Additions to the Frequently Used Responses page


I’m in the process of writing up some new responses for observations, and I want your feedback! If there is anything you’d like to see added to the page, please reply to this post with a summary of the response and an example of the situation where it would be used. I’ll reply to your comment with a draft, and we can work together to make them good. Any links that you think should be included along with the response are very helpful as well.

I have a few I’ve already started on, so once I feel good about them I’ll post them here as well. Expect this post to be updated regularly; I might just edit the original post instead of replying, but I’ll see what works best.

Some extra info:

The responses page is a community-made collection of things to send to users that address common issues that come up as they learn about and how to use iNaturalist. Anyone can ask that a response be added, but only curators can actually edit the page, so this forum post can be used as a place to combine requests.

Feel free to message me or leave a comment about any questions that may arise!


Pinned Specimens with Incorrect Location and Date

The same considerations shown in this response apply to the likes of camera trap observations, pressed specimens in herbaria, shells in collections, etc). Other considerations include whether the user has permission to make an observation of the preserved specimen (e.g. museums might not allow it without express permission), and the likelihood of others having also made observations of the same specimens.

Observations of pinned specimens are acceptable in iNaturalist, but we need to be sure of what the pin location and observation date represent, whether it is the place and time found, or the place and time that you photographed it. It also helps tremendously if you clearly state which option it is in the description. If the data you provided is where/when the specimen was photographed, rather than found, the observation should be marked as Captive/Cultivated, as it can otherwise affect the range data, etc. If there is any uncertainty as to what the data represents, then it should be marked as inaccurate location or date.

Example for Flag Responses:

Copyrighted image is flagged as copyright using the other option

This response can be used whenever a copyrighted image is flagged without the “copyright infringement” option, thereby not hiding the image from public view.

Thank you for flagging this image for copyright infringement. In the future please use the Copyright Infringement option when flagging stock images or anything that infringes on another person's copyright, as that removes the image from public view. This option can be found by clicking on the small flag icon below the image, and then choosing Copyright Infringment as the flag reason. I have gone ahead and done that for you, and this flag will be resolved as there is another one now open for the same content.


I’ll be really happy to see more of these!

One that I had a request for is a comment for pinned insects and other preserved specimens. I see these sometimes, and I’m never quite sure what to say about them. I think what’s supposed to happen is that the date and location should match where & when the specimen was originally collected, and that if those are unknown they should be marked as such in the DQA or just not included by the poster. So yeah, a response along those lines would be super helpful!


First draft:

Pinned Specimens with Incorrect Location and Date

Hello [user]! When uploading pinned specimens that were collected before the photo was taken, remember to ensure the date and location reflect where and when the specimen was found. That way the iNaturalist data maps show accurate data. If you have full access to the organism, it is very helpful to get a lot of images from different angles.

What do you think? Is there anything else that needs adding to this? The greeting can be removed or added back depending on the user.

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this should probably be “remember to ensure the date and location”; using ‘please edit’ implies that in every single one of these cases, the person put the wrong date and location, when in fact the opposite is probably true (with mostly only new users having the wrong date/location)

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I think it would also help to add info about what the observer should do if they don’t know the date & location. My suspicion of most of the ones I would want to inquire about is that they’re primary or secondary school collections and may have poor documentation, e.g.

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Can you share an example of what it might sound like?

It can be a simple matter of just stating what the date is. If it is collection date/place, then it is fine, and it also fine if it is not! We just need to know which, so that the DQA for place/date accuracy can be marked accordingly.

In the case of pinned specimens etc, I don’t think we need to be asking or encouraging for multiple different views, as it is likely any ID has already been accomplished, and if not then most pin setting techniques/methods ensure diagnostic characters are visible, and typically match up with illustations in literature better as well! I would go so far as to say we need more/better angles with wild observations (in-situ) than we do with pinned specimens!


I went ahead and added a draft to the original post; does that look better to you?

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mostly i need is for different collections in 1 observation response


if somebody added some response for location etc but not added an any ID, i try to kingdom at least but i feel like i shouldnt since the first poster didnt do it. so i just comment in kingdom sometimes saying just adding the kingdom for expert to ID :/

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Both of your suggestions are already available.

For multiple individuals in one observation

For when you add a coarse ID


it’s definitely better. The key I think is that both forms of date/place are acceptable. If it is collection date/place, then it can go RG as a wild occurrence, but if it is where/when the specimen is currently (lab / museum / living room wall) then it is marked “captive” so that it becomes casual and doesn’t impact range related data. But I stress again, both forms of the observation are fine, we just need it to be clear which type it is, and the best way to ensure that is if the observer makes a comment as to what the date and place represent.

Sometimes it is obvious, you can look on the map and see that it is a museum or zoo under the pin! Or a large forest with no buildings near by such that the photo of the pinned insect in a lab setting clearly shows the pin to be collection location. But even in these cases, having it clearly stated in the description what it is helps save the effort of others having to check!

This is how I envisage it being worded, but I am prone to being overly wordy… I offer this not as a replacement for your offering, just as a comparison that explains better what I think…

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That’s really good! I went ahead and replaced my work with yours, and edited it for clarity. I think the second paragraph should only be shown on the responses page, rather than in a comment, as it really just explains to the user posting the comment when the response should be used.

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I added a response for specific copyright flags that I tend to use a lot at the bottom of the original post.

Do we want something around handling placeholders?

I sometimes say “Your id ended up in the ‘placeholder’ section because the species name wasn’t yet in the inaturalist database. Great observation!” - and “Your species name is now available” [link to taxon page] … or " Your id ended up in the ‘placeholder’ section - I think the species you intended is" [taxon page]

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It’s not just that they weren’t available in the database, but more specifically that the text entered wasn’t linked to an entry in the database. Yes, the observer will encounter the situation where what they want is not in the database, but more likely they have made a spelling mistake, or even just having NOT clicked on the actual taxon entry in the presented list. eg. I can enter “Turdus merula” and the system prompts me with a list of taxa that “match” that text, and I would click the species level or ssp level taxon I want for the situation. However, if I just enter “Turdus merula” and don’t select the taxon, the text gets saved as a placeholder, even though Turdus merula is a valid taxon in the database. For situations other than simple mis-spellings, “non-selection” issue is far more likely to be in play.

Hi - yes - I could have been clearer. First option is for when I have added a missing species. Second option is for when the species was in the database but misspelt, or even a missing synonym.

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