I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to here as a “negative connotation”, but the locational bias in iNaturalist users and observations is well known and backed by data - it is not just “perceived”. Users/observations from countries like the United States vastly outnumber those from other countries and what we would expect numbers of users/observations to be based on populations of those countries. For instance, just under half of all verifiable observations on iNat are from the US (47%) (and likely made by US based observers) while the US only contains about 4% of the world’s population.
Users in wealthier countries also tend to have better internet access (faster speeds, more reliable). Many users have expressed issues with using iNat without a higher quality internet connection on this forum, but there’s good empirical data to show the inequality of internet access/speed across the world as well: https://ourworldindata.org/internet This pattern influences how often users can access iNat, their amount of activity, and potentially their ability/inclination to respond to a survey.
My post doesn’t talk about correcting this bias (there’s nothing iNat can do about internet speeds in the world, for instance), but just making sure that it isn’t perpetuated in a survey. How to do this is a question of survey design and implementation (making sure it’s available across platforms, doesn’t use a lot of bandwidth so it’s accessible to users with lower quality connections, making sure it’s publicized in multiple languages, featuring it on iNat portals and doing outreach to get a representative sample, etc.). The risk is, without those considerations, the survey wouldn’t hear from a representative sample of users and might overweight the responses of users from countries in which iNat usage is common and where access is easy.
I think a great goal/outcome of such a survey could be to
but to do that, one would need a survey that minimized bias by design.
RE: smartphones specifically, I agree that smartphones are pretty accessible in many countries. In fact, in many developing countries, smartphones are the primary way in which many people access the internet, and smartphone usage is much higher than computer use (see: https://explodingtopics.com/blog/mobile-internet-traffic for data).
This is actually a great example of the type of potential issue I’m thinking of. If survey respondents are disproportionately from the US and Europe, we might think that use of web access to iNat is more preferred than it actually is worldwide. Similarly, a lot of power iNat users who are on the forum or are very active (and would probably be likely to respond to such a survey) use the website. Without good survey design and implementation, one could draw a conclusion that web access is more important that app/smartphone based access to some degree (not saying that this would happen, just an example). I also think that this type of data is already assessable by iNat (iNat can determine which method is used to make an observation, and break that down by country, etc.)
So in summary, I’m all for gathering data to understand how iNat is used and using that data to target improvements and growth - I just think implementing such a survey is a complex undertaking, especially when it comes to ensuring that we get a clear picture of how iNat is being used by a diverse set of people in a variety of locations.