Are observations URLs static?

This is a question concerning the existing feature of observation URLs. My question is: are these URLs static? And will they be so in the future?
Background: when starting a serious collection (e.g. insect collection, or something) the collector usually also starts a database where he assigns each specimen a individual identification number. This often means additional work and additional expenses for a collector. If observation URLs were static one could easily use iNaturalist URLs (explicitely the last half of the URL like “observations/21439184” or the number only “21439184” as individual identification number). This might motivate collectors to use iNaturalist as their database.


All my microscope slides are labeled with the iNaturalist number to keep the live photos and specimens connected. So I sure hope it never changes!


Keeping fingers crossed that the answer is yes. Can’t imagine why it wouldn’t/couldn’t be…


I include iNat number on labels for pinned moths, as it links directly to the most complete record, including an ID history. Literally just the iNat number, which is unique and can be extracted/entered into the url quite easily (double click the number for easy highlighting!)

What would be cool is if a search on the iNat number in the search box top left also brought up the observation that has that number… I normally just view my most recent obs and change the number in the url…


I really, really hope the URLs are static! I have been through the non-static URL crisis that happened three times on another nature site that shall remain nameless. The admins on that site, in their infinite wisdom, decided to not redirect the two oldest sets of URLs. This means that not only is it hard to find those addresses, but all URLs referenced on other obs, on other sites and in publications are now dead. It is one of the reasons that a whole bunch of us moved from The Dark Side to iNat.


It has been a common thing to refer to other observations in the comments, and to do so with url links. In New Zealand we were under the domain, and when that was lost we changed to, a change that was easy to search and replace globally. The reason for that domain change was rather bizarre, and I doubt the domain would be lost in the same manner. But then again, who knows what the future can bring!

there are some issues with the consecutive numbering on the site and they really should change it to randomized numbers or whatever, but that’s a hard one because it’s true changing old ones can cause problems.

OMG, imagine if all the media articles that pointed to Mola tecta observations suddenly pointed to some other random observation instead! It would be a much bigger problem than the observations that get deleted!

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This is the infamous link rot problem in the internet age. The renumbering problem has already occured when naturewatch .org .nz merged their database into iNat a few years ago, all the observations had to have new numbers. A record was kept, and even today old observation numbers still crop up, eg


In that example, the obs number was given sans url… kind of like referring to a page in a book and not stating what the book is… When everyone thinks they are reading the same book, then I can see how they would take that shortcut! And who knows, iNat could get imported into some future site!

The alternative for collectors would be to use a combination of observer name and tag (using a manually entered database code as tag). This information is less likely to get lost if iNaturalist ever restructures, right?

I would assume that if it were going to happen again, there would be enough people who have experienced it before, and there would be plenty of headsup about it. Then it would just be a matter of printing out a list of all my obs, including obs# and date etc, and then I could go through and cross-reference (if I needed to). Would be a pain, but not the end of the world, and given how unlikely it would be, I can live with it!

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We definitely have no plans to change URLs. So as long as iNat is around, it is highly unlikely the URL would change, but we can’t make any 100% guarantees.

A few iNat staff members (including me) did some editing on this paper, which goes over a procedure to use iNat with herbarium specimens:


I recall this being shared in the google groups… I modelled how I record my pinnings on it. The labels I use are only 12mm x 8mm so I opted to not use QR codes! I do include the obs# and basic collecting event data


A post was split to a new topic: View observation URL in app?

A post was split to a new topic: Observation ID vs. ID in export

I second this suggestion, can we add these URL numbers to the search index?

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