Information for Curators

This page provides detailed information on the mechanics of the curator toolkit and the currently available features. For recommendations on how to make decisions as a curator, see Curation Standards.

Summary of curator tasks:

Activity Curator level
Reporting problems on the EOL site & proposing solutions All curators
Adding text to EOL pages All curators
Adding images, videos, sounds to EOL pages All curators
Adding new taxon associations for EOL data objects All curators
Rating EOL data objects All curators
Designating overview articles All curators
Designating exemplar images All curators
Cropping image thumbnails All curators
Adding common names & setting preferred common names All curators
Changing review status and visibility of content Full curators & master curators
Selecting a preferred classification Full curators & master curators
Approving/promoting other curators Master curators

Reporting problems on the EOL site & proposing solutions

The best way to report problems on the EOL site is to leave a comment on the affected object or on the taxon page itself.  These comments are made available to the data partners who provide the content, and other EOL community members may want to discuss them, or may even be able to offer a solution.  Also, curators should bring up general issues for discussion in the EOL curator community. To report errors on pages that do not allow comments, please use the Contact Us form.

  • Commenting on articles:  Look for the leave a comment button associated with each article in the Detail tab. 
  • Commenting on images and other media: Follow the link from the thumbnail (or the image in the Overview tab) to the info page about the media file. 
  • Commenting on taxon names or concepts:  Post your comment under Latest Updates in the Overview tab or join the discussion in the Updates tab.

Adding text to EOL pages

EOL members can easily add information directly to EOL taxon pages. Simply go to the Detail tab and find the add an article to this page button.  This will take you to a form where you can select a topic for your contribution, add an optional title (describing your subtopic), and enter your text and references.  Any text you add will immediately go live on the EOL site, and contributions by full and master curators will also be trusted automatically.  Whenever you want to edit one of your text contributions, go to its data object info page, which can be accessed through the learn more about this article link in the Detail tab.  There will be an edit this article button near the top of the page.

We particularly encourage our curators to add information under the Brief Summary topic because these contributions are featured on the Overview tab of EOL taxon pages.  Even a single, short paragraph explaining what is interesting or unusual about a given group will be tremendously helpful to EOL visitors.

Adding images, videos, sounds to EOL pages

EOL does not yet support direct uploading of media files.  If you have images, videos, or sounds that you would like to contribute, we recommend that you use one of our content partners to add media to EOL pages.  The following EOL partners can be used to share media about any organism from any region:

Please also check our list of content partners to find additional projects with media libraries focused on particular groups of organisms or particular regions.

Curators who don't have any of their own media to share, can make valuable contributions by discovering new images, videos and sounds for EOL on the internet.  Not all media owners will be willing to accept the EOL licensing policy, but there are a few large media collections that can be mined for content that is already released under a compatible license:

Adding new taxon associations for EOL data objects

Each EOL text article, image, video, map, etc. has one or more taxon associations.  These associations determine the placement of these data objects on EOL pages.  Text articles and maps are shown only on the pages of associated taxa, while images, videos, and sounds are also shown in the media collections of parent taxa.  For example, an image of a monarch butterfly would show up in the Danaus plexippus media collection as well as the Lepidoptera, Insecta, and Animals collections.

If curators disagree with the taxon association of a given data object, or if they can provide a more specific association (e.g. for an image that's only identified to genus), they can add another taxon association and thus place the data object on the page for their chosen taxon.  Only full and master curators can remove the original taxon association by untrusting it, and associations added by assistant curators will be in unreviewed status until confirmed by a full curator.

New associations can be added to articles and media contributions on the info page of each individual data object.  The data object info page for a media object can be accessed through a link from each thumbnail in the Media tab.  The data object info page for an article can be accessed through the learn more about this article link associated with each article in the Detail tab.  

Caveat:  Some misplacements of media objects cannot currently be fixed by changing the taxon association.  In these cases, the taxon associations are actually correct, but images, videos, or sounds are placed on the wrong page due to problems in the EOL names infrastructure.  If curators encounter such problems, the best thing to do is to leave a comment on the data object info page to report that the object is showing up in the wrong media collection.  Curators can also report such problems to the Media Collection Cleaning Crew.  The EOL developers can then investigate the problems reported in this collection and hopefully fix at least some of them. In the meantime, the EOL team is working on more efficient ways for curators to participate in the resolution of such misplacements.

Rating EOL data objects

To rate an object, look for the five rating stars in the Media or Detail tab, or on the info page for an individual article, image, video, etc.  Member ratings determine the sequence in which EOL data objects of the same general type are displayed.  In the Media tab, highly rated images, videos, etc. will be shown first, and in the Detail tab, highly rated articles will be shown first for each of the featured topics.  

While any EOL member can rate contributions, curator ratings carry more weight.  EOL members who are not curators get one vote per object, assistant curators get 2 votes, full curator 3 votes, and master curators 5 votes.  The rating diagram on the data object info page shows the distribution of votes for the data object as well as the calculated average and your own rating.  Refer to the Curation Standards page for guidance on how to rate.

Designating overview articles

The Overview tab is the first thing most EOL visitors will see when looking at an EOL taxon page.  It is designed to be a gateway for exploring what EOL has to offer.  In the Overview tab, a single article is shown that should give visitors a good introduction to the organisms featured on the page.  By default, the highest rated Brief Summary article is featured here, but many EOL pages do not yet have a Brief Summary, or there are articles in other sections that are more interesting and would therefore be better suited for the Overview.  Curators can help improve EOL Overview tabs by identifying the best introductory article for a given group in the Detail tab.  Look for the show in Overview link at the bottom of each article in the Detail tab.  When you click on this link, the selected article will instantly be featured in the Overview.  If several curators select different articles in succession, the last curator's decision will trump all previous ones.

