Select from the following topics for more information about this website

Login/Logout Login to or logout from the website
Home The game home screen
Register Register to play the game
Play How to play the game
Replay Replay or view results of a previous game
Scoring How the game score is determined
Statistics Check your score statistics and top 10 lists
Search Search the information in the database at this website
Support Lost password or email/password/screen name changes


Login/Logout - login or logout from the website

Login is required to play the game or view the statistics. Before you can login you must Register. After you are registered you can login using the email address or screen name you entered for registration. When you are logged in you can logout at any time. Closing your browser will automatically log you out on some computers, but not all of them. For example it has been observed that when running Firefox with Windows Vista, the logout is not always automatic. Automatic logout will also happen if you have not accessed any of the pages on this web site for more than one hour that require you to be logged in.


Home - The game home screen

Clicking Home on the menu will take you to the game home page.


Register - register to play the game

Registration is required to play the game and is a two step process. The first step is completing the form on the registration screen. The second step is called activation. After you submit the registration form an email is automatically sent to the address that you entered. In the email is a link that you can click which completes activation. After that you can login and start playing the game. See the notes on the registration page for more information about guidelines for email, password and screen name choices.

Why do you have to register? There are two main reasons. First, for my benefit, it makes the website much more secure. Past experience with spammers has proven that they will attack any website in any way that they can, and the extra security is needed as a first line of defense. Second, registration makes it possible to keep a record of your games and scores, to replay previous games, view the top 10 lists, and to identify and fix any problems that you might run into on the web site such as if you find any incorrect plant identifications or disagree with them.


How to play the game

The object of the game is to match plant names with plant pictures. The goal is to improve one's plant identification ability and memory by repeated active association in a stimulating and enjoyable way rather than by more conventional study which is mostly tedious brute force memorization. Each game is scored, and scoring is based on the percentage of names and pictures that are matched correctly. After reading through the rest of the instructions, click Play in the menu on the left side of the screen to get started. Or if you have already played at least one game, you can also click Replay to replay any previous game or to view the results of any previous game.

1 2 3 4   N
S
C

For each game, several pictures are displayed on the left side of the screen with numbered multiple choice buttons below each picture. The top row of buttons is for the scientific name (S) and the bottom row is for common name (C). To the right of the name select buttons is a check box (N) for California Native.
Numbered lists of scientific (genus and species) and common plant names are displayed on the right side of the screen. For the lower game levels there are exactly the right number of names in both lists for the pictures. For higher levels there may be more names than pictures.

For each picture you must choose one of the names from each list. Select a multiple choice button below each picture to match a name with the picture. The button numbers correspond to the numbers in the name lists on the right side of the screen. When you have made all of your selections, click the Score button at the bottom of the name list to see how well you did.

Keep in mind that most plants have more than one common name. A list of alternatives can be viewed by hovering the mouse over any name in the common name list.

Scientific Names

1. Carduus pycnocephalus
2. Picris echioides
3. Rumex crispus
4. Hirschfeldia incana

Common Names

1. Italian Thistle
2. Bristly Ox-tongue
3. Curly Dock
4. Summer Mustard
After you click the Score button the screen refreshes and shows the the score. Each correct answer is marked with . Each incorrect answer is marked with . If the answer is incorrect, the correct answer multiple choice button is highlighed in green. Scoring is weighted more strongly for the names than for California Native selection. See below for more details about scoring.

1 2 3 4   N
S
C

1 2 3 4   N
S
C

Scientific Names

1. Carduus pycnocephalus
2. Picris echioides
3. Rumex crispus
4. Hirschfeldia incana

Common Names

1. Italian Thistle
2. Bristly Ox-tongue
3. Curly Dock
4. Summer Mustard
1 2 3 4   N
S
C

1 2 3 4   N
S
C

The game level number is displayed above the plant name list. The level indicates the relative difficulty of the game and may be from 1 to 10. The higher the level number, the more difficult the game is, with 10 being "expert" level.

