So this or things like this keep, getting, suggested. The feature requests are closed, since the iNaturalist team is interested in doing something like this, but in @kueda’s post here he mentioned that the “current version of this idea is something like allowing people to vote on the “usefulness” of ID remarks and show the most useful ones on the taxon pages”.
I’m not a fan of this version of the idea. The main things holding me back from creating identification tips are:
- User-created identification tips are not visible where iNat users would naturally see them: on the taxon pages
- User-created identification tips cannot be edited by multiple users. This a big reason Guides don’t work for this.
- Comments are not a good place to put detailed identification information: they’re specific to one observation page, which is naturally about the observation, they’re specific to one user (the comment author), and the UI is optimized for creating short comments, not editing longer content with images.
The version of the idea mentioned by Kueda addresses the first point, but not the other two.
Kueda mentions there’s been a discussion about replicating Wikipedia. As far as content goes, I think Wikipedia would not accept content specific to iNaturalist’s two core activities: making observations and identifying observations. I can’t see them having, for example, in an article about turtles, region-specific sections with tips for observing and identifying the region’s turtles. But the functionality provided by Wikipedia is perfect for this. It’s also pretty advanced, so having iNaturalist developers replicate the functionality of Wikipedia is an obvious “nope, not going to happen”.
What I want: the bare bones, first iteration prototype which would get me excited would just be an installation of MediaWiki or some other wiki software on an iNaturalist-controlled server (maybe at https://wiki.inaturalist.org/), plus displaying taxon articles in the wiki on the iNaturalist taxon pages, the same way Wikipedia articles are copied into the taxon pages of the same name.
Seriously. That’s all.
There are some obvious integrations which could be made (e.g. user accounts on the wiki automatically created when a user registers with iNaturalist, automatically creating taxon articles when they exist on iNat but not in the wiki, automatically renaming wiki articles when the iNaturalist taxon is changed, etc.), but all that can be done later. I just want something where I can share some of the stuff I’ve learned, a lot of which I wish could have been shared with me earlier. I and - I hope - a lot of others, would be willing to put in a ton of work to make content there which would help identifiers. I have a pile of notes on how to identify things, and it seems like a waste that I’m the only one who can read them. Having an obvious place to put my notes, where I could find them later, would be incredibly motivating. (Plus, it would push me to organize what I have a bit better, so as not to embarrass myself.) There’s already some content on this forum which I would like to make more visible to the larger user-base. (Edit: also, practically everything in this thread: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/photo-taking-recommendations-by-taxon/1962/) (Edit2: and the content linked from this post: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/add-captions-to-default-taxon-photos/2126/12)
Wiki pages would also allow us to add links to external sources, links to existing comments on iNaturalist observations, links to articles in the iNaturalist wiki which are not part of the taxonomic hierarchy, and links to posts on this forum.