an entertaining interactive dichotomous key...

Doug Yanega dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU
Fri Jan 19 09:32:57 CST 2001

In the spirit of it being Friday, I offer a website a friend showed me
yesterday that demonstrates an interesting non-traditional example of an
online dichotomous taxonomic key. The key constructs itself, in essence,
because every time a user attempts to key out a taxon not already in the
key, the program asks for a diagnostic feature that separates it from the
taxon that the key *had* run to up until the point the key ended. The more
users there are, the bigger and more complete the key becomes. The wrinkle
is that for the key to grow, at least some of the users must already know
the identity of their taxon (though later, obviously, other users could
come along later and use the key without knowing, so long as they are
competent to answer the queries). The obvious advantage to this approach is
that the programmers do no work once the key is online - it's all built by
the users (assuming they know the characters involved). Certainly an idea
with potential application for purposes OTHER than that involved in this
particular website. If you visit, you'll see what I mean... ;-)


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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