“DON’T PANIC.” – Douglas Adams.
The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is quite a bit different from other encyclopedias you may have used before. So before we start explaining how to use it, let’s take a moment to review how it works at a Very High Level.
- Every day EOL computers gather up information about living creatures that is stored in databases all over the world. These databases belong to EOL Content Partners, without whom EOL could not exist.
- These same EOL computers organize this information by the names of those living creatures. For example, even though EOL gets information about wolves from many sources, it is all organized together in one place to make it easy for you to find (search for “wolf” and see for yourself).
- People like you come to the EOL website to learn about living nature, leave comments, create EOL Collections, participate in EOL Communities, and share their expertise by writing articles, curating content, or by becoming EOL Content Partners.
Over time, as new EOL Content Partners and Members become active, the information in EOL becomes steadily broader and richer. EOL is currently home to hundreds of thousands of pages of remarkable information, pictures and resources. Despite this, from time to time you will encounter an EOL page that has a lot less information on it than you might have hoped or expected. When this happens please leave a comment on EOL to let us all know what you were looking for.
Now that you know more about how EOL works, let’s take an overview of the EOL site itself. For each of the items below, you can click through to a more detailed help document.
EOL has been designed to be engaging, accessible and personal. The best way to learn how to use EOL is simply to start using it. To help answer questions you may have, we've prepared some help for you on the following topics:
Explore Biodiversity - Biological diversity, often shortened to “biodiversity,” is the variety of plants, animals and microorganisms living in an area or region. At the moment there are about 1.9 million organisms that have been named, with more being identified every day. Recent studies place the number of organisms that share our planet in the millions! To access Tools and Activities, Resources and a Glossary of terms, visit our Explore Biodiversity pages.
EOL Search - There are many ways to explore EOL, but the most powerful is EOL's Search capability. You'll find a search box at the top of every EOL page as well as in the middle of the EOL home page. Learn more about EOL's Search capabilities.
The Taxon Page – Scientists use the word taxon (plural taxa) to describe a group of one or more organisms. They give these groups a rank (such as “species”) and a name (such as “Homo sapiens”). EOL gathers information from its many Content Partners together into taxon pages, which are also referred to as "EOL Pages". Learn more about Taxon Pages.
Your EOL Profile – When you register to become an EOL Member, you gain the ability to make use of the many interactive features of EOL. Your EOL Profile contains information you choose to share about yourself, a record of your activity on EOL, your EOL Collections, EOL Communities, and more. Learn more about your EOL Profile.
Your EOL Watch List – EOL makes it easy for you to stay connected to the conversations you participate in through your EOL Watch List. Every time you leave a comment on an item in EOL or join an EOL Community, we add a link to that item in your Watch List. Remove items from your Watch List as your interests change, or move them into an EOL Collection to start the process of organizing life in a way that you care about. Learn more about your EOL Watch List.
EOL Collections – You may wish to simply collect pictures of pretty birds, or you may wish to assemble a definitive list of endangered species of Costa Rica. Whatever your goal, EOL’s Collections give you the ability to gather together the pieces of EOL that are of greatest interest to you into a “virtual collection” you can name, annotate and share. Learn more about EOL Collections.
EOL Communities – EOL Members who share a common interest in a particular aspect of living nature come together in EOL Communities to ask questions, share their expertise, and identify opportunities to improve EOL. An EOL Community also shares responsibility for managing a specific EOL Collection that is the focus of its interest. Learn more about EOL Communities.
How to contribute to EOL – Whether you’re a professional scientist, an enthusiastic amateur or just someone who wants to get involved in the work of building EOL, there are many ways to contribute your expertise and energies to EOL. Learn more about how to contribute content to EOL.
EOL Curators – If you have scientific credentials (professional or otherwise) or if you are committed to earning them, you can request to become an EOL Curator. EOL relies on its growing community of Curators to review content contributions to determine whether they should be displayed on EOL. Curators also make meaningful content contributions to Taxon Pages, EOL Collections and EOL Communities. Learn more about EOL Curators.
EOL Content Partners – If you are an individual with a large amount of information you would like to share with EOL, or belong to an organization with similar resources, EOL would be delighted to work with you to make it possible to share your content with the world through EOL. Learn more about EOL Content Partners.
Technologies and APIs – The technology infrastructure of EOL has been developed over a period of years to become a reliable, robust platform for gathering, generating and sharing biodiversity information. At the same time, a machine-readable application programming interface (API) has been created to allow third-party applications of all sorts to access and use information stored in EOL. Learn more about EOL Technologies and APIs.
Language Support - EOL contains content written in many languages, and you can choose the language of EOL itself. Learn more about EOL's Language Support.
As we answer questions for our users, we will update our Frequently Asked Questions document to help you get the most out of EOL (and hopefully make your experience more delightful).