Please contribute to the H.E.R.P. database!

General use board for NAFHA-related items.

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Kent VanSooy
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Please contribute to the H.E.R.P. database!

Post by Kent VanSooy » August 5th, 2011, 3:14 pm

If you are new to the California forum, welcome! Chances are you came here, above all, because you would like to learn how to find snakes or other herps, meet like-minded people, or just "talk story." You have come to the right place. Our members share your passion for herps and are an excellent source of information.

But you should also know that H.E.R.P. is not just about finding, appreciating and sharing information about snakes or other herps. Rather, we have made it our mission to work toward "the common goal of better understanding, conserving and managing native North American reptiles and amphibians."

H.E.R.P. is a continent-wide database where field herpers of all experience levels, working in Canada, Mexico and the U.S.A., enter their finds. In less than five years, our database has grown to 80,000+ records. You can find the database at http://www.naherp.com. You can search the records by contributor, geographical area, or taxon – you’ll be amazed at the quantity of information at your fingertips.

So, please take a few short moments to read the information below about the H.E.R.P. database and consider contributing your finds, past or future. It would be an excellent way to give back a little, in return for the privilege, as it were, of being part of our community and benefiting from its amazing collective know-how. You'll also find that once you start contributing to the database, other members will be even more forthcoming with information and treat you as a full-flegded "member of the club."

Here are answers to some of the questions you may have:

What is done with the data?

Various agencies - both governmental and NGOs - can request specific data from naherp.com. Data are used for only approved purposes, including academic studies, population management, conservation, and the formation of herp-related laws. Though the database is still in its infancy, seven database requests have already been made, approved, and delivered, including requests related to the Texas Natural Diversity Database, the Missouri Herp Atlas, the rewrite of the state of California’s “Species of Special Concern” list, the rewrite of the US Forest Service’s “Forest Sensitive Species” list, and a USGS project to measure the genetic diversity of Southern California's pond turtle populations.

What about protection of sensitive data?

Persons who enter data into the database can choose the level of privacy of each record. Specific locality information and GPS data are never publicly available under any circumstances. Publicly hidden data are kept strictly confidential and cannot be viewed even by other H.E.R.P. members. All data requests must be approved by the persons whose data are being requested.

Why should I enter my finds into the database?

There are a variety of different reasons why you should enter finds into the database. The most obvious one is the conservation of herps in North America. The more data which are available to scientists, government agencies and policymakers, the more effectively they can protect herps from habitat destruction, pollution, and other factors contributing to the decline of herps in North America. The requests for H.E.R.P. data that have been made thus far (see above) show that our database is, in fact, making a difference. By entering your finds into the database, you'd be making a small, but valuable contribution to the protection of the animals you love – herps.

Another, less obvious reason to enter your finds into the database is that it will make you a more successful herper. The data entry process as such will make you ponder the different variables involved (temperature, time, cloud cover, etc.), and start you thinking about how to further improve your herping technique. Plus, it will give you a chance to relive the exciting moments when you made your finds.

Once you have entered your finds, the database will organize and keep track of them for you. Chances are that as time goes by, you won't remember many or even most of the details of past finds. By entering your finds into the database, you will be able to view all of your records online, organized in reverse chronological order, and search your records by country, state, county, group, genus, species and/or subspecies. You will also be able to view the voucher shot(s) you have included for each record.

As you look at your past finds in a systematic manner, patterns will emerge that you may not otherwise have noticed. For example, you might notice that you found all or most of your rosy boas while roadcruising within the same temperature range, during the same moon phase or at the same elevation. To confirm the validity of your own observations, you could then even compare your own data with records entered by others. The options are manifold, and you may come up with ways of using the database that no one else has even thought of before. The bottom line is: The better you know what you found in the past and why, the more you will find in the future.

An additional ‒ "just for fun" ‒ reason to enter your finds into the database is the database contest, or rather contests. There are a national contest as well as several regional contests. The basic idea of each contest is simple: The more data you enter, the more points you get. The contestant with the most points wins. The prize for first place is a herping trip to South Africa, all expenses paid. Well, just kidding. While there are some small prizes (books, T-shirts) for the first time this year (2011), that's not the reason people enter the contest. Many herpers, and you may be one of them, simply enjoy "racing" other herpers to goals such as the highest species count, the highest number of entries, the highest number of new counties. It's plain fun. That's all. More information on the database contests is available here (http://www.nafha.org/national/contest-2011).

