"Community Science" vs "Citizen Science"

That’s part of what drives iNaturalist but it’s not the whole story. The primary function of iNaturalist is facilitation of learning about nature and biodiversity. The sciencey bits are a secondary (albeit important) aspect. It works by permitting conversations between its members, some as brief as posting an observation and receiving an ID and some as long and winding as this forum topic.

People don’t just use the resource, they contribute to it. It’s a community, with all of the pluses and minuses that go with that. It’s a community that exists within the context of technology provided by a non-profit with a management structure and rules, but a community nonetheless. On the other hand, the word community is derived from the Latin root communis, which means common.

Speaking for myself, I stick around because I enjoy the company (mostly) as much as for the resources. I don’t think I’m alone.


well said,

and said better than what I was saying - that yes the commons is essentially driven by a community - in this case the wonderful community here.

He was. His exact words were:

So the question is: when observations, comments (on observations) or IDs (of observations) – i.e. Data – disappear, is it because moderating team members disappeared them, or because the people who posted them changed their minds? It makes a difference to the point being made here.

I will say that iNat overall is a very tolerant bunch. There are observations on here that, if the same image was posted to BugGuide, would quickly get moved the their “frass” folder, with an admonishment not to post such low-quality images.


Thanks. It is quite critical to realize this.

Thanks @jasonhernandez74 to make this clearer on the iNaturalists side.

@melodi_96 : thanks for wondering if I took something personally ! That was very kind - I mean it.
As to your other question, I meant that a citizen-like community should have additional rules by which moderators and staff can be held accountable to the community, not just to themselves.
So, @pmeisenheimer, not less rules, but more rules, and of a more general kind.

And not only when dealing with data and text from others, but also with one’s own data and text, as the latter also belong to the community (this applies to all members).

@tiwane : thanks for the encouraging words and sorry that I stretched the topic a little – yet because the immediate context of this topic is very broad to start with, it is not fully clear to me which part(s) should be moved elsewhere.

Frankly here I just wanted to emphasize this tragic paradox.

Indeed, going back to the currently used dichotomy between community vs citizen science, assuming that the former is meant to be driven by local communities, and the latter by scientific institutions, one can notice that they both share a kind of highly fragmented existence : every distinct heterogeneous project “is” its own self-contained purpose, each with its independent, often narrowly defined goals.

If so, community and citizen science are both quite unlike iNaturalist, with its primarily educational purposes, and with its major aim that is to build a single, universal encyclopedia.

My point is that universality and education are inconsistent with being fatally transient.


Among the many things said this stands out and is also why i encourage users to join inaturalist

that even poor photographs / sounds have a place - not all poor records (photographs or sounds will get identified) but when they do they do add valuable data *and help the algorithm too i suppose).


We are all citizens of earth


That is an example of the etymological fallacy. Words mean what people use and understand them to mean, and often not what the derivation would suggest.
All connotation depends on the perceiver but we should not pretend that the popular perception of the word is negated by the etymology.

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“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

As Lewis Carroll said. (In 1871)

English is a living language, so yes, meaning does change over time with usage.


That is a great quote. It is interesting that over time the field of linguistics has largely come to agree with Humpty.