Annotations: Male/female, etc.—How to get more action?

New here so still figuring things out. After some 250 observations, it seems like I’m the only one interested in clicking on the annotations: adult/juvenile, male/female, alive/dead, etc.

These seem important and useful for people doing research and for general learning, but they seem largely ignored. Why?

I did notice that they’re really slow. Maybe that’s one reason, and one that could be fixed by the site engineer. I mean you click on them and it takes several seconds to register—and sometimes it doesn’t register at all! I have to click again are the wait wheel stops spinning. This is frustrating.

Also, you can’t specify these when uploading it seems. You have to go through the uploaded observations and then click. Maybe that’s a deterrent, too.

But these can’t be the only reason people aren’t clicking.

What can we do to get more interest and clicks on these?


This is definitely an issue when adding an observation on the app. You have to add the observation, wait for it to finish syncing, then open it again to add the annotations. If you’re adding a few at once it’s easy to forget.


It would be absolutely great if the 3 annotations were an option when uploading the observations!
I’m currently in progress of uploading 3 years worth of observations and I do it in bigger bulks and after few days I did stop going back to them individually to set all the annotations. Now I do them to those which others have helped with the identification.
I think more people would do of them if they were an option when uploading the observations, as you already have tags, projects and observation field options there to begin with.

The slowness is also bothering me too, but I did notice that those times when it seems that it didn’t register it or if you do 2 or all of them at once and it didn’t register some of them, it actually did register, but you have to refresh the page to see the other changes and that should definitely be fixed.


We have requested that annotations can be added during upload -

One can add annotations during upload by using fields - - but you have to know this, and you have to know exactly which fields.

The fields-to-annotations method also causes problems and I have observations fail to index - - and I also find the annotations take ages to ‘take’ -

BUT, I’ve had an idea (!) If we had leaderboards for annotaters, I’m pretty sure this would increase annotation volume. The leaderboards for identifiers cause ‘problems’ when people agree to IDs just to go up the board (not because they necessarily have any clue about the correctness of the identifications), and this particular leaderboard has now been removed from the Identify page. Why not let’s use this to our advantage, and get 'em annotating :wink:


You’re not alone! I try to add annotations to most of my observations, and am subscribed to a few species where determining the sex is a bit tricky purely for the purposes of adding sex annotations to them.

I agree that the slowness and unreliability of adding annotations is extremely annoying. For me, it seems like each annotation takes around 5s to save and has about a 50% success rate. I wonder a bit if this is caused by people adding multiple annotations in quick succession, and the browser limiting the number of simultaneous connections allowed to one domain. If so, fixing the reliability issue would be a quick client-side fix, although it would get even slower as you’d have to queue up the requests. Fixing whatever’s causing the slowness on the back end is probably the better solution.


It’s not just on uploading an observation. When going through and identifying, you can’t just run through the ID’s, you have to actually go into the observation, which takes more time. Add to that, it now becomes harder to see where you left off if you get interrupted doing ID’s, because it doesn’t shade the observation when doing it that way. I do add the occasional annotation, but it adds enough extra time, that I would prefer to just do more ID’s.


It’s cool you have time to add them, not everyone does. I disagree that you’re the only one, there’re people who added annotations to thousands of own and others’ observations.


No, you can add annotations on the Identify page. At the top are the tabs:
Info | Suggestions | Annotations | Data Quality

Click on the Annotations tab and you can add them all right there :-)


I’m reluctant to add annotations to others’ photos, especially when it’s a very experienced observer - I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I’ve seen comments on the forum expressing annoyance/frustration with other people annotating their observations (or was it with fields? maybe that was it - it messed with their own system.) What’s the protocol here?


To add to this… It would also be great if the “sex” part had an addition of “both”, for example observations of mating animals, or just 2 animals in same photo that happened to be same species but different sex, or simply several photos in one observation which includes both sexes of same species from same area (for example one fly species, both female and male on a separate flower but close enough to be able to add them to same observation).
I know that it can be explained under the observation in the Notes or just in comments, but would still be good addition to the annotations imo.


This would not be an appropriate value for an annotation. The reason why is that no matter how many individuals are in a photo, the observation itself documents only one of them.

The inat definition of an observation is an encounter with a single organism at a single point in time.

Likewise adding photos that knowingly show different single individuals (not saying you have to crop photos of flocks, swarms, groves or whatever, but of single individuals) to a single observation should really not be done.


I’m with you, Melodi. I’m one of those that tries to annotate every larva or pupa I come across when I’m on the desktop. I don’t have an easy way to do it on the phone app. Every now and then I will identify a nymph when I’m certain that’s what it is. With some Orthoptera it is difficult to tell.


I do it this way all the time, but it interrupts my identification workflow, so I tend do annotation separately rather than switching focus for each record. For example, you can pull up a set in Identify, run through the id’s, then go back to the start of the set with the focus changed to annotations, and run through those.

To focus on only the ones that need a particular annotation, using the filters to exclude records that already have the one you want to add is super handy.


That sounds like my topic about editing observation fields. I don’t have any issue with people annotating my observations. :+1: Researchers using iNat will (should) be aware that to have total control over anything on the site they should probably download the data locally.


You’re absolute right! I actually didn’t think about it that way when I was writing that and now that I think about it, I was MEANT to do just that with my observations but I’m fairly sure that couple has been mistakenly done that way that I mentioned, so I’m gonna have to go and edit them. Thanks for reminding me of that!

(Edit: Had to edit 3 observations out of 520. Again, thank you for reminding me of that, I was doing all the others exactly that way and don’t know why I messed it up with these 3 and when writing the previous message.)

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Wow, it seems that I’ve been using iNat for all those years without realizing that the definition actually refers to single organisms as the basis of observations!

Could someone elaborate what the rationale for that definition is?

For clarity, this is what the site defines as an observation, taken from the help file

An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location.

The wildcard is how you define ‘inividual organism’. It is usually taken, and site employees reference it as such whenever this comes up to mean a single entity. However, I guess it is possible to interpret that wording as a single taxa.


I sometimes ID & annotate at the same time, sometimes I’ll just ID and sometimes I’ll just annotate. For annotations it’s possible to annotate things that I can’t identify. For example for moths - it’s obvious if it’s a caterpillar even if I’ve no idea what species it is, one advantage is that it helps me learn the species if I do this for Research Grade observations. I annotated loads of UK butterflies & moths with life stage and did some Canadian ones too (despite having no clue about Canadian moths) as someone on here mentioned that the data would be useful to them.


If adding annotations on the app is added, please consider making it something you can disable.

I suspect one of the reasons it is not present is that the list of annotations, as well as the values within them for selection vary depending on the taxa. Thus they cant be prepared until an id is entered.

Populating them then requires a 2nd roundtrip to the server to get the appropriate choices. I really dont want to double my connections, increase my data usage etc to download something I have no intention of populating on my mobile ( have no objection to populating them in general, I just dont want to do it on my phone).


I also wish there was an option for ‘both’ or ‘mating’, as I seem to catch couples in the act quite often!