treegrow 6:52am, 23 April 2012
What is a machine tag?

A machine tag is just like a normal tag, but it follows a special format. Machine tags always have 3 parts:


For the EOL machine tags, the namespace is "taxonomy" because the tag is used to provide taxonomic information. The predicates provide information about what kind of a name is provided in the machine tag, and the value is the actual name.

How should I tag my photos for EOL use?

For most photos, all you need to do is create a binomial tag with the genus and species name like this:

taxonomy:binomial="Genus species"

Example: taxonomy:binomial="Panthera tigris"

Note that you need to have quotes in your binomial machine tag to keep it from breaking apart at the space between the genus and species name.

Tags are not case sensistive, i.e., either taxonomy:binomial="PANTHERA TIGRIS" or taxonomy:binomial="panthera tigris" will work just as well. You can also put the quotes around the entire tag instead of the taxon name, i.e., "taxonomy:binomial=panthera tigris" will also work.

Where do I add the tags?

You can add tags in the Flickr Uploader or one by one by clicking on the "Add Tag" button in the Tags section of each photo page. You can also use the Flickr Batch Organizer to tag several images at once after they are uploaded, or you can use the iNaturalist Taxonomic Tags for Flickr tool which lets you search for scientific names and then creates the tags for you. This tool is particularly great if you're worried about making typing mistakes. It will add perfectly formed tags for you.

Do I have to tag all my images?

Your images won't be imported to EOL unless they are properly tagged. If you don't have the time to tag the images yourself, you can ask for help in the Tagging help needed thread. Other people in the group will then help you tag your images. Note that you are most likely to get tagging help if the following is true:

1. You post a lot of images to the group
2. Your images are of high quality
3. Your images are of rarely photographed organisms
4. You provide the name of the organisms in your image descriptions or in your regular tags

How can I help others tag their images?

If you are interested in providing tagging help to some of our most prolific contributors, please check the Tagging help needed thread for instructions. If you are going to tag images for the Biodiversity Heritage Library, be sure to read the instructions here: Tagging images for the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Should I add tags for the genus, family, etc.?

In addition to the binomial tag, you can also provide tags for other taxonomic ranks above the species level. These tags will help us to find the correct taxon for your image if there are several taxa with the same name (homonymy). Also, if you add an image for a species that is not yet in one of the EOL classifications, providing tags for additional ranks will result in the display of your image on the pages for all those taxa.

The following supra-specific ranks are supported:

taxonomy:class= *

Replace the * with the name of the taxon.

Instead of using the binomial tag to indicate the species, you can also use a genus tag in combination with a species tag, e.g.:


What about subspecies, varieties, cultivars, etc.?

You can use the trinomial tag if you want to place an image on the page for a subspecies:
taxonomy:trinomial="Panthera tigris sumatrae"

Unfortunately we don't have any tags for varieties, sections, cultivars, breeds, etc. For the time being, please tag these with the species and then add information about the other names in the image description. EOL curators may then attach your image to appropriate taxa directly on EOL.

What about hybrids?

Although we have some EOL pages for hybrids, we do not yet have machine tags to place Flickr images on these pages. So for now, please tag these images with the genus tag, and then provide the name of the hybrid in the image description. If we have a taxon page for the hybrid, EOL curators may attach your image to this page directly on EOL.

Can I use a common name to place my photo on an EOL taxon page?

You can add machine tags for common names, e.g.,


However, we do not currently use common name tags to place images on EOL taxon pages. For the time being, we are harvesting and storing these names, but we are not doing anything with them yet. If you would like to help improve the coverage of common names on EOL, please sign up as an EOL assistant curator and add the names directly on EOL.

What if I don't know the name of the species?

If you don't know which species you have photographed, tag your image at the taxonomic level you recognize, however general it may be. For example, you could tag something with taxonomy:kingdom=animal, taxonomy:class=mollusca, or taxonomy:order=coleoptera.

People in our Flickr group or EOL curators may help you to further identify the organism in your photo. Also, you can try using one of the tools listed on the Online Identification Guides page, or you could post your image to the ID Please thread on iNaturalist.

What if there is more than one species in the photo?

You can tag more than one organism in your photo, but make sure that all organisms are tagged at the same taxonomic level. Ideally, you would provide the binomial for all species. If you don't know the species for all of the organisms, PLEASE don't mix binomial tags with genus or family tags. This would confuse our harvester since it is not able to sort out whether the different taxonomic tags represent different organisms or the taxonomic hierarchy for a single organism.

Do I have to tag my image with the same name that's used on the EOL taxon page?

Your image will end up on the relevant EOL page even if you tag it with a different name, just as long as EOL has the names mapped as synonyms. Taxonomy is a very dynamic field, and the names of organisms are constantly changing. EOL classification providers are continuously updating their hierarchies to keep up with modern nomenclature, but EOL still has many names that are out of date. Sometimes we will have several pages for the same species, under different names. We are working on tools that will let EOL curators sort out such problems.

What if the organism in my image does not have an EOL page?

Many names are still missing from EOL. If you tag your image with a name that is unknown to EOL, we will create a new page for the name in your tag. So please be sure to check your spelling, so you won't create new, misspelled taxa by mistake.

How do I keep my machine tags from breaking into several pieces?

Make sure to put quotes around the tags if they have spaces in them. For example, use
"taxonomy:binomial=Panthera tigris" or taxonomy:binomial="Panthera tigris"

If you just enter taxonomy:binomial=Panthera tigris without the quotes, you will get two tags: taxonomy:binomial=Panthera and tigris.
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