How do I enter my finds into the database? Isn't it a lot of work?

Entering your finds into the database is easy (9-year Nicholas, the son of a CA chapter member, has learned how to do it) and not as much work as you may think.

Start by setting up an account at http://www.naherp.com, using the same username you are using for the FHF forums. Be sure to include your FHF username in the “profile” sectio of NAHerp. That'll take about two minutes and then you will be set to start inputting data.

To input a new record, simply click on "Add Record" in the upper lefthand corner. That will open a window with various drop down menus, such as genus, species, quantity, age, etc. As you will see, there are some items you may not have data for. For example, you may not know the sex or body temperature of the herp you found. Don't worry about it. Just input what you do know, most notably the group, genus and species, the date and time, and the country, state and county. But the more information you provide, the more useful the record will be, of course.

Next click on one of the little wrench symbols above "longitude" or "latitude." That will open a small GoogleEarth window. Find the (approximate) location of where you found the herp and click on that spot. The spot will now be marked by an orange marker. Now click the little "x" in the upper righthand corner to close the window and you're done. Or, you can use your own copy of GoogleEarth, and copy/paste the coordinates of your find into the longitude and latitude boxes. It’s also fun to “look around” the area with Google Earth – maybe there’s a nice ridge or valley that was just out of view you’ll now want to check out.

The last thing you need to do is attach a voucher shot (or, if you want, several voucher shots). This is done by uploading a picture from a web album of some kind (e.g., Picasa, flickr). Note that the picture needs to be in the correct format. In Picasa, for example, you need to select the format "small." Otherwise the voucher will not be accepted. Data entries without vouchers are widely regarded as worthless. So be sure to upload at least one reasonably good ID picture for each record.

Once you get the hang of it, and it won't be long, entering one record should not take you more than 2 minutes. That means that entering, say, 2 snakes, 5 lizards and 3 toads won't take more than 20 minutes of your time. Some people prefer to enter data on a regular basis so as not to create a backlog. Others like to sit on data for a while and then input lots of records at once. That's up to everyone to decide for themselves. The key thing is to come up with a way that works for you. If 20 minutes, or even 10 minutes, is too long for you, input only 1 or 2 records at a time to spread out the work. You'll see, once you get started, it won't be as bad as you may think. Just give it a try.

To see your records, click on "View My Records" and there they are, all neatly organized in reverse chronological order. You'll see, you'll love it. It'll double your sense of accomplisment and make you want to enter more. But be careful. Data entry is addictive. Once you start, you may not be able to stop … and we are only half-kidding.

If you have any questions, feel free to send a PM to me or one of the chapter officers. We'll all be happy to help!

Thank you!

Kent VanSooy, former President CA NAFHA chapter

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Fundad
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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Fundad » August 17th, 2011, 3:41 pm

If you have any questions, feel free to send a PM to one of the chapter officers (Kent VanSooy, Todd Battey, Hellihooks, Billboard), or either RobertH or Jonathan. We'll all be happy to help!
I have been helping regularly.. So feel free to ask me as well..

Lets make the NAFHA database the largest of its kind in the world..

Fundad

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brick911
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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by brick911 » August 25th, 2011, 11:54 am

Do we know what the largest is?

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Harold of the Rocks
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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Harold of the Rocks » August 29th, 2011, 7:56 pm

I have most all my finds from this year recorded and photographed.
Im waiting for a the winter lay-off to put them all in the database. Its not an astronomical amount but there are some lesser found mundane things and county's with little and/or no records to be added.

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Biker Dave » September 25th, 2011, 5:03 pm

Great post Kent! If you don't mind, I'm going to cut and paste this over to the Arizona chapter forum. Is that ok? It is. Great! Thanks!

Dave Weber

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Kent VanSooy
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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Kent VanSooy » September 25th, 2011, 5:14 pm

Absolutely Dave, feel free!

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Biker Dave
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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Biker Dave » September 28th, 2011, 8:35 pm

Thanks Kent

captain uta
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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by captain uta » January 14th, 2012, 2:56 pm

It sucks how you have to enter gps now to enter stuff in the data base. Anyone else agree?

