Just had a great conversation with Jorrit Poelen from GloBI. Jorrit uses GN Resolver to clean up names for Globi, and on top of knowing that name exists in GN Resolver he also needs to know if the name is actually valid.

Resolver by design contains ‘good’ and ‘bad’ names. We do need to know what kind of misspellings exist in the wild and map information associated with them to good names. These misspellings and outright wrong names make Jorrit’s life much harder, as we do not have a tool that clearly marks ‘good’ names as good. There are ways to be more or less sure if a name is good:

  • If names belong to a specific clade – use only highly curated sources
  • Count how many sources know about a name
  • See if a name appears at least in one curated source
  • Check if name got parsed

But all these approaches are not universal, and do not give a clear answer. So what would be a solution?

It seems that a good solution would be to write a classifier which takes in account all relevant features and meta-features of a name, considers them and then puts the name into ‘good’ or ‘bad’ bucket. Every name has several features associated with it and we can train a Bayes classifier to make a decision if name is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ using these features. When it is done running through our ~20 million names – each of them will be marked as trusted or not.

I am pretty much sure that such classifier, especially at its first iteration will make mistakes. How can we deal with them? Here is an idea – when API returns back data back to a user – data will have two new fields – ‘trusted’ as yes/no and a URL to complain about this decision something like:


People can just copy and paste this URL into browser, or set it as a “Report a mistake” button for every name in their results html. If this button is pushed GN Resolver will register human curation event and data from this event will be used to improve performance of the classifier algorithm. Human curations will trump computer algorithm and they can be collected in a new data source for feedbacks…

Details of the interface can be decided later when we build the classifier. I know that the problem of separating trusted names from untrusted is a task that about everybody who uses resolver actively asked me about one time or another. So who and when can build it? And now I am thinking that our Google Summer of Code student might be interested in making it happen instead of improving NetiNeti. I personally think automatic curation of names is more important.

Jorrit submitted an issue about this idea Globit issue