Add icon to observation when it's a new species for me

Platform(s), such as mobile, website, API, other:

URLs (aka web addresses) of any pages, if relevant:

Description of need:

fan and proselytizer of iNaturalist among the naturalist associations in which I am involved, I suggest a functionality: it would be very nice to know when we add an observation of a species that we have never observed before. For example by adding a small logo to the image.

We can obviously do it manually, but it would be very stimulating if it was done in real time when the observation was added.

I edited the title a bit, I hope it’s accurate to what you’re asking for.

Personally I’m a bit a torn about a feature like this. I do like knowing when I’ve observed a new-to-me species, and I use my Calendar for that. But I can also see something like this potentially causing people to “reach” more for an ID so they can get the icon on their observation.


for me, the main problem with trying to define “new” is that there’s always potentially a difference between when something is identified and when something is observed and when something is added to the system. so suppose you have the following observations of the same species:

obs observed added identified
A 2024-05-01 2024-05-29 2024-05-31
B 2024-05-15 2024-05-16 2024-05-30
C 2024-05-20 2024-05-20 2024-05-20

which would be the “new species” observation for you?


Yeah, that’s another issue.

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This is not exactly what you wrote about, but somewhat similar, I think. I use a browser plugin that recolors the names of species I’ve already observed. So, when uploading a photo or when navigating through the site, I see which species are new to me. Here I described in detail how I did it: link
I understand that this is not the same, but it may be useful to someone.


Found a link to a link to a link, within the forum, for this site that allows you to get a list of your new species.


I’m not sure why you would need an icon for that. I always know when I have observed a new-to-me species.

I often check to see if an observation was my first one for that species. To each their own, I guess.

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sounds like gamification…

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I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little gamification. Especially if it helps drive up the amount of data we’re getting. iNat has some degree of it already.


i use my year in review to keep track of new species; clicking on the month of the bar chart under “Newly added species” generates a grid of the obs that qualify for new lifer species i’ve found for that month; and you can look at previous years/months as well. i like this way because your lifers aren’t necessarily static - sometimes you have already found a species, it just never got identified until way after, or it gets re-identified as something else later on down the road


That’s not going to be true for everyone in all circumstances by any means. I’ve been contributing to iNat for 13yrs and have now contributed nearly 14,000 obs of almost 3,000 species. It’s happened to me a number of times that I find some nondescript little moth, say, or a little generic-looking black beetle, only to upload it and discover that – oh! I already logged one of these over a decade ago…


Would the icon stay forever? Or once you’ve seen more than one of a species will it disappear?

This is only for new species, not other ranks? So different subspecies will not affect it?

Maybe the request should be considered in the context of unusual ID’s, warning the user that this might be an incorrect ID, because e.g.

  • it is the first ID of this kind by the user (as requested by @fredericnantes)
  • it is very rare in the area
  • it can’t be distinguished from a similar species with the elements visible on the photos (interesting task for the machine learning algorithm)
  • has never been confirmed, i.e. has no research grade observation in the area
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The reason I like this idea is because, like most users on inat, I was observing and identifying organisms for decades before inat was a thing, and I like to know if I’m submitting something to inat for the first time, even if it’s not something that I’m actually observing for the first time. For example, I noticed recently that my county bird list went up by 1, and I hadn’t observed anything unusual or new lately. Turns out I’d just never submitted an American Kestrel on inat before, despite it being a common bird that I’d seen thousands of times over the years. So that blurry kestrel photo was a “new species” for me for inat, and I had no idea.

The gamification thing is fine by me, because it gets people out making records of things they might not otherwise bother to look at. If someone wants to get the “new species” icon, so they go out and photograph something abundant like a robin in their yard because they never put one on inat before, that’s a win for everyone: another record uploaded to the site, a person was encouraged to go have an interaction with nature, and they even got the little serotonin boost of a shiny icon saying they found something new.

As for the icon encouraging people to reach for an ID just to get the “new species” badge (we call it “stringing” in birding), I could see that happening, but I could also see the opposite as well: if I submit a local plant that I’m unsure on the CV ID of and the “new species” icon appears, I might be extra cautious of that ID, because it’s not something I’ve run into before- “am I sure this isn’t a variation of something else more common?” would be the thought.


There is the “Yours” button on the species/taxon page for whatever organism you’re curious about. Click on that and you can see how many, if any, records of that organism you’ve submitted. I use that when I’m not sure if I’ve submitted a record of that organism before.


If reaching for unlikely IDs is a concern, maybe it could only apply once research grade is reached?

Perhaps instead of an icon on the observation itself, a message in the notifications/updates log. I’m just guessing about how the back end works…but the functionality to subscribe/unsubscribe from things like locations exists, so perhaps that would require less development than something on the observation level.

If the gamification angle is appealing, it could be for reaching certain benchmarks instead. A certain number observations overall, from each category (birds, plants, molluscs, etc), or native to its location? Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I do think it would be fun to see that kind of info somewhere :)

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part of the iNat Enhancement Suite extension

But I check my life list before uploading an obs - been there done that but this time it has fruit so will upload. Or not.

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