This weekend is the City Nature Challenge 2019 (CNC), a bioblitz in urban areas around the world. With over 160 cities participating this year, iNat is about to explode with a flurry of activity. The observation period is this Friday, April 26th through Monday, April 29th.
Graph of observations on iNaturalist from 2017–now…that peak in the middle is last year’s CNC, and look where we are already on the Tuesday before.
Because there will be so many new users, and a lot of young naturalists, they may not yet realize that iNaturalist is a valued resource used by land managers, researchers, organizations, etc. and treat it more like any other social media site. They may not even know that what they’re posting is being viewed by anyone but themselves, or their friends, much less the public. So here are a few tips and common responses to issues that come up very frequently during these types of bioblitzes that bring in a lot of new users.
Bookmark this page: common responses to inappropriate content & other frequent issues, which include:
- Not an Organism/Test Observations
- Observation of Human
- Multiple Species in One Observation
- Captive/Cultivated Organism
- Use Your Own Photos And Observations
- Provide Cropped Photo
- Rotate Photo
- Re-order Photo
- Missing Location
- Imprecise Location
- Private Location
- Duplicate Observations
- “Bad” Identifications
- Misled by Computer Vision
- Helpful to Add a General Identification
Besides adding identifications, one of the most helpful things you can do is to mark captive animals and planted plants as “not wild”, if they weren’t already. You can also let the users know that they should check the captive/cultivated box before uploading (see prepared response above). Only mark observations as “not wild” if you are confident that is the case.
As you can see in the screenshot above, you can also use the Data Quality Assessment section (at the bottom of each observation) to mark observations as not containing an organism at all, a clearly incorrect location or date, etc.
Identify humans as humans. Observations of humans are automatically casual grade and hidden from most areas of the site by default. There is no need to flag observations as humans unless there is some sort of grossly inappropriate content involved. A small number of observations of humans is totally fine. Pictures of pets, humans, abiotic phenomena, or obvious test observations are all okay, unless that’s all someone is uploading. You can politely request they focus on wild organisms, and if they continue to add irrelevant content, you can flag one of the observations for a curator or staff person to take a look.
You can flag an image as copyright infringement which will replace it with a big “COPYRIGHTED MEDIA REMOVED” image and marks the observation as “casual grade.” You can flag the photo directly by clicking the “i” (white circle) below the photo and clicking “Flag this photo” in the very bottom righthand corner of that page. Then choose “copyright infringement” in the pop-up and save.*
If you see something inappropriate and aren’t able to address it yourself, you can always flag the offending content (ID, observation, comment, and/or photo). A curator or site staff can take a look and hopefully find a resolution. Some people do need to be suspended right away; check out the Community Guidelines for some of the potentially suspendable offenses vs. what is generally okay. One special case is trolling, which see the Curator Guide for more information on how to respond (or not!!) to trolls.
Curators, I use these boilerplate responses to flags frequently. When in doubt, or if something is extremely inappropriate and should be deleted immediately, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Woof. In short: Assume good faith. Be polite when addressing issues. Take a break from identifying if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Check the Community Guidelines, Curator Guide, Help page, and ask if you have any questions.
Want to avoid seeing this type of content as much as possible? Use the filters on Identify to exclude the dates of this week/weekend, only show content from users who made their account more than a week ago, or limit your searches to places outside of the CNC areas. Learn more about using the filters on the Identify page and special search URL modification.