Create a system for importing common names

I’m using iNaturalist and it’s very frustrating for them that a lot of the names, are in English, not Dutch.

Local names for a very large number of species in Dutch are available in The Encyclopedia of Life and many other sources, e.g. textfiles.

Shouldn’t it be fairly easy to import Dutch names into iNaturalist?

Example format CSV-file:
Import taxa from a list of names (UTF-8) in CSV following the format:
scientific name,common name 1, common name 1 lexicon, common name 2, common name 2 lexicon

Only the scientific name is required. So an example row might be
Homo sapiens,Human,English,Humano,Spanish

same issue is being discussed here:

@optilete adding a file of common names isn’t really a feature or new functionality, so as it is this isn’t a great fit for Feature Requests. However, if you broaden the scope of this to something like “Create a system for importing common names” so that iNat can receive and ingest files of common names, I think that would be a good fit. How does that sound?

To be clear, we have added CSV files of common names for a language, but that’s been done in an ad-hoc fashion when a user provides us with a file from a reputable source and we add them on the back end. I think it would be great to have a defined system for how one can request a file to be added to iNat.

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If the scope is bigger the change that it will be realised will be smaller. But I agree more languages in Europe have the same problem: the lack of common names makes iNaturalist less usefull and a general solution would be better.


@optilete Tony is suggesting you change the title of this feature request! If you agree of course…

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I suspect that this is what has been limiting iNaturalist’s potential in other countries.

As a curator, I have been trying to implement common names for other languages we support. For example, nearly all Japanese mammals now how their Japanese name on the site.

However, from the curator side of things, this is a very slow and tedious process. It would be nice if there was some way to speed it up - maybe in a xml file format.

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I assume you mean xml, not kml.


I would suggest that, instead of creating a system for importing files from diverse sources, Inat staff should create a single script to import common names in all languages via the EOL api. If we find mistakes, we could correct them either “upstream” or in Inat.



I think you need to retain both. As an example, I randomly chose 10 species that I did not recognize the latin for from the list of Norwegian names I prepared. Of those 10, 8 had no name at EoL in Norwegian, so would not get translated if only some standard lookup were implemted.

If you are going to do some kind of single one time API load, or process to dynamically look up, rather than using EoL, it makes more sense to link it to Wikidata. Wikidata is the source of the vast majority of the translations in EoL as it is, and that way you are not reliant on waiting for EoL to import them (I have no idea how often EoL synchs with Wikidata).

Experience also shows Wikidata is more likely to be a stable platform (I’m not suggesting EoL is going to shut down or anything like that), but they’ve already done one major system change recently that broke a lot of functionality on the site linked to it.


Ok that seems very reasonable. Thanks a lot for preparing the file for Norwegian!

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Another option for source of common names are checklists:
If imported the remarks field can contain a common namen for an area.

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