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Identification Posting For The Uninitiated 2.0: ANSWERING

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Herb    360
Herb

I would say that most ID's are done through the vast experience of the FF members and not through references, I myself have been collecting for 40 years.. Generally, an ID to the genus level is indicative of the characteristics of the specimen, if more info. is needed the poster can look it up. If it is ID'd you have the ability to google it yourself if you need more specific info; The formation ,area and time are always a consideration when coming up with an ID.I believe any ID on most specimens by a picture, to species level (unless it's an index fossil for that formation) is iffy. I find most FF members will indicate that the ID is a "best guess" if the pix is not readily identifiable. There are some good links provided in the FF links section for reference. And speaking at least for myself, I am not willing to go through my multi-thousands of pages of reference material in order to cite references. However, that being said, I am sure if you ask more specific questions about a specimen some one will answer them, myself included.

Hope this helps. By the way, a nicely written post.

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Auspex    1,717
Auspex

This is very good advice; I would especially encourage all efforts to illuminate what features lead the poster to their ID: we all learn something of substance when this can be done. :)

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RichW9090    325
RichW9090

I agree. And I strive really hard to do so. When I don't, someone should call me on it.

Rich

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Harry Pristis    1,771
Harry Pristis

Paleoflor writes:

... 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. ...

Paleoflor summarized his argument in this single sentence. I've tried to understand why this logic is strange-sounding . . . so unapplicable in this context. I have hit on a couple of thoughts that seem worth sharing, if only to prompt more discussion.

For one thing, there is no equivalence between the question and the answer. The subscriber who asks a question is a petitioner seeking something of value. He may have to ask his question in a coherent manner with appropriate illustration to get the attention of someone who may have the answer, or who may provide clues to the answer. But the questioner hasn't earned the answer or even the clues. Though a questioner is likely to receive an answer or clues here, he deserves only the respect we pay to fellow human beings (we ignore the vast majority of them).

If the questioner actually deserved "an answer to match the effort" put into the question, then many of us are bad citizens. We individually have failed in numerous instances to provide an answer to a deserving questioner. You say, "But, it's a collective responsibility!" and I point out that someone or somefew of us have to write a response . . . In practice, it's an individual effort. Which of us are responsible for writing an answer to match the effort of the deserving questioner? It is neither a collective responsibility nor an individual responsibility. In fact, it is not a responsibility at all.

So, there are a couple of ideas to chew on . . . what do you think?

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Auspex    1,717
Auspex

I would like to add a small point from the "publisher's" perspective.

We do well to encourage the public to bring their inquiries to us; such are the primary fuel for so many of our discussions, and it is by the ad hoc sharing of collective knowledge that a forum lives or withers away.

In seeking our service, curious tyros perform a service. :)

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paleoflor    246
paleoflor

Of course you are right that the one posing the question has not gained any "rights" to the answer by posing the question in a coherent and complete way. So far I fully agree with your line of reasoning. However, I disagree with reducing my argumentation to the single sentence, which is now out of context and as such somewhat misleading. Of course we are not obliged to present the asking party with an answer (and I certainly did not write that in the above post). Nowhere did I make it the responsibility of anyone here to provide an answer. It is still optional. Do you always get what you "deserve"? In many cases the object is simply unidentifiable (you often find that the best questions are hardest to answer).

What I do think should be there is goodwill. Goodwill to try and provide answers to the best of our capabilities. If we do not intend to provide these, why would we bother and actively ask the person who has an item that needs identification for sharper photographs, detailed locality information and age constraints (see FAQ section referenced in my original post)? I underlined ask here, because by doing this, on some level, we become petitioners as well. Whether for our amusement or to quench our thirst for knowledge, I think people on this forum like to see each others' finds, especially when the photographs are good and a lot of information is given. It is for ourselves too. The points listed above are merely to help people who are well willing and, by their own choice, would like to provide answers that contain a wealth of information.

EDIT: Clearly, I am a slow writer, for Auspex made a similar point in the meantime...

