Any rules on a club, not a person, registering for iNaturalist?

I belong to a Naturalist club and a couple of years back we started to pull together obs on club outings into collection projects and then under an umbrella project under the clubs name. One club member would set up the project and add 1 or 2members as administrators. But recently with ill health, age etc we became aware that if something happens to the project creator and administrator we then cant edit the project if required. So we thought if we coudl set up a “person” with the club name and be able to pass on the account details as needed so the “person” could always have access to the projects and then alter projects if needed. We do not envisage the “person” actually uploading any observations just act as a creator, administrator of projects.
And of course not all members are on all outings so while a member can create a project other club members don’t seem to be added as administrators unless they have been on the outing and contributed observations that meet the projects requirements,
Or is there another way of establishing an ongoing body/person that can set up projects etc?

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I don’t know about rules, but I know some “naturalists” are really more than one person because it’s in their profile. I don’t see a problem with this other than that you have to supply a name and email address associated with the account, and someone would have to maintain that on your club end.


Please be careful here. A frustration with multiple people using one account is that it’s hard to spot duplicates vs several people from the group uploading to the same account, also accounts attached to a group have a close to zero for interacting with identifiers when we have questions about an observation, and those accounts never withdraw mis-ID’s.

There’s a few groups on iNat that use a single account for the group and typically these are an annoyance for the identifiers. There’s one in the Carolinas if I remember right, and we’ve had multiple discussions on the fact that we can’t tell if they have duplicates or not, we’ve even discussed contacting them to request that they only upload one observation per organism. We pretty much have to write-off getting extra details on what might otherwise be interesting observations, because none of these groups have people who will respond and get the information we ask for.

I would strongly suggest that everyone just have their own account.


I agree with the remark made by @neylon. A project already allows to associate several observers and may designate as many persons as necessary for the different levels of administration without the above weakness. I recently encountered such lack of answers to many identifications made for some “impossible” records, old but recently uploaded, in Guadeloupe. I suspect thery were made elsewhere but attached to Guadeloupe and therefore give a wrong view of distribution for the recorded species. One difficulty thus is created because the records have been identified by others persons based solely on the picture.
As the observer may not be identified in the group, it is difficult to get an answer (no answer obtained) and then to correct them. As @gjn raised, may be the observer left and therefore cannot get the message of identification and cannot correct it. One consequence, is that it may have occured already for records of this group in other places and therefore, we may consider all of them dubious, even if they get the research grade. To conclude, It seems to me it is better to registrate for each observer and to create a specific project for a “club” for the observers of the group.


The objections to having a “club” account seem reasonable, but they don’t solve the Original Poster’s question. The club wants each foray to be a project, with an umbrella project for all the club’s forays together. What’s the best way to do this if they can’t count on one person to be admin for every foray?


If I understand correctly, the question is really about having an “admin account” to use for creating projects. This “admin account” would not make any observations/IDs, but would be used solely for setting up and making administrative changes to projects. It could be shared/passed down as necessary due to administrators rotating in and out of positions on the club’s governing body. Observations and IDs would be added by project members via their individual iNat accounts and not through the admin account, which just serves as the “owner” of the projects. Is that correct?

I assume this would require a separate email address to be designated as admin and where this would run into problems is having an essentially inactive account (no observations/IDs) trying to create projects, which I think requires a certain minimum of verifiable observations etc. Maybe check with how to best go about that.


Collection and umbrella projects (which are the types mentioned) can have multiple users added as admins, so I’m not sure why this account would be needed. Admins should be able to both edit and even delete projects, so I’m not sure which functions the admins need that they don’t have access to.

Organizational accounts with organizational emails are allowed. I don’t think that there would inherently be an issue with this.

I agree with concerns that others have had if there is a group account uploading observations, but as OP specified that the account would just be for administering a project, I don’t think this would be an issue. That said, the account would still need to make the requisite number of observations to make projects (maybe the first account “holder” could just do this to make sure they aren’t duplicated).

But overall, I think that the functionality you are looking for (having backup admins that can edit projects) already exists on iNat, so I’m unclear what the issue is.


