Groups,  Privacy,  and Comments  About Calflora
Groups Updated August, 2014

Introducing groups
A group is a set of people using Calflora to work on a common data collection project. The advantage of a group is that the members can share unpublished observations easily with each other, before those observations are available to the public.

Join a group
If you are registered as a Calflora contributor, you can join any of the existing groups that are open to anyone.

Suppose you are interested in early detection target weeds, and you join the Early Detection Network group. Then, you notice a target weed in a place you have never seen it before, and enter an observation of it. If you associate your observation with the Early Detection Network group, then everyone else in that group can easily find your record and decide what to do about the weed.


Development partially funded by the
Morro Bay National Estuary Program and the
Bay Area Early Detection Network.
To join a group, go to My Calflora (and register as a contributor if you haven't already). Then press My Groups. If you are already a member of any groups, you will see them listed. To see the public groups you might join, press JOIN A GROUP. If you want to join one of these groups, check Join this group next to the group of interest.

Group activity
When you are looking at My Calflora / My Groups, there will be an entry for each group of which you are a member. Press RECENT ACTIVITY to see 1. recent observations that are associated with a group, 2. recent comments about those observations, and 3. any recent messages posted by group members.

Each group is a potential stream of observation, comment and POST activity, and it all shows up on this page.

If you are good at identifying plants from photos, or need help identifying plants, join the PLANT ID HELP group.

To start your own group, go to MAKE A NEW GROUP. You can decide if your group will be open to anyone, by invitation only, or restricted (totally hidden).

You can add people currently registered as Calflora contributors to your group by email address. If you make your new group open to anyone, then all other contributors will have the opportunity to join it from My Calflora / My Groups.

If you want someone in your group who has not yet registered as a Calflora contributor, encourage them to register. If your group is open to anyone, the new person can join from My Calflora / My Groups.

If your group is by invitation only, then once you know that the new person has registered, go back to the Group Definition application and add this person to your group by email address.

Getting a New Group Going:
(suggestions for what to do next)

  • If you have already entered observations which are relevant to this group, go to My Observations and associate each of these observations with your new group. (You can edit the records one-by-one, or use MULTIPLE RECORD EDITOR to associate a set of records.)

  • When you use an entry application to add a new observation of interest to this group, remember to associate it with this group. Also, encourage other group members to associate their own relevant observations with this group. Add comments on other members' observations when it serves the group's purpose.

  • From the GROUP HOME PAGE for your group, POST messages welcoming new members and giving direction about what you are trying achieve. (POSTed message are not sent as email -- members must go to My Calflora / My Groups to see them.)

The Data Czar Role
If you are the owner of a group, you can designate certain members of the groups to have the Data Czar role. A member with the Data Czar role is able to edit any record associated with the group.

Why? The Data Czar role is a strong and potentially dangerous capability, so please use it sparingly. If needed, you might want to designate yourself, the owner of the group, as having the Data Czar role, and if really needed, one or two other responsible members of the group. The real reason for this role is for data quality: to enable a group owner to impose quality standards on all records associated with a group.


Access by other users
With the entry applications such as Plant Observation Entry, you can decide whether your observation record is

    published (available to all users)
    unpublished (not available to all users)

You can also decide to associate your record with any group of which you are a member.

If you associate a record with a group, it will appear in the recent activity for that group, and thus come to the attention of other members of the group.

If you associate an unpublished record with a group, other members of the group will be able to easily find it, view it, and comment on it. This ability is intended to make it possible for a group of people to work on a set of records together, out of the public view, until the records are ready for the public.


Who can view a record depends on who onws it, whether it is published, and whether it is associated with any group.

published record, not associated with a group published record, associated with group XYZ unpublished record, not associated with a group unpublished record, associated with group XYZ
record owner yes yes yes yes
user, not a member of group XYZ yes yes no no
user, member of group XYZ yes yes no yes


Comments welcome
If you are a Calflora contributor, you can comment on any observation record. To do so, go to the Observation Detail page for that record, and press COMMENTS. For instance, see this record of Cynara cardunculus in San Mateo Co.

If anyone else has commented on the record, you will see their comments on this page. Press ADD A COMMENT to add your own comment. If you think the identification of the plant is questionable, check the Identification of the plant as stated is questionable box, and explain why. If you suspect that the plant is not wild, check the This plant may be cultivated, not wild box.

If you are a member of any groups, you can associate your comment with one of your groups -- then, your comment will appear in the RECENT ACTIVITY stream for that group. You can edit or delete any of your comments at any time.

My Comments
To see all the comments you have made, go to the My Calflora / My Comments page, and search for Comments I have made. To see comments others may have made about your observations, go to the same page, and search for Comments on my observations.

Posting a message
It is also possible to post a general message, including a link, to any group of which you are a member. Unlike a comment, a post is not tied to a particular observation, but might refer (via the link) to an entire dataset.

To post a message to a group, go to My Calflora / My Groups, and then press the HOME / ALL ACTIVITY link for the relevant group. On the HOME page for the group, and press POST A MESSAGE TO THIS GROUP.

Any messages you may have posted to this group in the past are editable from this page.

Why comment?
Informed comments can be a helpful source of feedback to the person responsible for an observation, even if that person does not agree with every detail. For legacy observation data (where the observer is either not known, or no longer around), comments can also help Calflora volunteers and staff to get erroneous records out of the way.


Center point for observations
From My Calflora / Preferences, you can specify your own center point for observations. This becomes the starting point for various applications, including Observation Entry, My Observations, and Observation Hotline. (If you haven't specified a center point, these applications start near Fresno.)


Questions or problems

    Please WRITE TO US if
    • you have questions about groups, privacy or comments;
    • you experience problems, or the software does not seem to be working as it should;
    • you have suggestions about how groups and comments might work better for your purposes; or
    • you notice any inappropriate content or abuse of the system.