Edited by paleoflor

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fossilized6s    320
fossilized6s

If whether or not to help someone in need is the argument, its a no brainer to me. I don't want to sound "preachy", but i feel like hoarding knowledge helps no one. This is a bit dramatic haha, but it's like watching a puppy struggling in deep mud and leaving it there to its own demise. After joining this forum for the very same reason at hand, i feel a inherent reasponsiblity to help others ID there teasures the best i can and as often as i can given my knowledge. Now i don't know much....yet, but what i do know im happy to share even if it's continuously IDing something as simple as Horn Coral over and over and over. We don't know who is reaching out to us. It could be a dirt poor kid from China that had to hike miles to reach a computer because it was his life long dream to get his prized Coprolite fossil ID'd that he calls treasure. Just because we have greater knowledge then some who are we to thumb our nose at someones awesome find? So what if they don't know the fauna, formation, era or age!? That's why they are here, they WANT TO LEARN. Let's teach em', or at the very least point them in the right direction so they can figure out their mystery find.

I for one believe this is one of the best websites out there for fossils! And i truly appreciate all of the time, effort and hardwork that the 'higher ups' do here to maintain a drama free steady stream of knowledge. I think we owe it to them to make this a warm and inviting place where knowledge keeps flowing freely no matter how many times you have to tell someone that their egg is a concretion. There are generations to come and more scientific discoveries to be made, sometimes inspiration can come from the smallest of actions.

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Harry Pristis    1,771
Harry Pristis

Fossilized6s writes:

... i truly appreciate all of the time, effort and hardwork that the 'higher ups' do here to maintain a drama free steady stream of knowledge. I think we owe it to them to make this a warm and inviting place where knowledge keeps flowing freely no matter how many times you have to tell someone that their egg is a concretion. There are generations to come and more scientific discoveries to be made, sometimes inspiration can come from the smallest of actions. ...

Fossilized6s thinks that we have an obligation to the administrators to provide answers to petitioners. And, maybe we have an obligation to unknown 'generations to come' as well. Who is the 'we'?

I reiterate: You say it's a collective responsibility and I point out that someone or somefew of us have to write a response . . . In practice, it's an individual effort. Which of us are responsible for writing an answer to match the effort of the deserving questioner? It is neither a collective responsibility nor an individual responsibility. In fact, it is not a responsibility at all.

Platitudes and bromides will not provide an explanation. If providing answers to petitioners' questions is neither a collective nor an individual responsibility, what is it? What keeps the forum operating? For answers to this question, think in terms of evolution of our species. And, think in terms of human motivation. No kidding.

Edited by Harry Pristis

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Auspex    1,717
Auspex

Information, from those that have to those that need. Anyone who does not wish to participate is under no onus to do so. Those who do freely offer knowledge and encouragement add to our community and its growing pool of knowledge. For many, sharing is its own reward.

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Uncle Siphuncle    694
Uncle Siphuncle

i for one don't mind offering IDs and supporting reasoning, when i have the time to do so, but i try to qualify my statements with some sort of confidence level. sharing this sort of info (as well as prep tips) costs me only a little effort, but could help someone else greatly, so i share it

freely.

valued site info takes on diminished value through oversharing, so i usually don't respond to "give me all your best sites within 10 miles of my house" requests. but info whose value is undiminished by sharing is, in my opinion, quite satisfying to share.

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fossilized6s    320
fossilized6s

The "we" is anyone with the knowledge of what that specimen may be. It's your human right of choice whether or not to help, im not going to argue with that. If you know what something is but fail to inform the person that came HERE to learn something and obviously has a interest in fossil (as we all do) it ceases the continuation of growth and knowledge in my opinion. We as a human race are at the top of the food chain because of knowledge handed down generation to generation. Im not going to argue about your freedom to refuse someone help, i may respectfully disagree, but in fact i for one would die for all to have such freedoms as my forefathers have. Google is here to stay and has been incorporated into our language. Now if someone Googles something about fossils, time and time again TFF pops up, and for good reason, the site it's self by being a database that stores members posts (such as yourself Harry, youve helped me indirectly ID things by helping others and i appreciate your willingness to share such knowledge) and helps and provides information to further one's knowledge in our beloved field.

Edited by fossilized6s

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RyanNREMTP    55
RyanNREMTP

With great power comes great responsibility.

I think we should do everything we can to help those that come to us. If we want to be the first place that people come to for help with fossils then we should do what we can to keep that reputation of being that best place for information. This website and the TFF Facebook page is pretty much the number one place that pops up when someone gets on the internet to find out about fossils. How many people will shy away from here if they are reading snippy and unhelpful posts when someone is asking a question?

