Curators are a big help to the iNat staff. They volunteer, with absolutely nothing to gain, to help out. I think this is wonderfully kind of them, and am quite grateful for them. They are really not treated differently from the rest of the community.
I completely agree. As a 17 year old curator myself dealing primarily with the Cactaceae, I think ability in the way of responsibility, passion, respect, and expertise in a given area should be prioritized over age. I know plenty much older than me who regrettably aren’t so professional, and likewise I know some my age which are experts and extremely professional in other fields. Mistakes happen regardless of age range, and I see no justifiable reason why those who display expertise and professionalism would be excluded from holding that position of which they’ve shown to be capable. I personally owe much of my knowledge to the online information that grows and becomes more accessible by the day, and as such, this has really paved the way for younger and younger individuals to become knowledgeable in those things they are passionate about. All in all, I think competence and capability for the role over age is the best approach.
I think there should be behavior requirements for being a curator but I don’t think age (other than being at leas 13 like the rest of inat) should be a factor, personally. Probably less teenagers would be a good fit than adults but then again sometimes the adults act less “mature” than the teens on here.
I also think if we get taxonomic curators split off as a different status than behavior moderators it could make it easier to assign people to the role that suits them. I know that’s been discussed before and may happen one day.
I also won’t have much of an issue with a younger person (ie. around university/grad school age) becoming a curator, as long as they take responsibility, is knowledgeable in their field, can justify their reasons for curation, and is respectful of the iNat community.
But I think certain tasks beyond simply resolving arguments and dealing with copyright issues may need one with a bit more extensive knowledge, eg. sorting out taxonomic issues. I lack knowledge on that part, but to me that seems to require some form of academic training/religious self teaching to be able to make justified and rationale decisions.
Totally agree, Charlie. While age may be an indication of maturity and experience, it doesn’t define maturity and experience. Curator status should be based on demonstrated knowledge, which is so much more important than a number–a number that essentially only tells how many birthdays one has had.
In my opinion: We don’t need an age limit. The skills required for curation (e.g., patience, people skills, ID expertise) are not defined by age. Sometimes they may be correlated, but as many of the young users on this site demonstrate, they often are not. Therefore, blanket restrictions aren’t necessary, and the decision should be made on a case by case basis.
Like a lot of the people here, I think it has more to do with the person’s experience with the taxon group they are working on. For example, I was certainly passionate with Buprestids a year ago, but I hardly knew enough to write a small pamphlet on Bups, much less manage a taxon on an international site. These days I go back through my old IDs and knowledge on the taxon and think “why in the world did I ever think this???” Even though I was 17 then and 18 now, I have a feeling I’d be going though the same learning processes if I were, say, 30 years older. I think it should be about a maturity in the taxon they are representing, e.g. are they familiar with the current literature on the group, current problems in the group, cautious when caution is necessary for certain taxa [Acmaeodera, Agrilus, Chrysobothris (Bups) for me :) ], and more.
I’ve definitely seen some really dedicated young iNaturalist users who would probably make excellent curators for the areas they care about. They are polite, thoughtful, and dedicated to making iNaturalist’s offerings better. I’ve even considered suggesting to some of them that they should apply for curator status. There are a few things that have held me back from doing this.
I would hate to see them have to deal with the more emotional and controversial stuff, whether that’s bad behavior by young people or so-called adults. Having someone attack you because you have called them out on bad behavior is not the kind of burden that a young person should have to bear. Especially if that someone is a potential gatekeeper in a field they may want to pursue in the future. Sometimes, age does bring a degree of circumspection, judgment, and diplomacy that can get you through the turmoil. That includes knowing which battles to engage in. And I really don’t think young people should have to be the ones to deal with users their own age (or older).
The idea of an apprentice curator, assisted by one or more mentors is a good one.
One thing I would suggest is that younger curators consider removing anything from their profiles that gives away their full name, age, location, or anything else that could lead to them being bullied, whether on this site, or in future professional interactions.
In short, the kids on here replying are alright!
I agree, they shouldn’t have to. But I wouldn’t necessarily block them from it. I would personally like to help resolve arguments; I don’t get offended at all, and I keep my cool. I know other kids who are the same. But I also know people who wouldn’t be able to tolerate it. Would it be possible to have options of roles a curator would like to do? So that they could choose not to be one to resolve arguments, or choose to work on their strong suit, etc.
I don’t think they should have to. I do think it should be strongly recommended, with an explanation why this would be ideal.
I think working on biology research/projects or else and such on Inat is not much different than what I used to see at University levels or elsewhere. Yes, someone can be very knowledgeable in a specific field, but I do beleive that the reason you don’t get "student teachers at first unversity years has similar reason as to why we have to be carefull on adding to minor’s responsibility charge here. Even though a student may show a large level of knowledge in a specific field, there are side fields associated to the study that could be very important if not more than just knowing species habitats etc and those are learned through normal life/growing up interactions with people and the world in real life as well as courses.
Someone mentioned the Tutor style which I think is perfect for anyone below legal age and should be the best approach imo as it enables the minor to be guided in its future interest and field keeping in mind its personnal life is as much if not more important than Inat at his age and the tutor can help him manage that.
There is also the problem in legal ages as the minor may not be supervised while working on Inat site and I’d hate to have a Minor working on something so much here on Inat that he actually missed some of the most important experiences and social interactions on his “still growing/building” brain and life which in sooo important in psychology for child development and some of the most critical years are in the pre-teen and teen years. As such, we should be careful into opening the door for a child/minor to have am “adult-like” job or interaction daily as a minor when without realizing may be hindering in social human interaction development if too much time is spend on it etc and he may not have the life experience to understand that.
