Communication within a project using WhatsApp

Does anyone have thoughts on the pros and cons of setting up a WhatsApp group as a way of communicating with project members? I don’t seem to get much traction with journal posts and I don’t think its possible to create a group email within iNaturalist. Clearly it would be optional to join the group. (The project has 35 members currently so I could message them individually to see if they want to join - which of course means sharing their phone number with me.). Thanks!

I get a notification of new journal posts. For myself I certainly wouldn’t use WA for iNat.

But you can message your 35 members - can see how they feel, then take it from there.

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Depends on your relationships, if you’re close to friends then yeah, but if complete strangers that can be dangerous.

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You could also consider setting up a Discord if that might suit group members better.

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I am on the reading side, not the promoting a project side.
But I wonder what sort of traction you want?

I read the posts from projects I’m in, but seldom comment. Or see other comments. It is more of a public service announcement - time to ID before the deadline sort of thing. iNat doesn’t give us access to stats - so you have no way to know if / who / how many read your post.

Love the idea, but keep in mind whatsapp groups can become exhausting if you’re not always 100% enthusiastic to receive repeated alerts at all hours from a number of different folks, despite a usual lack of protest, messaging groups can be very stressful for folks trying to decompress or disconnect after work or classes.

+1 for Discord

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if you must insist of a messaging based group, Telegram would likely suit your needs more effectively, and with significantly better security for all users than Whatsapp.

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Setting up a channel at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/discord-inaturalist-server is the most obvious way to go. I personally haven’t been especially active there but there is a lot of activity of people asking for IDs, talking about particular observations or taxa, etc.

Agree, Discord seems much less intrusive and is easily customizable in terms of notification settings. It’s pretty widely-used, but even for those who have never used it, it’s very easy to create an account and set up a server. I don’t know what sort of communication you plan on doing; Discord is pretty much set up like a chat room that can have multiple channels for different topics. It’s a good way to stay in touch but things can quickly get lost over time.

If you want conversations more similar to the iNat forum where there distinct threads about specific discussions, Google Groups is a decent alternative. As far as I know there is no dedicated app but users can link their accounts to their emails to get email notifications of new posts.

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What is the need for that much communication with project members?

Personally, if someone started including me in a group messaging app as part of an iNat project I’d probably leave the project. I have zero interest or desire to be involved in some endless round-robin of messaging alerts and such, and I suspect that I’m not alone in that.

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Thanks everyone very much for your thoughts. I’m not familiar with Discord or Telegram. In answer to questions, the reason for wanting to communicate with project members is to create an active social community which may also meet in person. My project has a small footprint (about 1 mile x 1/2 mile) with people living close to each other on a busy main road a couple of miles out of a city centre - but within a green valley. The project is as much about building a local community as it is mapping its wildlife. In the end I will probably simply ask the members via a forum post for their views on the WhatsApp idea to see if there is interest.

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Have you thought about perhaps flipping the concept on its’ head? To me, it seems like forming an ‘organized’ group for the location and having iNat be an offshoot of that might be a more productive situation than having the iNat project and meetups be an offshoot of that.

I’m not a social media user, but it seems many have had success with small local projects using Facebook. You could advertise for the group in your project by putting a link in in the About section, and a journal post to notify existing members. Many times the membership grows passively. It also makes it easy to advertise for events like bioblitzes and such. Just food for thought.

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In that context, your people may well be happy with a WhatsApp group - we have one for our street (but it’s not iNat oriented)

Yes you are right. In fact there is already an organised Facebook group for the neighbourhood and the bioblitz is one initiative within it. Apologies I realise I maybe should have given more background information in my original question!

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perhaps begin there in the future, please.

a number of talented folks just provided you with a tremendous amount of insight and information, for it to just be all but completely disregarded, mostly because you are unwilling to familiarize yourself with two of the most widely used communications protocols in the world (discord and telegram).

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Please don’t use the forum for this. It’s a place for general iNat discusion, not targeting members of a project.

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