3. General remarks

3.1. Why are the user instructions so detailed?

The experts at Lepiforum take their time to answer also difficult questions accurately. Therefore we would like to ask you to invest some time to read the user instructions before your first visit at Lepiforum.

3.2. Our aim

The aim of this Forum is to enhance the exchange (dialogue) between scientists and non-experts. Virtually no other discipline than Zoology, especially Lepidopterology (the scientific study of butterflies and moths) depends so much on data collected by engaged lay people. We are most happy if all different kind of people join us - experts, of whom many are already regular visitors, people with a focus on other disciplines but also real beginners who are invited to post their questions.

3.3. The topic

At Lepiforum amateurs receive qualified answers on their request for the determination of species. Lepidopterology benefits from interesting local species reports.

Please use [Forum 1] only for requests regarding the determination of species. For all other topics regarding butterflies, we established [Forum 2].

3.4. Advertising

Lepiforum is free of advertising. For being able to offer this service to our users in future, we ask all users to desist from any advertising in their postings. Please do not link any photos to the forum, which have been stored at a commercial picture data base, which uses advertising popups. You can use the Lepiforum web server to display your photos (for details see "Inserting pictures").

We reserve our right to reply to any misuse of this page, especially to spam mails, with a written warning, that is subject to costs. If appropriate, we will file charges against the sender and take further legal steps.

3.5. Tolerance

You are requested to show tolerance against each other and the administrators of the forum, even if user instructions are disregarded unintendedly.

3.6. Removal and revision of articles

The administrators ([Erwin Rennwald]: scientific supervision; [Jürgen Rodeland]: Editor and technical support; [Ingrid Altmann], [Peter Buchner], [Armin Dahl], [Thomas Fähnrich], Mario Finkel, [Jürgen Hensle], [Michel Kettner], [Clas Lehmann], Allan Liosi, [Heidrun Melzer], [Jens Philipp], Friedrich von Ramin, [Axel Steiner], [Heinrich Vogel], and [Karola Winzer]: Editor) sustain the successful principle of Walter Schön (the founder of this forum), that only in exceptional cases articles are deleted - either partly or completely. In such cases, we ask the person concerned not to take it personally. The editorial staff will revise incorrect scientific names to make sure that they can be found by the search engine function.

3.7. Registration, user profile

Lepiforum is an open platform for discussions, that requires no registration. If you decide to register, please create a user profile. Your name will be protected by your user-definable password. Please keep it carefully. If you should ever forget your password, please write an e-mail to one of the administrators (Jürgen Rodeland, Peter Buchner, Heinrich Vogel). You will receive a new preliminary password. For safety reasons, immediately define a new password at your user account.

It is up to you, if you use an empty user profile for registration or if you share some information about yourself.

3.8. Etiquette

In contrast to many other internet forums, the members of Lepiforum agreed to communicate under their real names (First and last name, no pseudonyms). This is part of the quality standards of Lepiforum, because data that are relevant for scientific research always include the name of the author. This also holds true for local species reports, that require the exact position and circumstances as well as the finder`s name. If someone hesitates to show his real name on the internet, he can use a Pseudonym (or his first name or initials) at Lepiforum, but he might be ignored or treated ruggedly by other users.

3.9. Copyright

The pictures and texts published on Lepiforum and section "Identification support" (German: Bestimmungshilfe) are subject to the general strict Copyright rules. Any use of pictures and texts exceeding the pure personal use is not allowed without the explicit permission of the authors. Users are only allowed to post their own pictures - no scans from books, pictures from webpages etc.! In some cases Walter Schön will ask authors to contribute particular pictures for [his own butterfly webpage]. It would be nice if he would get this permission - but it is no precondition for joining the forum.

3.10. Data privacy

The publication of mail and e-mail addresses and other personal data of forum users to third party is only allowed with their explicit permission.

3.11. Off-topic postings

Please do not use the forums for chatting. There is a dedicated chat room for all members of Lepiforum e.V..

3.12. User interface settings of the forum

You can adapt individually the format how postings are sorted and displayed. For detailed information click on the "Personal settings" (German: "Meine Einstellungen") at the top left corner.

3.13. Text formatting, emoticons and special characters

Some basic formatting commands can be included into postings. The according code has to be inserted in square brackets - of course without quotation marks.

