Create a "Draft mode" for uploaded observations

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.


I think Geotagging your photos with a GPS track is the best way to get a good location for your observations and be able to use a dedicated camera.

As to the main request, I think it’s a good one but I’m not sure how much time/effort it would take to create. How are people thinking one would toggle “draft mode” on or off?

I am thinking just a page a little like when you upload photos where all your observations are there and you can check IDs, use ‘compare’ and the algorithm, add fields and tags and annotations, etc. Then you can click to ‘publish’ them individually or hit a ‘publish all’ at the top. If they sit in draft for more than a week (or whatever) they get automatically published. And sending observations to draft would default as off but be something you can turn on.
Of course from the dev side i can’t speak for how long it would take or what other priorities exist but i definitely feel it would be valuable. Just yesterday i was again doing some IDs and found some wrong ones but then realized they were only 7 minutes old and that user probably just hadn’t had time to even look at them on the website yet. If nothing else it could be nice to have a filter default to ‘yesterday’ or something instead of IDing things as they come in. I know that’s nice for some new users but for those of us who add lots of observations it seems to be a annoyance more than anything

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On the upload screen it would just be a checkbox. The checkbox should be “sticky” on mobile so that it doesn’t have to be checked with every new observation.

Each observation would prominently display it has yet to be published. It would auto-publish after ~a week of whatever. A notification would be generated when observations are auto-published.



Yeah, I think the web site would be easier to implement, design-wise. I’m thinking more about the mobile apps, where space is more limited. Some sort of a) settings toggle that can turn on draft mode and b) a switch on the observation details page that would make that observation a draft? I’m not sure I’d want another option on the observation details page to appear by default. It’s already a bit much for new users as it is.

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Yeah, this would be fine for me. As long as it doesn’t have to be manually turned on for each observation.


You’all might not have to modify the observation details pages, tiwane, except for the cached observations. I would be happy with a toggle on my dashboard or at the top of the list of my observations that would send all my future observations–from whatever source–to a pre-publication holding cache until further notice, to be kept there for, say, 48 hours unless I release them sooner. And a toggle on the cached observations to release them for publication. A toggle at the top/bottom of the page of cached observations to release them all at once would also be a timesaver.

So, you folks who are voting for this feature:

Do you want all your observations to go into draft mode (as opposed to observations you select one-by-one)?

My own answer is “yes.” It’s a work mode I would use consistently. And I could go to my dashboard and turn it off any time I chose.

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Yes, a single setting that would apply to all newly created observations until changed would be my preference.