If members were to post  questions of the kind "who agrees with me that this thread has been answered" ( or better "25733=Libellula depressa?" ) with a link to that thread,I believe the agreements/disagreemts & reputns thereof would be a quicker way to find those questions really answered.


Message was edited by: rhossilian

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    Jun 11, 2013 1:42 PM (in response to rhossilian)
    Re: Starfish Confusion


    The starfish thread has been marked as "assumed answered" because it's an old one that will probably be never answered. The same applies to the Cape Town spider Many things cannot be ID'd from photos alone, or we may not have experts in some groups, especially exotic organisms. These threads should be marked as "Hopeless from the point of view of an ID - nobody will ever answer it". Unfortunately, there is no such option. We only have two options: 1 - leave these as they are ('unsanswered'), and 2 - mark them as 'assumed answered'. Option 1 means all these hopeless threads will send us an email every 120 hours untill the end of time, which is not practical. Do you prefer this option? Why? The thing is, all these threads can still be answered after having been marked as 'assumed answered'. I did explain earlier that these threads are not closed. You can add comments, IDs, their owners can mark these as 'helpful' or even 'correct', which means the thread will become 'answered'.

    The 'assumed answered' stamp shouldn't be taken literally. It is just a way of marking these threads as not for immediate attention. Leaving them 'unanswered' would make the forum unmanageable.

    The carder bee thread has been left 'unanswered'. Does this make you feel better? I think the bee is not a Bombus, but more likely Anthophora. However, as the photos are not clear enough, I will never know. Can you solve this mystery? Do you prefer leaving this thread 'unanswered' forever? How would this help?

    The dragonfly thread has been marked as 'assumed answered', and as far as I can see it has been answered indeed. What is the problem here? The owner (Gillie) could have marked it as 'answered' by marking your reply (or Hannah's) as 'correct'. She didn't, perhaps because she couldn't check - that's why she asked the question in the first place. Would you prefer it 'unanswered' until Gillie marks one of the replies as 'correct'? Why? Would you prefer me to mark one of the replies as 'correct'? Or would you prefer that I and others mark replies as 'correct' even if we don't know if this is true? If I or other Museum staff would start to check every thread for the accuracy of every reply, it would defeat the purpose of the forum. It was meant as a place where members are the experts, and they are the ones who deliver IDs. If we ID every thing that has already been identified by others, wouldn't this be duplication of effort? Who would benefit from that? Besides, what we can do about those threads where we really don't know what has been posted? How should we mark those threads?

    Any suggestions for making this forum a better place for you are appreciated. I will send them to the administrator.

    Best wishes,


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        Jun 11, 2013 6:16 PM (in response to rhossilian)
        Re: Starfish Confusion

        Hi Rhossilian,

        Thanks for all your effort in getting things right here, and sorry for upsetting you. I just try to keep some order, so I appreciate any help. As I said before, please let me know how would you like us to do things and I will email your suggestions to our administrator.

        Now about your questions. Cape spider and Starfish are the same to me - they are very unlikely to be ever ID'd. But I may be wrong. Someone will look at those photos and reply with a name. What is the problem here? I don't see your point. If you know what the spider is, please reply to that thread. The owner will mark your reply as 'correct' and the thread will become 'answered'.

        You say that the 'assumed answered' and 'answered' threads are indistinguishable. I'm sorry, but what do you mean by indistinguishable? Can't you read the subtitles on top of the threads? They appear pretty different on my screen:

        This question is Assumed Answered.

        This question has been Answered.

        Please help me understand where is the problem here.

        I have explained that the threads that are 'assumed answered' are still open. Members can reply, comment, add photos, etc. Just try to reply to one of them, see if it works. Then how am I depriving the members from having a go at them and the owner from getting an answer?

        I did not say that exotic enquiries should be marked as "Hopeless etc." You are quoting me out of context. What I said was that some threads should be marked as "Hopeless...", and one of the reasons is that exotic animals are less likely to get an ID here. I do identify exotic animals, so I make such decisions based on individual situations.

        How old is too old? I would say two months of a thread remaining unanswered is long enough. But age is not the only criterion when making a decision. I did not mark the Cape spider thread because it was old, but because I think it can be safely assumed that nobody will reply to that. However, it is still open, and you or any other members can post a reply.

        Please show me a thread that you would like to contribute to but you can't because it was marked as 'assumed answered'.

        Please let me know which threads you would like to see marked as 'unanswered' and why.

        Please give me a list of threads with species that have been identified correctly, and I will mark them as such, as per your advice.

        Looking forward for your opinion on what to do to solve these problems,


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        Jun 11, 2013 6:49 PM (in response to rhossilian)
        Re: Starfish Confusion



        I had better jump in here with an explanation. The Museum ID team is not large and their work is not limited to monitoring these forums, so to help them manage the questions they receive here they automatically receive email alerts for any posts marked as questions that have not been 'Answered' or 'Assumed answered' within 120 hours. Unfortunately, this also includes any posts that have remained unanswered since the forum launched in 2009 so they receive tens to hundreds of alerts a day, depending on the number of new posts in addition to the older ones.


        What Florin is trying to say is that - to reduce the number of alerts - any posts that haven't been answered within 120 hours and look as though they will never be answered by a Museum ID team member (either because there isn't the expertise/the photos arent clear/the description doesn't help/ etc.) will have their status changed to 'Assumed Answered'. This is so that they aren't swamped with alerts for threads that can't be responded to by the ID team.


        Unfortunately this is a limitation of the software running the forums as it only offers three statuses for threads, 'Not Answered' (which triggers the email alerts), 'Answered' and 'Assumed answered' (which don't). In the situations you've highlighted here, the latter in particular is a misnomer and ideally what we would have is an option to mark threads as 'Can't be answered by the Museum ID team', but that facility isn't - and won't be - available in the software. Therefore we have to make do with 'Assumed answered' for these older threads.


        However, none of these status flags close the threads to further responses, so we have to rely on people being intelligent enough to recognise that 'assumed answered' when there is no reply does not mean that a correct answer has been provided.


        I hope that is clear? If not please let me know what you would like explained further.



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          Re: Starfish Confusion

          P.S. while the ID team will certainly try their best to make an identification of non-UK based finds, it does state on the Foreign Finds page:


          Our Museum experts may be able to help you identify your find. They specialise in identifying UK species but will also have a go at identifying foreign finds. There are also many naturalists outside the Museum who follow these forums and may be able to help too.


          And on the identification home page:



          Welcome to the Museum's identification forum where amateur naturalists and experts can ask questions about all aspects of UK biodiversity. You can share identification tips on UK plants, animals, rocks and minerals, and experts from the Museum and the NaturePlus community will help to answer your queries and identify your specimens.


          In other words, no promises are made with respect to identifications outside their area of expertise.

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