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Steve Bledsoe » January 15th, 2012, 8:08 am

captain uta wrote:It sucks how you have to enter gps now to enter stuff in the data base. Anyone else agree?
I guess it depends on how you look at it.

If you're using the HERP database just as a place to store your personal records, then you may feel like entering L/L data is a pain in the a$$.

But, if your purpose for entering data into the database is to contribute data that researchers actually want to use, then entering the L/L data is exactly what you should be doing. It's as equally important as a voucher, and in some cases maybe more important.

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by squirrel » January 15th, 2012, 9:43 am

captain uta wrote:It sucks how you have to enter gps now to enter stuff in the data base. Anyone else agree?
Have you ever entered any? Just trying to get a perspective of where you're coming from.

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by captain uta » January 15th, 2012, 5:22 pm

I agree Steve but shouldnt we have a choice whether or not to enter longitude and latitude?

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by hellihooks » January 16th, 2012, 8:52 am

You do have a choice... enter the data in the manner we have deemed appropriate, or don't enter data. This is neither 'Burger King' or a publicly-funded enterprise, wherein you could claim any right to a 'choice'. :) jim

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Schell » January 16th, 2012, 10:28 am

While I agree with your sentiment Jim, it is also important for users and potential users to know why it's important.

The database is the Herpetological Education and Research Project, it is not a dumping receptacle for one's field notes. That's what field notes are for. Personally, I maintain my records/field notes in no fewer than 4 places: my original notebooks, NAHERP, my own digital archives and in forms that I submit to the agencies, not to mention importing metadata into my photos, herpwiki, calphotos, etc. Is it a pain in the ass? Most certainly, but at the very least, by handling the data this many times I am able to to my own QA/QC of the data, fill in any gaps and ensure everything is correct.

The bottom line is that we are a Citizen Scientist organization. Being a citizen is not a reason to lower our standards. In fact, we are at an inherent disadvantage and need to work harder to prove that we are a legitimate organization. We should do nothing less that to strive to raise the caliber of our records and our reputation amongst academics and agencies.

When we are able to demonstrate that we have reliable and accurate data (essentially, our product), the heavens will open and mana will rain down. But in all seriousness, we will be able to point to this reputation and use it to market ourselves to land-owners, conservation organizations, parks, etc. This will in-turn grant us access to be able to herp areas that are now off limits, which in the end is what we get in return. Also, we get to make a substantive contribution to conservation of the critters that we all love.

The database was conceived and is run in hopes that someone, someday will put these records to use and as such we need to be cognizant of the eventual consumer of these data. Quite frankly any end user that receives data lacking certain fundamental location data is useless to them, and will be thrown out. It's delusional to think that someone is going to stake their reputation, credibility and perhaps their career on a record or records entered by someone they don't know without basic ways to verify those records. I know I wouldn't. We have a lot of junk-data in the database, something we are attempting to remedy. Hell, if you can't bother to enter something simple like GPS data, how does that reflect on the credibility of the person entering said data. What else didn't you enter, is the species ID even correct?

Additionally even if you do not enter any other data, such as habitat, slope, aspect, temperature, etc., If you have GPS and a date and time, you can plot the occurrences out in GIS and using past historic temperature data and landscape modeling, figure the rest out fairly easily.

My personal position is that we should require nothing less than GPS coordinates AND voucher photos for ALL entries. Why? because if I was putting my career or name on a work-product that was using someone else's data, I would want to be able to verify that data myself. "Trust, but verify." Additionally, if I query the database thinking that I'm going to receive 1,000 records and have to spend days or weeks verifying and throwing out records only to figure out I have only have 100 valid usable entries, am I going to request data from HERP again? am I going to refer HERP to my colleagues? Probably not.

This is generally why we require what we do.

Cheers,

Rob

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Fundad » January 16th, 2012, 11:30 am

Additionally, if I query the database thinking that I'm going to receive 1,000 records and have to spend days or weeks verifying and throwing out records only to figure out I have only have 100 valid usable entries, am I going to request data from HERP again? am I going to refer HERP to my colleagues? Probably not.
I hope to address this very issue, when the DB advisory board is put together.


