Capitalization of common names policy?

Does iNaturalist have a policy about whether common names should be capitalized? I have it ingrained in me that it is both correct and important to capitalize them, since “I saw a green frog” means something different than “I saw a Green Frog”. And it seems like most of the common names in iNaturalist are capitalized, but by no means all. Would it be useful or just annoying for me to ‘fix’ uncapitalized common names as I encounter them?

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There have been many large scale debates on this in the past. The decision that was made is that all names will display in capital case ´so Green Frog, Yellow-rumped Warbler etc.

The names can be entered in any case in the taxon pages but the display will always show capitalized names. Any ‘fix’ you apply to ones you find will not result in any changes to the display.

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I should follow up to say in the curators guide there are guidelines about how they want them entered in the taxon pages, even if any format can be used, but the display will always be capital case regardless of what is entered there.

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Officially, the curator guide states:

Common names for animals should be entered in title case with each word starting with a capital letter (e.g. Atlantic Bluefin Tuna) but not the second part of adjectival hyphenated words (e.g. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo).

Common names for plants, fungi, and other non-animal taxa should be entered in lowercase (e.g. spotted gum) except for proper nouns, which should start with a capital letter wherever they appear (e.g. Tasmanian blue gum).

NOTE: For reasons of style, iNaturalist often automatically displays common names in title case. However, common names should never be entered in sentence case (e.g. it would be entered as “mountain grey gum” not “Mountain grey gum”).

People don’t worry about this style anymore because iNaturalist now officially capitalizes vernaculars as entered (as cmcheatle stated above). However, a discrepancy remains where names are still displayed as entered on the mobile app, and until this issue is fixed, I still enter non-animal taxa names as lower-cased for consistency.


plant names are not supposed to be capitalized unless there is a proper noun in them. But because plants are always downplayed despite their importance, and people wanted a blanket policy, all the names are capitalized. It’s annoying but probably not worth continuing to bicker over

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Since this question has been answered, I’m going to close this topic. If folks have a critique or requested change to the capitalization guidelines as they stand, please first take a look at the extensive history of discussion of this topic on the Google Group, then formulate a separate proposal if there’s a desired change.