Addition of a tick box for aff. (similar species)

Since I live in the southern hemisphere the are many species that are inadequately described.

Often they look similar to something from the northern hemisphere and have been given the same name but are not actually the same thing. This is very common with fungi but occurs widely.

Currently I give the northern hemisphere name in the hope that some time in the future taxonomic studies will produce a new name and the ID can be switched based on geography. Often I put an aff. in the description field but that’s pretty vague.

It would be nice to have a small tick box that indicates that I am of the opinion that this is not Galerina hypnorum (or whatever) but there is no other name available that makes sense.Just using the genus is not descriptive enough since the local variety has been understood as Galerina aff. hypnorum for a long time.

We have a good share of undescribed species in the Northern Hemisphere too, even in well-explored parts of the U.S. The general practice has been to identify to genus with notes in the description and/or comments as to its pending status.

One current example here.

An informal name (Badger Flat threadplant) was included in the descriptions and/or tags of the observations in this example, so they were searchable as a group with this filter URL. One could do the same with Galerina aff. hypnorum.


Sure I can use list something to genus and put comments in the description but if one later wants to go back and reassign all the Galerina aff. hypnorum to a the new name once it is formally described it would be impossible. The sighting would be lost among all the others in the Galerina genus but if the aff. box had been ticked then we might safely assign all the examples in Australia to the newly described species.

Seems to me that it would make the records more valuable in the future.

Granted if the local specimens are described as more than one species we can’t just do a global replace.

Actually it would be very possible if you include “Galerina aff. hypnorum” or some other fairly unique phrase in the description. Modifying the filter link I provided above to use in the Identify modal,

would get you to the needed set of observations, which you could then re-identify fairly quickly. If you follow this link, then click on the Filters button, you will see how it was built.

I see one observation already comes up in this filter – you would just need to add the same “Galerina aff. hypnorum” phrase to the descriptions of all the other relevant observations to make this work.

Alternately, you could batch-edit the appropriate observations and add the phrase as a “Tag” to each one instead. The text search looks in both descriptions and tags.

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Undoubtedly if you are clever enough with searches and systematic enough with the descriptions one can achieve what I want.

Do your replies mean that you don’t think a aff. box is a good idea or a useful thing for the average user who might not reliably put the aff. information in the descriptor? Or might it be worthwhile. As I understand it, you haven’t argued against the idea, just said that it can already be achieved with a work around.

Would it be tricky to implement or manage?

That is correct, and that is all I am saying. I will leave it to the site developers to say whether it is feasible or desirable from their viewpoint.

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I think the option would be valuable. Especially for some difficult groups the ID is often left to genus level for fear of polluting the database, but that means potential additional information is not used. The workaround indeed works, but with an aff. tickbox, it’d be nicely standardized.

Creating a new observation field is the best workaround I’ve found. My main concern with using “aff.” is that you’d be putting a name on the organism in one place in the data, and saying that the name shouldn’t be understood as being the name of the organism in another place. Meaning the name is intentionally inaccurate and we’re hoping future data users will notice and handle the situation appropriately. I think it’s more likely in practice for this to create confusion and to mislead people.


There is an observation field for undescribed gall species. There is a standardized format of what to write in the field to make it easier to find every observation of that species. This uses the name of the host and a description of the appearance of the gall. But in your case you could write “Galerina aff. hypnorum” in the field. Then you could easily find all the observations with this exact phrase in the observation field you create.

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I’m going to close this request. Similar to our not using a confidence rating for IDs, we won’t be adding an “aff” option. Best route is to ID to the level you’re sure of then use notes or observation fields, or a tradtiional project for anything beyond that.