  • "[b]bold[/b]" for "bold
  • "[i]italics[/i]" for "italics
  • "[red]red[/red]" for "red
  • "[blue]blue[/blue]" for "blue
  • "[green]green[/green]" for "green
  • "[magenta]magenta[/magenta]" for "magenta
  • "[big]big[/big]" for "big
  • "[small]small[/small]" for "small
  • "[krypt]hidden text[/krypt]" for hidden text, which is only visible if you drag the cursor with pressed mouse button. A function for friends of brainteasers, which works with the same code in both forums
  • "[quote]quote[/quote]" inserts a text (for example quotations)
  • "[*]" adds a bullet point in front of the text. This is the only function that does not require a closing formatting command as "[/...]"

All formatting commands can be combined with each other.

Besides, the following emoticons and special characters are available:



The icon can be used to mark articles that include photos that are still missing in "Identification support" (German: Bestimmungshilfe).

can be used to mark threads in which a false identification was undiscovered for a while and has been corrected finally.

All special characters that are defined in HTML-Unicode can be inserted by using the particular Unicode. The Unicode format for the decimal code is „&#NUMBER;“. You can find an overview table on [SELFHTML]. Gender symbols can be used in articles by using the Unicode hexadecimal system: = ♀ – = ♂

Inside headings a workaround with graphics has to be used (see smiley table above). Please use the preview function (German: Vorschau) before sharing an article formatted like this.

3.14. Remarks for questioners

3.15. Search function

All articles at the forums and the forum archives can be searched by individual search terms like date, keyword and authors. If you already have a suspicion about a particular species, the search function can be used for plausibility-checks.

3.16. Required observation data

If you ask for the determination of a species, please make sure that the observation data are as detailed as possible. In some cases, they are vital for the determination. Besides, please indicate honestly if your photo is an unmanipulated outdoor photo, a manipulated outdoor photo (please specify the manipulation) or a studio photo. Best practice is the scheme of the Identification Support of Lepiforum: Country, State or Kanton, Region, City, altitude, biotope, observation and catching method, date (outdoor or studio photo: first and second name).


United Kingdom, Wales, Gwynedd, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, 0 m, Menai Strait rivage, March 17, 2014, light trap (studio photo: Jane Doe)

Only for highly endangered species it can be reasonable to leave out the exact position (e.g. a particular conservation area) of the observation, but not the city nearby. The exact observation data are also important for the forum operators, because whenever possible they should be made available to scientific reasearch. Obviously, not all discussed observations will lead to an unambiguous identification of the species. Sometimes the best you can get is to narrow down an observation to a few species that come into consideration.

3.17. Subject line

Use the subject line (German: Betreff) to express the content of your article shortly and precisely. Change the subject line, if the content of the thread moves into a new direction. Avoid meaningless phrases like "Looking for identification support" or "Help". It is more useful to address the right experts by using dedicated target words. As you can imagine, almost no user of the forum is going to read all threads. Examples for meaningful subject lines are: "Giant moth from Turkey", "Caterpillar on high alpine lichens", "Leaf mines on Lime (Tilia)". Best practice is if you include your suspicion after studying the Identification Support (German: Bestimmungshilfe) and Literature in the subject line: „Sphingidae: Daphnis nerii?“, „Leaf mine on Lime (Tilia): Phyllonorycter issikii?“.

3.18. Starting a new thread

Please only use the function "Create a new article" (German: "Neuen Beitrag schreiben"), if you start a new topic. If you want to show several photos of the same butterfly, upload the photos as an answer to your article or use the function "upload data file" (German: „Datei hochladen“, above the text entry area) repeatedly. General rule: The same specimen always in the same thread. This holds true if you posted a caterpillar photo some weeks ago and you now want to show the emerged butterfly: attach the butterfly photo to the caterpillar thread! The script of the forum always shows answers to older threads on the overview page, to make sure that your article will be noticed.

