Confidence level for alive annotation

Guess I’m worrying too much, but still: When annotating observations for others, how confident should I be when annotating as alive? I’m mostly looking at lady beetles and while some are clearly dead, there can be dead ones that don’t really look dead. I saw one in my neighborhood this spring and only determined that it was dead because it didn’t move for days.

So what does the community think: Annnotate as alive if nothing hints at being dead or only annotating as alive when you can be sure (e.g. because you can see it moved by comparing multiple images)?

2 Likes

I’d say annotate the ones with reasonably convincing evidence of life as alive, and those reasonably convincing evidence of death as dead, and leave the rest unannotated. That’s the same approach I would take for annotating the sex or species or anything else. I don’t think there’s much value in annotating anything based on unsubstantiated assumptions.

4 Likes

I’d say Alive is significantly less useful than Dead, so don’t annotate the ones you’re not sure of.

5 Likes

since i’ve realized the observer has a better chance of knowing whether something is alive or dead, i’ve started trying to add it to my own observations (of animals, anyway); i do agree “dead” is more useful as annotation

5 Likes

I only add Alive/Dead without a comment on other user’s observation if I am 100% sure. Sometimes I am not so sure and add the annotation with a comment.

2 Likes

I agree - it really should be the observer annotating alive/dead. I generally only annotate it when it’s really obvious - organism is flying, mating, there’s motion blur in the photo, etc.

1 Like

Bear in mind the photograph may be of a dead specimen (e.g. most of my invertebrates) but if the recorded details are from when it was alive, alive is the correct annotation.

3 Likes

I believe the annotations are supposed to reflect the picture, however, I am contradicting myself slightly as I have posted one of my bonsai in a bonsai pot but the location I set for it was from where it was collected. If it looks alive, then I don’t care which way. But if it looks dead, please mark it as dead.

What I have seen that annoys me is when people mark a fish as alive because it was caught alive but in all the pictures it is dead. In one I found they gutted it to analyze the contents of its stomach but I could not override their annotation as being alive as two people had marked it as alive, am I wrong here?

I am a seashell IDer so here is an example I see a lot. I think a seashell that is collected alive, cleaned, brought home, and then photographed should be posted from the location where it existed when alive, but be marked as dead which is its current condition in the photo. This reflects the specimen’s state of existence at two different points in time. Is this inconsistent? I suppose, but it’s certainly more useful information because that’s not what it looks like when alive, and posting it from your house is… well… not helpful.

2 Likes

Thanks all. I will only add the alive annotation in very clear cases from now on.

I would probably leave observations like this unannotated, but the annotation is for the observation, not any specific picture. For instance, an observation might have multiple pics showing different features (fruit, colored leaves) that aren’t all visible in each other. However, it can be annotated for all of them. This does pose a problem when searching for photos, and there have been previous requests to allow photo level annotations.

However, from a data perspective, the observation is for the encounter of the observer with the organism - this is central to iNat. If the organism was alive when the observer encountered it and the location/time/date are for that encounter, it should either be annotated as alive or not at all.

1 Like

That - is what I see and feel. But we go against the guidelines, which go against common sense for non-scientist iNatters. Dead beetle with a stake thru its ‘heart’ is Alive. Anything we see dead was alive, then we don’t need a Dead annotation at all.

We have plants with wrong descriptive binomials, because the dead herbarium specimen was …

If identifiers are required to work with the available info in the photos (or notes or placeholder) I see Dead.

1 Like

I need more sleep. My brain went straight to Miracle Max in The Princess Bride. “Your observation here is only mostly dead.”

5 Likes

I annotate a lot for the various roadkill projects, particularly snakes, which similar to your beetles can sometimes be difficult to tell if dead or alive. If you’re unsure always leave a comment in which the observer is tagged before annotating.
Though I appreciate for ladybeetles many observers may not know if the beetles were alive or dead, people in the majority are keen to reply and help : )

1 Like