Annotating animals as alive

When the Alive or Dead annotation was first added, it was shown at the bottom (as in your screenshot) - but it has since been moved to the middle. Is this a deliberate change? Given that it will be far less comonly used than the other two, it seems preferable to keep it at the bottom.

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When I’m annotating animals, the most common pair of annotations are “adult, alive.” Sex is hard to determine from a photo in lots of animals, and if it’s easy, I still may not know how to tell. I like the current order (life stage, alive/dead, sex).

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The overwhelming majority of observations I look at are live animals, so I would only ever use it for dead or indeterminate cases (which are probably only a few percent of the total I have ever looked at).

It depends on which groups you look at most, I suppose. Determining the sex can be a very important part of identification, particularly in groups where sexual dimorphism is very common (for example, Odonata). I would estimate that I use the sex annotation for at least a third of the observations I look at, but have so far never needed to use the alive/dead annotation.

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Ideally, “alive” would be set for all alive animals… but that is a pain in the ass to set currently. I’d happily set it for everything if I could have it set by default and only change it when not alive or whatnot.

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If I’m adding any annotations to an animal I’ll add alive too. It’s very quick once you’re on the annotations page. Just press “a” twice (or “ad” for dead, “ac” for unknown).

The option to annotate all animals as alive when uploading would be nice though.

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I see no reason to “only add alive/dead for dead”, this info has no value if we don’t add “alive” too.

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All annotations have value, since they can be used for filtering.

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To my mind, something like Alive or Adult is the default, it should be assumed to be this unless otherwise indicated. I will annotate my sightings if they are larva, dead etc, but not for these, in the same way I dont vote yes to location is accurate, date is accurate etc on all my records.

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Fossils?

Is it intended that Alive/Dead applies specifically to the observation date and not the time of photography? This scenario occurs:

If an insect trap is set for a night for a bioblitz, live insects enter it and perish, and the dead insects are photographed and added to a bioblitz project afterward. The observation date is set to the night the trap was set, not the photography date. Thus it would be best to annotate these records with Alive, but another user may see a dead insect in the photo and think it should be marked Dead. If there isn’t agreement on which annotation is correct, then the alive/dead info isn’t useful.

A similar scenario arises when contributing pinned specimen photos with the observation date set to the collection date.

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Yes - that is what I have always assumed, and that is how annotaions seem to be used by the large majority of other regular/active identifiers I encounter.

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The filtering options currently are “Any”, “Alive” or “Dead”. There’s no way, AFAICT, to filter by “not Dead”. As such, adding Alive provides value. Yes, it can be assumed to be the default to some degree, but if I’m very specifically trying to avoid dead animals (say, I want to show a kid cute animals and not traumatize them), I still need them to be tagged Alive :)

Edit: Obviously, adding “Dead” still provides value, so I disagree there’s no point setting only that - it’s just it’d be even better to set both.

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fossils are considered Casual as they are not Recent evidence of an organism.

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It can be done via a url with the without_term_id / without_term_value_id parameters. The Identify Dialog also provides an interface for this (in the “More Filters” section).

If other parts of the iNat interface don’t currently provide the necessary options, I would suggest you make a feature request. There’s a recent forum thread asking for ideas for a revamped Explore/Observations Search Page, so that might be a good place to discuss issues like this.

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This seems like one of those times where iNat’s “an observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location” stretches some more traditional biological data collection conventions. Yes, I would use the trap date but I might also add a note in the description about the trapping for other iNat users’ benefit. I’ve run traps and processed specimens from other people’s traps. My encounter with the individual was when I pulled it out of the jar. The trap had it’s own encounter earlier without me but that time and location is what I record for the observation.

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Yes. And it depends on whether or not you know how to tell the sexes apart. With dragonflies, I can tell it’s alive and adult, but not whether it’s male or female. (I can’t identify most dragonflies to species, but I have been annotating photos I can’t identify when I’m looking though observations for ones I can identify. That certainly slows down my identification rate!)

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No they don’t have the value they could, filtering “dead” doesn’t show you how many weren’t annotated with “dead”, while if all observations have annotations the system really works.

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I’d probably say Alive since you didn’t come across a dead one. To me, and I should stress I’m not a researcher, the Dead annotation is valuable for saying you found a dead organism.

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That sounds like an argument for improving the filter options, rather than for requiring that all observations have annotations.

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I figured that the change had to do with some people being upset by seeing images of dead animals.

I volunteer with an organization that advocates for migratory birds, and during migration seasons I and other volunteers collect both dead and injured birds that have collided with buildings. (The live ones get sent to rehab; the dead ones get donated to a museum). A lot of my photos of birds are therefore of dead birds. Likewise, when people find a skull or whatever in the woods, they’ll want to post it to find out what animal it belonged to.

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