Help Build EOL

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is an unprecedented global partnership between the scientific community and the general public. Our goal is to make freely available to anyone knowledge about all the world’s organisms. Anybody can register as an EOL member and add text, images, videos, comments or tags to EOL pages. Expert curators ensure quality of the core collection by authenticating materials submitted by diverse projects and individual contributors. Together we can make EOL the best, most comprehensive source for biodiversity information.

A couple of things to note:

  • We are committed to building an open access collection, with as few restrictions on re-use as possible. Therefore all information you share with EOL must also be shared with the rest of the world under a creative commons license that allows the creation of derivative works, at least for non-commercial purposes. See our Licensing Policy.
  • We are committed to clearly crediting the sources of the information we serve and urge our visitors to cite and visit the original sources.

Here are a number of different options for how you can participate in the EOL project:

Share your knowledge about a group of organisms

Any registered EOL member can simply add text to EOL taxon pages. Simply create a (free) account (by clicking on create an account at the top of any EOL page), then look for the Add New Content link at the bottom of the TABLE OF CONTENTS. Unless you are a registered EOL curator, new text will initially appear with a yellow background indicating that it is not yet part of the authoritative EOL collection. Curators will review your submission and will promote suitable content to trusted status.

Share images and videos of organisms

EOL welcomes image and video contributions (sounds coming soon!) from the public. The easiest way to get your images up on EOL is through our Encyclopedia of Life Images group at the photo-sharing site Flickr. Basic Flickr accounts are free, and it’s easy to tag your images for EOL use. Be sure to read the Group Rules and select a creative commons license that's compatible with the EOL Licensing Policy. Also, the images you share through Flickr must be your own and NOT images you found elsewhere. Our harvesting program checks the group every couple of days, imports new photos and updates records if any of the data (tags, descriptions, licenses) have changed.

You can also share short video clips (up to 90 seconds) through this Flickr group. For longer videos, we now have an Encyclopedia of Life Videos group on Vimeo. Be sure to read the instructions on how to get your videos harvested by EOL.

You can also share organism images through Wikimedia Commons. If you upload your photos to this collection and place them in a gallery with a Taxonavigation section, they should show up on EOL within about a week.

Initially, all materials imported from Flickr, Vimeo, and Wikimedia Commons will be in unvetted status which means that they will be shown with a yellow background and the warning "Images in yellow are not reviewed." EOL curators will then review your images (video curation coming soon!) and move them to the authoritative collection if the organisms are correctly identified and the image is of sufficient quality.

If you have a large number of images on your hands and need an efficient way to load a large batch, please see our tips for offline image collections.

Help improve EOL content

If you are a professional scientist or experienced naturalist, you can sign up as an EOL curator for your group of organisms. Even if you are not a trained scientist, you can ask questions or provide opinions by adding comments about taxa, images, or individual text sections. You need to sign up as an EOL member to do this. Registration is quick and easy, and you'll be able to log in immediately.

If you want to comment on a taxon name or concept, be sure to put your comment in the COMMENTS tab next to the IMAGES, MAPS, or VIDEO tab. If you want to comment on an image, look for the comments button (speech bubble) just below the image. If you want to comment on a text section, look for the comments button at the end of the section.

Curators, information providers, and EOL visitors will be able to see and respond to your comments, so this is a good way of pointing out problems or requesting additional information. Also adding tags to text and images will help you and other people to sort through the wealth of EOL information and find things more easily on the site.

Use EOL contributions to learn and teach about biodiversity

If you're a teacher and would like your students to become active EOL participants, please have a look at the EOL Learning and Education site for suggestions on how to get involved.

Students can add text for their favorite organisms, tag and comment on EOL content, upload images and videos, or take part in discussions on our Forum.

Curate EOL pages

Anyone can contribute materials to EOL, but materials from unvetted contributors are initially marked as unreviewed and shown with a yellow background. EOL curators then identify the best quality contributions and promote them from unreviewed to trusted status. We invite professional scientists and experienced citizen scientists to register as a curator. When you register, we ask that you provide us with credentials, so we can evaluate your expertise. In order to qualify as a curator, you should satisfy at least one of the following criteria:

  1. faculty, staff, or graduate student status in the life science department of a relevant university or college department (please provide information about your position and institutional affiliation, if a graduate student, please provide the web address of your lab home page or contact information for your supervisor)
  3. authorship of peer-reviewed publications (please provide specific references)
  5. member of a professional society in the life sciences (please provide name of society and duration of membership)

If you have already registered as an EOL user, you can update your profile to request curator privileges. Once you are confirmed as a curator, you will be able to review the EOL content for your group, approving suitable materials and rejecting incorrect, misleading, or other low quality information. Curators are given credit, as editors, on the taxon pages they curate. For for more information, contact us.

A draft of the Curator Network plan is now available (also available in Spanish and Catalan).

Share your online database

If you have data online that you would like to share with EOL, please see EOL Content Partners: Getting Started, then register as a content partner. EOL is interested in descriptive information about all taxa, as well as photos, illustrations, videos, sounds, maps, bibliographic references, classification hierarchies, and lists of scientific as well as vernacular names.

Coordinate a community to assemble and share biodiversity information

If you are part of a community of scientists who would like to assemble information about a group of organisms or an ecosystem, check out EOL LifeDesks. Modeled after, and compatible with EDIT Scratchpads, LifeDesks provide you with your own customizable online environment to manage classifications, upload images and bibliographies, and assemble taxon pages. In addition, it is easy to export content from a LifeDesk to EOL or other systems. 
Visit the LifeDesks Home Page for more information.

If you would like to start a new content development initiative for your favorite group, consider submitting a workshop proposal to the Biodiversity Synthesis Center.

Tell us about potential EOL content partners

If you are participating in a biodiversity project that's not yet sharing content with EOL, please let us know, so we can invite the project organizers to become an EOL Content Partner.

Become a Rubenstein Fellow

In order to support targeted content development for particular groups of organisms, EOL has recently launched its Rubenstein Fellows Program. The program is oriented at postdoctoral students, graduate students and others who will contribute content from their own research and catalyze contributions from others in their scientific communities. See EOL Fellows for more information.

Provide an authoritative classification that EOL can use for a group of organisms

You can now submit your classification or your own list of names and request that it be added as an alternative EOL browsing hierarchy. LifeDesks also contain tools to help you build your own classifications and share them with us.

As an EOL content partner, you can also share your names information with the Global Names Architecture.

Help EOL discover and process species information that is not yet online

If you have or know of valuable biodiversity information that's not yet online contact us to begin the process of making it accessible. A variety of options are described here; we can help you determine which is best suited to your situation.

Help EOL to create resources that focus on the organisms in your part of the world and that present information in your language

Regional EOLs, a key feature of EOL’s global outreach, typically serve species pages for the flora and fauna from a specific geographic area, in languages used in the region. Regional EOLs can be initiated by organizations that have an established track record in planning, funding or conducting biodiversity research or documentation projects in the target region. They must also be capable of establishing ties with other institutions in the region so that they are a logical organizer for that region. The organizer is responsible for funding and implementing the regional EOL. Contact us for more information.

Encyclopedia of Life is in various stages of discussion and development with representatives of institutions wishing to establish regional EOLs in China, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Central America, the Arab Region and South Africa. If your region is not yet represented in this list, consider initiating a regional EOL by contacting the organizations that would be most suitable for leading such an effort in your geographic area.