[Taxacom] GBIF data stewardship

Faunaplan at aol.com Faunaplan at aol.com
Wed Aug 8 08:18:01 CDT 2007

Dear All,
after reading Anna Weitzman's compelling words "So, we have people requesting 
that we do better on all fronts" I'd like to address the idea of data 
stewardship done by the "people", - expert users of GBIF data. 
It seems to me that the new GBIF portal, especially its new download 
functions and overview map, already offers tools that could be used for exactly that 
idea, - right now. Some thoughts and questions:

Who can be a data steward?
Instead of/ or in addition to a password/ log-in system for qualified users, 
I think existing on-line communities (e.g., the "ants-people"), many of them 
with their own advanced web-sites, could do a great job as GBIFdata stewards.

How to bring data to their stewards?
Currently, it's a time-consuming game if you want to spot all errors in 
taxonomic groups with thousands of species. So, maybe, once GBIF knows the special 
interest of data stewards, could there be some sort of easier access? 
Not all data elements are equally interesting for the data steward and some 
errors are more on the side of GBIF, while others are coming from data 
providers. Main errors which could be spotted easily are, e.g.:
- GBIF-side erroneous interpretation of taxon names (data elements Scienti
ficName vs. ScientificName(interpreted) are already downloadable).
- unplausible locality data coming from mis-read labels or georeference 
errors (like the ground beetles in the Indian Ocean) can be spotted at a glance 
when data are displayed on the map. Could expert communities get faster access to 
such overview maps? Eventually in a "light" version, showing only one-degree 
cell occurrences, enough for the "plausibility check"? I imagine that a 
visualization among expert communities of a growing GBIF database would motivate to 
fill in gaps, inspire research in data deficient areas and thus create a lot 
of synergy.... 
Just some ideas...

Last not least I'd like to chime in with congrats to GBIF! It seems to me a 
wonderful achievement and an important step. Would be just too sad if one day 
experts say "we have better data, we don't even look at GBIF" and professors 
recommend their students not to use GBIF data, - while non-experts use them 
without being able to see what's good or bad. 
Obviously, the quality vs. accessibility etc. discussion is an important 
issue in the current early childhood stage of biodiversity informatics.

Best regards,
Wolfgang Lorenz
Faunistics and Environmental Planning
Hoermannstr. 4
D-82327 Tutzing

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