You do have a choice... enter the data in the manner we have deemed appropriate, or don't enter data. This is neither 'Burger King' or a publicly-funded enterprise, wherein you could claim any right to a 'choice'. :) jim
I would like to get away from telling members and potential members that want to enter data "or don't enter data.". A
better way to is to explain why its important and leave it at that.

Fundad

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Biker Dave
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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Biker Dave » January 16th, 2012, 5:10 pm

I do not have a problem entering LL data.....

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Toxic
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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Toxic » January 17th, 2012, 9:34 pm

I would love to contribute my records that I have into the database. However, to make an account I have to agree to the bylaws, and the bylaws state that a member must be 18 or older. I'm only 17, so do I just have to wait? Seems strange since Robert H.'s son is adding and he's only 9 :thumb: I've posted sporadically in a few threads along with posting a landslide of a picture post of my own, so I guess I may be known by some.
Thoughts?

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Taylor Henry » January 17th, 2012, 11:39 pm

Nick,

First off, I am impressed that you are paying attention to the bylaws. That's definitely a sign of maturity and good character. I'm sure there are several "adult" members that have barely given them a glance, if anything at all. Until you are 18, you would need to have one of your parents create an account under their name and then you could enter the records through their account. That is how I believe it works with Robert and Nicholas. When you turn 18, I believe there is a way that you could change the account to be in your name (hopefully someone will correct me if I am wrong). Anyway, it's great to see your enthusiasm towards the database and I hope you don't get discouraged by the technicality.

Taylor

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by RobertH » January 18th, 2012, 9:45 am

Nick, yes, Taylor is right, Nicholas enters data under my name and, at least for now, under my supervision.

Taylor is also right that many older members, myself included, have never paid much attention to the bylaws. In a way, you'd be better off, if you hadn't, either. ;)

Personally, I don't like the 18 year age limit. It makes no sense, and I have never heard a reason for it, legal or otherwise, that makes sense to me. Hopefully, we'll change it one day. 15 or 16 would make a lot more sense.

Robert

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by hellihooks » January 18th, 2012, 10:05 am

Fundad wrote:
Additionally, if I query the database thinking that I'm going to receive 1,000 records and have to spend days or weeks verifying and throwing out records only to figure out I have only have 100 valid usable entries, am I going to request data from HERP again? am I going to refer HERP to my colleagues? Probably not.
I hope to address this very issue, when the DB advisory board is put together.


You do have a choice... enter the data in the manner we have deemed appropriate, or don't enter data. This is neither 'Burger King' or a publicly-funded enterprise, wherein you could claim any right to a 'choice'. :) jim
I would like to get away from telling members and potential members that want to enter data "or don't enter data.". A
better way to is to explain why its important and leave it at that.

Fundad
Yeah... I know. Everyone has an 'off day', and obviously that was one of mine.... bottom line... the explanation WAS provided... again. I SHOULD have directed CU to threads that already explain our rationals... and should/could have been read before his inquiry... :roll:
Maybe a FAQ sticky? jim

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Biker Dave » January 18th, 2012, 6:47 pm

Toxic

Keep collecting your data anyway. When you get older you will realize how short one year really is.

RobertH
In a way, you'd be better off, if you hadn't, either.


That's no way to mentor/educate our youth! Sure the 18 Rule is dumb, but so are a lot of other rules in our society and we still need to obey them. (Especially the one about paying taxes :lol: )

Keep on keeping on all!

Dave

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by LouB747 » February 7th, 2012, 2:42 pm

Always stuck with.....invalid username or password. Reset by having a new password emailed to me. That doesn't work either. So cant enter data.....

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Schell » February 7th, 2012, 2:49 pm

LouB747 wrote:Always stuck with.....invalid username or password. Reset by having a new password emailed to me. That doesn't work either. So cant enter data.....
Hi Lou,

I'd suggest you PM the Database administrator: "Psyon" about your issue. Unfortunately, there isn't anything we can do to solve this problem at the Chapter level.

Good luck!

Rob

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by LouB747 » February 7th, 2012, 3:00 pm

Thanks, will do.

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Fundad » February 7th, 2012, 3:09 pm

Lou,

If for some reason you, still have problems after talking with Don, let me know, and we'll work to find a solution for you.

