Create a "Draft mode" for uploaded 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.


I agree. Here is an example of what happens without it:

Here’s another:

The lack of a draft mode allows someone else to identify something other than the intended organism first. The user often doesn’t understand what is going on when the observation subsequently bounces in and out of State of matter Life.

The way it works now just doesn’t seem to me to be very user-friendly.

I do a fair number of ID’s and until recently, I did not understand the bulk uploading feature and ended up ID’ing a bunch of stuff before the poster got to them (sorry srall and charlie and undoubtedly others).

I really think this would be valuable to everyone and I won’t think things like: I’m surprised charlie doesn’t know that this is an Eastern White Pine :-)


My guess is that situations like this are caused more by people not knowing to tap on “What did you see?” and how important adding an ID is when making an observation, so I’m not sure a draft mode would help in those cases. Better design and onboarding will hopefully cut down on these.

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I often can’t add IDs when I am out of cell reception and I try to use the right code or name but some of them just don’t take.


For sure, and that would be a good use case for drafts. I was just saying I think there are also design issues that can be improved upon to reduce the number of “unknown” observations being uploaded.


The evidence seems to point the other way. As has been discussed here, high-volume users make a conscious decision to defer entering ID’s, and duress users most likely don’t care.

A draft mode could help high-volume users manage their observations using the tools of the inaturalist website before publishing them. The educators making duress users do inaturalist assignments can use draft mode to impose a more methodical workflow, and cut down on the ‘here’s a plant I guess, lol’ type of observations.

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I think it’s possible for all three to be the case. In my several years of answer help@inat emails, I think there’s a good number of people who never notice the “What did you see?” section.

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If you try to submit an observation without a location in the app, you get a pop-up reminding people to add a location. Why not do that for the “what did you see?” box? It’ll make sure people see it, as well as indicate to new users that adding an ID is an important step.

Since I can see this annoying high-volume users, it might be worth waiting until draft mode is available, and only have the prompt when publishing observations


To be clear, there is no guarantee that a draft mode will ever be added. While it’s something we’re discussing, no decision has been made.

I can see the utility of a draft mode for the mobile apps, but after doing some thinking I can’t say I see the need for one if you’re using the web uploader. You can already take all the time you need before making observations via the web.

And if a draft mode is made, there would have to be something like a 3 day limit where observations get automatically published to avoid large backlogs.

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Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that draft mode was definitely happening

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I’d suggest a bit longer - maybe a week or two - because a lot of us are out in the field or traveling, where we have occasional wifi to upload but can’t really sit down with a computer for a few days. Though if it got created with a 3 day limit i’d still be glad it was there.


You obviously have a stable internet connection. I do my uploads about 20 at a time for fear of my wireless bouncing off (made worse by a bug on my laptop’s internals that once wireless disconnects you have to reboot to reconnect). I’m always speeding to do mine and waiting to do the research.

If it is implemented, I would hope it is on the web client too.