Designating exemplar images

In addition to rating their favorite images to the top of a Media tab, curators can set one image as the exemplar for a given taxon.  This exemplar image is then displayed as the main image for that taxon in the Overview tab.  The set as exemplar button becomes available in the Media tab when a curator moves the cursor over an image.  If several curators set an exemplar for a given taxon, the last curator's decision will trump all previous ones.

Cropping image thumbnails

EOL uses square thumbnails of images in collection and in the March of Life on the EOL home page.  By default, rectangular images are cropped in the upper left region to produce these thumbnails.  However, in some images the default crop leads to suboptimal results (e.g. showing only the background or the tail end of an animal), and an alternative crop (e.g. one showing the head of an animal) would provide a better representation of the original.  Curators can adjust the square thumbnail region using the crop image tool on the info page of each image.  Click on the main image to activate the cropping tool, adjust the highlighted area to emcompass the desired thumbnail region, then click on crop image to confirm the revised thumbnail.

Adding common names & setting preferred common names

In the Names tab curators can add common names for organisms in a variety of different languages.  They can also select the preferred common name for each of the languages.  The preferred common name is the name that is displayed prominently alongside the scientific name on taxon pages, in search results, and in collections.  Common names match the browsing language selected by the user; i.e., if a visitor browses the EOL site in Spanish, they will see the preferred Spanish common names on EOL pages.

Adding new Wikipedia articles

EOL is importing articles about organisms from Wikipedia. However, biodiversity information is not consistenly structured on Wikipedia, so we are missing some valuable content. Curators can help EOL to discover these articles so they can be added to our harvests.  Learn about Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons Tools for Curators.

Changing review status and visibility of content

EOL materials that are provided by vetted content partners are given trusted status even before they have been reviewed by EOL curators; while materials from popular sites such as Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, and Wikipedia remain in unreviewed status until they are trusted by a curator. 

Full curators and master curators can change the review status of any EOL data object.  Untrusted materials are automatically hidden; i.e., they are not visible to general visitors.  However, curators will still have access to them, so they can contest and reverse each others' decisions.  In general, the last curator decision wins, but master curators may intervene and override the decisions of other curators. 

Review status and visibility of data objects are always specific to a particular taxon association.  If an object is associated with multiple taxa (e.g., an image of Leporella fimbriata with its pollinator, Myrmecia urens), the status of the data object for each of the taxa is evaluated separately.  So a curator could trust the image for the taxon Leporella fimbriata, but could leave it unreviewed or set it to untrusted for Myrmecia urens.  Whenever a curator sets the status of a taxon association to untrusted, they should explain their decision by selecting one of the untrust criteria:

  • misidentified – images and other media that are associated with the wrong taxon
  • incorrect/misleading – articles that contain errors or media with questionable information in the description

In the case of misidentified organisms, curators can use the add new association link to correct the identification.  

Even if a data object does not contain incorrect information, a curator may want to remove it from a taxon page because it adds little value to the media or article collection of the taxon.  Whenever a curator sets the visibiliy of an object that is not untrusted to hidden, they should explain their decision by selecting one of the visibility criteria:

  • duplicate – if the information provided by the object is already covered by other objects in the collection
  • low quality – if the quality of the object is too poor to add value to the collection

The review and visibility status of articles and media contributions can be changed on the info page of each individual data object.  The data object info page for a media object can be accessed through a link from each thumbnail in the Media tab.  The data object info page for an article can be accessed through the learn more about this article link associated with each article in the Detail tab.  Also, each EOL taxon page has a Worklist tab where curators can quickly flip through the info pages of data objects associated with a given taxon.  The worklist has several options for filtering and sorting content; e.g., a curator can choose to only look at unreviewed images from a given content partner (resource) for a given taxon, with newest images shown first.

curator worklist

Curator worklist options:

  • Object Type: Choose to see all kinds of data objects, or limit your list to just text, videos, sounds, or images.
  • Object Status: Choose to see all objects, or limit your list to just those objects that are unreviewed, trusted, or untrusted.
  • Object Visibility: Choose to see all objects, or limit your list to just those objects that are currently visible to the public or those that have been hidden by curators.
  • Task Status: Choose to see only active tasks (data objects on which you have not yet taken any curator action), or review objects you have already curated or that you had previously put on your ignore list.
  • Sort By: Sort your list by the user rating, or view objects based on when they were imported to EOL (newest first or oldest first).
  • Resource:  Select a resource to view only objects from a particular EOL content partner.

Selecting a preferred classification

The information on EOL is organized using hierarchical classifications from a number of different classification providers.  Each of these classifications has its strengths and weaknesses, and different classifications may provide the best structure for different parts of the tree of life.  By default, two randomly selected browsing classifications are displayed in snippet view in the Overview tab of each taxon page, and EOL visitors can explore additional classifications in the Names tab.

Full or master curators can use the radio buttons in the Names tab to select one of the classifications as the preferred browsing classification for a particular taxon page.

When a preferred classification is selected, this is the only classification shown to EOL visitors in the Overview tab.  The full classification is shown going down to the root, and the curator who has selected the classification is credited along with the classification provider.  If different classifications use different scientific names for a given taxon, the one used by the preferred classification will be shown at the top of the EOL taxon page.

If a given taxon is not featured in any of the official browsable classifications, or if none of these classifications are adequate, curators can explore the non-browsable classifications we have on file from our other content partners.  If non-browsable classifications are available, there will be a Show x other non-browsable classifications link just below the list of browsable classifications.  Curators should use caution and carefully check these classifications before selecting them.  Many of them simply reflect the structure of a content partner's export file and were never meant to serve as taxonomic hierarchies.

Approving/promoting other curators

Master curators have the power to shape the EOL curator community by promoting assistant curators to full curators and full curators to master curators.