Create personal challenges and trophy/badge system to make iNaturalist appeal to general audience

I’m relatively new to using inaturalist. I’ve had it installed for at least a year and I only just started adding observations yesterday.

I think it would be really cool if inaturalist had a system of badges or trophies that could be acquired by completing challenges of varying difficulty, such as “submit observations of 10 different bird species.” or limited time challenges like “observe over 1000 species in 2019.” The badges/trophies could be collected and displayed on ones profile with a little icon/piece of art and a description of what the reward was for.

As a biologist and proponent of conservation, I think gamifying inaturalist could play a major role in increasing the public awareness of species richness locally and globally.

I will totally admit to spending way too much time trying to get trophies in Fallout: New Vegas, but I’ll just say that many people have suggested gamifying iNaturalist, and it’s not something the iNat team is particularly interested in.

Maybe it’s naive, but we hope people enjoy being outside and documenting wildlife or identifying other’s observations because they find it rewarding in and of itself, and not for extrinsic motivations. So it is unlikely there will ever be badges or trophies on iNat. One reason we made Seek is to allow for a bit more gamification in something akin to iNat, but isn’t directly about contributing to public data.

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I agree with Tony here. Other issues with gamifying is falsification of observations and identifications, and likely more bot accounts as well.

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I hadn’t heard about seek. I’ll have to check it out before I can make an informed response. I do see the potential problems with gamifying iNat, but I think increasing the number of concurring identifications for something to be “research grade” could fix some of that. Or having credibility scores associated with the number of agreed upon ID’s could also help make sure the data doesn’t get screwy.

I use the app “Strava” for cycling and it has little badges for accomplishing timed challenges such as ride 100km this month. Since its just a little icon, you’re not really getting anything from it. It’s just a fun push to keep you going. (You better believe I biked over 100km this month!)

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You might want to look at the places and projects features on iNat as a way to engage more people in biodiversity awareness.

For example, the #Grounds4Nature project is an annual bioblitz for schools in the UK to record species in school grounds using the seek app:

https://schoolsbiodiversityproject.com/grounds4nature/

https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/grounds-4-nature-2019

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It seems like you should definitely try Seek. It does have badges and such, and is designed to be internal on the app but does let you post to inat too (granted the posting is not as versatile, you can’t turn off auto upload or edit the location last i checked) but worth a try if that’s your interest.

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I feel, or have felt at various points, a similar way. Strava is a great example of how to do this well, and in a non-obtrusive way. However, I also totally get where the staff are coming from and respect that decision that they’ve made as a sensible one.

Potentially you could set up personal challenges for yourself, though, using lists and the like. For example, make a list of all the organisms in your area you really want to see and remove an organism from the list once you’ve seen it. Then set yourself the personal challenge of getting that list to zero. Or keep a record of personal challenges using the journal functionality or something. I don’t know, there’s probably a number of things you could do that would be fun within the existing framework of iNaturalist.

All this being said, I am going to vote for this request just so that there is an indication that other people are interested in this idea - as I said, I completely get the reasoning the staff would rather not implement it and therefore would not be put out at all if it never was, but just so there’s a record of the interest I guess.

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I’ve been doing the same thing for my goals this year.

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Spend some more time exploring iNat and you will find lots of things that you can use to challenge yourself. Have a look at the calendar. If you click on a day it will show you taxa, observations and life list firsts. Lists can be used as well. You can see your streaks at https://mapsandapps.github.io/inat-streak/

Also look at https://www.inaturalist.org/stats/2019/yourusernamehere
(replace the end bit with your iNat user name)

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That stats thing is amazing! I had no idea that existed. Thanks very much for that!!

Also look at the overall site stats (for 2018) https://www.inaturalist.org/stats/2018
I think the studies that used iNat data at the bottom of the page is awesome.

I am still working thru the challenge of IDing Cape Town’s bioblitz entries. That last two thousand is getting harder and harder.
I follow a few local people and will one day move on to seeing what I can ID there from plants I might have actually seen when out hiking.

yeah good point that others have set up competitions among friends or groups, for instance the discord (chat) server has a competition for 2019 at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/discord-inaturalist-yearlisting-2019

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Yeah, you could set up a project or something to act as a short term (or long term, like a toned down - or maybe not(!) - Big Year) competition, and then give people made up achievements. :P Cool idea with the discord server too.

