Citizen Science Survey about dragonfly/damselfly observing - Please Contribute!


I am a doctorate student at Kent State University and I’m interested in researching reporting trends in Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) citizen science data.

When people report observations to citizen science databases, they must make decisions about what (and whether) they will submit as data. The choices people make about what is most important can affect the patterns that are recorded with citizen science approaches. This could have significant implications for conservation efforts for these insects, which frequently utilize citizen science observations in determining the presence and/or absence of certain species. The purpose of this study is to examine how people’s impressions of insects with different physical characteristics affect the data that is reported.

Please consider contributing to my survey by clicking the link below:

[Survey is Under Revision]

Please email me at if you have any questions.

Thank you!

EDIT: Thank you for the responses; If you are having difficulty selecting between the images, please click the frame near the image itself. Sorry about that!

*Survey link removed at the request of OP


Done! :+1:

To anyone taking this survey, don’t click on the pictures themselves but the area immediately around. Took me a minute to figure that out.

With the survey, I would suggest 2 other considerations: 1 how mobile is that species, for me if the individual doesn’t land, I am more likely to giveup trying to get a shot of it. Anax junius is one that I hate in this group.

2 How easy is it to separate species from photos. In one of your example pairs was a male vs female Sympetrum, I would sometimes skip both if I already had a Sympetrum photographed.


Hello, can users under 18 do the survey? Or would you prefer that we just don’t participate?

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The survey asks a question repeatedly of which species you would photograph “first”, the necessary implication is that you encounter both subjects almost simultaneously. In the field, I would try to photograph just about any/every dragon that sits still for a moment, except for the very few most common species for which I already have a lot of images. So the question doesn’t seem to be related well to a real world situation, at least for me.


I agree. I started the survey but didn’t finish, as the set up really doesn’t reflect my experience/process for observing. I couldn’t really give a meaningful answer either way.


I tried to fill out the survey on my phone, but I couldn’t get past the ordering section because I couldn’t scroll. I was just stuck changing the order.

I also agree with what others have said about photographing any individual that sits still. I had zero “preference” between any pairs in terms of which I would photograph first, but if the question is which one is noticed first, that is highly dependent on the activity/background.


I’ve done it. You might improve the instructions – at first I picked a picture by clicking on it, and that didn’t work. It’s not intuitive that we need to click on the frame, not the picture.

You’re getting at one of the features that determines how I select what to photo. Obviously, I’ll photo the dragonfly if I notice it, and that depends in part on its color. Mostly, though, I notice them by seeing them move. Doesn’t take much color – I also photograph black, gray, and green flies, too. Then once I see them move, they have to land. Or they could hover for a long time or repeatedly, but they have to stop. I almost never photo the big green dragonflies though I’d like to because they almost never stop.


I think it takes any response, so I would put “none”, but it is poor survey design.

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I get that we’re supposed to be forced into this binary survey of pick-the-more-charismatic-looking species thing, but there’s 1 question I think you should add, and that’s how long we’ve been members of iNat/citizen scientists.

As far as what I submit to iNat (outside of the quick batch of plants I uploaded to unlock certain iNat features), it’s almost guaranteed to be something novel. Novel has 2 categories: 1) “I don’t know what this is” 2) “This looks really cool!”

Now, I’m a wildlife biologist, yet haven’t actually uploaded anything that fits into those categories, which goes back to how long respondents have been on iNat: Common/boring-looking species will be more likely to be subjectively interesting to new people with little experience.

Adding that question removes fuzziness from your data.


Unfortunately, you must be 18 or older to take the survey. Thank you for your interest!

As someone who has been iNatting in the USA for a few years now but is currently temporarily outside the country am I able to take the survey?

Edit: I took the survey anyways. But I do have to note, the quality of the photo or perceived beauty of the odonate (or any organism) is never a consideration for me when posting an observation to iNat. I tend to upload on a chronological basis ie. what I observe first would generally be what I add to iNat first.

Edit edit: For example, I got this ridiculously blurry photo of this dragonfly, and it turns out to be a potential new location record for this species.


I’ve been on iNaturalist for three or four years. I post every dragonfly that sits still long enough for me to photo it, and most of the damselflies. Not just things that are novel to me. Different approaches to take into consideration for the report!


Started the survey, but stopped when it got to the “which would you record first” as it is only a this/that option. There needs to be a 3rd option for those of us who place equal weight to either species/observation.

The way the survey is formatted leads to an artificially forced selection (response bias) that will result in bad and inaccurate data.

Designing useful surveys that provide accurate information is a delicate art. Here are some links discussing response bias:


I did the survey as I get you are looking for visual flair type thing; but it is still quite poorly designed even for that.
For example: a lot of images have the animal blend in to the background; but that isn’t always the case. Some of the images have a nice depth of field that make it look appealing, others don’t. So i’m not really sure what to pick for what even on visual preference of options presented.

I also agree with all the comments that in field, I’ll take photos of anything that friggin lands long enough to get a photo. There’s a few species it took me forever to photo that I see regularly at our pond despite being ‘visually interesting’ because they just don’t sit still - some I swear never land! So your survey misses some really important things that affect actual field experience for all especially a casual observer without pro camera gear or the skills yet.

I agree further with sedgequeen that in field, I usually see them (and most things!) when they move. So the flight and then landing are both key. I am a literal “Oh look! A butterfly!” chaser xD

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Only one way to find out if my proposed correlation exists. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Would have been happy to contribute. I read through the whole intro to the study, only to get to the bottom and find I’m not qualified to respond, due to my geographic location.
Perhaps you could put the qualifications such as age and location at the beginning.


I read through the whole informed consent spiel only to get hit with that too:

You must be 18 or older and reside within the United States.

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On the contrary, many surveys intentionally omit the “neutral” option because it provides no useful data point. A lot of participants would pick “neutral” almost every time (and may be revealing that about themselves in these comments), and therefore the researcher would learn nothing about their preferences.

In the case of most to least favorite, that is part of the criteria. The observations I have “faved” on iNaturalist are all clearly visible organisms. Observations where the organism blends into the background are not going to be my favorites because I think of them as a waste of bandwidth.

“Which would you record first” was a valid question for me. In one case, I chose the one that was more of a close-up, because I would preferentially record dragonflies that I can get closer to. I get frustrated by having to look for an organism in a picture and crop out a lot of background. In other cases, I chose the one that I would be less likely to be able to ID from a guidebook, because that is the one where I am more likely to want the iNat community’s help.

I’m not sure that the critics understand the researcher’s approach.

I generally take a photo of dragonflies/damselflies if they are presenting a good pose. I skip some if they are real common and I’ve already taken one during the same outing. If it’s an unusual species I will try a little harder to get a decent photo. If it’s a rare species, I’ll knock myself out. If I see two species at the same time, I’ll always go for the rarer one first.

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