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Validation

What is validation?

As many of the observations on Observation.org as possible are being checked and corrected by experts. This process is called validation. Observation.org contains a huge collection of data, which provides insight into biodiversity now and in the future. In many cases, this site is the digital equivalent of the old notebook. It is hugely valuable for nature research that so much data is collected and stored. To be able to do good quality research, the data used needs to be of good quality. This is why it is important to validate observations on our platform.

Who are the validators?

Our validators are experts in the species groups they validate. Some of them are professional experts and work at institutions like museums and universities. Others have become an expert in their spare time and work in completely unrelated fields.

What all validators have in common is that they are volunteers. In the busiest time of year, observations come in quicker than they can check them. It could be a while before a validator has time to have a look at your observation. We ask you for your patience and understanding.

Which observations do we validate?

If you add an observation to the site, it will initially receive the validation status 'O' -> 'unknown'. After that, the server will check for a number of species whether the observation can be automatically approved based on other approved observations in the vicinity, and on image recognition if applicable. If this works, the validation status changes to 'A' -> ‘accepted (automatic validation)'. If this does not work or the automatic validation for the relevant type is not activated, then a validator will take a look at the observation in the following cases:

  • Observations with multimedia (photos and/or audio)
  • Sightings with a description that does not fit the species
  • Sightings of rare species
  • Observations outside the known range of the species
  • Sightings outside the period in which the species is normally observed
  • Observations with a number of individuals that deviates from the average

How do we validate?

If the observation is provided with multimedia that supports the determination, the validation status is changed by a validator to 'J' -> ‘accepted (with evidence)'. If the observation contains insufficient data for acceptation, the validator can ask additional questions to complete the determination. To be notified of comments on your observations, it is important that you have 'Allow email notifications' turned on in your privacy settings.

When the observation shows a different species based on the information provided, the validator can suggest a correction. When you accept this, your observation changes to the suggested species and it is directly ‘accepted (with evidence)’.

If the observation is not provided with convincing multimedia, it can be given the validation status 'P' -> ‘accepted (by admin)' or 'U' -> 'not (yet) to be assessed' or the observation remains at 'O' -> 'unknown'. If the validator has commented on the observation, the observation can be set to 'I' -> 'pending' until the observer responds. During that period, the observation is only visible to the observer and the validator.

In the table below you can see which icons are used for the different validation statuses.

When will an observation be rejected?

In principle, we assume that observers make a correct determination. However, there are situations in which observations can be rejected. Implausible observations without evidence are generally not accepted. It can also happen that the observer and validator do not agree on the determination of the species. In these cases, observations are also rejected.

Aside from this, there are also observations of subjects that do not belong on Observation.org. Our platform is meant for wild animals, plants and fungi. Observations of the following subjects will be rejected without discussion:

  • Selfies
  • Kept animals
  • House and garden plants
  • Objects

Rejected observations are only visible to the observer and validators.

How to respond to a comment on your observation

You may receive an email about one of your observations. Often this is only a statement that the validator has made some changes to your observation, such as gender, life stage or species name. Then no further action is required unless you do not agree with the adjustment.

In other cases, the validator has asked a question to make some changes to your observation. Open the observation as explained in the received email and apply the requested changes. To edit your observation, press 'Options' and then choose ‘Edit’.

Instead of asking you to change something in your observation, the validator can also suggest a correction. To accept this correction, go to the observation and click on ‘Accept’ in the comment. The correction applies immediately and the observation is automatically accepted.

You can respond to a comment in the field ‘Comments’ at the bottom of the page. The validator will receive an email if someone responds to their comment. Do not respond to the email in which you are notified of the comment on your observation. These are automated and responses to these do not end up at the validator.

Observation tips

If you want your observations to be validated, make sure to add evidence. This can be in the form of pictures, audio files and descriptions of what you have seen in the ‘Notes’ field.

Make sure that the species is clearly displayed in your pictures, with the distinguishing features clearly visible. Crop the picture if the species is in only a small part of the picture. With some species groups, audio recordings can be of great help. For instance birds and insects like locusts and crickets.

If you were not able to record any sounds or take any pictures, try to describe what you saw as well as you can. Focus on the characteristics that set it apart from other species.

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