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Uncle Siphuncle    694
Uncle Siphuncle

An interesting note on ID attempts. Obvious wrong ID's are often a chief motivator in getting those with a correct and supportable opinion to post. For many of us, seeing misinformation floating around gets under our skin just a bit, and posting a correct ID takes on more urgency after seeing an incorrect ID posted, than if no ID attempt has been posted at all. Just an observation on Forum dynamics.

When my frequent misidentifications are overturned, I figure I've served my purpose as a "discussion facilitator" if nothing else.

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JohnJ    1,508
JohnJ

It is true there is no such thing as a "collective responsibility" to attempt to make identifications. Identifications are made by individuals, and in this voluntary Forum, there is not a responsibility for anyone to do such. There is also no "collective knowledge" that can be applied to a specific inquiry. It is the individual members of this Forum that apply their knowledge and experience to the paleontological puzzles posted here. Personally, I appreciate the effort of others to teach me new things and I hope (at a minimum) that my understanding and application of that new knowledge satisfies them in trade.

As publishers, The Forum encourages respectful interaction in the course of the identification process. The motivation for individuals to volunteer their knowledge will vary greatly. However, when good information is exchanged between individual members on a forum (directly and indirectly), the consequence is that the rest of us may learn and apply that knowledge in the future. The life of this forum is based on the continuing trade of accurate information.

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Harry Pristis    1,771
Harry Pristis
We as a human race are at the top of the food chain because of knowledge handed down generation to generation.

Bingo! Fossilized6s has hit on the insight I was looking for. We human beings have made great strides in our understanding of the world by passing on information - culture - from generation to generation. Any affinity group which values passing on information to upcoming generations has a selective advantage in the competition for survival.

(Survival is a more subtle concept than it was 100,000 or 1,000,000 years ago. Today, we can think of survival in terms of "success" -- comfort, wisdom, productivity, etc. The more data an individual can absorb or access, the better he will survive.)

I think that we all have inherited to some degree the inclination to participate in passing on information . . . teaching the younger, less experienced members of our affinity groups. Let's call it the pedagogical inclination. It is our inheritance because it has provided a selective advantage for our species from our beginnings. It is this inclination that prompts subscribers here to answer questions . . . It is an engine driven by our genes.

But, surely the pedagogical inclination cannot be the only driver of the forum function. Petitioners get answers to their questions; but, what is in it for the ones with the answers? Dan Woehr touched on one possible motivation. What are some others?

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PFOOLEY    711
PFOOLEY

What are some others?

To be respected as a knowledgeable source.

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Harry Pristis    1,771
Harry Pristis

PFOOLEY writes:

To be respected as a knowledgeable source.

Yes, PFOOLEY, the respect of our peers. Refer to Maslow's Needs Hierarchy.

Anything else?

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Harry Pristis    1,771
Harry Pristis

By the way, I think that Dan Woehr's observation that

posted Today, 12:44 PM

An interesting note on ID attempts. Obvious wrong ID's are often a chief motivator in getting those with a correct and supportable opinion to post. For many of us, seeing misinformation floating around gets under our skin just a bit, and posting a correct ID takes on more urgency after seeing an incorrect ID posted, than if no ID attempt has been posted at all. Just an observation on Forum dynamics.

...

is evidence of the reality and strength of the pedagogical inclination. When someone feeds "faulty" information to any affinity group, the reaction is likely to be alarm and antagonism. That reaction is muted in a science-based group like the forum; but, you don't have to look far to see stronger reactions.

Teaching evolution in public schools is an example. During the middle ages, in the affinity group Catholic Church, "faulty" ideas could get the speaker burned at the stake. Many other examples could be cited.

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fossilized6s    320
fossilized6s

Is the question what do you get out of volunteering to help others in need? If we're jumping into the psychology of the meaning of help/reward to each individual then we're getting a bit off topic. Im not going to say what, how or why someone should experience or not experience a feeling, that's up to the individual.

I volunteer my time to clean up trash on roads. Do i think im going to stop climate change, no. Do i get a warm fuzzy feeling, no. I do it because i am able bodied and i hate hypocrisy. Opinions and feelings are pointless without the practice of one's opinions. Its the exchange of goods and services for me. As well as treating people how i would like to be treated. I will help to ID things because i intern would like things ID'd.

