Contact Observers

Hello, is there anyway to contact a group/collection of observers? I understand as a user/observer myself, I can see people by their Userid and I can contact someone directly within iNaturalist by sending them a message. What we want to do is contact about 1000 observers to ask if they wish to join our project. I can see that as of today, for 2021, our BIMBY project has about 1,000 observers. what we would like is to invite them to our seminars and get them involved in what we do and share the knowledge we are gaining from our work. See The BIMBY (Butterflies In My Backyard) Project · iNaturalist

As far as I know the only way to contact people via iNaturalist is with personal messages, so you would have to ask them one at a time. If they are all on the forum you could make a group message using it, but it’s unlikely that they are. I don’t know if you can even make a group message with 1,000 participants. If they are already members of your project, you could make a project journal post with information about your seminars and ways to get more involved.

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Yes, that’s the only way to do it with any efficiency. If you really wanted you could tag people individually in the journal post as well, but it’s time-consuming.

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no they are NOT members of my project. We want to attract more people to our project.

Another thing to consider: You could maybe make a comment and tag all the usernames in it? That’d obviously be a really big comment but it would alert people nonetheless. I don’t know if there’s a character limit though, for comments.

Another idea would be to make a journal post and tag everybody in that. I’m not sure if they’d be notified or not in a journal post but I think it’d be a fair thing to consider.

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I’m not sure we should encourage that sort of behaviour, it seems spammy to me.

You can consider asking for your project to b added to the Featured or Recommended Projects.


I tend to agree. I was just curious. there is a reason we do not share people’s email addresses.

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I know the motive is good here, but I would definitely not like to see this as a general capability. Perhaps there could be some sort of general bulletin board (not on the Forum, which has to be joined) where people could post recruitment notices like this?


I’ve gotten mentioned in project posts before (even though I wasn’t part of the project) and got a notification for it. I’m not sure that’s something you want to take advantage of for recruitment however.


I made a post for one of my new projects once, it had all the statistics fot the start and tags for biggest contributors, many did join the project, I don’t think it’s too annoying to get a notification once in a while to join a project, plus you can ignore it.

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I don’t understand. Those observers are ‘in your project’? Then a journal post is available for them to read. I loath the way FB whines at people to join or like.

Let it be organic growth. Default IN. Let observers make the small effort to find your project. And choose to join. You won’t gain anything from people ‘forced’ to join. And then never engage.

What works well is a copypasta, when adding IDs, inviting that observer to … come join our project


This would be annoying to me, especially when people do this on a lot of observations of the same taxon/location because then as an identifier of that taxon/place I’m getting dozens of duplicate notifications.

The best option I’ve found was mentioned above - to @ tag a bunch of relevant people in a journal post on the project, either in the journal post itself or in a comment on the post. And then make sure you let them know they can opt out of notifications (I track that elsewhere in a spreadsheet). You can copy/paste the list of observers (at least the top 500) and easily format it with @ in front of them in a spreadsheet to tag them all at once.

@deedesie it looks like your project is simply collecting all observations of a taxon in a certain place and time period, so letting people know why it would be of interest to join your project would be most compelling, e.g. to learn about XYZ at your seminar or get cool updates via project journal posts about XYZ research. Since everyone can already use the Explore page to search for taxa in a place/time period. More background and ideas at


I’m very comfortable with people reaching out individually to 1-3 people. I’d be very uncomfortable with people reaching out en-masse to 1000 people. I would not like to be tagged in a post that contained a long list of tags (even 10), as it seems spammy, so I recommend against that. I also would not like to get a form message through the iNaturalist messaging system (including a copy-and-pasted message that just uses my name), but I never object to getting individual, personalized messages.

If your project already has 1,000 members, my intuition is that you are already past the point of it making sense to promote it directly to individuals, generically. However, you may still wish to reach out to specific users.

I agree with what @dianastuder said about organic growth, and about the importance of not being pushy. I would also say, feel free to reach out to individual users. But I would only reach out to key ones. On iNaturalist, a small portion of the users contribute a large portion of the observations, especially when looking at regions and specific taxa. So it would be pretty easy for you to identify “key” users…and you could even do it geographically so as to get geographically-representative coverage of your area in your group, if you wanted that.

Then when you reached out or tagged people, it would be much more personalized, like, “Hey, I noticed you tend to post a lot of observations in (X) in (such-and-such) region, I run (such-and-such project) and we have a need for such observations. Here are some reasons why you might like to join the project.”

I’d imagine that if I received a message like this, I’d react really well.

Also, this way you could reach out to fewer people but you’d target the most active people. Not only would you get more observations this way, but the most active people are going to be more visible so you’ll get more passive exposure to the project.

You could also stagger the outreach; different people tend to get active at different times. Maybe do a search every week or every few weeks during the time when people post a lot of relevant observations, and see if new users come up, and if ones you haven’t reached out to come up, then reach out to them. This approach would also be more likely to be successful because you’ll reach out to the users sooner after they posted the observations, so they’re more likely to still be observing things or thinking about the observations and more likely to still be active, relative to reaching out to a bunch of users all at once and ending up contacting some based on old observations, when they’re no longer as active on the site. This could also allow more organic growth.


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