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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - February 04, 2008

From: Seattle, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: User Comments, Wildflower Center
Title: Maintenance policy for Ask Mr. Smarty Plants
Answered by: Philip Hawkins

QUESTION:

Greetings, I am a volunteer at the University of Washington’s Elisabeth C. Miller Horticultural library. I am currently developing a maintenance policy for our database of gardening questions and answers. Because of the similarities between our databases, I am hoping that someone can answer a few questions about the maintenance of your database. 1. Do you currently have a written maintenance policy? 2. Do you have a criteria for determining which questions to add to the database? 3. Do you ever delete past questions from your database, and if so, why? 4. How do you handle past questions with broken links/information that is no longer on the web? I greatly appreciate any feedback you can give us. Sincerely, Dawn Hubbard

ANSWER:

First let me begin by praising the University of Washington’s Elisabeth C. Miller Horticultural Library's volunteers and staff for developing your own database, Mr. Smarty Plants is always excited to hear about new online resources for gardeners.

Since the founding of the Wildflower Center in 1982, gardeners and horticulturalists have written, faxed and phoned with questions, and our volunteers/staff have answered them individually. This primarily consisted of mailing out fact-sheets and, in large part, lead to one-on-one interactions. Starting in 2003, the center began posting these questions on the web - allowing users from all over the country to learn from each other's questions. Over time, Mr. Smarty Plants has continued to receive questions and the Wildflower Center has become more dependent on our wonderful volunteers who answer them.

The simple answer to your question is: we do not have a written maintenance policy for Mr. Smarty Plants, instead we rely on the best judgement of our volunteers. In general, it is our policy to answer every question asked. If the question is not clear or does not focus on native plants, we try to point the user in the right direction. Rarely are questions deleted and only if they contain false information or if a recent answer it significantly better. Finally, broken links are generally found through good luck; our volunteers and users are on the lookout and usually let us know if they find any.

Hope this helps and good luck!

 

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