[Taxacom] favourite online key?

Stinger Stinger at stingersplace.com
Fri Sep 19 14:16:35 CDT 2008

Implementation and data are really the big issues in my experience but you did ask really about the interface which tends to be highly dependant on the implementation (aside from the software) so here's another try at actually answering your question. I think that on a front side useability interface (not performance or portability etc.) for nonspecialist audiences criterion alone, some of the most interesting examples are Pavel Klimov's key to mites in Visual Key  (http://insects.ummz.lsa.umich.edu/beemites/vk_bees/key.html) and some of the photo based keys such as the Costa Rican clear wing key  in the Electronic Field Guide (http://efg.cs.umb.edu/keys/html/index.html).  My experience with groups of students has been that the less text the better, and the more that they have to actually measure anything, the less likely they are to get an ID.  Pavel's key is great because you don't need to know what the name of the part that you are looking at is. Similarly, the photo only keys e.g. the clear wings can get you into trouble quickly of course but they are more appealing to the non-expert user and have a better retention of user attention I believe. 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Julia Sigwart" 
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 8:13 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] favourite online key?

> Dear all
> I am looking for suggestions for favourite online or other computer-based 
> identification keys.
> This is for a new project with the Royal BC Museum (Canada) to create 
> online keys which are primarily aimed at the general public (or that part 
> of the general public which is interested in species-level identification 
> of their local fauna). The first two projects are grasses and chitons 
> (polyplacophoran molluscs) -- the idea is to use a platform which can 
> accommodate both of these and others in future.
> Just to be clear, I am *not* interested in being pointed to software 
> (Lucid, Xper2, etc etc etc) but instead to specific, working and available 
> examples that you have used and would recommend as a model for 
> presentation and interactivity.
> If you have used a key -- for any group of fauna or flora -- that you 
> would recommend as a model for this project, can you please let me know?
> Thanks to all in advance!
> Cheers,
> Julia
> --
> Julia Sigwart, PhD
> Collections-based Biology in Dublin
> University College Dublin &
> National Museum of Ireland
> http://www.ucd.ie/cobid/sigwart.htm

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