"duplicate" photos

Several times now I have gotten feedback on posts stating “duplicate observation, please move to ----- and delete”. Yes, occasionaly I have reposted the same photo & I do delete the duplicate. But the same critisism has come on clearly unique photos. As I understand it “duplicate” means a photo of the exact same individual at the same time and location. So different individuals in different locations would not be duplicates. Or perhaps I misunderstand the definition of duplicate?


I see people that make separate observations for the same thing, when all the photos should be under one observation. The photos will be different, but it is obvious it is the same observation.

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The definition of a valid observation is of a unique individual at a unique point in time and location.

If the records document this, and the photos are legitimately different ones, then they are not duplicates and are valid observations.

The same photo can even be reused in separate observations to

  • document different species in it (what tree is the bird sitting in)
  • document 2 or more different individuals of the same species. If you do this please understand, you need to document in the notes that each submission is for a different individual, and understand some folks will not like it, even though it is valid and acceptable under site rules

I had to do this recently with some Broad-winged Hawks I came across, in the notes I just said “3 individuals at this site. 1st individual.” And so on.


That should be OK. Sometimes people don’t read the description, so you can politely point out what they missed and hope they get your point.


You’re doing the right thing, it’s likely an error on the identifier’s part, as has been pointed out already. If you have specific examples, it’d be helpful to share them.


Often when there is a class project, or bioblitz involving a lot of new members, there will be an influx of duplicate observations or obs that need splitting up, and sometimes the volunteers that go through those and make recommendations like this find themselves repeating themselves a lot, so the text gets shorter and more “curt”, especially if they feel they have already given the long description of why previously! Feel free to challenge anyone on why they suggest something… for many of us we learn on the job here!


The instance that got me questioning this was a number of photos of African Penguins at the Boulders Colony near Simon Town, SA. All photos were os different individual birds, tho taken in the same general area over the period of an hour or so. One reviewer tho confirming the identification of the posts, marked a half dozen or sa as “duplicate, should be deleted” I checked my postings and found no actual duplicate photos. Upon inquiring of the reviewer, he agreed that technically there were no duplicate photos, but thought the observations should have been grouped into one. So …?

definitely should be separate observations. Back when I first joined, my understanding was that an observation was for a species/taxa in a place at a time, a view which I held until just this last year when I joined the forum and discovered otherwise! It is actually an individual organism in a place at a time. That might have been a carry-over from the days when we in NZ were “NatureWatchNZ”.

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There are more discussions on the topic here


And even more in depth here.

And here

Basically, separate records follows the letter of the inat law, and any user following those guidelines should be allowed to do so. If the ‘law’ is optimally designed is a totally different question.


I’ve been known to “rolling stop” at a stop sign!

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