Add link to picture on (empty) taxon pages

Platform(s), website, perhaps app also

URLs n/a

Description of need:
Many taxon pages, particularly the ones of tropical insects, do not have a taxon picture. Many of these, particularly some recently published new taxa, can be found in the Internet, but are protected by copyright. In this case, a link to the web address of the picture (no copyright!) could be placed as a button directly under the “Add One Now” button on the taxon page. Taxon pictures (or such links) help to avoid confusion; there are so many similar sounding scientfic names! And iNaturalist already turns into a very valuable identification and information tool, particularly for tropical and other less known geographical areas.

Feature request details:
Add a button “Picture Link” to those taxon pages which do not have a taxon picture. The link should lead to the corresponding picture. If no picture link is available, the button could be named “Add Picture Link”. Make the link information editable
(1) via the “About” tab
(2) via the “Curation” and “Edit Photos” menu.
It would be okay, if everyone could add such a link. Perhaps, a short explanation could be added, to explain what it is. Include the suggestion to use “wayback machine” links for more stability. Particularly museum pages or web pages maintained by private individuals are often changing or disappear.

I am not sure how taxon pictures work currently, but if the taxon is missing a photo, doesn’t that mean there are no iNaturalist observations of that taxon? Or do they have to be Research Grade to be included, and does that happen automatically? I would need to understand the process better to have an opinion on this suggestion, but it looks like it could lead to unvetted photos being used as taxon pictures, so I’d be wary.


From what I understand, the first photo from the first RG observation will be automatically added as a taxon photo.

Users can also manually add photos from existing observations (RG or non-RG) or from certain external sources (EOL, Wikimedia Commons, Flickr). For most taxa, you do not need to be a curator to edit taxon photos. The option to edit taxon photos can be found under the curation tab.

Flickr photos in particular have indeed sometimes resulted in unvetted/incorrectly ID’d photos being used as taxon photos.

I’m not sure I see what the benefit would be of adding a link for taxa where there are no photos with an open license. People should not be using taxon photos as a sole basis for ID, so presumably they would be consulting other sources and doing research off of iNat anyway. A link might shorten that process, but taxon photos are not really a logical place to link to or look for further resources.


I don’t think this feature would be worth the trouble myself. Not having a picture displayed reduces its utility. I don’t think many users would think to visit the taxon page to search for a link. They would probably just google it, which might be as fast.

As others have mentioned, if there aren’t any observations of the taxon on iNat, then having a link to a photo isn’t very important to me.

Additionally, links and photos change. They can also be incorrect. It could also be possible to post malicious/spam links here. As such, adding these links would likely add to curator time/effort to monitor them.

Overall, I don’t think the benefit would outweigh the cost.


I’m going to close this request. It has no votes and it would be best to urge photographers to get their photos into the available databases we use and license them properly.

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