Welcome to the forum @eric_hunt!
It would not follow a scientific peer-reviewed process if deleting comments was allowed, in my opinion. I was not aware of this policy by INaturalist, but it is a good one.
Thanks for the correction, @cmcheatle. :)
I agree with @mariejoseegarand. The context of comments is a bit different than on other social media websites. The comments sections are largely used to discuss the identification of the organism or other aspects of a piece of data, and others are invited/encouraged to weigh in with their perspectives. In most cases undesirable comments are legitimately inappropriate or spam and should be flagged and managed by curators. Comments that don’t fit any of the above cases are probably pretty rare.
I can see it being pretty common that observers would hide/delete constructive criticism or remarks about ID disagreements, and to me that’d be outside of the spirit of iNat.
Thanks everyone. I disagree 1000% with not allowing users to delete comments on their own observations but I am apparently in the minority. Will just continue deleting the observation and reposting it.
Another approach, as @Star3 mentioned, is to flag inappropriate comments, and a curator can hide them so they will no longer be visible to you or others. This would be preferable to deleting the observation along with IDs that people have taken time to add.
Not everything is flaggble, e.g. I had some approaches about why do I upload this or that, while it clearly wasn’t the deal of that person, but they said nothing that would allow me to flag those comments, but I really would like to just delete them. But it’s the fact that this feature clearly will be easy for exploitation.
So to fix that situation, what kind of “flag” would you need? As I read that, you’d need a flag “off-topic” or something like that?
(I’ve never flagged anything so I don’t know the exact options)
I think it can’t be called off-topic as it was about the obs’ photo, I don’t know, I don’t need a flag for that, I just need them to be deleted.
I’m going to branch out with the minority view here:
I’m not sure what we’re worried about with a peer-review process or people deleting disagreements. The feature request is not to remove community IDs (which users can already opt out of!) but to delete unwanted comments on their observations. We’ve seen dozens of cases where observations become the thread of some tangential or personal intramural dispute, and it’s the user’s prerogative to shut that down whether they are invested in the discussion or not. This policy disenfranchises users from moderating content on observations within their own authorship, posted under their own name.
User A Post: Blue Whale
User B Comment: “That appears to be a pet canid.”
User A Deletes User B’s Comment Out Of Spite
User B Identification: Domestic Dog
User A Comment: “RETRACT YOUR IDETNIFICATION”
User B: …
User C Identification: Domestic Dog
User D Identification: Domestic Dog
I think malicious comment deletions would be rare and inconsequential, and far outweighed by the responsibility and consequence of having undesirable content on one’s own observation. This is similar to previous discussions about account deletions, regarding which iNat had decided to allow users to delete their content if they want. With the policy being proposed, users can delete their whole content or nothing, aside from creating extra bureaucratic work for our hard-working volunteer curators.
There is a massive difference between deleting the WHOLE conversation (and perhaps restarting it fresh…) and being able to control the narrative.
Your photo is copyrighted to you. But each comment in the conversation belongs to that person.
I agree, but also consider that the canvas might not. If someone spraypaints grafitti on the side of my house, I have the right to paint over it.
It comes down to whether the canvas, or “comment space”, belongs to:
- the observer, or
- shared ownership by all participants, or
- shared ownership by entire community, or
- part ownership by author of each comment (ie in their own comment space), or
- iNaturalist.org, or
- Affiliates, eg New Zealand Biodiversity Recording Network (as the organisation behind iNaturalist.nz)
Another way to think of it is an author signing a book that belongs to a reader. You would not expect the author to have any rights in “deleting their inscription” from the book that the reader paid for! Nor would you question the right of the owner of that book to rip out the page containing the inscription…
Personally, I think of the comment space as belonging to the partnership between observer, community and iNaturalist.org, with each having rights and obligations/roles in it’s evolution and maintenance, and I further believe it exists only in context of the observation, so if the observation is deleted it stands to reason that the comment space goes with it. I don’t think it is right to take away certain parts of it when it alters considerably the context of what remains, each comment being in context of those made before it, and those made subsequent in context with it. It would be like having a mathematical formula and taking out all the even digits, leaving pi to be equal to 3.115953… it’s not pi anymore! So in similar fashion, if you take out certain parts of the conversation then you can potentially “break” the conversation.
That all said, there are times when a maintenance action might involve deleting certain comments or IDs, but it would have to be with a reasonable expectation that all parties are in agreement. In the case of an absentee owner or identifier or commenter, and the community at large felt it prudent to do so (with the reasonable expectation that the owner or commenter would do so if they were active themselves), then I would delete such a comment (or ID). But I would have to be near absolutely sure that no-one would object to me doing so!
I can recall not long after I joined iNat, before I was made a curator, I made a comment on an observation. When I received an alert from someone else commenting, I noticed that my own comment was gone, and when I asked around, one of the curators involved in the conversation said he deleted my comment because it wasn’t relevant.
- WTF ? !
- I felt it was relevant
- others felt it was relevant
- if you delete my comments then at least tell me you have done so and why
- I am an active participant, your explanation of why you think it is irrelevant will likely have me understanding your point of view and I will either delete, edit or affirm my point of view accordingly.
That first hand experience led me to my current belief that we need to be very careful before we decide to delete anything, especially if there is the chance that someone would object to it happening. As part of that caution I think there needs to be an audit trail if anything is deleted. For that reason I will only delete someone elses comment if there is a record of what I deleted and why. In the case of an absentee commenter, for instance, I would send a direct message to their account with a link to the observation they commented on, telling them I had deleted their comment that said “what ever it was” on their behalf, and then they are free to make it again if they so choose.
I am not a curator - so I, would flag a comment on my obs, if it was offensive.
But the conversations around ID, with each comment, is what makes iNat interesting.
Delete the whole conversation to remove an unwanted comment? If that happened to ‘my comment’ I would be wary of engaging with that person again. It’s a variation on refusing Community ID.
iNat is very different to Facebook or a blog - where the comments are graffiti on the wall of this is MY house.
My initial reaction when I read the original post was, this is not social media. Isn’t peer review what separates science from pseudo-science?
For pretty much the reasons many here have eloquently stated, I don’t think allowing an observer to delete comments on their observations is something the iNaturalist team is for, so that functionality won’t be implemented.
One possible compromise is the ability for the observer to hide a comment from their own view (others can see it), so they don’t have to look at it. But in the end, posting an observation to iNat is (in my mind) the start of a discussion with any other user on iNaturalist, and anyone can add an ID or comment that falls within the community guidelines. Discussions like that can get messy (although they shouldn’t be uncivil or mean-spirited), but that’s part of it, and I think if done correctly it can help us understand not only nature but the way we all view nature and science a bit differently.
If someone adds comments you don’t like or appreciate, you can message them and politely discuss that with them or even ask them to not comment on your observations.
It’s definitely a social network for people interested in nature (or at least the part of nature that involves sharing and discussing observations of organisms). I wouldn’t cal it “reviewed” in the strictest sense (like a scientific journal) but yes, observations are vetted at least by the community, and a recored of the discussion can be important for anyone wanting to use the data in that observation.
I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts. This has happened to me exactly once in my almost 10 years of using iNat so I’m really not too stressed over learning that how I want things to work is not how they work or will work in the future.
In this case, it was an innocuous comment from someone on an observation I posted where the date somehow didn’t post and they were alerting me to that fact. Once I added the date to the observation I honestly saw no reason to have that comment on the observation and REALLY didn’t feel like it was necessary to engage them in a dialogue. They alerted me to an issue, I resolved the issue, don’t need a public record of it.
I’m going to close this request as we won’t be moving forward with it.