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Auspex    1,717
Auspex

From The Fossil Forum's Community Standards:

The Fossil Forum is a venue for the sharing of a common interest in fossils.

This is the gist, and "sharing" is the de facto purpose purpose of a forum, as we define it here. From images to enthusiasm, and ideas to information, it is who we are.

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lissa318    102
lissa318

I gain much pleasure and knowledge from the finds of other members on here. I also get excited by not only the fabulous finds, but the firsts and unknowns by those looking for a ID. Why? Because a very similar post by me not too long ago (and the members of TFF's response to that post) is what has brought me back to this site daily ever since. My love of fossils, which was nonexistent prior to the members here, is now a passion of mine. A passion that has enriched not only my life but the life of my daughter. I truly wish I was knowledgeable enough to contribute more with ID's. I have attempted on a few threads which is a genuine grasp as offering the same help, support and enthusiam that I did. For the most part I always try to compliment finds of others because I sure know how great it feels to get positive feedback when you find something that thrills you. :) I wish I could contribute more, and maybe thanks to all the wonderful information and members support on here I will be able to one day. In the meantime, I will try to pass my great experience with this forum to others in any way possible.

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Auspex    1,717
Auspex

:D

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oldrocker    0
oldrocker

Paleoflor summarized his argument in this single sentence. I've tried to understand why this logic is strange-sounding . . . so unapplicable in this context. I have hit on a couple of thoughts that seem worth sharing, if only to prompt more discussion.

For one thing, there is no equivalence between the question and the answer. The subscriber who asks a question is a petitioner seeking something of value. He may have to ask his question in a coherent manner with appropriate illustration to get the attention of someone who may have the answer, or who may provide clues to the answer. But the questioner hasn't earned the answer or even the clues. Though a questioner is likely to receive an answer or clues here, he deserves only the respect we pay to fellow human beings (we ignore the vast majority of them).

If the questioner actually deserved "an answer to match the effort" put into the question, then many of us are bad citizens. We individually have failed in numerous instances to provide an answer to a deserving questioner. You say, "But, it's a collective responsibility!" and I point out that someone or somefew of us have to write a response . . . In practice, it's an individual effort. Which of us are responsible for writing an answer to match the effort of the deserving questioner? It is neither a collective responsibility nor an individual responsibility. In fact, it is not a responsibility at all.

So, there are a couple of ideas to chew on . . . what do you think?

I have been collecting fossils and rocks all my life, but my knowledge base concerning fossils is very small, that is one reason for joining the Fossil Forum. Since my retirement this year my collecting has become a passion but I will never have the background in it that some of you have. I'm hesitant to post questions because of some of the attitudes perceived in a few responses. Does the forum have paid positions? Is there any reason a person feels they have to answer a question, no matter how dumb they feel it is? Maybe there could be a private section for professionals only? Perhaps we all take ourselves too seriously, life is too short and we will all be fossils one day. :wacko:

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Auspex    1,717
Auspex

I have been collecting fossils and rocks all my life, but my knowledge base concerning fossils is very small, that is one reason for joining the Fossil Forum. Since my retirement this year my collecting has become a passion but I will never have the background in it that some of you have. I'm hesitant to post questions because of some of the attitudes perceived in a few responses. Does the forum have paid positions? Is there any reason a person feels they have to answer a question, no matter how dumb they feel it is? Maybe there could be a private section for professionals only? Perhaps we all take ourselves too seriously, life is too short and we will all be fossils one day. :wacko:

If I may, I will quote myself as a way to clarify the Forum's policy on answering ID inquiries:

I would like to add a small point from the "publisher's" perspective.

We do well to encourage the public to bring their inquiries to us; such are the primary fuel for so many of our discussions, and it is by the ad hoc sharing of collective knowledge that a forum lives or withers away.

In seeking our service, curious tyros perform a service. :)

Information, from those that have to those that need. Anyone who does not wish to participate is under no onus to do so. Those who do freely offer knowledge and encouragement add to our community and its growing pool of knowledge. For many, sharing is its own reward.

Attitudes that discourage inquiry are counterproductive, and not in the spirit that we wish to foster.

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