CalPhotos: Annotations and Corrections   


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About CalPhotos

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About annotations and corrections

The CalPhotos photo database includes photos contributed by hundreds of photographers and a variety of organizations. Initial identifications of plants and animals in the photos were made by contributing photographers and misidentifications do sometimes occur. For more information about our policy on identifications, see this page.

The annotation system allows experts to register with CalPhotos to review photos, and add a comment to a photo or change the identification of the plant or animal in the photo if it's missing or determined to be incorrect. Notification is sent to the photographer and the new name or comment is updated to the database. Annotations appear on the photo's "detail" page and "ID reviewed" is displayed with the thumbnail if the query is made from Calflora, or if the user selects this option on the CalPhotos query page.

example display of "ID reviewed" on query results


  • Example of a photo whose identification was corrected. The reviewer provided commentary on the reasons the photo was identified incorrectly.
  • Photograph that was originally of an unknown plant. The first annotation identified it to the genus level, and a subsequent annotation identified it to the species level.
  • Identification when species is unclear. This photo illustrates a correction where the species is not known by the reviewer, but the genus is clear.
  • Thumbnail and annotation of a wildflower photograph whose identification has been confirmed.
  • How it works

    In order to ensure the proper use of the annotation system, users are required to register with CalPhotos to become a reviewer. Registering is open to all users, and information is collected to ensure that reviewers can be contacted if a question about an identification arises in the future. Reviewers' profiles are password protected to ensure security and can be edited online using the reviewers update form. You can see a list of registered reviewers here.

    Once they have registered, reviewers can submit annotations by clicking on the "ID verified/not verified" link displayed under the thumbnail, or click on the "Submit a new annotation" link on the photo's "detail" page. A form is generated that the reveiwer can then fill out and submit for inclusion. There is also a form here that reviewers can use if they know the 16-digit ID number of the photo they want to annotate.

    example of the annotation form reviewers fill out

    Annotations are stored in a independent database table linked by the unique 16 digit photo ID number to the CalPhotos database table. Annotations consist of some metadata (annotation date, time, registered reviewer name, annotation type etc.) as well as the photograph identification before and after any changes made. Annotations are classed into these categories:

  • Verify Identification
    reviewer agrees with previous identification.
  • Correct Identification
    reviewer disagrees with previous identification and submits a new identification (now includes synonymy updates).
  • Comment
    reviewer submits comments to be associated with the photograph, no change to identification.
  • The "comments" field of the record allows for the reviewer to describe in detail the reasoning behind proposed changes or general commentary about the photograph. In order to avoid the 254 character limit of most fields, the "comments" field is cast as an unbound text field of essentially any length. This allows the freedom of the reviewer to make comments of any length and detail, but restricts the ability to search this field. If user demand for searching this field is high, we will consider developing a search feature.

    example of two annotations associated with a CalPhotos record

    Proposed changes of identification are automatically checked against standard name tables to ensure uniform spelling. See References for a list of sources that are used to verify spelling.

    Once an annotation is submitted by a registered reviewer, the new identification is immediately search-able and indexed in the database. Changes to the plant name "browse lists" (linked to from the query forms) are made nightly via automated scripts.

    Photos are marked as "ID reviewed" on the thumbnails page of query results when there exists in the annotation database one or more annotations of the type "ID verified" or "ID corrected".
    Note: annotations before May 2000 are grandfathered into the annotation database, however since the prior annotations came in under a variety of circumstances, these photos are not marked "ID reviewed" on the thumbnails page unless they have a more recent identification. The reviewer for these photos is "Early Annotation".

    Questions and comments

    If you have any questions or comments about the annotation and correction tools developed here, click here to send us an email.

    CalPhotos is dedicated to the memory of Brother Eric Vogel

    CalPhotos is a project of BNHM   University of California, Berkeley

    Questions and Comments
    this page last updated: Oct 13, 2011