Create a "Draft mode" for uploaded observations

Is there a way to upload a cell phone observation but keep it on hold until the observer adds an ID and better photos? Such a feature could really cut down on the “Unknown” photos in the ID pool.

Background. The precise location data provided by the cell phone app is wonderful. But my cell photo doesn’t always provide a recognizable photo. And I prefer to ID my observations on the computer.

So, yesterday I uploaded a group of photos and checked “no” on the DQA to make them “casual” until I could attach more photos. The words “needs ID” disappeared from my screen. But the temporarily “casual” photos stayed in the “needs ID” pool. Some were successfully identified, while others wasted identifiers’ time.

Any suggestions for solving this dilemma?

hmm, i thought I proposed something really similar - an optional ‘draft mode’ when uploading observations from the app - but i can’t find the feature request so maybe i discussed it with people but never proposed it. I support the idea of uploading observations as a draft to be posted on the site only after review.

your text seems to be half question, half suggestion. To answer the question, once it has been uploaded, there is currently no way to hide an observation from other users. You can set flags that make it not appear in certain searches, but there is no way to totally hide it.

As Charlie mentioned, there has been discussion about a ‘draft’ mode, you can find it covered in several threads, but I don’t think it has ever actually been formalized as a feature request.

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yeah i thought i created a request but turns out, i meant to but never did. So now we have this, maybe this can be it.

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@nancyinsunnyvale would you be up for broadening this feature request, maybe changing the title a littl so it says something like ‘Put app observations on ‘hold’ after upload until they can be reviewed by user’ ? I don’t usually add different photos after uploading but i would like to be able to review, check IDs, and annotate them on the web page before they are posted for everyone.


There is a way, actually!

My phone is a Pixel so it should be analogous to Android, and it may be different than Apple, but go to settings and there is a checked box named “Automatic Upload (Auto Sync)”.

If you uncheck this box, then your observations will effectively stay on hold until you hit the button to upload them. They stay in your phone memory so if your phone gets shut off they are still there as well. When I am ready to upload them, and have all the pictures from my DSLR exported and ready to go, I will upload them and add pictures as soon as they come up on the website.

Voila! Hope that helps. Saves me a lot of battery life on my phone too.

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As good as the auto upload trick is, it doesn’t provide the opportunity to add pictures from a camera, or to then do the ID step on the computer before releasing the observation.

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It’s true this exists, but it is not the question that was asked, the question was specific to after it has been uploaded. They gave an example of wanting to add a photo not taken via their cell phone for instance.

Yes, you can delay uploading observation off a mobile, but the question was related to functionality after the upload was done.

Title change

Since Charlie’s phrase “draft mode” is clear and succinct and has been used in past discussions, I have changed the title to read “Draft mode for uploaded observations”


A draft mode is a good idea. I have voted for it, not because I would personally use it a lot, but because it would be another tool for educators to manage the flood of careless “unknown” shoot-from-the-hip observations that class assignments are likely to generate.


If teachers can see the records, they are not really in draft mode though. And if a student doesn’t care enough to do it right initially, they certainly are not going to sit down later and try and do ID’s.

How would you see this working ?


I agree that it would be better if the teacher could see the observations in draft mode. But even without this, draft mode could make assignments more structured: collect observations in the field, then id them in the classroom, then publish. Without draft mode there is no structural incentive to ever revisit an observation.

I don’t know if this would work, but anything that makes the process more structured and less spontaneous helps with students. I say this from own experience although not with inaturalist specifically.


FYI some related past discussion and implementation ideas start here.

I definitely support this idea!

The request is for an opportunity to delay posting of uploaded observations so the observer can review them and fix or improve them. The time can be used to:

  • Add or refine an ID;
  • Add photos taken from a camera;
  • Put photos in order; or
  • Delete any unusable photos.

The opportunity to add IDs and review photos is particularly important with batch uploads from a smartphone.

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Yeah, that has been discussed a lot before, because that feature basically breaks the app for all but casual use. There’s been proposals to make it more obvious that you can turn it off, since it’s kind of a hidden feature, but that’s a bit off topic. Basically, the reason it exists is because of a lot of users used to not ever figure out they had to download things later, so they never did so and lost interest in iNat. Or something like that. So yeah definitely turn auto upload off. It doesn’t solve the question of wanting access to all the things on the website though.

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I get that putting observations on hold isn’t the exactly same thing as the proposed draft feature, but to me, it functionally works the same. The only hiccup there is if somebody adds an identification to your observation before you have a chance to upload pictures from another camera.

To clarify, this is my process. Take pictures with my DSLR camera in the field, take one placeholder picture with my phone so I can make an observation with coordinates. Come home, import all my photos, and export from Lightroom the ones I want to upload to iNaturalist. Then upload the observations from my phone and add the DSLR photos to them as they come up. If I needed extra time to ID I do it first.

It’s not perfect of course, and I don’t think you can choose to skip uploading specific observations if you still need time to ID, it’s a batch only thing. It’s just a workaround.

I’m totally for “draft mode”. It could be the ability to hide observations, but even better would be if when they were taken out of draft mode if the “submitted” date was on the day it was taken out of draft. That way people could see it on their feed and it wouldn’t go unnoticed.


hmm. Yeah, what i want is to be able to upload something without an ID, put it on the computer screen where i can actually see the photo, use identotron/the algorithm/compare/Gobotany/other online resources to Id it, and fill out annotations and fields, all before it gets posted. otherwise it gets jumped on for coarse ID wasting the time of identifiers, and generates a bunch of questions, and sometimes even the wrong organism gets identified. So what I am looking for is definitely a draft mode. And i strongly dislike auto upload and never turn it on so i think that’s a great choice, just a different issue.


Yes, this is how it should work. “Date uploaded” should be modified to say “date published.”


Yes, I see “Date posted” as a synonym for the phrase “Date submitted” on individual observations and the “Added” column for groups of observations.

Delaying “posting” means that an observation will get its two seconds at the top of the “Identify” pool when taken out of “draft mode.”

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My 2 cents - once something is taken out of draft mode and “published,” that should not be reversible. In other words, it should not be a tool to hide observations at will. There are other ways to hide information, including deleting or not posting.

And I think draft mode should have a fairly short time limit (1-2 weeks? a month or two to account for long expeditions?), with frequent notifications (or dashboard indicator) to the user that they have “one or more observations with draft mode expiring on [such and such date]” and with a convenient filter link to view that set of draft observations.