Guiding new users toward successful iNatting

This weekend is the City Nature Challenge 2020 (CNC), a bioblitz in urban areas around the world. With hundreds of cities participating this year, iNat is about to explode with its annual flurry of activity. The observation period is this Friday, April 24th through Monday, April 27th (local time in each place).

Because there will be so many new users, and a lot of young naturalists, they may not yet realize that iNaturalist is a valued resource used by land managers, researchers, organizations, etc. and treat it more like any other social media site. They may not even know that what they're posting is being viewed by anyone but themselves, or their friends, much less the public. So here are a few tips and common responses to issues that come up very frequently during these types of bioblitzes that bring in a lot of new users.

Bookmark this page: common responses to frequent situations on iNaturalist observations, which includes some standard language for common situations like:

  • Welcome to iNaturalist
  • Not an Organism/Test Observations
  • Observation of Human
  • Add an Identification
  • Multiple Species in One Observation
  • Captive/Cultivated Organism
  • Use Your Own Photos And Observations (copyrighted photos)
  • Provide Cropped Photo
  • Rotate Photo
  • Re-order Photo
  • Missing Date
  • Missing Location
  • Imprecise Location
  • Private Location
  • Duplicate Observations
  • "Bad" Identifications
  • Misled by Computer Vision

Besides adding identifications, one of the most helpful things you can do is to mark captive animals and planted plants as "not wild" if they weren't already. You can also let the users know that they should check the captive/cultivated box before uploading (see prepared response examples). Only mark observations as "not wild" if you are confident that is the case.

You can also use the Data Quality Assessment section at the bottom of each observation to mark observations as not containing an organism at all, a clearly incorrect location or date, etc.

Identify humans as humans: Observations of humans are automatically casual grade and hidden from most areas of the site by default. There is no need to flag observations as humans unless there is some sort of grossly inappropriate content involved. A small number of observations of humans is totally fine. Pictures of pets, humans, abiotic phenomena, or obvious test observations are all okay, unless that's all someone is uploading. You can politely request they focus on appropriate subjects, and if they continue to add irrelevant content, you can flag one of the observations for a curator or staff person to take a look.

You can flag an image as copyright infringement which will replace it with a big "COPYRIGHTED MEDIA REMOVED" image and marks the observation as "casual grade." You can flag the photo directly by clicking the "i" (white circle) below the photo and clicking "Flag this photo" in the very bottom righthand corner of that page. Then choose "copyright infringement" in the pop-up and save.*

Use the Community Guidelines as a resource. If you see something clearly inappropriate and aren't able to address it yourself, or would prefer someone else to, please flag the offending content (ID, observation, comment, and/or photo). A curator or site staff can take a look and hopefully find a resolution. Some people do need to be suspended right away; check out the Community Guidelines for some of the potentially suspendable offenses.

Curators: I use these common responses to flagged issues very frequently. When in doubt, or if something is extremely inappropriate and should be deleted immediately, you can always email the staff

In general, assume good faith. Remember that there's a real person behind every observation, so be polite when addressing issues.

Take a break from identifying if you're feeling overwhelmed.

Check the Frequently Asked Questions page, Community Guidelines, Curator Guide, and ask if you have any questions.

Want to avoid seeing problematic content as much as possible?

Use the filters on Identify to exclude the dates of this week/weekend, only show content from users who made their account more than a week ago, or limit your searches to places outside of the CNC areas.

Learn more about using the filters on the Identify page and special search URL modifications.

由使用者 bouteloua bouteloua2020年04月22日 14:11 所貼文


So great. Wonderful post!!!

One thing that I remember seeing from previous years' city nature challenges is new species that are observed. 90% of the time, they are simply mis-ID'ed. So, I'm curious, is there a way to search a place for novel species (species 'new' to the place)?
For instance, can you search for "Chicago Wilderness" ( for new species observed -- or species with less than like 5 observations? Is that even possible?

This is a way that we could clean up some of the data that comes in too.

發佈由 sambiology 約 4 年 前

There's no way to sort all observations by "least observed in a place" because all the lists of species are limited to 500 taxa. So you have to break it up into taxonomic chunks. The compare tool is a good way to check for misIDs - I use a series of saved links for different plant orders as part of the Illinois Botanists Big Year to help find cases like these (and new records!).

For example, plants in the rose family obseved on iNat in the Chicago Wilderness region before 2020 compared to those observed in 2020 (gnarly URL ahead):

Scroll to bottom for the "Species New to Illinois on iNat" section for more examples:

@jwidness collected a few other ways to find out-of-range obs here:

Every once in a while I use the "recent_taxa" feature (mentioned in Jane's wiki topic) to find species that are newly observed in a place, but since it's only through the API, my eyes start buggin out looking at the code pretty quickly. I wonder if @pisum is looking for any more side projects to make querying that information a little more easy on the eyes/user friendly ;)

發佈由 bouteloua 約 4 年 前


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