Best beginner video how-to tutorial/what mistakes to avoid

Background - My company of 1,000+ employees is rolling out a major internal initiative to get employees using iNaturalist. Fitting since we’re an ecological restoration company.

I’ve been using the platform long enough to see the impact a large number of new users can have with observations of their dog, potted plant, inaccurate spatial data, bad pictures… and the list goes on. I really really want to avoid this for both personal and professional reasons.

I’ve looked around the forum, YouTube, and other places on the internet to try to find training resources that encompass both the how-to aspect and the “it’s not just another social media platform and is meant to record the natural world not your dog” aspect rolled into something that’s not going to take up a ton of time. The iNaturalist website has some good how-to videos but they don’t cover the faux pas and seem to be out of date in terms of versioning.

Can anyone point me to any other potential resources?


For common mistakes, I have created a basic guide on mistakes to avoid, which you can find here—though it is geared more towards plants. There’s also a few useful links to tutorials in there that I found useful, though some are more long than others.
(There is a copy that I put on the forum Tutorials section, but that one is out of date)

I got hooked onto iNat after watching this Youtube video done by PBS Studios. I find that a useful introduction to what iNat is and why it’s important, while also highlighting the enjoyment you can get out of it.

In terms of getting other people to use iNat, especially if it’s a larger group of people, I would suggest not to make it mandatory. Forcing people to use this platform is the equivalent of dragging a sulking child to the playground. Find those who are really interested in what iNaturalist has to offer, and once they get onboard they can spread the word to other colleagues and pull them in as well.


Although I have no sources, I would like to add that newbies should make sure that all relevant information (date, location, basic ID, photo, etc) is added BEFORE uploading. It creates a lot of hassle for ID’ers to ask for this information and many observations lacking this info aren’t ever completed, and are useless.

Adding a basic ID helps identifiers find an observation, and giving no ID or “Madder of life” buries it beneath EVERY OTHER observation. Be more specific.

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I recently signed up to volunteer for the City Nature Challenge and they provided me with videos that provide some insight on how to navigate iNat. I’ll link them below: (first 20 minutes, making high quality observations for iNat) (2:30-30:00, how to use iNat’s mobile app)
Hope this helps!


i don’t think there’s a single existing video that covers everything, but i think there are many good ones that together could provide a really good introduction:

link duration notes 9:41 the PBS video that got @arnanthescout hooked on iNat, it’s really well-produced and covers many bases at a high level, featuring @drjoehanson 23:21 featuring @janetwright, this shows how to use both the app and the website in more detail and is really good about emphasizing both the system and the community 2:29 iNat’s video about using the website upload page to load photos and sounds 8:39 @onagraceoid’s pro tips for making observations using the app 2:13 iNat’s FAQ video

i haven’t come across a good video that goes into a lot of detail about recording good location data – iNat has one, but it’s for a particular use case – but there are many tips sprinkled across many sources, including this forum.


As much as you can hammer it in, please remind your coworkers that the site is primarily intended for wild organisms and garden plants should be marked cultivated :slightly_smiling_face:


This is not in video format or even really in a format to be shared with new people but it does go through the pitfalls to avoid scenarios: Frequently Used Responses · iNaturalist

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I made a beginners tutorial (fairly long) a while back:


Thanks! Loved that video. I think both these resources together basically cover everything I need!

Absolutely! That’s one of my pet peeves.
We’re different in that we’re an ecosystem restoration company and the goal is to be able to highlight species that are on the restoration sites

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Thanks @pisum. This is very thorough! I’m going to share all these with my company’s team in charge of rolling this out.

personally I would say the main mistakes to avoid are over-running the servers with heaps of photos. Usually its best to take more than one, but only upload the best 1-4. ( if you need a different angle to id the observation someone will usually ask in which case you can upload the additional images). I would also say when it comes to ids only id an observation if you are confident and if you aren’t 100% you can always keep it at genus or family level. :smiley:

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You could always make a video yourself if one doesn’t already exist, that would be a great resource.

I think another important thing beginners should know it how to properly answer the Research Grade Qualification questions, specifically what is and isn’t wild.

Domestic animals and sometimes plants, are marked as captive/cultivated due to their domestic ancestry or them being planted by humans. For animals at least, this is the wrong approach. If an organism is not under the care or supervision of people and is living in the wild, it shouldn’t be marked as non-wild.

When an organism is captive/cultivated, I feel that the observer should communicate that to identifiers to avoid confusion. They could use the notes or a comment convey this information.

A lot of useful observations and data aren’t being used due to this misconception.

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