3.19. Inserting pictures

The determination of butterflies and caterpillars just based on a description is only possible in exceptional cases. Therefore most identifications are based on photos. For your articles, you can choose if you link pictures that are stored on your own web server or if you upload pictures from your hard disk to the Lepiforum web server. Users, who decide to upload their photos to the Lepiforum web server for an identification request, agree that they can be used for the section "Identification support". To avoid unnecessary work, we ask you to send all pictures that might be useful for "Identification support" in a landscape format 3:2 (or in an upright format 2:3). Please read the [Instructions for photo editing] if necessary. Please limit the file size of your photos to 100 KB, even if they are stored on your own web server. This is especially helpful for users who might have no broad band internet access. For photos with many small details (like e.g. branches), 300 KB is a reasonable maximum size.

If you link photos from your own web server, please make sure that they are not deleted or renamed. If the link to the photo gets lost, the forum articles lose their value if pictures are not visible anymore.

Important advice for users with a slow internet connection: Whenever you upload a photo, please wait until the browser moved automatically to the next web page. If you make a mouse click during the upload, it might get aborted and the photo cannot be displayed at the forum.

Picture file format: Lepiforum accepts *.jpg (suitable for photos) and *.gif (suitable for drawings).

Size limitation: Uploaded pictures with a side length of more than 900 pixels will be cut automatically to 900 pixels. We recommend reducing the picture size in advance to max. 900 x 600 (or upright format 600 x 900) pixel and to choose a section where appropriate, to optimize the picture quality. For details please see Instructions for photo editing (German: [Tipps zur Digitalfoto-Bearbeitung]).

3.20. Patience

Most requests regarding Macrolepidoptera at Lepiforum are answered within hours or sometimes even minutes. If you should receive no answer, please reflect if your question was clear and understandable and please be patient. If however the question is left open for two or three weeks, you can reply to your own request to bring your thread back to the top of the Forum`s page.

For Microlepidoptera ("smaller moths"), there are only a few experts who are visiting the forum regularly. If you postpone your requests regarding Microlepidoptera to the winter months, the chance for a competent answer is much higher. As you can imagine, the specialists are very busy during summer - both at the forum and their light traps.

3.21. Field guides and scientific literature

Lepiforum cannot replace the scientific literature for species identification. Everyone who is really interested in butterflies and caterpillars needs dedicated books who cannot be replaced by the internet. We refer to our List of scientific field guides (German: [Liste gängiger Bestimmungsliteratur]). The used abbreviations are intended to simplify the citation inside articles.

3.22. Section "Identification support" (German: „Bestimmungshilfe“, abbreviation BH)

The editors create a collection of pictures and useful explanations for the identification of each species using photos from the forum and and additional photos provided by the photographers. The aim is to include all European species, including Microlepidoptera, in all stages of their development cycle.

By uploading your photos for determination to the forum web server, you agree that they can be used by the editors for the section "Identification support". If you use your own web server and just link your photos to the forum, the editors will ask you for permission if they can be also used for the section "Identification support". In each case the photographer's name will be mentioned.

Forum articles, from which photos where extracted for "Identification support", are marked with the term "Bestimmungshilfe" (German for Identification support) in green letters next to the date and time stamp.

3.23. Extent of usage

The main intention of Lepiforum is solving individual determination problems. The identification of collection specimen (spread butterflies) should remain an exception - there are better possibilities. It is not intended to identify whole series of photos or specimen. Please postpone determination request for small and medium size photo series to the winter months, when there are less requests.

4. Remarks for responding users

4.1. Quality standards

It is absolutely intended, that not only experts but rather amateurs respond to requests for species identification. If you do so, please pay attention to your formulation (apart from the fact that everyone can be wrong sometimes). We recommend identifying only species (or higher taxa), that you know in their variance on your own experience. If not, please mark your identification as an attempt. Your formulation should express explicitly if your identification is unsure. In contrast, please also indicate if your identification is profound.

4.2. Scientific names

Lepiforum also intends to meet the scientific standards of experts and advanced amateurs. This suggests, amongst others, the use of scientific names. If there are unambiguous English or German names they can be added as a service for interested non-experts.

4.3. Subject line

Please mention the scientific name in the subject line of each species identification, to facilitate a clear forum structure. Please also send separate answers to series of identification requests.

4.4. Quotation of the answered article

Please cite only as much text of the former article as it is needed to understand the context of your answer. The forum software offers a citing function below the text entry area.

4.5. Answering requests at the forum archives

At the forum archives, it is not possible to reply to requests or to open new threads. If you refer to articles at the archives, please copy the URL of the archived article to the active forum.

English translation: Guido Mennicken