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ANSWERING Fossil ID Requests: Identification Posting For The Uninitiated 2.0 (NEW MEMBERS PLEASE READ)
paleoflor posted a topic in Fossil IDRecently, guidelines for posting in the ID section were put in the FAQ section: "Identification Posting For The Uninitiated". There, handy tips are provided to help people pose their ID questions in such a way that other members get the information needed to help them come to a conclusive identification (good photographs, any available age/locality data, etc.). All in all a very useful shortlist. However, reading it I felt something was missing. If someone takes the trouble of producing good photographs and provides all age/locality data he/she has, then this person deserves an answer to match the effort. Therefore, it would be nice if "Identification Posting For The Uninitiated" also includes a "how to properly respond" section. Not sure whether I am in the position to write this, but here are a few things I believe would help posters who respond to ID requests provide answers that are of better assistance with identification. >Please provide your arguments as to why you come to a certain identification (diagnostic features visible on presented photo, age constraints, etc.). These arguments are much more educative than the species name you provide: "what properties do I need to pay attention to if I want to distinguish X from Y?" (Being grossly similar to some specimen on a photo found online is a rather poor argumentation if without any additional reasoning.) >Please accept uncertainty. Sometimes specimens are too poorly preserved (i.e. lacking diagnostic features) and cannot be identified up to species or even generic level. In these cases, providing an identification up to some higher hierarchical level (e.g. order, phylum) is just as valuable. Actually, it is more valuable than an incorrect (misleading) ID at the species level, if you ask me. >Please try to provide references. This could be Google images of similar specimens, but should ideally also be literature references. God knows my own answers in the ID section often don't comply with the standard set above, so I don't really have a right to talk, I guess. However, it is good for us all to have something like this to aim for while providing answers in the ID section. Also, are any additions to the list?