I think for the most part, the information is already there. Those who want to share have said so in their profile what their demographic info, profession, and education is. Those who don’t want to share have kept it private and proceed on the merits of their actions. As @cthawley mentioned, their tools are available through metadata - unless it is microscope and the again it is obvious. I think focus and future growth info is there already for the data cruncher.
You’re right, some if that information is already out there. A survey might help provide a more complete picture though.
I suspect people may be more willing to disclose information about themselves in an anonymous survey versus in a profile on the website or the forum. I also suspect (but could be wrong) that collecting this information in a survey is probably easier than attempting to mine it from unstructured data / freeform text in user profiles.
Regarding tools, I guess when I wrote that I had more than just photograph capture method in mind. Though, right now as I’m trying to think of an example of another tool that’s relevant, I find that I can’t. I mean, I can think of things like binoculars, forceps, chemicals (like the mushroom people use), bug nets, etc., but I can’t come up with a reason why that would be truly valuable to know. For tools though, I was really just adapting the technologies portion of Stack Exchange survey. Maybe it’s not valuable in itself though.
I use INaturalist in English, which in theory is my second language, since I am Dutch. Until recently I did not even realize you can set INat to Ditch. I have lived and worked in English speaking countries for many years and as I do most things online in English and my computer and phone are even set to English it does not really feel like a second language anymore.
It would be interesting to know more about the people who use iNaturalist. However, I’m not really in favor of a survey. Why?
First, don’t go the trouble unless you have some use in mind for the data.
Second, I know people who are hesitant to use iNaturalist because they don’t like anybody (big government, big business, whoever) knowing more about them. They certainly wouldn’t respond to a survey like this and it might alienate them from the site. (It’s hard to drag some of these people onto the site, though I try and sometimes succeed.)
Third, a lot of people won’t do a survey just because they don’t feel like it, (no time, no interest, etc.) and you have to consider whether the data you do get will be useful without the data you won’t.
So . . . if there’s a good, specific reason to reach out for this data (imperfect as it will be), go for it, but otherwise, don’t survey.
Exactly! Is some big donor going to help you expand usage in a currently-low-usage area? If not, maybe the money/time/effort should be spent on some focus groups in some currently-low-usage areas to ask the people on the scene what they would like to see done to expand their areas usage. A few volunteers could partner with a university or a non-profit to make that happen.
I love this idea! I’m not sure what it would be useful for, but filling out surveys is one of my favorite activities, so I would love to see an iNat-related one. It should definitely be optional, for those who disagree with my sentiments, but if this does get implemented I’ll happily contribute my data points.
So, I looked at this project and all it is, is a place where all the countries that contribute less than 1% of total iNat growth per year can add all the observations that are made in that country in a year. There are no focus groups, discussion groups or any way that anyone outside that country can enquire about their needs/concerns or contact individuals who are on iNat (other than the usual messaging through the profile) or support them in iNat activities.
When the report came out in January of this year, I picked a country that I had visited before (Belize) and went down the list of people who had contributed observations and private messaged the first 80 or so, and the vast majority of them were visiting naturalists/scientists.(The remaining few were people who no longer lived in Belize.) I had no luck finding anyone who actually still lived in Belize. Which is why I said above that a local school or university, perhaps in partnership with an environmental non-profit, could arrange focus groups or even instructional classes on the use of iNat.
For your purpose, I would think a visiting scientist would be a good place to start. They will work with local universities. I get your desired ‘discussion’ when I follow scientists reaching the ID. We have had some very fascinating discussions. And I learn who to ask for help with that taxon in that place.
The City Nature Challenge, and for us the Great Southern Bioblitz both reach out to a wider audience each year. It is sad to see - one lone soul - bravely blitzing alone. We can at very least support them with helping to identify.
PS it is a collection project - an easy and automated way to display the filter which @bobmcd built as his answer to the open question of reaching a neglected and ignored part of our existing iNat community.
(Disclaimer: I haven’t read through all of the replies, so apologies if this is already addressed!)
As someone who is interested in grants/ funding, etc., it would seem that iNat would profit from having that sort of information … on top of it being very interesting.
Additionally, t’s possible to catch it anonymously if people are responding to a survey as opposed to connecting it to their user account, for those who might not share their info because of that.
Of course, I did contact them. That’s how I found out that they were visiting naturalists/scientists and I mean visiting in the past tense. None of them had any plans to return to Belize in the future (or any idea how to contact local people who were interested in local ecology).
@JaneBP – I checked Index Herbariorum ( https://sweetgum.nybg.org/science/ih/ ) and there is a herbarium in Belize. The Index gives you contact information. Ask there for recommendations of people who can help with identifications of the organisms you’re working with. Sometimes they’re helpful, sometimes not. If you make contact with someone, you can bring up iNaturalist and perhaps get them onboard.
If you don’t find someone helpful, ask Index Herbariorum about surrounding countries, or search the internet for universities in Belize or nearby and contact appropriate departments.
Just a reminder to keep the thread on the original topic of a naturalist survey for iNat. If there’s a good discussion for a small group, the forum does support multi-user DMs which can be a good solution for continuing conversations on different topics.