Duplicate other users observation?

I did a quick search and didn’t see this discussed and didn’t want to make a straight up feature request, just wanted to start a conversation…

Would it open a huge can of worms to be able to create a duplicate observation of other users observations?

I ask as I’ve encountered observations with multiple taxa that could be separated but the observer/user hasn’t been active in years so likely isn’t going to respond to a request to duplicate the observation.

I imagine this could be abused, such as a disagreeing IDer creating a duplicate ob with an ID they would prefer, which I assume would eventually be corrected by the community but then there would be an “actual” duplicate.

Curious what others think?

i assume you mean you’d copy their photo and create a new record under your own account? Don’t think that’s proper under any circumstance, certainly not without their permission and even not really appropriate then.

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I already thought about this and I like the idea. It could be very useful for fungal pathogens. I’ve been identifying anther smuts on plants and sometimes the user hasn’t been active for year and it’s not possible to duplicate them, even though they could add a lot of value to the iNaturalist data. I think it would be necessary to add a safeguard to avoid abuse though.


Staff has already rejected a feature request that seems essentially the same:
so I think it is unlikely that this would be considered.


No, it would be under their account

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I figured it would create some problems but thought it would add to the useful data on iNat.

I wouldn’t want to take away anyone’s automony or control over their obs, just expand on what was uploaded.

The main issue I think I’m trying to address is users not being active any longer to respond to requests. I know this is just part of iNat, especially with Seek obs auto uploading.

This issue has already been solved with observation fields. If you can’t find a field that works for the specific observation, make a new one.

The most widely applicable field is “Associated Species with Names Lookup.”


So I just tried that here:

This ob doesn’t show up in a search for Sedum oreganum, which is what I’m trying to get at.

I’m really not worried about it, it is what it is :)

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I see now. Observation fields won’t help it get on an easily accessible map. You could make such a map by downloading the data with that observation field and combining it with plant records, but that is a lot of work for relatively little benefit.

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On the one hand, I can see the value in duplicating someone else’s record if they have more than one interesting organism in their photo. That could provide additional good records to the database, even if they’re no longer active on iNat.

On the other hand, it’s their record, whether they are still active or not. Maybe they don’t want someone doing things with their submissions.

Personally, I’d like to get suggestions for duplicating if someone sees something interesting in one of my photos that I missed. But it would be my decision whether to duplicate or not.


I think you summed it up perfectly.

I agree that this would sometimes be valuable. I wonder if staff would reconsider if instead of calling it a duplicate, we stole the concept of a “fork” from the software world, in which one person creates a derivative work from another’s work. So, for example, if you forked another user’s observation it would show under your account as “derived from observation [link] owned by [username].” You could then ID and discuss some other aspect of the observation. Of course, it would have to respect both the observation and media licenses of the original user. Still lots of potential for abuse, though.

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It is a good thing we are all immortal so that if someone wants to contact a specific user in the future to deal with such issues we can do that at any time. Seriously, life is imperfect. Science is a cooperative effort and no one person is going to gain all possible data on any one species. Sometimes we just have to live with reality.

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As I thought about it more I had the same idea as your "fork"ing line of thinking. Seems sensible to me but imagine it would be a bunch of work for the developers to create. Could be abused I imagine but could be useful.