Can a curator please edit the name of an observation field to remove (optional) from it?

The observation field “Planting year (optional)” is the field I need for a traditional project I am starting, but the “(optional)” part of that is misleading for my use of it. In my project, it is important we track planting year, and that field will be required.

Some of my project curators are not very tech savvy, so to avoid confusion and avoid making a new observation field unnecessarily, I’m asking if a curator can drop (optional) from this one’s name.

I understand the original maker of that field does not intend to require it, and I figure their project could use other iNaturalist settings to require the field or not. No need to limit use of the field by stating it is optional or not within its name.

Here’s an image of the field in question, taken from a traditional project setup page:


Thanks! I hope this request is in the right place, please let me know if not.

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I will see what others say, but having asked a similar question and read some discussion about the issue, I believe the staff have decided that Fields are for “curation” by the user community, to be created and used freely as desired, because it was impossible to come up with a limited list to meet all needs.

Annotations, on the other hand, are controlled by iNat in their best efforts to meet our needs for a more limited and universal set. There is a thread on that where you can make input if you want.
So the original iNat guidelines to avoid duplication of Fields seems to be redundant now.

Or you could message the creator of the Field and discuss it, but changing a Field means having to edit all observations using it to bring them into the same search parameters…as I have discovered when I changed a Value in some of mine. And it is difficult to bulk -edit as the Edit page doesnt offer Fields as a search value for ones observations…

Yes, that can be changed. The best person to change it is the user who made the field. It can be a bit impolite to change field names without the knowledge or approval of the user that made them.

You can start up that conversation on the field’s page at and be sure to include their user name (@cziter) in the message so it pops up in their notifications.

If they’ve already told you that they’re not using it anymore, we can edit it now.


Couldn’t a new field be created without the term “optional” and that be used instead? It was presumably included for a reason.

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I understand that iNaturalist is trying to minimize redundant observation fields. I am asking about this one because it seems the only reason this one could not be reused, is because it includes text that can be communicated using project settings to define whether the field is required or not.


That makes sense, thanks @jon_sullivan. I missed the fact that the observation field has its own comment page!


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