I’m not a psychologue or anything, just something I read and learned through my life experience and raising 2 kids and that I believe is the reason behind the way things are in life and why you don’t have student teachers in first university years students etc similar to having Minors here as curators in Inat. Because other things are important (sometimes more important ) that they learn first because it will help their brain development in order to become full grown well rounded adults.
My humble opinion, I’m all for having Minors helping out like assistants to Tutors etc. but I think the supervision role is important here similar to in life until they’re adult.
Welcome to the forum!
It’s important to focus on what the position is and is not. The Help pages say this about Curators:
“Curators are iNat users who volunteer to help keep our taxonomic data up to date and help deal with other issues. This is not the same thing as a project curator. If you’re interested in becoming a site curator, please read through the iNaturalist Curator Guide, then contact us, and include your username as well as specific examples of what kind of changes you’d like to make that require curator powers. The main requirement is not taxonomic expertise but attention to detail and an understanding of how iNat works. If you only have a few observations or identifications we’ll probably ask you to continue using the site for a little while until you understand it from a normal user’s perspective. Curators can also promote other users to curator status. Please only promote people you trust and that you know to have some taxonomic knowledge and attention to detail.”
The curator guide provides detailed guidance to people taking on the role.
The sentence that most clarifies things for me is this: “The main requirement is not taxonomic expertise but attention to detail and an understanding of how iNat works.”
If somebody is passionate about the iNat project, puts in the time needed to understand it, has a solid foundation (which is not the same thing as world class expertise) in a taxonomic area, has a record of respectfulness, courtesy, diligence, attention to detail and a moderately thick skin it really shouldn’t matter how old they are. They aren’t working the door in a bar or negotiating trade deals.
I like the suggestion by @cthawley about a mentoring program. If there are young naturalists here who want to learn and grow by taking on responsibility it seems to me that it would be iNat’s loss to say no. Clearly, there would be liabilities and duties of care for iNat, but they would not be prohibitive. That’s just the nature of mentoring.
My understanding of iNat is that it is learning and nurturing that lie at the heart of its mission. I think we should honour that.
Very well said.
I will also comment that ‘how it works’ covers multiple things. How it works technically, socially, what the rules on the site actually are, what the site goals are in things like taxonomy management and even use of the site etc…
Sure. I don’t mean to minimize these factors and I don’t imagine the folks choosing curators do either, The qualifications are what they are. We’re talking about opportunities for a few exceptionally motivated and capable people.
Lack of experience is the young person’s ball and chain. I’m an old man who has led an at least moderately interesting life, in part because some older folks took chances and gave me opportunities when I was inexperienced. While curating for iNat is a volunteer position, it seems to me that it can be a valuable learning opportunity if structured with that end in mind.There are people who want to try, iNat is always going to be in need of curators and the risks seem manageable.
Of course, that’s an opinion from the sidelines based on incomplete information. That’s the nature of internet forums. But I’ve dealt with volunteers, interns and work term assignments for years and the arguments pro and con are always the same.In my experience, investing in youth is a winning proposition, even with the risks factored in.
Thank you for so many thoughtful replies, everyone, they are much appreciated. I’ll definitely relax my personal application of any age limit (if anyone I didn’t approve in the past due to this wants to email help@inat and let me know, please do). I do think it’s important to weigh someone’s behavior on iNat as well as their expertise with taxonomy and proven decision making abilities, though, regardless of age. Curators have the power to disrupt quite a bit of the site, whether intentional or not.
For what it’s worth, I go through a user’s flagged content as well as their comments (the latter is currently a staff-only feature, it’s pretty clunky) before deciding on whether or not they should be a curator. And I always try to make clear exactly what being a curator means and what it does not mean, as many people assume (understandably, if they haven’t read the Curator Guide) that it’s a mark of one’s activity on iNat, or a way to give one’s IDs more weight in the CID algorithm.
Also, I always feel like we staff members don’t thank curators enough, so thank you for all of your hard work, iNat would literally not be able to function with you. :-)
The way things are at the moment, no curator is required to wade into these situations, so if they’re comfortable only dealing with taxonomic issues, it’s fine to stick only to that. But I totally hear you, and most younger users who’ve asked to be curators want to deal mostly with the taxonomic side of things, in my experience.
Isn’t that what @allycouch is saying? We all need a mentor to be a curator here whether we be a teenager or as like someone in my age group (possibly allycouch’s grandmother).
I think that a “junior curator” is a little too dissentient, and that would give away that (insert name here) is a juvenile and could be threatened with cyberbullying and inappropriate messages, and even inappropriate identifications(intentionally identifying a plant as an animal, vulgar terms, etc.). I also think that a curator should be a responsible, passionate person about Inaturalist and science, and should have some background information about a certain taxa/topic, and be willing to help improve citizen science. However, I would think that if a juvenile would be made a curator, I think that Tony Iwane should ban the resolving flags feature, as some conflicts on Inaturalist can become very intense, and in the rare case, have strong language, profanity, derogatory terms, or hate messages. I would think that we should ban that feature in minors for that reason.
One more thought. If their(the juvenile’s) profile does not state an age, then how do we know that they are a juvenile or adult? An adult can pose as a juvenile as a predator in the extremely rare case. Any thoughts @kitty12 @tiwane?