We’ve taken some steps to try to limit machines masquerading as humans on iNaturalist. There has long been a norm on iNaturalist that content should come from humans whether this be observations (e.g. a human pointing a camera at an organism or a human selecting from a bunch of images taken from a camera trap) or comments and IDs (humans choosing which species or authoring remarks). But lately we’ve had increasing issues with machines masquerading as humans on iNaturalist causing an outsized impact on the community, and we’re taking steps to rein this in. We made iNaturalist for humans. When machines masquerade as humans and make content on iNat with no human oversight, bad things happen because our software and our community simply were not made to accommodate the speed, volume, and other characteristics of machine-generated content.
Specifically, we updated the community guidelines to include machine generated content as a suspendable offense and tried to describe in detail where we are drawing these lines.
Likewise, we made it so that users must apply and receive manual approval for permissions to create API clients capable of posting authenticated requests (i.e. apps or scripts built on iNat that facilitate the posting of content). This won’t impact existing API clients, just new ones. The application should describe the purpose of the application (e.g. ‘An app I want to make to help me upload my own observations from my Desktop to my iNat account’) and we’re requiring that accounts are two months old and have made at least 10 improving identifications in the last month to be able to submit an application.
Thanks all for your patience as we try to keep things as open as possible while maintaining the integrity of the iNaturalist community!