When you register the game level is automatically set to 1 for your first game. You can change to a different level any time you start a new game. It is recommended to try level 1 at first and later work up gradually one level at a time as you get better at identifying the plants.

At level 1 there are 4 pictures and names. As the game level increases more pictures and names are added. At the highest levels there may be more names than pictures. There are always enough correct names to match the pictures but the extra names don't match anything and are put there to make the game more challenging for the experts.

At expert level the scientific and common names are also split into two separate lists and both must be matched individually for each picture. Essentially at expert level anything goes including leaves, stems, seeds or any other part of a plant that might be used for identification. As you might imagine, expert level can be very difficult.


Scoring - how the game score is determined

For each picture, scoring is weighted 40% for scientific name, 40% for common name and 20% for California Native selection. Then each picture has an equally weighted share in the final score.

  • Example 1: In a level 1 game all the names are correct but all the California native selections are incorrect. The score for each picture is 80%, and each has a 1/4 share in the final score, 25% x 80% = 20%. The final score is the the sum of the individual picture scores, 20% + 20% + 20% + 20% = 80%.

  • Example 2: In a level 1 game all of the names are correct and 3 out of 4 of the California Native selections are correct. The first 3 pictures have scores of 25% x 100% = 25% each. The last picture has a score of 25% x 80% = 20%. The final score is 25% + 25% + 25% + 20% = 95%.

  • Example 3: In a level 1 game two of the scientific names are incorrect and everything else is correct. For 2 of the 4 pictures the score is 25% x 100% = 25%. For the other 2 pictures the score is 25% x 60% = 15%. The final score is 25% + 25% + 15% + 15% = 80%.


    Replay - replay a previous game or view results of a previous game

    Any previous game may be replayed. If a game was started but cancelled, replay will continue where the game left off when it was cancelled. If a game is already complete and the score has been calculated, the same game may be replayed and scored again, but the new score does not replace the original score.

    The replay screen shows a table of all the games that you have previously played, including cancelled games that have not been scored yet. You can choose to replay the game by clicking the number in the game number column. You can also view the original or replay results of a game by clicking the date in the appropriate date column as indicated on the replay screen.

    To make the game more interesting and challenging, the same pictures and names are presented in a different order for each replay.


    Statistics - view your score statistics and the top 10 lists

    The statistics screen shows a summary for each game level where you have played and completed at least one game. A game is complete when you click the score button in the play screen. The low, average, high and most recent scores for each level are shown. Also the date of the most recent game completed at each level is shown. Cancelled games are not counted in the statistics. Also replayed games are not counted so your average score will not change when you replay a game.


    Search - search the information in the database at this website

    The search screen lets you do a simple search of the information in the database at this website by one or more criteria including family, genus, species and common name. For each entry you may select either contains or equals in the checkbox next to the entry. For contains, a partial match on the entry is attempted. For example if you enter 'thistle' for the common name, contains will give a match for Yellow Starthistle, Purple Star Thistle, Milk Thistle, and many more. If instead you selected equals for the same search, an exact match is attempted and it's likely you would get no results for 'thistle' since all of the thistle common name have at least one more word in them like 'Milk' or 'Purple Star'. In comparison, if you enter 'milk thistle', equals will only give results for Milk Thistle and none of the other types of thistles.

    To the right of the entries is another select box with two choices, any and all. For any, the search will look for any of the entries that you have typed something into. For all, the search must match all of the entries. For example, if you enter contains 'Centaurea' for genus and contains 'purple' for common name, then any will give results for all Centaurea species like Centaurea solstitialis (Yellow Starthistle) and Centaurea calcitrapa (Purple Starthistle), plus other species with common names containing 'purple' such as Brachypodium distachyon (Purple False Brome). If instead you select all for the same search you will get results only for Centaurea calcitrapa (Purple Starthistle).


    Support - lost password or email/password/screen name changes

    Automated assistance is available for lost passwords or if you want to change your email address, password or screen name. Select the Support menu option and the support screen will provide further instructions. For all other questions, comments, etc. use the Contact menu option.
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