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In some ways there are so many “badges” that are already out there that fit within the parameters of ones own values on an ever changing landscape as we can fine craft what we know and and continually endlessly learn what we don’t. I don’t know if I would be interested in someone else deciding those parameters/skill sets for me to excel at. The only purpose I could see is if it guided one through to a rudimentary site navigation skill without seeking likes and faves by others - but then there are some great links and videos already available for that.

Currently there are about 23.7 million observations of about 215 thousand of the approximate 8.7 million known species by nearly 657 thousand observers and helped by close to 88 thousand identifiers. There are countless ways to perceive this data.

People are out there seeing things for the first time and seeing things for the thousandth time. They are recording first sightings of rare organisms and 300th day in a row of others. One can be first in their community at whatever level or first in the world for submitting a species. One could observe or identify the most of a particular species or taxon. One could observe or identify all within a self-goaled taxon. One could be the expert in their own yard or the park across the street. One could survey adjacent communities to find out if self-goaled taxon are represented there. One can see how they “stack up” compared to others or never know or look.

Some are doing the best they can within their means by submitting only 25 observations. There are some out there who are challenged to even observe or not challenged but instead both achieve to help the community by identifying.

Self directed “achievements” are endless. I don’t know how you could limit this down to a select prescribed vision of what is an achievement.

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I have never viewed iNaturalist as a game. I am not sure why people don’t think finding species is challenging with a thousand mosquitoes trying to enter every orifice, and deer flies in formation over your head - with a humidex of 45 C and endless plants that attach to you, poison you, stab you, spread noxious chemicals over you. Then there are the loose dogs that are “friendly” according to their clueless owners, the sudden holes you can’t see in the grass, the fallen tree limbs to trip over while you keep an eye on that once in a lifetime species, not to mention the lovely aroma of a Snapping turtle fresh from the lake - a smell that will never leave your car. Challenge? Who needs it. I am just happy to survive each day and see what is out there tomorrow.

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Self directed “achievements” are endless. I don’t know how you could limit this down to a select prescribed vision of what is an achievement.

Really good point - deciding what your own goals are rather than having to select from a pre-prescribed list. The original poster actually mentioned setting personal challenges, so maybe this feature request could be more akin to a ‘personal checklist page’ which you could link to lists, or to criteria you could describe yourself, i.e. ‘observe x new species by christmas’ or something.

I have never viewed iNaturalist as a game.

I don’t think I have either - one of the great things about iNaturalist is how genuinely useful it is, and actually real too cough Pokemon Go cough. When folk are talking about ‘gamification’ I think it’s more in a technical sense - setting acheivements that can be reached for motivational reasons. That sort of definition would fit with the personal checklist idea I mentioned above, for example.

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A lot of these responses seem to be personal responses to “Create personal challenges and trophy/badge system” without considering the second half of the request. “to make iNaturalist appeal to a general audience.” Obviously it already appeals to you, or else you wouldn’t be here.
I’m not suggesting that iNat isn’t already fun for people like us. I’ve been having a blast adding all of my “observations” that I made before I used iNat with my camera. I have an M.Sc. in biology, of course I find it inherently fun to just go outside and observe life!

I made this feature request with the general public in mind. The people that don’t already use iNat. The people who know animals only to a very broad group, like “that’s a sparrow” “minnow” or “moth.” Sure a naturalist can naturally come up with their own achievements when using iNat but much of the general public is so unaware of the nature around them and I think iNat has great potential to teach them (although not currently, I’m also a high school teacher). I tried “Seek”, and I think it’s just too watered down for it to be fun for the average person. The idea of badges like “You’ve observed 10 different species of birds!”, or “You’ve observed 20 different species in your own neighbourhood” is more a motivational tool to get people to learn than it is a feature for the scientists/naturalists already using iNaturalist.

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I created a list in my profile as a ‘personal checklist’. I put 10 species in the list that I know I saw before I joined iNat and my goal is to observe them again and submit to iNat. I delete the species from the list once that is done. The checklist is complete when all ten species have been deleted.

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The gamification thing has been discussed a lot, since at least 2011. The bottom line is it’s not the route the developers want to go with inat (which I agree with for what it’s worth). If doing it on your own or in a group doesn’t work there are other sites that may work better for you.

I don’t think it’s needed to get more people to use inat. Inat is already growing so fast the infrastructure can barely keep up.

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