It sounds to me as if each foray is a traditional project, not a collection project. Club members who go on a particular foray would add their observations to the foray project. The umbrella just lists all the foray projects. But the issue is, who in the future will create new foray projects? This really should be a very simple procedure – just duplicate the project and change the date and description of the place. @gjn, if you link us to the project we might have clearer ideas.

It seems like there’s two potential ideas here:

  • Make multiple members project administrators. This way, anyone will be able to operate the controls of the project, just in case any past member becomes unavailable for any reason. (Follow-up question: Does the iNaturalist platform afford any special status afforded to a single lone “owner” account for the project?)
  • Create an organization account that is only used to manage the project, clearly indicate this on the account’s profile, and then pass the administrator login (a unique e-mail and password combination) around the members as needed. And of course, don’t use the account to post observations or identifications.

thanks for the suggestion. But the intention is not for the account to upload obs just to be the ongoing administrator of our projects. Obs will be still uploaded by members on their own account.

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this is our Umbrella project, and all the collection projects are under that one umbrella.

Yes, definitely collection projects as you stated.

I guess I still don’t understand what the issue is - multiple people can be made admins of these collection projects (at least one has two admins). This would give all those admins the ability to edit the project which seems to be the key requirement. Can you clarify what functionality you are still looking for that having multiple admins for a given project doesn’t give?

All Inat accounts should be registered to the same user and/or device. If one account username is being registered on multiple different IP addresses located in geographically distinct locations, the account could be banned. Although I have not heard of any explicit rules that allow or ban individual Inat users for being a “club”, I do know that Inat accounts have been banned for similar reasons in the past. It would be better to have everyone make their own accounts and put all of their observations into a project. Just don’t identify each others observations frivolously because it could look like sockpuppeting.

Now that I see the projects (and they are very attractive and interesting), I understand how you set them up as collection projects. I’m not sure I can see why it might be necessary to edit past projects for events that are frozen in time. I agree with @cthawley that making mulitple admins for each project gives some backup, and it also recruits more people into the project-making business for the future. Looks like you should just keep doing what you’re doing.

I perceive the problem is not so much for the individual collection projects but the umbrella project. I’m currently one of the admin for that but if myself and the other 2 suddenly drop of the perch while out in the bush no one would have access to that umbrella project.

[quote=“gjn, post:15, topic:49487, full:true”]
I perceive the problem is not so much for the individual collection projects but the umbrella project. I’m currently one of the admin for that but if myself and the other 2 suddenly drop of the perch while out in the bush no one would have access to that umbrella project.

It appears you can add any members of the Umbrella project as admins, and at this time there are 23 members. You could add a long list of members as admins to assure that at least one of them will take up the reins.


I am an administrator for the project Native Orchids of South Australia ( plus I have my own personal account.

We created an account for NOSSA ( with the username nossaorchids and posted a few data to get started. As NOSSA, I do not post observations unless it is from members who are not computer savvy and/or do not want to create an account of their own. They are acknowledged as the owner of the image under the Observation Field - Observed By eg

Also I tend not to do identifications in NOSSA’s name because of the changing nature of the person behind the account. The exceptions are when posting for someone else and then I tend to use the CV suggestion.

Because this account is owned by the society and not me, it can be passed on to another member at any point in time. But as pointed out by @neylon we do not have multiple people using the account.

I think having a group’s own project can be a good way of encouraging members to create their own account.


History has proven that “group” accounts are not so much a problem until they start producing a lot of data, which is when the size of their contributions starts causing potential problems.

The issues mentioned here already are often cited. There’s issues with contacting the observer, even though some group accounts cite the observer correctly and that isn’t a problem. There’s issues with “leaderboards” where a group overtakes everyone who is individual. It also can create issues with copyright and attribution since they can only be tagged with an attribution for a group overall.

Personally I don’t think they are really a big deal, but I can see why there can be dissent over them.

(For obvious reasons, these group accounts tend to amalgamate more casual observers who don’t intend to observe frequently, which is why the call for everyone to make individual accounts and group them in a project is usually seen as too much work for those involved).

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Thanks but as stated we don’t perceive the group account posting obs, only a couple to get started. Club members are encouraged to create and start their own accounts so they can post obs while not on club trips. About 3 years ago we had possibly 2 or 3 members with iNat personal accounts, we now have have 30 or so with accounts, some with many hundreds, if not into thousands obs.