Contributing Content to EOL
This section covers two broad categories of contributions. Those you may use as a Fellow, and those you must be familiar with in order to be an effective EOL ambassador.
You may have already decided how you plan to contribute your content to EOL. You may be a contributor to an existing content partner, or to a site which will become a content partner shortly. You may plan to use a LifeDesk or Scratchpad. If you haven't decided yet, you have a number of options and this section should help you narrow them down.
LifeDesks orientation (optional)
Complete this section if you plan to use a LifeDesk, or may have colleagues who are interested in LifeDesks. This platform is free, hosted by EOL, and provides a good environment for managing a classification and/or for developing text and image content for taxon pages. LifeDesks are quite simple to operate. Multiple members can collaborate on a LifeDesk. LifeDesk content can be easily shared to EOL.
Basic LifeDesk training is housed on the help LifeDesk, so check there periodically for updates or more advanced questions. Review the screencasts below to familiarize yourself with basic LifeDesk tasks:
Scratchpads training materials (optional)
Read this section if you plan to use a Scratchpad, or may have colleagues who are interested in Scratchpads. This platform is free, supported by the Vibrant project, and provides a good environment for managing a classification and/or for developing text and multimedia content for taxon pages as well as for managing specimen-level and other structured data. Scratchpads v2 will be launched in March 2012 and are expected to be quite user-friendly, although use of more sophisticated features will require some training. Multiple members can collaborate on a Scratchpad. Scratchpad content can be easily shared to EOL.
Scratchpad training will be available in March 2012 in online materials currently in development. Bear in mind this is a newly released product, so they're still adding features and fleshing out documentation, and there may be occasional bugs. Don't be shy about error reporting. EOL staff will also be training on this platform, so live human assistance is available if you need it. If you are considering working with Scratchpads, contact the Fellows Coordinator for up to date information on available testing environments where you can experiment and explore the tools.
Content Partner Logistics (required)
What are EOL Content Partners? This is an important basic question which you should be able to answer, so read this page.
As a Fellow, you will either be the owner of a Content Partner or a contributing member of one. Either way, you should understand what you're getting into. Check out our Getting Started page and be sure to click through to our Licensing Policy. At the bottom of Getting Started, when you get to Content Partner Registration, go to your own EOL user profile and give it a try. (Open the Content Partner tab on your user page to create a new partner). If you will be needing a Content Partner account of your own, go ahead and save your Content Partner profile. You can come back and edit it later. If you will be contributing via a larger existing Content Partner, you won't be needing an account of your own. In that case, you can cancel out of the profile instead of saving it.
Will you be sharing text with us? Nearly all Fellows do; even if you're not, it's important that you're familiar with this category of content, in case a colleague is considering sharing text with us and asks you about it. The Taxon Descriptions page will familiarize you with questions surrounding text content- what attribution and other metadata are needed, what context should be supplied so the text will make sense on a taxon page, etc. Please also take a look at our Subject Types page to get an idea of the subject headings underwhich you can place your text on our taxon pages. Parts of these two pages are slightly technical; if that's not your responsibility on the platform you're sharing from, don't be alarmed, just skip over.
Classification contribution (optional)
If at all possible, we encourage you to work with our existing classification partners to help them revise their classifications if needed. However, this is not always straightforward. If the classifications available on EOL for your organisms are not up to your standards and you have a better one, or you are planning to create a better one in the course of your Fellowship, you can share it with us directly. Note that the Darwin Core Archive file method is preferred and usually easiest.
Direct Text Contribution (required)
It is unlikely you will use direct text entry for your own contributions except on rare occasions, but if the occasion is time sensitive (one of your organisms is in the news, and you haven't gotten to that page yet) this is the fastest way to add text to an EOL page. It's also a great, simple method you might talk colleagues into using to contribute. This screencast will walk you through the process. There'll be an exercise in the questionnaire below where you can show off your direct text entry skills.
Content Partners for Individual Contributions (required)
There are a growing number of EOL Content Partners offering tools that allow easy contribution by individuals. Here are several important ones for multimedia, including images, audio and video. "How do I post an image on EOL?" is one of the most frequent questions we get, so this is important for you to know for your EOL ambassadorial duties.
Often, offering an easy sharing method is the best way to coax someone into contributing media, especially for the first time. Flickr is a great opportunity space for this. Check out this screencast to learn how to invite Flickr users to share images with EOL:
Other partners who can accept various kinds of individual contributions are listed here. Many of these are appropriate for particular kinds of would-be contributors, including professional scientists, people offering structured data, and people committed to existing platforms such as Wikipedia, or interested in particular taxa, like mushrooms.
Important note- are you, or the partner through whom you're contributing, looking for individual content contributions? Contact the collection manager to get your Content Partner listed here.
One last thing: what if you meet someone who owns a collection of 2500 beautiful, identified photos she'd like to share- but she's got them on a folder on her hard drive? They're not posted anywhere online. First of all, tell her "Yes, we can do that. No, you don't have to post each of them individually to Flickr." From the reading above you can probably already tell, there's always a solution if somebody wants to share. Find out as much as you can about the metadata related to the photos, particularly the taxon names (if you're lucky, these will be the filename or indexed by filename) and attribution info (all the same photographer? If not, make sure the copyright owners consent before you negotiate for their material!) Then read our instructions for large offline image collections and help your contact decide which is the easiest or most appropriate method for her. Don't hesitate to refer to EOL staff for help and advice.
These opportunities should never be treated lightly. As a Fellow, you get credit for content you recruit regardless of whether it gets to EOL via your content partnership. Candidates frequently underestimate the effort it will take to create content when putting together their proposals, but you will know soon enough how much you've bitten off and how much work will be needed to meet your content goals. More advice on recruiting collaborators follows under Community Engagement.