Fundad

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by LouB747 » February 15th, 2012, 6:31 pm

It's all good now. Thanks though, Lou

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by ricrabt » March 16th, 2012, 11:00 am

GPS info is super easy to enter the way it has been set up. Just click on the tool icon and use the map tab to start by finding roads close the area. Then it's easy to zero in from there...John

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Fundad » November 26th, 2012, 7:19 am

One of the perks of entering GPS is viewing your records on Google Earth..

If anyone hasn't done that yet, I highly recommend it.

Fundad

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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by devilfish79 » July 8th, 2013, 3:01 pm

ricrabt wrote:GPS info is super easy to enter the way it has been set up. Just click on the tool icon and use the map tab to start by finding roads close the area. The it's easy to zero in from there...John

That's exactly what I did! I have the locations saved on my Google Earth, so I just located the same GPS on the given tool map. :)

-Erik

PS: First 5 of many to come!

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Fundad
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Re: Please contribute to the NAFHA database!

Post by Fundad » July 17th, 2013, 5:57 am

:thumb:

Nice keep em coming..

Fundad

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Re: Please contribute to the H.E.R.P. database!

Post by Brian Hubbs » September 2nd, 2015, 11:42 am

I think our online database (at over 222,000 records) is now the Largest for herps...only dwarfed by several museum collections... :thumb:

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Re: Please contribute to the H.E.R.P. database!

Post by jonathan » September 24th, 2015, 7:13 pm

Brian Hubbs wrote:I think our online database (at over 222,000 records) is now the Largest for herps...only dwarfed by several museum collections... :thumb:

:thumb:

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Re: Please contribute to the H.E.R.P. database!

Post by fangmaster » March 14th, 2017, 10:55 pm

Unfortunately i tried to enter data, and it kept telling me to enter it in certain formats, i tried and it kept rejecting it, saying it wasn't entered right, after several tries i gave up frustrated. If data needs to be formatted, the program on the site should convert it automatically, a shame that i had a significant find, and couldn't enter it.

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Re: Please contribute to the H.E.R.P. database!

Post by jonathan » March 14th, 2017, 11:15 pm

fangmaster wrote:Unfortunately i tried to enter data, and it kept telling me to enter it in certain formats, i tried and it kept rejecting it, saying it wasn't entered right, after several tries i gave up frustrated. If data needs to be formatted, the program on the site should convert it automatically, a shame that i had a significant find, and couldn't enter it.

I assume that the data you didn't have formatted correctly was the long/lat coordinates? Nothing else needs to be "formatted", right?

The site accepts five different formats for long/lat:

12.34567890
12 20.74'
12 20.74
12 20 44.44'
12 20 44.44

NSWE letters don't need to be added for the first format, for the others they can be either at the beginning or the end.


Perhaps you accidentally kept leaving the degrees mark in (that little circle) and the data field didn't understand it?

This is a program put together by a bunch of herpers donated their own time, expertise, and computer resources. If you want to help take it to the next level, NAHERP.com does accept donations, and perhaps at some point there could be someone paid to make every improvement possible. As it is, Don Becker does a great job responding to suggestions for improvements, though if he hasn't done this one yet I'm sure there's a reason - it can't be easy to account for literally every single symbol someone might try to use while formatting long/lat.

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Re: Please contribute to the H.E.R.P. database!

Post by fangmaster » March 15th, 2017, 12:03 am

Actually after several tries, did manage to get the lat long in, but the last straw was of all things humidity. Tried all kinds of combos, finally just gave up, it was a long day of herping, and just lost patience

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Re: Please contribute to the H.E.R.P. database!

Post by jonathan » March 15th, 2017, 9:26 pm

fangmaster wrote:Actually after several tries, did manage to get the lat long in, but the last straw was of all things humidity. Tried all kinds of combos, finally just gave up, it was a long day of herping, and just lost patience
The humidity field is completely optional, and in my mind unnecessary. You can just leave it out and you'll be fine.


Psyon and others, you see this? THIS is why I argued many years ago that we should simplify the data form to those things that our data-requesters are actually using. Fangmaster isn't the first one this has happened to, and he won't be the last.

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Re: Please contribute to the H.E.R.P. database!

Post by Calfirecap » March 25th, 2017, 7:33 am

If you have humidity data that you wish to enter, just enter in the digits. Leave the percent symbol off and you should be able to enter your data.

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