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Site name format - request for comment

Site name format - request for comment

by geoff toone » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:35 pm

[edit - split into separate topic by Tom]

At the risk of an accusation of pedantry, here goes...

"But remember that site names are really only a check that the grid ref is correct – they should be simple and not precise address-like descriptions. Best use the closest and most relevant name on a 1:50,000 (or better) map."

Why should they not be "address-like descriptions"? The naming conventions for sites are no longer subject to cost-motivated ellipsis (like 19thC Floras), their only constraint is the text field limit of 64 characters. The nature of alphanumeric sorting of lists is key to the grouping of sites within locations, locations within areas and areas within regions. Grid references, because they use an arbitrary orthogonal grid, can give us only part of the information about a site. Witness the many past records which are tetrad-only, with completely inadequate site naming, particularly of rare and scarce spp, when even then better could have been achieved. To know from a site name where exactly something was (to refind and update a record, for instance) more is needed than, say, simply a town or farm name :-

Rookley, Cridmore Farm, Milkpan Fld, NE margin,
Rookley, Cridmore Farm, North Appleford Fld, S margin,
Rookley, Cridmore Farm, Peters Fld, NE-most Fld corner,
Rookley, Cridmore Farm, Pigstye Ground, SW corner

with an alphanumeric sort these sites within individual fields are extremely informative, compared with the recommended terse 'Rookley' or 'Cridmore Farm' (which, incidentally, covers about two square kilometres). The key feature here is the progress from general to particular, the reverse of how one would address a letter.

"Always begin with the site name, followed by any simple proximity descriptors, using consistent formats. Then put other location information in Comments field. For example, if you had noted “Rocks near shore, S of Kilmarie” on your recording card, you could enter “Kilmarie, S of” as the Site Name, and put “Rocks nr shore” in the Comments."

and what is wrong with "Kilmarie, S of, rocks nr shore", or indeed "London SE11, Kennington, Brook Drive, NE side, kerb"?
The attempt to separate Locations and Habitats is unhelpful in this context. The Comments field in MapMate is an unsearchable bin of items for which no dedicated field is available (nature of Quantity count [!e, !n], photos [!p], voucher retained [!v]) and dumping "Rocks nr shore" into Comment or putting it only in Site>Habitat loses what is essentially physical location detail. A habitat can also be a location.

"Although duplicate sites are not a serious problem as there is no limit to the number of sites you can create in MapMate, they are best avoided for tidiness. You should minimise the number of duplicate sites by checking to see if the site already exists. Enter its grid ref into the Site field, enter and use any suitable (pre-existing) site listed."

The danger here is that sites entered by other users might be edited after they have been used independently, altering the definition misleadingly. I recently noticed a mistaken monad grid reference with a correct site name for a number of my records; the grid ref has been altered but anyone who has used it in the meanwhile (rather than create their own site) might have their records displaced by one Km from where was intended. By all means try to harmonise naming conventions with others but beware of using sites owned by others.

"When entering new recorders' details in MapMate, enter location “unknown” and no comment."

Historical record entry is, perhaps, the one exception to this rule. For notable recorders of the past a note of their normal residence (a monad perhaps), together with the period of that residence can be useful. Botanist mapping can be related closely to coverage, particularly of specialist species' groups.
geoff toone
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:21 pm
name: Geoff Toone

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